We remember Adam Smith for his stunning intuition of the invisible
guiding hand that somehow enables rampant self interest to evolve for
the common good. Two hundred years later we face a similar paradox. We
know that the Earth is a benign and comfortable place for life and has
been so for most of its history, so how have selfish genes allowed the
evolution of so altruistic a planet? It is easy now to see how
Darwinian natural selection leads to the evolution of fit organisms but
how can the common good for all life also evolve by natural selection?
Town traffic causes by far the bulk of the congestion, pollution, accidents, and noise nuisance of driving - all of which cost society seven times what urban motorists pay in taxes. Rural drivers, by contrast, are overcharged three times for their use of the roads. For heavy vehicles in urban areas during peak-hours this discrepancy is even higher, claims the report, which proposes a £15 billion cut in the revenue collected in fuel duty, vehicle taxes and VAT. People driving in towns, however, would pay tolls averaging 5.6p per mile, with charges much higher at peak times and for high-polluting heavy vehicles.
In this think piece, Dr Eamonn Butler considers the economic downturn and the government's response to it. He unpacks the reality of quantative easing for what it is, namely printing money.
The government's push to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998 is ill-advised, says the ASI's legal writer Preston Byrne, who argues that the civil liberties protections offered to the British people by the Human Rights Act 1998 must be buttressed, not erased. If there is a problem with the Human Rights Act, it's not that it goes too far – it's that it doesn't go nearly far enough.Read more...
Sweden has been operating a choice-based school funding system since the early 1990s, with great success.
To promote this right to choose in the UK, three proposals are recommended: (1) parents should be entitled to remove their children from failing schools and choose any other school instead; (2) public finance would be available to all schools on the basis of the number of students they could attract; and (3) a non-refundable tax credit to provide parents with a pound-for-pound reductions in their income tax liability (up to an agreed limit) for each child they have in non-state education.
This analysis suggests that official economic statistics systematically understate increases in living standards. It makes the case that many statistics, including Gross Domestic Product (GDP), might have been appropriate to the age of mass production, but fail to reflect accurately the new economy which is being created by the application of information technology.
The Adam Smith Institute envisages a two-stage sale of BR: the track and terminals privatized as a complete unit, and then the individual services which run on the track.
Dr Eamonn Butler discusses the introduction of a flat tax rate. He mentions the increasing popularity of this form of tax and why the increase in tax revenue often confuses politicians.
The 50p tax rate is costing the government money by discouraging work and driving high-income earners overseas. In a ranking of the marginal tax rates of the 86 largest economies in the world, Britain comes 83rd, and increasing numbers of businesses and high earners are leaving the country. This paper looks at the international evidence in favour of and against this high rate, and argues that Britain's growth prospects for the next decade are seriously harmed by it.
Vuk Vukovic draws on new academic research to argue that the historical evidence around recessions is clear: cutting government spending, not Keynesian stimulus, is the way to create a recovery.Read more...