In 'False Economy', Barry Bracewell-Milnes argues that excessive rates of capital gains tax can damage tax revenue and taxpayers. [gview file="http://www.adamsmith.org/sites/default/files/images/stories/false-economy.pdf"]
In the 1980s, privatisation vastly changed the size and composition of the State. In the 1990s, the government is completing the privatisation agenda. It is breaking new ground as regards the management of the State itself. The concept of citizenship is replacing that of subjecthood as government attempts to make its remaining monopoly services more responsive to the consumer. The introduction of the Citizen's Charter underlines these attempts. John Major's commitment on becoming leader of the Conservative Party to 'constitutional evolution' has signalled that constitutional reform may be back on the agenda. Despite the triumph of the ideas of economic liberalism, there remain differences of view concerning the values which a capitalist society must hold. Ideologically, the divide is between those who make a virtue only of economic freedom and those who see economic freedom as part of a more general freedom.
The second group believe that morality itself should be privatise,d and all behavioural choices, economic or moral, should be left to the individual (provided, it is usually added, they do not harm others). It follows that the State should also play no role at all in religion, one of the key sources of moral values. This may upset those who, following Adam Smith, think capitalism demands a set of common moral values. Had Smith been alive today, he might have complained that religious organisations are often not forthright enough in urging moral standards upon the nation.
This report puts this debate into a practical context. It suggests a way of reconciling the two sides by taking account of the right of the individual to set his or her own moral standards, at the same time as giving religious groups and others the opportunity to spread their values more widely.
It examines whether, in a modern liberal society, one religious body should be given privileged status by the State and seeks to redefine religion's role within the framework of our unwritten constitution. It also presents a challenge to the Church of England and other religious and charitable organisations to take on functions which historically have belonged to them, but which have only relatively recently fallen within the competence of the secular State.
In this paper, Barry Bracewell-Milnes argues that excise duty on alcohol and tobacco in the UK are high compared to international standards, and that whilst developing nations may experience public sector financing gains from applying excise duties to these goods, developed nations can only achieve gains from applying these duties to motoring. He advocates the reduction of these duties.
From an economic point of view the history of the world since 1939 might be described as 'The Age of Inflation'. In several countries, especially those devastated by war and in South America, currencies have become practically worthless. Most other countries have experienced steadily rising prices. In the United Kingdom, where the phrases 'As good as gold' or 'As safe as the Bank of England' originated, prices have been rising continuously since 1939, and the pound sterling in 1993 is worth about one twenty fifth (or 4 per cent) of its 1939 value. Clearly, during this period money has totally failed to fulfil one of its three essential functions -- acting as a store of wealth -- and it has served most unsatisfactorily as a unit of account and a medium of exchange. Is inflation inevitable?
However, two things might be said about this world-wife inflation. First, there is the suggestion that it does not matter, or indeed that it actually stimulated economic activity, because for the period 1945-1970 the world experienced a period of unprecedented full employment and prosperity. And second, because all those under the age of 54 have lived with inflation throughout their lives, it might be said that inflation is inevitable; that the achievement of stable prices is a utopian fantasy and therefore not worth serious consideration.
Much of this Paper is devoted to refuting the first argument -- that inflation is usually beneficial to economic growth. But it is also necessary to destroy the fallacious notion that inflation is inevitable.