Sam Bowman

Sam Bowman is Research Director at the Adam Smith Institute. He writes on immigration, Bleeding Heart Libertarianism, and complexity in public policy.

Why I won't be voting

Written by | Thursday 3 May 2012

Today, Londoners will vote for the next Mayor. I won't be among them. I don't think that voting is any more one's "duty" than supporting a football team. Indeed, in large-scale elections (like the Mayoral election) it is probably a lot less important than cheering on your favourite team. If your aim is to affect policy, voting is irrational. If you want to act ethically, voting is irrelevant.

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No wonder we have bank bailouts: regulators will always be captured by the firms they're meant to oversee

Written by | Tuesday 1 May 2012

One important free market argument against government regulation of the economy is that regulators tend to become captured by corporate interests. When faced with a brief they know little about, politicians turn to the experts to devise policy and advise them on the ins-and-outs of the different industries they’re expected to regulate.

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Cardinal Keith O'Brien's misplaced faith in the Robin Hood Tax

Written by | Monday 30 April 2012

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the head of the Catholic Church in Scotland, has called for the government to introduce a “Robin Hood Tax”. This is hardly a surprise. O'Brien's expertise is in the field of faith and the supernatural, which is just where support for the “Robin Hood Tax” comes from. (Incidentally, this isn't the only dumb political statement the Cardinal has made in recent weeks.)

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A positive agenda for financial reform

Written by | Friday 27 April 2012

Detlev Schlichter is on excellent form today, outlining a way out of the crisis and towards monetary sanity:

Step 1: Privatize the central bank.

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A free market solution to pollution

Written by | Monday 23 April 2012

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LearnLiberty's great work

Written by | Monday 23 April 2012

LearnLiberty's videos are getting better and better. Along with Madsen's excellent Economics is Fun series, they provide neat, entertaining, informative and, best of all, short takes on controversial economic and philosophical issues. 

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We need a visionary at the Bank of England, and there's only one man for the job

Written by | Thursday 19 April 2012

Daniel Hannan notes that Adam Posen, Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) member and noted inflation “dove”, promised last year to resign his post if inflation didn’t fall to meet the MPC’s inflation target. With inflation at around 3.5%, it looks like he will have to stick to his promise. There is only one person fit to replace him: monetary economist Professor Kevin Dowd.

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"It's not that I'm against social justice, it's that I say it has no meaning!"

Written by | Wednesday 18 April 2012

The video above is a nice snippet of FA Hayek's view of "social justice". Hayek wrote that, "To discover the meaning of what is called 'social justice' has been one of my chief preoccupations for more than 10 years. I have failed in this endeavour — or rather, have reached the conclusion that, with reference to society of free men, the phrase has no meaning whatever." Just so.

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Our comment on the cigarette plain packaging consultation

Written by | Monday 16 April 2012

"Cigarette plain packaging laws are an illiberal, authoritarian attempt at social engineering. What’s more, they probably won’t work.

"Adults should be free to smoke and to advertise their cigarettes as they choose. The consultation makes no mention at all of civil liberties or individual responsibility. The government assumes, wrongly, that its job is to control the behaviour of adults.

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Aggregated confusion

Written by | Sunday 15 April 2012

The Keynesian and Austrian schools of economics may differ most starkly in their policy recommendations but, as Steve Horwitz reminds us, their differences are based in a fundamentally different view of how economics should be done. Keynesians, wishing to treat economics with the same tools as the natural sciences, aggregate economic activity into broad categories. The Austrian view is that this aggregation conceals the real things that we should be examining:

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