The latest book in the series from the Adam Smith Institute and MORI looks at the delivery of public services. The findings of the report highlight the differences between the consumer agenda and the producer agenda. The new survey looks at three services: police, schools and local government and the conclusion from all three is that what they deliver is not what the public want. The public want the police to tackle criminal gangs and organized crime, muggings and street crimes, prevent burglary and recover stolen property. A huge majority of people say that teaching the basics - reading, writing & comprehension - should be a top priority. Local government should concentrate on CCTV, keep council estates in good repair and tackle litter, graffiti and dog dirt. The disparity between what is delivered and what is wanted is clear to see.
Alistair Darling had a chance to start to repair the nation's finances for the future. But he blew it, writes Madsen Pirie.
The Waste of Nations argues that pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) waste charges are the best way to encourage recycling and to boost profitable waste businesses. However, the report stresses that PAYT must not be used as a 'dustbin tax' and that its introduction must be accompanied by a corresponding fall in council tax. The report also calls for the full liberalization of the refuse collection sector. Such a move would keep prices down and increase customer satisfaction. It would also lead to innovation and encourage refuse collectors to recycle more waste. The final section of the report argues that recycling should be put on a commercial footing. Recycling facilities and providers should be allowed to merge and consolidate, and the free movement and trade of recyclables should be established. This would ensure a market for commercially viable businesses in the long run.
According to mainstream human rights thinking all human rights are “indivisible". Therefore, this mantra insists, economic, social and cultural rights such as the right to an adequate living and the right to social security should not be treated differently from classic freedom rights such as free speech and habeas corpus. In The War on Capitalism: Human rights, political bias Jacob Mchangama argues that this conflation of very different rights is a fallacy, and that it reveals a marked political bias towards state involvement in the economy, increased public spending and the limitation or even abolishment of free market initiatives.
What is the true aim of taxes on alcohol, tobacco, fatty foods, and other "vices"? Are smokers, drinkers and fat people burdens on society who should be discouraged from enjoying their habits by taxation? Do these "sin taxes" actually work? In The Wages of Sin Taxes, Chris Snowdon tackles these questions and shows that sin taxes do not achieve their stated aim, offer no tangible benefit to society, and hit the poorest hardest.
The Universal Credit can still work, says Daniel Pryor. If short-term problems are overcome it could be a simpler welfare system that does not pervert the incentives of the poor.Read more...
Adair Turner, the former McKinsey consultant who now heads the FSA, published his much-heralded regulatory response to the global banking crisis last week. By all accounts, Gordon Brown will use the report as the basis for his initiative to re-regulate the world’s banking markets at the G20 Summit due to be held in London next week. While the report includes some telling insights into the current credit crisis, described in the opening paragraph as “arguably the greatest crisis in the history of finance capitalism” it is fundamentally flawed in its approach to the daunting task ahead. The report sets out a raft of new initiatives: higher capital adequacy margins; closely monitored liquidity regulation; greater oversight of hedge funds; curbs on bankers’ bonuses; rating agency oversight; and what is referred to as “intrusive and systemic supervision”. Yet in truth what is needed is not so much a stack of new regulation, but a regulatory regime that enforces the existing rulebook while eliminating regulations that are either unnecessary or unenforceable. [Cont'd]
The rise of global capitalism since 1980 has been the central factor in the massive rise in global quality of life. In this article, Jacob Lundberg explains why more liberalized global markets have meant richer and freer people.Read more...
The zombie firms plaguing Britain's economy, and what to do about them.Read more...
A Tobin tax is a proportional tax on all spot conversions from one currency to another. There are now growing calls for a Tobin tax to be introduced into the UK, both to raise revenues and to reduce market volatility. In this policy paper, Adam Baldwin examines the case for the Tobin tax and the associated "Robin Hood Tax" that was inspired by the Tobin tax. Looking at the underlying economics and the international experiences with Tobin taxes, he argues that such a policy would at best be ineffective, and at worst hugely counterproductive and harmful to the UK's financial sector and wider economy.