Whig

New at AdamSmith.org: In Praise of Consumerism

Written by | Friday 22 June 2012

We generally hear the term ‘Consumerism’ used as a term of abuse, usually by religious movements, pro-state economists, environmentalists and so on. I would argue that, properly constituted, a ‘consumerist’ society is exactly the type of society that we should be striving for.

However, part of the pejorative use of the term comes from a particular meaning attached to it. As the brief but surprisingly illuminating Wikipedia article observes, there are at least four possible meanings of the term:

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In praise of consumerism

Written by | Friday 22 June 2012

We generally hear the term ‘Consumerism’ used as a term of abuse, usually by religious movements, pro-state economists, environmentalists and so on. I would argue that, properly constituted, a ‘consumerist’ society is exactly the type of society that we should be striving for.

However, part of the pejorative use of the term comes from a particular meaning attached to it. As the brief but surprisingly illuminating Wikipedia article observes, there are at least four possible meanings of the term:

New at AdamSmith.org: The Case for Single-Issue Activism

Written by | Thursday 31 May 2012

In recent years, believers in a small state have largely failed to convert good intellectual arguments against interventionism into concrete political achievements. Whig argues for a change of gears by liberals, away from politics and towards a focus on single-issue group campaigning.

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The case for single-issue activism

Written by | Thursday 31 May 2012

Classical liberals, libertarians or indeed anyone arguing for a smaller state (I’m going to use ‘Liberals’ as shorthand) have a serious problem. We don’t seem to be very successful at converting the corpus of intellectual work and powerful arguments against interventionism into concrete political success. Whilst the Archbishop of Canterbury, Polly Toynbee or Michael Sandel, to name a few, seem to think we are living in an era of unbridled free markets, any sensible observer can see that this is not the case; state capitalism or corporatism is the status quo.

The Jeremy Hunt affair is simply public choice in action

Written by | Thursday 26 April 2012

Poor Jeremy Hunt is perhaps the latest victim of the Leveson Enquiry. Whether this is the end of a promising career or not remains to be seen – politicians of any stripe love to clamour for a ministerial resignation and the Coalition is racking them up fast (I count three at cabinet level).

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The Technology Strategy Board: dirigisme in action

Written by | Friday 2 March 2012

Ever heard of the Technology Strategy Board (TSB)? The TSB is an NDPB sponsored by the BIS! Or, to put that in real terms and not public sector-speak, it is one of those arm’s length, alphabet soup agencies that spends huge amounts of taxpayer’s money in order to ‘stimulate’ economic growth. The TSB should be better known, however, as it serves to demonstrate so many of the problems of government intervention that one hardly knows where to begin.

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An alternative approach to unemployment

Written by | Thursday 23 February 2012

Last week’s joblessness figures were hardly encouraging. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development predicts a gloomy forecast for employment prospects, forecasting unemployment to reach 2.85 million by the end of 2012. Their Labour Market Outlook makes for very miserable reading for those seeking jobs.

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The dangers of thinking with one's stomach

Written by | Wednesday 22 February 2012

Perhaps April Fool’s day has come early? In a gift for comedy writers everywhere, Eric Pickles wants us to have a 'big lunch' for community cohesion. More still – Pickles wants to introduce a ‘curry college’ to promote integration!

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Ros Altman is (almost) right on Quantitative Easing

Written by | Wednesday 22 February 2012

Ros Altman, Director General of Saga Group, upbraided the Times for praising QE in a letter yesterday. As Altman rightly argues, QE diminishes the incomes of pensioners and the savings of future pensioners: 'QE has permanently impoverished more than a million pensioners, and thousands more purchasers will recieve reduced pensions each week'. Altman also points out that QE has a more subtle impact on the economy: 'pension liabilities and deficits rise when gilt yields fall, forcing companies to divert resources into their pension funds, rather than growing  their businesses.'

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Tackle the root causes of slavery and human trafficking

Written by | Monday 6 February 2012

On the BBC’s Today programme last Thursday, it was reported that vulnerable individuals from the UK are being trafficked within the EU to work as forced labour. The predictable response was to ask an EU official what the government response to such a problem should be which was outlined as information-sharing, enforcement, inter-governmental co-operation via the European Convention on Action Against Trafficking and so on.

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