Dr Madsen Pirie

Dr Madsen Pirie is President of the Adam Smith Institute.  He subscribes to a broadly empirical and libertarian philosophy and values the insights of the Austrian School of Economics.  He has written books on logic, philosophy, economics, and children's science fiction.  His own website is at www.madsen-pirie.com

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Ten reasons why the Left should like the ASI, 2: Support for debt relief

Written by | Thursday 4 April 2013

2. The ASI supported debt relief for third world countries.  The Left should appreciate the removal of the debt-servicing burden from the citizens of poorer countries that this would bring.

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Ten reasons why the Left should like the ASI, 1: Raising the tax threshold

Written by | Wednesday 3 April 2013

There are many reasons why most Adam Smith Institute initiatives do not find favour with the Left.  We favour a spontaneous society rather than one planned centrally according to a preconceived idea of what it should be like.  They favour equality where we seek opportunities for everyone.  Many on the Left think in terms of class struggle, where the advancement of one class can only take place at the expense of another.  We do not think in class terms, but treat people as individuals, seeking opportunities for advancement for everyone.  Despite these major differences in outlook, there

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A breathtakingly silly piece of journalism

Written by | Tuesday 2 April 2013

The Guardian has published many silly pieces in its time, as have other papers, but today it published a piece by Lynsey Hanley that must rank as one of the most breathtakingly silly of all time. The article claims that raising the income tax threshold to £10,000 patronizes the low-paid. Moreover it "disenfranchises 3 million people":

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Preventing town-dwellers owning second homes in the countryside

Written by | Tuesday 2 April 2013

Sir Andrew Motion, head of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, has called for taxes that will put countryside second homes beyond the reach of all except the very rich.  His motivation is very clearly expressed.  These second homes are:

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An impressive new ambassador for entrepreneurship

Written by | Thursday 28 March 2013

People who make a lot of money are not very popular in Britain these days.  A cult of envy fed by the Left and parts of the media led by the BBC decries "the rich," "the top one percent," and wants us to take it that the wealth of the few is gained at the expense of the many.  If we lived in a world where wealth was in fixed supply this might be plausible, but we don't.  We live in a world where wealth is created, and in which entrepreneurs who develop new products and new processes bring improvements to our lives and are rewarded accordingly.  Even so, people who become rich risk the envy

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Changing the way we study the social sciences and economic behaviour

Written by | Monday 25 March 2013

Writing in Pacific Standard magazine, Ethan Watters draws attention to the game-changing work of Joe Henrich, Steven Heine and Ara Norenzayan, and the studies they have made on the behaviour and perceptions of non-Western cultures.  For example, the 'ultimatum game' produces different results.  This is the 'game' where one player is given $100 and told to offer some of it to another player.  If the second player rejects the offer, neither receives

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Why 'Heavens on Earth' is a very important book

Written by | Thursday 21 March 2013

I've just been re-reading Jean-Paul Floru's "Heavens on Earth."  (I should declare an interest in that I am one of two that the book is dedicated to).  It is a superb book, not least for being highly readable and packed with engaging anecdotes.  More importantly, though, it puts its message across with a wall of supporting evidence.  The message is that microeconomics works.  Every single country that has tried to achieve rapid economic growth by cutting taxes and red tape has succeeded. 

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Making a complete mess of Cyprus

Written by | Monday 18 March 2013

The people in charge of economic policy in the EU appear to believe that they can create economic reality by passing laws and reaching decisions through negotiation.  Their knowledge of human psychology seems to be even more flawed than their understanding of how markets actually work in practice.  The decision they forced upon the Cyprus government is flawed on many levels.  The bank levy punishes savers but leaves the bond-holders untouched, violating the principle that small savers should be protected, while the bond-holders who knew they were taking a punt should take a hit.

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Allister Heath calls it correctly on growth

Written by | Wednesday 20 February 2013


Allister Heath, editor of City AM, has an Editor's Letter in Wednesday's paper calling for urgent action to stimulate growth.  He is right, and time is running out for the Chancellor to act.  Allister calls for Corporation Tax to be slashed to 11 percent (below Ireland's 12.5 percent) and for Capital Gains Tax to be abolished. He says:

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Remembering George Orwell

Written by | Monday 21 January 2013

George Orwell died on January 21st 1950, only 47 years old.  Short though his life was, his achievements earned him a place in history.  His Homage to Catalonia, describing his experiences as a volunteer in the Spanish Civil War, brought him fame, but with it the enmity of the hard, pro-Soviet left because of his indictment of the duplicity of the Communist forces in Spain.

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