Sam Bowman

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

The ideal welfare system is a basic income

Written by | Monday 25 November 2013

The British government spends more on welfare than it does on anything else apart from healthcare. The benefits system is arcane and unwieldy, a mish-mash of disparate attempts to address different social problems in a piecemeal fashion. It creates perverse incentives for those on it, such as people stuck in a ‘benefits trap’ where they lose almost as much money in benefits by working as they are earning, and distorts entire markets by inflating prices, as housing benefit does to the housing market.

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The "Papers, please" immigration bill

Written by | Wednesday 23 October 2013

In today's City AM I highlight some of the worst parts of the government's Immigration Bill. The Bill forces private citizens like landlords, nurses, wedding registrars and others to become de facto state informants, reporting anyone they suspect of being an illegal immigrant to the authorities:

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The growing digital challenge to government money

Written by | Tuesday 15 October 2013

The folks at the Real Asset Company have put together a very useful graphic outlining the rise of digital currencies like Bitcoin. It's big, but you can see the whole thing by clicking through the preview below.

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Why we've finally joined Google+

Written by | Wednesday 9 October 2013

We've set up an Adam Smith Institute page on Google+, and — more importantly — a Google+ community for libertarians and classical liberals (and fellow-travellers) to share and discuss ideas and articles they find interesting.

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Quote of the day: On anarchist calisthenics

Written by | Tuesday 24 September 2013

One day you will be called on to break a big law in the name of justice and rationality. Everything will depend on it. You have to be ready. How are you going to prepare for that day when it really matters? You have to stay “in shape” so that when the big day comes you will be ready. What you need is “anarchist calisthenics.” Every day or so break some trivial law that makes no sense, even if it’s only jaywalking. Use your own head to judge whether a law is just or reasonable. That way, you’ll keep trim; and when the big day comes, you’ll be ready.

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Rolling down a slippery slope

Written by | Friday 20 September 2013

Warnings about ‘slippery slopes’ are often overused by defenders of individual liberty. That’s probably inevitable, since we often end up defending a principle against a seemingly-pragmatic policy that, by itself, is not very objectionable.

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Free school meals aren't as tasty as they sound

Written by | Wednesday 18 September 2013

All children at infant schools will be given free school meals from 2014, Nick Clegg has announced, at a cost to the taxpayer of £600m.

On the face of it, the policy is extremely bad. Children of parents earning less than £16,190 and/or receiving income support or other kinds of welfare are already entitled to free school meals, so, other than children whose parents are unaware that they are eligible, the main beneficiaries of this policy will be the children of middle-income families.

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Bleeding heart libertarianism and British politics

Written by | Tuesday 17 September 2013

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An open letter to the government on the Lobbying Bill

Written by | Tuesday 3 September 2013

The government's Lobbying Bill is a serious threat to free speech and will curb the activities of think tanks, charities and other groups whose participation in political debate is vital for the political system to work openly. That's why we've co-signed the letter from other think tanks, below, urging the government to drop this bill.

We wish to highlight our grave concern about the Government’s Lobbying Bill, a piece of legislation that poses a significant threat to legitimate campaigning freedom of speech, political activism and informed public debate.

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Why we're hoping the wisdom of crowds can beat Mark Carney

Written by | Wednesday 28 August 2013

Today we've launched two betting markets to try to use the 'wisdom of crowds' to beat government economic forecasters. Here's the press release we sent out:

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