This briefing paper, by ASI fellows Tim Ambler and Keith Boyfield, notes the extraordinary growth of the UK's regulatory agencies since 1997 and the deleterious consequences for the UK economy. They argue that the UK's regulators should first be restricted to their original, purely economic role, and subsequently merged into a single, competition-focused Office of Fair Trading.
Austrian School economists gave us the ideas of marginal utility, opportunity cost, and the importance of time and ignorance in shaping human choices and the markets, prices and production systems that stem from them. 'Austrian' economics has revolutionised our understanding of what money is, why economic booms invariably turn to damaging busts, why government intervention in the economy is a mistake, the importance of time and information in economic decision-making, the crucial role of entrepreneurship, and how much economic policy is just plain wrong. Eamonn Butler explains these ideas in straightforward, non-technical language, making this Primer the ideal introduction for anyone who wants to understand the key insights of the Austrian School and their relevance and importance to our economic situation today. Now updated with an additional chapter on Contemporary Austrian thinking.
This report, by media expert and former BBC producer David Graham, argues that the TV Licence Fee should be abolished, and that the BBC should instead become a subscription service. The report makes a number of points against the Licence Fee, but also makes a more positive case for reform, suggesting that shifting to a voluntary subscription model would encourage the BBC to compete with the big US studios, export more high quality content overseas, and spark significant growth in the UK broadcasting industry and its contribution to the wider economy.
'Taxpayer Value: Rolling back the state' urges the government to reduce the number of people employed by Whitehall departments and their QUANGOs by almost 27 percent. This would equate to almost 270,000 public sector job losses and deliver estimated savings of £55bn a year. However, the emphasis of this report is not on cutting for cutting's sake. Rather, the goal is to make the concept of 'taxpayer value' central to government activity and, in so doing, deliver better services at a lower cost. Among other recommendations, the report suggests that job centres be privatized and the tax and benefit systems integrated, that the military take over procurement from the MoD and purchase equipment 'off the shelf', and the Departments for International Development and Communities and Local Government be abolished.
International evidence suggests clearly that increases in capital gains taxes above a very modest level result in decreases in revenue. Similarly, if capital gains tax rates are set above a relatively modest level, then their reduction will involve an increase in revenues. This paper uses new evidence from Ireland, Sweden and Switzerland combined with existing analysis from America, Australia and Britain to try and identify more precisely the revenue consequences of CGT increases in the UK. It looks at both revenue losses from capital gains tax and from other taxes.
In 'Re-Booting Government: How to deal with the deficit without cutting vital services', Dr Eamonn Butler argues that reducing deficits and debt is essential. Debt imposes a large interest-payments tax on citizens, limits the options open to governments, and it weakens political leaders both at home and abroad. But in the long run, a cheese-slicer approach to cutting spending is not going to be enough. We need to completely rethink the role of the state, what it does, and how it does it. In short, we need to reboot government.
This report reviews international evidence on the effect of capital gains tax rises on government revenues, finding that tax rises tend to decrease revenues while tax cuts tend to increase them. It suggests that aligning CGT rates with income tax, as the UK government has proposed, would significantly hit revenues and worsen the deficit, as well as discouraging much needed investment. It also refutes the idea that CGT is primarily a tax on the rich, suggesting instead that CGT hikes will hit ordinary families and – in particular – retirees. Finally, the report describes the idea that people can easily shift income to capital gains and thus avoid taxes as a theory in search of some evidence, pointing to numerous countries with high income taxes and low capital gains taxes where this does not seem to be problem.