This report reviews the evidence around plain packaging for cigarettes from Australia, the only country to have tried the policy so far. It finds that plain packaging has not had a noticeable impact on smoking rates, but has led to a significant rise in counterfeits, which are more easily available for underage smokers.
You didn't build it? What would Adam Smith say, asks Stephen MacLean.Read more...
Britain is broken. Its finances are in ruins, its taxation is chaotic and punitive, its public services fail to reach adequate standards, and its public administration shows no coherence and commands no respect. In Zero Base Policy Madsen Pirie urges a new approach. Instead of tinkering at the edges by trying to improve existing policies, he urges a re-think to first principles, asking in each case what are the purposes and the objectives sought. The policies derived from such an approach make a clean break with the past, setting out how Britain can be put right. Ranging across all areas of public policy, Madsen Pirie presents the radical agenda which can transform the nation from broken Britain into a dynamic society and a successful economy, one which achieves the objectives its citizens yearn for. It should be bedtime reading for those who aspire to govern Britain in the future.
Vince Cable’s proposed ‘mansion tax’ on high-value homes has come in for a lot of flack. But is it justified?
Inspired by the successful US welfare reforms of the 1990s, the proposals in Working Welfare would make work central to the benefits system. All working age people not meeting national disability criteria would face "immediate work requirements". This requirement would be backed with tough sanctions – "no work, no benefits" – and any absence from mandated work without good cause would trigger a pro rata reduction in benefit payments. The ASI proposals would also revolutionize the delivery of welfare. Responsibility for its provision and administration would be devolved to local agencies, which would be paid according to results. Agencies would be rewarded for getting people into work for a set period of time, ensuring an ongoing and personalised service for jobseekers. The report also advocates raising the personal income tax allowance to £12,000, to tackle high effective marginal tax rates for those trying to enter the workforce, and to make life easier for those with low incomes.
The privatization of the Forestry Commission and the reasons why are looked into by Douglas Mason. He looks closely at the history of the Forestry Commission and the reasons as to why they have failed in all areas to make state owned forestry viable. He highlights one area, visitors to the forests, as the only one if run properly by the State that could be profitable, though the need for change exists. Douglas Mason also looks at how the privatization could be pushed through and how best to protect the forests under the private sector.
Do we live in a country where our every move is being watched? Dr Eamonn Butler believes that the huge number of CCTV cameras on our streets have caused a new wave of anxiety amongst the public, as the police can easily target the innocent for insignificant crimes rather than taking care of the real threats to society.
The government wants to create the 'school of the future' with ICT-based learning in new-look buildings and at home. But existing government policy stands in the way of this vision. Teacher and ICT expert Tom McMullan identifies the blockages: too much focus on numbers rather than sustainability, low teacher confidence, dismal connectivity, and the lack of realisation that content, and not hardware, is what it's all about.
What now appears to be a seminal publication on the road to welfare reform. Ralph Howell examines the welfare system of the mid 1980s, what the Beveridge Report didn't utilise and how the two could be combined to create an incentivized work force and a simplified benefits system. This publication foreshadows many of the summer 2008 announcements.
Globalization and the Internet will discriminate against high tax and high spending governments, so believers in state power are now turning to international government to impose international controls. The choice is between the American model that creates a million new jobs a year, and the high tax, high unemployment model of the continent. Britain should set low, simple, transparent taxes and low regulation, which are the conditions that reward success and encourage investment and risk-taking. Britain should embrace globalization and all that it offers, instead of retreating into protectionism.