Sam Bowman

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

Yes, Virginia, there is a slippery slope

Written by | Wednesday 28 March 2012

A lot of people don’t like slippery slope arguments. To people who see themselves as pragmatic, slippery slope arguments are a convenient way for ideologues to rule out small reforms. As such, people who don’t already believe in the intrinsic badness of government are usually unmoved by the idea that a little reform they like might lead to a big reform they don’t like somewhere down the line, and dismiss the case altogether.

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What's GDP got to do with it?

Written by | Tuesday 27 March 2012

Bryan Caplan recently discussed the nature of GDP, and the problems with a lot of what it includes:

1. Some "output" is actually destructive.  At minimum, the national "defense" of the bad countries you think justifies the national defense of all the other countries.

2. Some "output" is wasted.  At minimum, the marginal health spending that fails to improve health.

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Economics is fun, part 19: Globalization

Written by | Monday 26 March 2012

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The injustice of minimum alcohol pricing

Written by | Friday 23 March 2012

I’ve struggled to write something about minimum alcohol pricing today. It’s a hugely important issue, and one I care deeply about. But I can’t help but be angry at the people who've proposed it, and the government made up of supposed “conservatives” and “liberals” who plan on implementing it. It's anti-individualism at its worst.

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Hayek's death, 20 years on

Written by | Friday 23 March 2012

“All political theories assume, of course, that most individuals are very ignorant. Those who plead for liberty differ from the rest in that they include among the ignorant themselves as well as the wisest."

“It is because freedom means the renunciation of direct control of individual efforts that a free society can make use of so much more knowledge than the mind of the wisest ruler could comprehend”

FA Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty. 

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The Austrian business cycle theory

Written by | Thursday 22 March 2012

At the (sadly now closed) Mises Economics Blog, Art Carden has a good short primer on the Austrian business cycle theory:

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Economics is fun, part 18: Regulation

Written by | Wednesday 21 March 2012

Today, Madsen takes on regulation. This is a funny topic because many people assume that regulation is almost a fundamental responsibility of the state, much as most of us think policing is. But regulation creates real costs, Madsen says, which we dismiss at our peril.

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IHS summer seminars

Written by | Monday 19 March 2012

Our friends at the Institute for Human Studies have sent over this blurb about their student seminars this summer, which I'm more than happy to promote. IHS seminars are absolutely superb, with top-class speakers and lecture topics, and (in my experience) some truly excellent attendees who are a pleasure to get to know. The one thing I've noticed is that far too few British students tend to go. If you have a week free this summer, I highly recommend changing that and applying.

2 Weeks to Apply: IHS Summer Seminars on Liberty

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Economics is fun, part 17: Public choice

Written by | Monday 19 March 2012

Along with insights from the Austrian economists, public choice economics is one of the cornerstones of many libertarians' economic worldviews. In today's episode of Economics is Fun, Madsen explains why public choice is so important. He equates public choice with the principal/agent issue in companies, namely that our representatives tend to grind their own axes instead of ours.

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The 50p tax must go

Written by | Friday 16 March 2012

The Guardian reports today that George Osborne is "poised" to scrap the 50p tax in this Wednesday's budget:

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