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Daily Mail: Historian Niall Ferguson has twice before declared his love for other women

Written by Ephraim Hardcastle

Latest pensée from Eamonn Butler of the Adam Smith Institute, this one about the Toyota debacle: 'Apparently the problem is that the accelerator sticks on and the brakes don't work. On those grounds, we should have recalled the British government long ago.'

Published in the Daily Mail here.

Read more... Channel 4's Royal Mail witch hunt

Written by Roy Mayall

During the course of the programme we were offered the views of three commentators. There was Richard Hooper, author of a report that provided the basis for Peter Mandelson's suggestion last year that the Royal Mail be part-privatised. There was Dr Madsen Pirie of the Adam Smith Institute, which last year published an article suggesting that the universal delivery obligation should be abandoned. And then there was Jonathan DeCarteret who, in the words of the programme, "helps companies switch from Royal Mail to rival operators".

Published on here.


BBC: Economic growth 'cannot continue'

Continuing global economic growth "is not possible" if nations are to tackle climate change, a report by an environmental think-thank has warned.

The New Economics Foundation (Nef) said "unprecedented and probably impossible" carbon reductions would be needed to hold temperature rises below 2C (3.6F).

Scientists say exceeding this limit could lead to dangerous global warming.

"We urgently need to change our economy to live within its environmental budget," said Nef's policy director.

Andrew Simms added: "There is no global, environmental central bank to bail us out if we become ecologically bankrupt." None of the existing models or policies could "square the circle" of economic growth with climate safety, Nef added.

'No magic bullets'

In the report, Growth Isn't Possible, the authors looked at the main models for climate change and energy use in the global economy.

They then considered whether economic growth could be maintained while "retaining a good likelihood" of limiting the global average temperature to within 2C of pre-industrial levels.

The report concluded that a growth rate of just 3%, the "carbon intensity" of the global economy would need to fall by 95% by 2050 from 2002 levels. This would require an average annual reduction of 6.5%.

However, the authors said that the world's carbon intensity had "flatlined" between 2000 and 2007.

"For each year the target was missed, the necessary improvements would grow higher still," they observed.

The findings also suggested that there was no proven technological advance that would allow "business as usual" to continue. "Magic bullets - such as carbon capture and storage, nuclear or even geo-engineering - are potentially dangerous distractions from more human-scale solutions," said co-author Victoria Johnson, Nef's lead researcher for the climate change and energy programme.

She added that there was growing support for community-scale projects, such as decentralised energy systems, but support from governments was needed.

"At the moment, magic bullets... are getting much of the funding and political attention, but are missing the targets," Dr Johnson said.

"Our research shows that to prevent runaway climate change, this needs to change." The report concluded that an economy that respected environmental thresholds, which include biodiversity and the finite availability of natural resources, would be better placed to deliver human well-being in the long run. Tom Clougherty, executive director of the Adam Smith Institute, a free-market think-thank, said Nef's report exhibited "a complete lack of understanding of economics and, indeed, human development".

"It is precisely this economic growth which will lift the poor out of poverty and improve the environmental standards that really matter to people - like clean air and water - in the process, as it has done throughout human history," he told BBC News.

"There's only one good thing I can say for the Nef's report, and that's that it is honest. It's authors admit that they want us to be poorer and to lead more restricted lives for the sake of their faddish beliefs."

Published on the BBC here.


Daily Mail: Islam4UK says under sharia law there would be 'free food for all' - just like Saudi Arabia?

Written by Ephraim Hardcastle

Eamonn Butler of the Adam Smith Institute - which is named after the sensible, 18th century Scottish economic sage - sees one reason to be sanguine about the latest terror tactic: 'What zealot wants to go down in history as an underpants bomber?'

Published in the Daily Mail here.


The Times: Iceland arrangement

Written by Dr Eamonn Butler

Sir, Let’s make a deal with President Olafur Grimsson (“The cold wars", Jan 6).

Iceland can keep the £3.6 billion, as long as they take back their freezing weather.

Dr Eamonn Butler

Director, Adam Smith Institute

Published in The Times here.


The Scotsman: Plan will stop rot

Written by Dr Eamonn Butler

The restoration of Panmure House – Adam Smith's home in Edinburgh – has been the subject of drawn-out discussions between the Edinburgh Business School (its new owner), Historic Scotland and Edinburgh city council planners. Everyone is keen that this historic house should be open to the public for public meetings, concerts, seminars and other events.

But the building's footprint is too small to accommodate the meeting rooms and the services (staircase, toilets, lifts, kitchens) required of a venue today.

The architects have solved this problem by creating a glass atrium housing an external staircase, providing the necessary access in a stylish way that does not require some bogus "period" solid extension; it does no violence to the house; it could be easily removed if the use of the house changed some time in the distant future; and it keeps the house visible and allows it to be lit attractively.

Historic Scotland seems to have objected to pretty much all ideas for an external stair.

But it would be a shame if Edinburgh's planning committee, which meets this week, rejects the proposal. Panmure House will survive only if it has a viable function. Without that, it becomes a useless hulk that nobody will care for, and will decay.

Given the sorry state in which past public-sector owners have left it – the only remaining original feature is one fireplace in the attic – the Edinburgh Business School's sympathetic restoration plans are a welcome improvement.

Director, Adam Smith Institute
Great Smith Street
London SW1

Published in The Scotsman here.

Read more... The wide gaps in the pre-Budget report

Written by Dr Madsen Pirie

Alistair Darling’s pre-Budget report revealed several huge gaps. For a start, the gap between what the government takes in and what it puts out has widened to £178bn. The Chancellor’s optimistic forecasts for growth after next year are not shared by City experts, some of whom put the future gap as a further £70bn higher than Darling says he expects.

There is another significant gap - between what the government says it is doing, and what will actually happen. This was very evident on the hot-button item of the one-off super-tax on bonuses. It sounds like bringing, what Labour call, the 'greedy' bankers to heel, but the small print indicates that it will not apply to any bonuses written into contracts, and will be limited to discretionary ones. Given that the effective tax rate would be above 100 per cent if the banks paid out the new 50 per cent surcharge, and the recipients paid out top rate income tax and National Insurance on top, it looks much more likely that many discretionary bonuses will be foregone for a year, with larger bonuses written into subsequent contracts to make up for it. This is political rhetoric largely empty of substance.

The biggest gap of all is between the government's strategic response to the crisis and what most expert opinion, here and abroad, thinks it should be doing. The government is obsessed with keeping up spending, thinking that a Keynesian-style stimulus is needed to prevent any recovery from being stillborn. The money raised from the middle classes in extra taxes is not being used to bring down the horrendous debts the government has incurred. It is being used to fund yet more spending, with increases announced in popular areas calculated to appeal to Labour voters.

In fact the biggest crisis facing Britain now is that overhang of debt. There is a real possibility that the UK could lose its top credit rating and be forced to pay much more to service its existing debt and future borrowing. The Conservatives, to their credit, recognize this. There have to be cuts - big cuts in spending - especially in the fripperies of politically correct but unproductive public sector activities. In place of spending increases there should be huge reductions, and in place of tax increases on jobs and enterprise, there should be targeted reductions to boost both growth and the tax revenues which follow in its wake. The government had a chance in the PBR to start to repair the nation's finances for the future. Instead one is left with the suspicion that they looked only six months ahead to the election, and left the hard decisions for afterwards.

Published on here.



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