The Amnesia of Reform

A review of post-Communist privatization. The authors find that the purpose of economic reform and privatization had been forgotten nor deliberately ignored in post-Communist countries. Firms were privatized in an unreconstructed and shoddy state, shareholders have no power, monopolies are protected, conflicts between ministries continued. The authors demanded that UK policy change to ensure effective reforms, they outlines new ways to overcome the problems and make privatization popular and beneficial.

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The Consultant's Report on the Church of England

In the 1980s, privatisation vastly changed the size and composition of the State. In the 1990s, the government is completing the privatisation agenda. It is breaking new ground as regards the management of the State itself. The concept of citizenship is replacing that of subjecthood as government attempts to make its remaining monopoly services more responsive to the consumer. The introduction of the Citizen's Charter underlines these attempts. John Major's commitment on becoming leader of the Conservative Party to 'constitutional evolution' has signalled that constitutional reform may be back on the agenda. Despite the triumph of the ideas of economic liberalism, there remain differences of view concerning the values which a capitalist society must hold. Ideologically, the divide is between those who make a virtue only of economic freedom and those who see economic freedom as part of a more general freedom.

The second group believe that morality itself should be privatise,d and all behavioural choices, economic or moral, should be left to the individual (provided, it is usually added, they do not harm others). It follows that the State should also play no role at all in religion, one of the key sources of moral values. This may upset those who, following Adam Smith, think capitalism demands a set of common moral values. Had Smith been alive today, he might have complained that religious organisations are often not forthright enough in urging moral standards upon the nation.

This report puts this debate into a practical context. It suggests a way of reconciling the two sides by taking account of the right of the individual to set his or her own moral standards, at the same time as giving religious groups and others the opportunity to spread their values more widely.

It examines whether, in a modern liberal society, one religious body should be given privileged status by the State and seeks to redefine religion's role within the framework of our unwritten constitution. It also presents a challenge to the Church of England and other religious and charitable organisations to take on functions which historically have belonged to them, but which have only relatively recently fallen within the competence of the secular State.

 

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A Disorderly House: UK Excise Duties on Alcohol and Tobacco

In this paper, Barry Bracewell-Milnes argues that excise duty on alcohol and tobacco in the UK are high compared to international standards, and that whilst developing nations may experience public sector financing gains from applying excise duties to these goods, developed nations can only achieve gains from applying these duties to motoring. He advocates the reduction of these duties.  

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Exorcising Inflation

From an economic point of view the history of the world since 1939 might  be described as 'The Age of Inflation'. In several countries, especially those devastated by war and in South America, currencies have become practically worthless. Most other countries have experienced steadily rising prices. In the United Kingdom, where the phrases 'As good as gold' or 'As safe as the Bank of England' originated, prices have been rising continuously since 1939, and the pound sterling in 1993 is worth about one twenty fifth (or 4 per cent) of its 1939 value. Clearly, during this period money has totally failed to fulfil one of its three essential functions -- acting as a store of wealth -- and it has served most unsatisfactorily as a unit of account and a medium of exchange. Is inflation inevitable?

However, two things might be said about this world-wife inflation. First, there is the suggestion that it does not matter, or indeed that it actually stimulated economic activity, because for the period 1945-1970 the world experienced a period of unprecedented full employment and prosperity. And second, because all those under the age of 54 have lived with inflation throughout their lives, it might be said that inflation is inevitable; that the achievement of stable prices is a utopian fantasy and therefore not worth serious consideration.

Much of this Paper is devoted to refuting the first argument -- that inflation is usually beneficial to economic growth. But it is also necessary to destroy the fallacious notion that inflation is inevitable.

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Europe at Risk

Instead of enhancing European unity and furthering prosperity, such [paternalistic] policies will, if left unchecked, inevitably foster political conflict and a dependency culture. By failing to endorse the dynamic vision of a truly trans-national free market system and withdraw from the dangerous consequences of social engineering and economic centralisation, the EC is acing like an old-fashioned and isolated nation state. Instead of promoting development, it is increasingly being perceived by its citizens as an obstacle to wealth creation, personal freedom, and the basic principles upon which an open society is built. Following years of misuse by anti-competitive vested interests and bureaucratic empire builders, the Brussels' bureaucracy  has grown to such an extent it is, today, placing the European ideal in danger.

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The Consultant's Report on the Church of England

Is a common morality necessary for the proper functioning of a market, or is religious freedom an undeniable facet of overall freedom in a liberal society? This paper explores those questions and comes to the conclusion that the implementation of market strategies for the Church of England will more successfully promote itself and recruit members, rather than withering within its shelf of state protection, while promoting the freedom of choice that accompanies open markets. In a classic liberal idea, the church will have more importance and influcence if chosen on the market rather than forced by the state.

A Disorderly House

This paper examines the place of excise duties on alcohol within the British fiscal system. It argues that United Kingdom taxes are by international standards heavy on beer, even heavier on wine and very heavy on spirits. These duties on alcohol are the result of historical accident and political pressures and have little or no economic rationale.

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Exorcising Inflation

Governments should aim for zero inflation, since even moderate inflation leads to higher interest rates, business failures and ultimately higher unemployment. 5 years before the Bank of England were granted nominal independence  Charles Hanson called for monetary policy to be given over to them, as successfully demonstrated by New Zealand.

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