Mind Your Own Business!

We need a real market for corporate control, argues Elaine Sternberg. Private firms may have good reason to pay their executives highly, and shareholder sovereignty should be protected. The most important thing the government can do is to remove state restrictions on shareholder power — and stop meddling in how private companies are run. 

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The Wages of Sin Taxes

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.

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Planning in a free society

London as a case study for a spontaneously planned future.

The Town and Country Planning Act has failed. Restrictions on development, the Green Belt and the nationalized planning permission system have all helped to create a national housing crisis. In this report, an advance paper from the forthcoming Adam Smith Institute book A Manifesto for London, Tom Papworth argues for a radical reform of the British planning system, replacing it with a local, contractual and pluralist system to allow development whilst conserving areas of natural beauty and national heritage.

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Plain packaging

Commercial expression, anti-smoking extremism and the risks of hyper-regulation.

Christopher Snowdon examines the case for plain packaging of cigarettes, including examples from around the world. He finds that its supposed benefits are, in fact, nonexistant, and plain packaging laws may have significant unintended consequences as well, including making counterfeiting of cigarettes more common. Plain packaging laws could lead us down a slippery slope where alcohol and even fatty foods are also controlled by the government.

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Patterns of sustainable specialization and trade

Adam Smith and David Ricardo explained the benefits of trade, based on specialisation and comparative advantage. These concepts, says Arnold Kling, also can provide the basis for explaining fluctuations in employment. In this paper Kling proposes that we jettison the Keynesian paradigm of aggregate supply and demand (AS-AD) in favour of an alternative paradigm, which he calls patterns of sustainable specialisation and trade (PSST).

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Reforming the National Health Service

In this report, retired industrial line manager and entrepreneur Chris Davies reflects on his experience of four decades of NHS care, and details the numerous occasions on which Britain's health service has failed him. He argues that the NHS is a fifties-style nationalized service that does “time wasting and inconvenience on a monumental scale" and is fundamentally incapable of serving its customers effectively. Davies goes on to advocate reforms far more radical than anything yet contemplated by the British government: his blueprint would see the entire NHS estate sold to competing, private groups; it would establish a national insurance fund financed by the proceeds of those sales and by employer and employee contributions; and it would introduce a co-payments system whereby patients had to pay 20 percent of medical bills themselves, up to reasonable annual limit.

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Bank regulation: Can we trust the Vickers Report?

In this response to the Vickers report, financial experts Tim Ambler and Miles Saltiel argue that the report's findings fail to address the root causes of the financial crisis and would create another layer of bureaucracy. Instead, the government should allow the creation of new "Trust Banks" that would be safely run, reduce arguments for protection of riskier banks, and introduce new competition to the high street.

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