What EU would be best and how do we achieve it?

The crucial EU issue for the UK is not whether to leave or stay in the Union, but what Britain can do to achieve the EU it most wants. Threats to leave are counter-productive and reinforce an image of Britain as a grumpy old man best left alone and placated only when essential. Success will require a positive approach and cordial relations with those other member states likely to share those particular goals. Grandiloquent claims of British 'leadership' are equally unhelpful. The UK needs a strategic plan, to which this report is intended to contribute, and rather more effective diplomacy.  

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Road Map to Reform: Health

In this report, part of the ASI's influential Road Map series, the authors seek to retain what is best about the NHS, in particular the fairness that it represents. The report is based on the principle that everyone should have high-quality healthcare free at the point of use, and assumes that most healthcare will continue to be funded through taxation. Nonetheless the authors also propose to unleash the power of enterprise and innovation in how healthcare is actually provided. This requires breaking through the ideological barricades - a public-private mixture is really the only way forward.

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Globalization and Inflation

The effects of globalization on inflation are complicated and substantial research on this topic has been lacking, producing a level of uncertainty. This paper hopes to address four key aspects of the issue: how globalization is affecting prices, wages, asset prices and the overall implications for monetary policy. While in the long–run globalization tends to have a null effect on inflation as imbalances like wage–expectations and price arbitrage are corrected, in the short–run, the impact is more uncertain.

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The Critic of Exploitation: Adam Smith

For today's critics selfishness has been replaced by reference to greed and if that is not sufficiently colourful - "crass greed". "Greed is good" is even said to be the creed of the proponents of free markets and in today's universal media distribution this has gained widespread currency. Such negative perceptions of the market economy have the potential to undermine its moral foundations and therefore its general acceptance. However, Adam Smith outlines a free market economy does not depend on greed; indeed, Smith's central notion of self-interest is quite different to greed.


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Rewiring Democracy

The UK's e-government strategy is fragmented and producer driven, says Andrew Lomas, and will never deliver its full benefits to the public. By contract, tiny Estonia has re-thought its government systems around the new technology – resulting in much higher online access to government and greater public satisfaction. 

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No Way to Run a Railway

Rail's woes are due to bureaucracy, not privatization. It's time for the government to release the railway from its overburdening grip. A grip entrenched in regulation that has far too many officials, or any proper functionality. Iain Murray, the author, says that for the railways to work, "the train operation companies must be given more control, and have a major say in how station and track improvements are managed. This will lead to more customer-driven investment decisions," he insists, "providing in turn much more of what train users actually want."


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Flat Tax for the UK

This report, A Flat Tax for the UK – A Practical Reality, calls for income tax to be simplified into a flat rate tax of 22%. Under the proposal, there would be a tax-free personal allowance of £12,000.

As the report says, the concept of a flat tax, a simple tax system that charges a single rate of tax on all income, is growing in popularity. It contrasts clearly with the current systems operated in most countries, with different tax rates depending on the level and type of income or on the personal circumstances of the individual taxpayer.


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Grounds for Complaint?

The fall in coffee prices has been caused by a 15% oversupply in coffee production. It is a market response to excessive production, rather than evidence of corporate wickedness. More efficient techniques and improved technology may cause prices to fall further. Those who advocate prop-up pricing schemes such as 'fair trade' may have the best of intentions, but they will probably encourage the less efficient producers to keep at it, maintaining the over-supply. What farmers should do is to diversify into other products. Instead of a token gesture such as paying a few pence extra for a cup of coffee, we should be opening our markets to their goods, and cease selling subsidized crops in competition with theirs on world markets.

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Paying For Localism

Britain's local government authorities raise only a quarter of their budget from local sources. Which means that they are in thrall to national politicians and bureaucrats. Turn-out in local elections is falling because people no longer think they matter. The solution? Make local councils raise all their money locally. Not with an extra tax, but by turning VAT into a genuinely local sales tax. Since VAT raises almost exactly the amount that counties and districts spend, the sums balance neatly. And with competition between authorities to keep rates low, there will be greater focus on value for money.

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How Government Can Get Us Saving Again

Distinguished actuary and government advisor on pensions Alan Pickering believes he has found a way to overcome the savings crisis that could just have everyone agreeing. Better education, simplification, a wider role for employers- but the key measure is to massively increase the basic state pension, while raising the retirement age too.

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