Austrian School economists gave us the ideas of marginal utility, opportunity cost, and the importance of time and ignorance in shaping human choices and the markets, prices and production systems that stem from them. 'Austrian' economics has revolutionised our understanding of what money is, why economic booms invariably turn to damaging busts, why government intervention in the economy is a mistake, the importance of time and information in economic decision-making, the crucial role of entrepreneurship, and how much economic policy is just plain wrong. Eamonn Butler explains these ideas in straightforward, non-technical language, making this Primer the ideal introduction for anyone who wants to understand the key insights of the Austrian School and their relevance and importance to our economic situation today. Now updated with an additional chapter on Contemporary Austrian thinking.
Tom Clougherty discusses the big society agenda and why it is preferable to big government. He argues that big government undermines the complex fabric of relationships that exist in a free society but also warns of the dangers of government attempting to plan society.
This report, by media expert and former BBC producer David Graham, argues that the TV Licence Fee should be abolished, and that the BBC should instead become a subscription service. The report makes a number of points against the Licence Fee, but also makes a more positive case for reform, suggesting that shifting to a voluntary subscription model would encourage the BBC to compete with the big US studios, export more high quality content overseas, and spark significant growth in the UK broadcasting industry and its contribution to the wider economy.
In this think piece, Terry Arthur explains why the Left and the Right are both wrong about crime and punishment. As he puts it, "All three of the main parties remain incorrigibly statist, and at this rate, almost any action will soon be classed as either banned or compulsory."
Taxpayer Value: Rolling back the state urges the government to reduce the number of people employed by Whitehall departments and their QUANGOs by almost 27 percent. This would equate to almost 270,000 public sector job losses and deliver estimated savings of £55bn a year. However, the emphasis of this report is not on cutting for cutting's sake. Rather, the goal is to make the concept of 'taxpayer value' central to government activity and, in so doing, deliver better services at a lower cost. Among other recommendations, the report suggests that job centres be privatized and the tax and benefit systems integrated, that the military take over procurement from the MoD and purchase equipment 'off the shelf', and the Departments for International Development and Communities and Local Government be abolished.
The ASI’s emergency budget response welcomes the fiscal consolidation proposed by the government and praises the changes to the personal allowance and corporation tax, while also pointing out that the Chancellor could have gone further on spending cuts, and should not have raised VAT and Capital Gains Tax. It goes on to argue that cuts should be achieved by fundamentally re-thinking the role of the state rather than salami slicing, and advocates radical welfare reform as an urgent priority.
International evidence suggests clearly that increases in capital gains taxes above a very modest level result in decreases in revenue. Similarly, if capital gains tax rates are set above a relatively modest level, then their reduction will involve an increase in revenues. This paper uses new evidence from Ireland, Sweden and Switzerland combined with existing analysis from America, Australia and Britain to try and identify more precisely the revenue consequences of CGT increases in the UK. It looks at both revenue losses from capital gains tax and from other taxes.
Dr Eamonn Butler warns of the hidden debt which may be five times what the government lets on, as a result of healthcare, welfare and pensions. He proposes that like New Zealand the government should stick to strict accounting standards and start planning for future pension costs. It is also argued in the article that the government needs to be more transparent about its finances and future financial commitments.
In this article Tom Clougherty explains why health spending needs to be cut and suggests the best ways of achieving these spending reductions.
In The Party is Over – A Blueprint for Fiscal Stability, city economist Nigel Hawkins argues that reducing public spending is the most pressing challenge the new government. His report goes on to point out that – assuming the Treasury's growth forecasts are correct – the government will need to cut spending by 3 percent a year to balance the books by 2015. That means finding more than £90bn of cuts over the course of the current parliament. Hawkins also argues that no area of public spending - even the NHS - should be ring-fenced.