The greenbelt isn't all green, says the ASI in The Sun

After the release of the housing white paper, The Sun reported The Adam Smith's calculation - that 1.4million more families could get on the housing ladder if our nation’s politicians let us build on just 1.5 per cent of this protected land encircling our bigger cities - to put forward the argument that this country needs to relax planning restrictions in order to combat the housing crisis at its roots.

Press Comment: Renationalisation is a complete red herring

In response to the potential renationalisation of Southern Rail, Head of Research at the Adam Smith Institute, Ben Southwood, said:

“Renationalising Southern will not solve its problems: it’s already state-run for all intents and purposes. In fact, if it was still a franchise—as it was up till 2015—the company would likely have bought off the union, whether or not their concerns about drivers are operating doors are valid.
“The whole Southern palava is a bizarre case of everyone pulling the wool over everyone else’s eyes. The system is simply not run in a remotely private fashion, like Virgin on the East and West Coast Mainlines, or First with Great Western. It’s run like Arriva “runs” London buses—that means the government calls the shots and Govia Thameslink Railways simply does everything they ask, including on pricing, staffing, and revenues.
“Once again, renationalisation is a complete red herring - it's essentially already happened."

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Press Comment: The congestion charge isn't working - It's time for road pricing

Sam Dumitriu, Head of Projects, in praise of The London Transport Committee's suggestions to scrap the congestion charge and implement road pricing said:

The London Transport Committee are right to say that the congestion charge is 'no longer fit for purpose.
Congestion is costing the capital billions and proper road pricing could change that.
The current congestion charge is too low to meaningfully reduce congestion. Instead, it merely acts as a regressive tax on motorists. And it's too inflexible to nudge motorists into avoiding travel at peak times.
Road pricing means upping the charge during rush-hour and lowering it during the rest of the day. That would ensure delivery vans aren't contributing to sluggish traffic at peak times.
And it works. In London traffic flows on average at a painfully slow 7.2mph. In Singapore (the first country to implement road pricing) it flows at nearly 20mph and that's in rush hour.
London should follow Singapore's lead and bring in proper road-pricing.

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Press Comment: Sam Bowman's reaction to May's Brexit speech

Sam Bowman, Executive Director  of the Adam Smith Institute, said:

The Prime Minister struck a welcome and surprisingly balanced tone in her Brexit speech today, emphasising the need for a deep, comprehensive deal with the European Union that removes tariff, regulatory and customs barriers to trade between the UK and the EU. Her preference for a phased withdrawal from the EU gives negotiators time to work out the details in reducing regulatory barriers to trade, and help to facilitate the British economy’s transition to the new arrangements in place.
The ‘global Britain’ angle is good news, too. Britain can be more nimble than the EU at negotiating free trade deals with the world’s largest economies, and we’re delighted that the Prime Minister sees Brexit as a chance to make Britain a world leader in free trade. As she rightly said, trade is not a zero sum game – the more open we are to it with both the EU and the rest of the world, the richer we’ll all be.
Ultimately, it is confirmation that she is looking to get a Brexit deal that can satisfy a majority of both Leavers and Remainers, uniting the country – a point that Mrs May stressed, to her credit. Some will be unhappy that she is not defaulting to WTO rules, some that she is leaving the single market. By striking a middle course between the ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ Brexit options, May will be attacked by die-hard Remainers and Leavers alike. But she should take heart: a good compromise leaves everyone mad.

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ASI voice of reason in light of misleading Oxfam claims

Following the release of Oxfam's latest wealth statistics, Ben Southwood appeared across national and regional media debunking the story. He said:

"It is not the wealth of the world's rich that matters, but the welfare of the world's poor - and this is improving every year. The consumption of the world's poor continues to rise, as does their education, healthcare, and height."

His response was covered across the full spread of national newspapers, including The Daily ExpressThe Evening Standard, Metro, City A.M, The Sun and The Telegraph, as well as national magazines, such as The Spectator and The Week.

Ben was interviewed across BBC World News, Al Jazeera and the Victoria Derbyshire show, as well as being the voice of reason on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme, BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Wales, BBC World Service Radio, CNN International, Radio 5 Live and appearing in the hourly news bulletins across every BBC regional station.  

Finally, op-eds from ASI staff appeared in City AM, IB TimesHuffington Post and Verdict and CapX.

Oxfam's wealth statistics are persistently misleading - Ben Southwood comment

In reaction to Oxfam's annual wealth statistics report out this morning, Ben Southwood, Head of Research at the Adam Smith Institute, said:

"Each year we are misled by Oxfam's wealth statistics. The data is fine—it comes from Credit Suisse—but the interpretation is not. It is not the wealth of the world's rich that matters, but the welfare of the world's poor, and this is improving every year.
"The fraction of the world's people surviving on less than $2/day has fallen from 69.6% in 1981 to 43% in 2008, and even lower now. The consumption of the world's poor continues to rise, as does their education, healthcare, and height. And remember, the global 1% includes around 5m Brits—most of those with a London house—not just oligarchs and plutocrats.
"Oxfam use Vietnam as a case study, bizarrely failing to mention that economy's incredible growth: income has gone up from around $100 per capita before the 1986 neoliberal reforms to around $2,000 today.
"Inequality is a side-effect of stability, peace, and growth; clamping down on it through foolish wealth taxes risks everybody's living standards."

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Change Britain's claims about post-Brexit trade deals are "basically junk" says Sam Bowman

Sam Bowman's comments about post-Brexit trade deals featured in The Guardian:

Sam Bowman, the executive director of the neoliberal Adam Smith Institute, wrote in a blogpost that the numbers were “basically junk” and said the heavyweight backers of Vote Leave “can do better than this”.

“The extra exports figures come from using EU projections about the benefits of trade deals with countries and blocs like India, China and Mercosur, and dividing by Britain’s share of extra-EU trade (15%),” he wrote.

“This is fairly misleading, because it assumes that the UK could get the same terms as the EU, which is unlikely, since the UK is a much smaller economic bloc than the EU, so other countries will be less willing to give us what we want to get access to our market. It’s very much back-of-the-fag-packet stuff.”

Tide Effect paper continues to make waves in The Sun

The ASI's Tide Effect paper advocating the legalisation of cannabis in the UK received more coverage in the new year in The Sun online:

A report by the right wing think tank the Adam Smith Institute reveals there are major savings for state coffers if the soft drug was regulated.

Between £750m and £1bn could be earned by the Revenue if it was taxed.

And there would also be significant savings in the criminal justice costs, with 1,363 offenders now in prison for cannabis-related crimes, costing taxpayers £50m a year.

The call is backed by a full spectrum of MPs, including ex-Tory Cabinet minister Peter Lilley, and veteran Labour MP Paul Flynn.

In addition to financial arguments, there has long been a call to legalise the drug to help people with chronic pain and anxiety.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Drug Policy Reform says tens of thousands of people in UK already break the law to use cannabis for symptom relief.

Adam Smith Institute slams Corbyn's "bananas" pay cap proposals in Bloomberg

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn backed away from his pay cap proposals as the Adam Smith Institute marked the plans as "bananas" in Bloomberg news.

Sam Bowman's "totally bananas" quote also appeared in The Sun and Sky News Online (twice) and his other comment in The Guardian

The Adam Smith Institute, which also promotes unfettered markets, was also dismissive [of the maximum salary cap]. Sam Bowman, executive director, said: “A maximum salary cap would hurt British firms and ultimately ordinary British workers. If you’re a worker for a FTSE 100 firm, this is bad news: your job security and wages will suffer if your company isn’t led by the best people in the world.

“If you’re saving for a pension, this is bad news: the value of your savings will suffer as British firms become less productive, starved of global top talent. If you rely on the NHS or other public services, this is bad news: tax revenues will fall as these highly-paid executives move abroad."

Sam Bowman's comment also appeared in The Irish Times:

"The Adam Smith Institute dismissed it as “bananas” although, with remarkable restraint, it avoided the use of the words “peanuts” and “monkeys” in its response. “If we want Britain to boom, we need to let business hire who it wants and pay them what it wants,” said director Sam Bowman."

And in The Independent, City A.M, i News Online, Economia, and The Evening Standard:

"A maximum salary cap would be completely bananas and hurt British business and ultimately ordinary British workers.

"The strategic decisions that top bosses make affect every part of their firm, and multinational corporations are right to spend what it takes to attract the best business leaders to Britain."