Think Pieces

It’s freedom we need, not the nanny state

Written by | Tuesday 22 February 2011

Paternalism, or (as it is now called, in a strange shift of gender and status) “the nanny state”, has always had its defenders amongst the elite. After all, it is the elite who define what is good; what is virtuous. It is little surprise that they would seek to defend their mores, even to the point of crushing the individual freedoms of others.

Market pricing information and competition

Written by | Saturday 5 February 2011


UK motor insurance companies have been using detailed market pricing information to help set insurance rates for many years. Insurers have been able to check how much their competitors have been quoting for different types of vehicles and different groups of drivers. Available information has been very precise and has allowed predicting prices for individual quotes and up to one month ahead.

Reflections on the Shanghai skyline

Written by | Friday 28 January 2011


The "before" picture of Shanghai (from 1990) is actually the same skyline from before the Second World War. Under communism, from 1949 until 1980s-1990s, this picture of Shanghai had not changed.

Time to rethink Britain's drugs policy

Written by | Friday 21 January 2011

Now that the American government has dropped the phrase ‘War on Drugs’ it’s time for Britain's government to re-think policy. Although the evidence is increasingly stacked against current policy, legislators and governments are blinded by conventional morality about drugs. The Home Office set out its stall recently in response to Professor Sir Ian Gilmore’s comments about the need to consider decriminalizing class-A drugs:

What a free market in healthcare would look like

Written by | Wednesday 19 January 2011

There are pluses and minuses to the health reforms proposed by the government. On the plus side, the reforms will give patients greater choice and practitioners greater freedom. Both those things should drive up quality. Meanwhile, introducing (some) competition on price should help keep spiraling costs under control (a bit). On the downside, the reforms will trigger an enormous, and probably very costly upheaval, and the resulting system will still be highly bureaucratic.

2011: The economic prognosis

Written by | Friday 7 January 2011

As we enter 2011 there is little doubt that the UK economy is slowing from the heady grow rates recorded in the middle of last year. But this is only to be expected as those growth rates reflected special factors that are highly unlikely to be repeated. However, this should not be a reason for complete gloom. The economy probably grew by a better-than-expected 1¾% last year and it can be expected to grow by a similar magnitude this year. Such is the momentum of recovery a double dip seems most unlikely. But there will be many risks and there are many reasons to be cautious.

Who is to blame for the Irish crisis?

Written by | Wednesday 5 January 2011

Ireland has secured €85bn in emergency funding for the time being. This loan will enable it to keep playing a dangerous game for a while longer. While the bailout may appear to be a positive development to some, the strings that its creditors will no doubt increasingly attach to it will hamper Ireland’s independence moving forward.


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