Some 2014 budget nasties

Written by | Monday 24 March 2014

The ASI has already given its response to the budget. We should also remember that the UK's fiscal position is basically unsustainable even if economic growth is sustainable - and I find that extremely hard to believe. The UK economy needs massive fiscal consolidation, supply side reform and sweeping tax cuts if it is going to prosper.

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Blame the planning system for flood damage

Written by | Friday 10 January 2014

Much of the coverage over recent winter flooding in the UK has focussed on immediate issues. The Prime Minister was given a grilling in Yalding over failures to restore power supplies. This neatly demonstrates our loss of the principle of subsidiarity - the PM is not, and should not, be responsible for power supplies, they are both beneath and outside his purview. If we expect our politicians to control such matters, they will, invariably with unintended and deleterious consequences.

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Regulating the press

Written by | Wednesday 20 March 2013

Libertarian regulation theory shows us how state power, apparently used for benign purposes, ultimately results in the exploitation of consumers and the misallocation of resources. Of the two great threats to our economic progress and liberty - state spending and regulation - I would argue that it is regulation that is the greater threat.

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Doctors and celebrities: the enemies of liberty

Written by | Monday 18 March 2013

If asked which groups posed the greatest threat to individual liberty in modern Britain, I would unhesitatingly cite two groups. These groups are, broadly, the medical profession and those who are generally called 'celebrities' - pop stars, film stars and so on. You may think that I am being somewhat tongue-in-cheek (and in some ways I am), yet there is a serious set of issues at stake here.

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The Bank of Dave and our broken banking laws

Written by | Friday 1 March 2013

Channel 4's follow-up to the "Bank of Dave" made for highly enjoyable viewing. The programme was subtitled 'Fighting the Fat Cats', but it was bureaucrats rather than Fat Cats that caused the problems.

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Regulation as a barrier to free trade

Written by | Wednesday 20 February 2013

Tim Worstall expressed his exasperation as to why free trade negotiations are going to take two years to complete. He's absolutely correct that, in a sane world, trade negotiations wouldn't exist - in the nineteenth century Britain simply unilaterally repealed tariff and legal barriers. Despite being a less substantial player in the world economy, there's no economic reason why we ought not do this today, although there are many political ones.

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Horsemeat, moral panic and the failure of regulation

Written by | Monday 18 February 2013

Is there anything more terrifying and dangerous to liberty than a 'moral panic'? I use the term in its sociological sense as the horsemeat saga fairly seems to fit the bill.

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A dismal decade

Written by | Monday 4 February 2013

One should 'Never make predictions, especially about the future'. However, it seems pretty certain to me that the next medium-term picture for the UK economy is bleak. There's nothing particularly novel here, but it's worth summarising the position.

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We don't need repatriation from the EU – we need de-patriation

Written by | Thursday 31 January 2013

The debate over the UK's relationship with the EU has stepped up. The PM has adopted the position of negotiating with the EU with the threat of an in-out referendum in his pocket. Personally, I think Cameron is just about in the right position, in theory. As Eric Pickles has argued, quite sensibly, EU membership should be on a cost-benefit basis. If it is clearly the case that withdrawal would benefit the general good more than remaining in the EU we ought to withdraw and vice-versa, regardless of any special-interest privileges.

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Overcoming the public choice dilemma

Written by | Friday 11 January 2013

With the death of James Buchanan, it is interesting to reflect on some implications of public choice theory. Public choice theory presents a powerful explanation of why democracies tend towards government expansions that are difficult to reverse. As Dr Butler succinctly puts it: 'small groups with sharply focused interests have more influence in decision-making than much larger groups with more diffused concerns, such as taxpayers.'

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