According to this briefing paper, proposals to introduce a new ‘bank levy’ would do little to correct the problems in the banking sector, and act as a distraction from other, more pressing reforms. Politicians ought to reject populist calls for new taxes and punitive regulation and instead focus on a few key issues: breaking up the nationalized banks; ensuring greater transparency and more honest accounting; requiring tougher capital and liquidity ratios; mandating living wills so banks can be run down in an orderly fashion; and moving derivative contracts onto regulated exchanges.
Government support for the arts is currently provided as a subsidy to producers. This system suffers from four major problems: it relies on an expensive bureaucracy; it distributes subsidies unequally between regions and income groups; it distorts producers’ incentives through corruption, politicisation and arbitrary criteria; and it reduces competition, innovation and efficiency. This paper proposes a new system for arts funding: consumer-side subsidies delivered as vouchers to all citizens, which would alleviate the four problems outlined above, and better fulfil the central objectives of art funding.
In The Broken University, education expert James Stanfield examines what is seen and what is not seen in the UK higher education sector. In contrast to the conventional wisdom, he finds no compelling evidence to suggest that public subsidies to higher education have any economic benefit. Moreover, Stanfield convincingly argues that once its hidden costs and unintended consequences are taken into account, government intervention in higher education is doing far more harm than good, and is holding back the development of one of the UK’s most important service sectors.
NIkhil Arora argues that we need to radically reform that state pension, moving from the current pay-as-you-go model (a Madoff-style ponzi scheme) to a funded system based on personal pension accounts. Basing his proposals on a plan developed for the American Social Security system by the Cato Institute, Arora suggests allowing people to divert their employee National Insurance Contributions into private accounts (surrending their right to a state pension in the process), while employer National Insurance Contributions continue to be paid in order to finance the state pensions of current retirees.
A new tax on financial transactions is the wrong way to help the world's poor, argues Madsen Pirie.
ASI Fellow Eben Wilson examines the future of the UK postal service, arguing that price controls and regulation has taken a heavy toll on the Royal Mail, preventing innovation, stopping them from matching revenue to costs, and letting the organisation be captured by special interest groups. In this context, a free market approach built around privatization, deregulation and competition is the only rational way forward.
This short book is an accessible introduction to liberty – one of the key concepts of political and economic thought. It explains why liberty is so important and sets out in clear language the benefits of freeing individuals from big government. The guide consists of ten concise chapters, each focusing on a particular aspect of liberty and written by an expert in the field. The authors show why liberty is essential if people are to lead prosperous and fulfilling lives, and also point to the terrible consequences when politicians and officials get too much power. At a time when our freedom is threatened by a rising tide of government controls, A Beginner’s Guide to Liberty is essential reading.
Alistair Darling had a chance to start to repair the nation's finances for the future. But he blew it, writes Madsen Pirie.
Digital Dirigisme, which responds to the government’s Digital Britain report, attacks the proposals for ‘industrial activism’ in the communications sector, and lays out its own vision for a highly competitive, enterprise-driven industry based on a clear framework of property rights and strengthened privacy protection. The report also calls for the phased privatization of the BBC, and the eventual abolition of the TV licence fee.
In The Economics of Tax Competition – Harmonization vs. Liberalization Daniel J. Mitchell argues that the arguments surrounding tax competition are ultimately a debate about the size of government. Harmonization means higher tax rates and bigger government: freed from the rigour of competition, politicians would cater to special interests and resist fiscal reforms. By contrast, tax competition provides a much-needed check on the growth of government, and encourages pro-growth tax reform.