20–20 Vision sets out a clear and coherent set of goals, and constitutes a radical agenda for innovation and reform. Written in 1994 it puts forth one hundred indicative targets that are viable for Britain to achieve over the next 25 years. It covers a wide range of subjects that cover the fabric of British society. Examples of the targets are: nursery education for three and four year–olds; top rate of tax of 20% and a basic rate of 10%; trains will link cities at speeds in excess of 200mph; the "tagging" of persistent offenders; renovation of housing stock making them energy sufficient and noise insulated; zero pollution for city transport and industry; the whole population to be in Health Maintenance Organisations; the NHS more doctor–based and more local; more private provision replacing state benefits. This report draws on the work of more than 25 contributors. The emphasis throughout is on private funding, voluntary effort and free enterprise, rather than on public money.
This report argues that it is time for the welfare state to be transformed. The authors argue for a new structure which can gradually be built out of the existing one. They present ways in which this can be achieved despite the financial constraints which contributing individuals and Treasury officials will impose. As such, this report sets forward a clear and intellectually coherent alternative to the welfare state, together with the means which can be used to bring it about. It thus presents a bold challenge to the conventional welfare thinking which has so visibly and lamentably failed to achieve its objectives.
A review of post-Communist privatization. The authors find that the purpose of economic reform and privatization had been forgotten nor deliberately ignored in post-Communist countries. Firms were privatized in an unreconstructed and shoddy state, shareholders have no power, monopolies are protected, conflicts between ministries continued. The authors demanded that UK policy change to ensure effective reforms, they outlines new ways to overcome the problems and make privatization popular and beneficial.
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.
Instead of enhancing European unity and furthering prosperity, such [paternalistic] policies will, if left unchecked, inevitably foster political conflict and a dependency culture. By failing to endorse the dynamic vision of a truly trans-national free market system and withdraw from the dangerous consequences of social engineering and economic centralisation, the EC is acing like an old-fashioned and isolated nation state. Instead of promoting development, it is increasingly being perceived by its citizens as an obstacle to wealth creation, personal freedom, and the basic principles upon which an open society is built. Following years of misuse by anti-competitive vested interests and bureaucratic empire builders, the Brussels' bureaucracy has grown to such an extent it is, today, placing the European ideal in danger.
Is a common morality necessary for the proper functioning of a market, or is religious freedom an undeniable facet of overall freedom in a liberal society? This paper explores those questions and comes to the conclusion that the implementation of market strategies for the Church of England will more successfully promote itself and recruit members, rather than withering within its shelf of state protection, while promoting the freedom of choice that accompanies open markets. In a classic liberal idea, the church will have more importance and influcence if chosen on the market rather than forced by the state.
Banking on the Future by Ian Smedley, with additional material by Antoine Clarke and Simon McIlwaine, advocates a liberal perspective on banking, suggesting free banking and private currency, through current and historical examples such as free banking in Scotland.