High Speed 2 will be enormously expensive if the government proceeds with it. But is it worth the money? In this report, Nigel Hawkins examines the arguments for HS2, particularly the "non-economic" benefits of the project, and argues that HS2 is a white elephant that the government should scrap.
The bloated expense claims by BBC personnel provides further evidence that the broadcaster cannot be trusted to handle taxpayers' cash, argues Madsen Pirie.
Dr Eamonn Butler investigates whether recycling certain materials is actually worth the effort. If one looks in closer detail of how these materials are actually created, they may be just as, if not more harmful, to the environment than the materials we have substituted.
We remember Adam Smith for his stunning intuition of the invisible
guiding hand that somehow enables rampant self interest to evolve for
the common good. Two hundred years later we face a similar paradox. We
know that the Earth is a benign and comfortable place for life and has
been so for most of its history, so how have selfish genes allowed the
evolution of so altruistic a planet? It is easy now to see how
Darwinian natural selection leads to the evolution of fit organisms but
how can the common good for all life also evolve by natural selection?
The hype is enormous too: Morgan Spurlock's movie Super Size Me hit
British screens this weekend. Calling itself a 'documentary', it
supposedly shows that when the hapless Spurlock had spent an entire
month eating only at McDonalds, he ended up 25 pounds heavier and with
a liver like fois gras.
The BBC - Britain's politically-correct state broadcaster - got in
on the act too, heralding the movie with its own 'Healthier Britain
Week' and commissioning opinion polls claiming that the Brits are
desperate for government to save them from their bad eating habits.
Around the World in 80 Ideas is just that - 80 policy ideas from many different countries, which have replaced state ownership and control with choice, competition, freedom and innovation. The whole world is represented - from the commercialization of the Coffee Board in Ghana, to the private use of government-owned land in China; from airline deregulation in the United States to private maths education in Japan; from contracting-out the management of government buildings in Britain to economic reforms in Estonia. And these good ideas cover all aspects of government and the economy, from welfare, through utility reform and transport, to economic policy, health and education.
In many countries the arts have been effectively nationalized. In the United Kingdom, for example, not one of the national opera, ballet or theatre companies turns a profit: they survive on taxpayer subsidies. Regional companies are even more dependent on handouts. On the continent of Europe, opera and ballet is even more reliant on state subsidy.
Throughout the world, users of public libraries are suffering a vicious circle of decline in services. Free or near-free libraries are commonly provided by city or district governments. But local government budgets are always under pressure - because their services are labour-intensive, their costs rise faster than inflation and local taxpayers become less and less willing to pay for them.
We should privatize the past. We should take control of the nation's cultural treasures out of the hands of bureaucratic 'professionals' and give it to enthusiastic independents. That is the view of Andrew Selkirk in his Adam Smith Institute book, Who Owns the Past?