Sam Bowman

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

An elbow to the ribs

Written by | Thursday 12 April 2012

The Economist reports on “Nudging”, the idea that governments can non-coercively steer people towards towards making the right decisions for themselves.  In other words, make things like pensions opt-out instead of opt-in, so that lazy people end up with pensions, instead of without them.

The overall impression the article gives is how shallow Nudging is as an idea. One example:

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Wolfson revisited

Written by | Wednesday 11 April 2012

In December 2011, the Adam Smith Institute asked one of its Senior Fellows, Miles Saltiel, to form a team to compete for the Wolfson Prize for an essay on the best course for the Eurozone if members decide to drop out. He assembled a crew of City professionals and economists, who pored through the law-books, worked up the sums and took the counsel of an international group of seasoned veterans.

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A businessman's prayer

Written by | Tuesday 10 April 2012

After my optimistic blog this morning, this photo from India is a slightly less positive spin on how things are going in the developing world. (The image comes from a strike by jewelers over a proposed new tax. If only that was the sort of thing we striked about...)

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Of cheetahs and good coffee

Written by | Tuesday 10 April 2012

It's often striking how dim a view of humanity people on the left tend to take. Nowhere is this clearer than when it comes to international development. Poor countries are suffering from a "poverty gap", many claim, which they cannot cross without the West's help. Funnily, the West did not need this kind of help when it grew rich, nor did a decent number of now-rich countries in East Asia. But Africa, we're told, cannot do this.

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How I learned to stop worrying and love the future

Written by | Thursday 5 April 2012

Jeff Tucker, writing from his new home at Laissez Faire Books, extolls the virtues of technology and the future:

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Quote of the day

Written by | Wednesday 4 April 2012

"The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office.

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Our road to serfdom

Written by | Wednesday 4 April 2012

Reading the news this week, I have been reminded of FA Hayek’s classic essay “Principles or expediency?”.

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Getting better all the time

Written by | Saturday 31 March 2012

"Ours is the most dynamic era in human history. The benefits of four centuries of technological and organizational change are at last reaching a previously excluded global majority. This transformation will create large-scale opportunities in richer counties like the United States just as it has in poorer countries now in the ascent.

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Something to strike about

Written by | Friday 30 March 2012

It's probably been the most shambolic week in the government's history. "Pastygate" was fun, but Francis Maude has nearly sparked a fuel crisis by warning people to stock up before an impending strike by fuel lorry drivers.

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Private libraries in practice

Written by | Thursday 29 March 2012

Yesterday's "pastygate" was a fun moment in England's usually-dreary political scene. Everybody was knowingly parodying themselves in "outrage" at the government removing the VAT exemption from Cornish pasties and sausage rolls — The Telegraph even set up a rolling live-blog. It was a rare display of fun self-awareness by the Westminster set. 

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