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Charlie Paice

Articles by Charlie Paice

The Lives of Others

7 days ago

Well into week three of home isolation and the temptation to stop work and switch on the TV has never been stronger. In a textbook case of self-justification, I flicked on The Lives of Others as, being in German, it made me feel pretentious enough to not to admit to watching TV during the daytime on a workday.  The film, however, is brilliant and it is no surprise that it won best foreign language film at the 2007 Oscars, and has been credited as the best-ever German film.The film is set in Communist East Germany (GDR). The main character is a Stasi officer, Gerd Wiesler (Ulrich Mühe). He is noticeably more committed to the ideology of socialism than many of his colleagues trying to play party politics to climb the greasy bureaucratic pole. Gerd is tasked by one such superior, to spy on

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Michael Strain’s ‘The American Dream Is Not Dead’

25 days ago

In response to those on both the left and right claiming the American working class is being robbed by China or billionaires Michael Strain’s book delivers a passionate defence that opportunity and meritocracy still exist in America. From longer holidays, to better cancer survival rates, to more affordable luxuries such as air travel, the standard of living of the average American has risen considerably since the 1970s and 1990s. He argues against the permanent hollowing out of the middle class by using Harry Holzer’s argument that a new middle class is emerging centred around jobs in healthcare, mechanical maintenance and some services. He also argues against the Conservative Populist argument that there are a record number of people being locked out of employment by showing that the long

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Why we do not need a riches line

March 5, 2020

A recent article in the New Statesman by Anoosh Chakelian was titled ‘To match the poverty line, experts are now drawing a ‘riches line’ for too much wealth.’ Thankfully the article was not as bad as the title may suggest (which again serves as a healthy reminder to those who love to dive into the comment section on Twitter). It certainly was not as bad as George Monbiot’s incredibly misguided article asking for wealth limits. Ms Chakelian was mainly discussing this report which outlined public perceptions of different levels of prosperity. The majority of society is split into 5 bands, ranging from A – ‘The minimum income standard’ to E – ‘The Super Rich.’ It goes without saying that we should obviously be trying to move people up these bands (and prioritising the ascent of those closer

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Our New Henry VIII

February 13, 2020

Sajid Javid is out and Rishi Sunak is in. In addition to that, it has also been announced that the teams of number 10 and number 11 are going to be more combined. This may be a surprise or it may in fact be a repeat of the early 16th century. Let me explain why. Looking back to 2010 the Conservatives were steeped in fiscal conservatism. Cutting the budget was central and austerity was firmly the order of the day. Just as after the long dynastic crises of the wars of the roses, after the financial crisis of 2007-8 those who emerged to take power were self-proclaimed penny pinching Cameron and Osbourne. Both saw ‘that a full treasury was an absolutely necessary condition of establishing the new rule’ (Elton – England Under the Tudors).If you still doubt it, Osbourne even famously declared

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Give Britons a Holiday

February 13, 2020

After three and a half years of Brexit chaos and all the anxiety and business uncertainty it is now time for the government to reward the British people for their patience by giving them a holiday. As we now become global Britain it is important that we give people the opportunity to live this out, to visit far flung places, to encounter and enjoy different cultures. For others, it may be enough just to relax in a sunny climate in the confidence that Brexit is finally done. We can help do this by removing one of the largest barriers to those who want to fly abroad: Air Passenger Duty (APD). Of course the immediate go to reaction is an immediate shutdown in the style of Ms Thunberg’s ‘How dare you!’ Travelling by plane is evil. We should stop people from flying, either by shaming them or by

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Lessons from Ireland

February 10, 2020

The Irish Election has been a shock to the previous two party system. The former political wing of the IRA (Sinn Fein) secured 24.5 percent of first preferences in Ireland’s system of single transferable votes with Fianna Fáil on 22.2 percent and Fine Gael on 20.9 percent. Sinn Féin registers as the most popular among all but the over-65 age group (those who lived through the brunt of the Troubles). This is up from 13.8% of the vote and only 23 seats in the 157 seat lower house. The former political wing of the IRA put housing at the centre of their campaign and manifesto – aiming for younger votes part of Generation Rent. They promised a three-year rent freeze, tax credits worth an average one month’s rent and a large state-led building project through local authorities. As the polls

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The Reality of China’s Virus

February 6, 2020

Recently on twitter, videos of the Wuhan Coronavirus Hospitals being built in 8 days have been circulating. Of course, when you have a command economy you can complete certain tasks very quickly. There’s no local consultation or planning permission to fill out – if the party wants it, it’s done. While some may hail this a triumph of socialism, it’s important to distinguish between the surface and what lies beneath it. Of course a totalitarian state does have its advantages. It is fairly free to quarantine a city the size of London, surrounding it with troops so no-one gets out. Doctors and nurses can be forced to work overtime. Stricter censorship (supposedly) prevents mass panic. Of course this is not the case. Speculation through word of mouth fills the void that little official news has

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Tale of Two Economies

January 30, 2020

In the 1950s the two states of Cuba and Hong Kong were largely similar. They both had a GDP per capita of roughly $4,500 in today’s money.Today the picture is quite different. For every thousand people in Cuba just 30 have a  computer, but in Hong Kong there will be 600 for every 1000 residents. Hong Kong has an average salary of $26,000 compared to $400 in Cuba. Yes, you read that right. Cuba is a country where doctors earn salaries of $600 a year. The two countries started from the same low base and through their experiences of communism and capitalism have diverged to such a stark degree. Only on a few measurements do the two appear close. Life expectancy is surprisingly high in Cuba at 79.74 years (it’s still higher at 84.23 in Hong Kong). Indeed Cuba’s healthcare is one of the few

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Ship Money and National Insurance

January 9, 2020

Much ink has been spilled over the long term causes of the English Civil War (starting 1642). The Whig school of history has for a long time cited the constitutional infringements conducted by Charles I in his “eleven years tyranny” when he ruled with no parliaments, the most discussed one being ship money. Ship money was a prerogative tax/rate (so not approved by parliament) which was levied on coastal counties and towns in order to help fund the Navy in times of war. However, not only was Charles collecting this in peace time but he also extended it to all English counties, in 1635. While Charles claimed that it was being used to pay for measures to protect southern England from Barbary Corsairs, much of it was not and was siphoned off into the treasury. What is surprising, however, is

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Watching The Left Write its History of the 2019 GE

December 19, 2019

“The very ink with which History is written is merely fluid prejudice.” Mark Twain’s quote seems apt at the moment as we see the rapid writing of the history of the 2019 general election by different factions of the Labour party. Most try to fit within a certain frame i.e. explaining why young people tended towards voting Labour, as well as why the red wall collapsed. It is also important to remember why these histories are being written and in many ways rewritten too. Many have ties to or animosity towards the current leadership faction. Ties which will also be closely mapped to future leadership contenders. While it would be easy to think that the left of the party would be more loyal and accuse others of sabotage while the right of the party accuse the leadership of the failure, this is

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Young people and immigrants will be hit hardest by Labour’s rent controls

November 27, 2019

‘In many cases rent controls appears to be the most efficient technique presently known to destroy a city – except for bombing,’ socialist economist Assar Lindbeck declared in 1972.Labour’s Manifesto released last week commits to cap rent increases to inflation, while giving cities power to cap rents even further. Rent controls transfer the mechanism for setting rent prices from the market to the state. They result in lower rents for those who currently have a rental apartment and are happy to stay in them. But for everyone else it makes them worse off. It drives up shortages that, depending on the exact policy, results in longer waiting lists or much higher prices for those entering the market. It is the property equivalent of pulling up the drawbridge when you get in. Corbyn might

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Is Neoliberalism Dead?

November 15, 2019

Paul ’yes I’m an activist but I’m actually a journalist’ Mason has been cropping up on the news and Twitter more than ever. He’s been answering the call for a gentler politics with "we’re coming for you Boris Johnson. Ready or f***ing not". The message he’s been shouting for a while now is that neoliberalism is broken, in collapse, in crisis or similar variants. He articulated this at interminable length in his 2015 book Postcapitalism: A guide to our future. It is a funny book which manages to marry a criticism of communist central planning with a desire to nationalise the financial sector. The main thing however is that Mason misconstrues Neoliberalism with the current status quo. He will be surprised that many of the things he complains about are also being criticised by many

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The AI Economy by Roger Bootle

October 29, 2019

The AI Economy by Roger Bootle is a very good read. Roger is Chairman of Capital Economics, Europe’s largest macroeconomic consultancy and he also writes a column for The Daily Telegraph. Throughout the book, Bootle gives a clear introduction to the relevant topics surrounding AI, from the different types of universal basic income to the supporting arguments and critiques of Piketty’s work on inequality. His style involves clearly laying out theories and their critiques, sometimes even in bullet point lists, before giving his own judgement.  The book ranges from discussions over the possibility of deficient demand impacting on bond yields to what school subjects will be desired in the future. This makes it an informative book for everyone from traders to students. He remains optimistic

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Banning private schools, another archaic and foolish idea from Old Labour

September 23, 2019

You would think that this subject had been settled long ago but it has hit the news again recently with Old Labour recycling some of their 1970s ideas. A motion to abolish private schools and redistribute their assets, backed by John McDonnell and having been agreed upon this conference, will be Labour policy from now on. Unlike some, I do not agree that Mr McDonnell demonstrates a hypocrisy in the argument considering he went to a private school. Indeed, McDonnell, himself, may be a good enough argument to support removing private schools.  There are well worn practical arguments – such as the cost and the impact abolishing private schools would have on the state sector. I believe these still stand and have not been sufficiently challenged. But, willing to put a few more nails in the

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A Third Way for Education

September 20, 2019

Our school system is far from perfect. At the moment reform is being dominated by the left. In the upcoming Labour party conference, a motion, backed by John McDonnell, has been tabled to make it Labour policy to abolish all private schools. This is a massive step up from the already radical proposals from the Labour party. At the same time the Conservative party, unironically, have nothing to do but argue for a continuation of the current system. There must be an alternative to both of these suboptimal realities, a ‘third way,’ if you like, and there is – school vouchers.A purist school voucher system is where the state has no role in the production of education. There is no “state school” or “private school” distinction. All schools are operated by either charities or businesses. The

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Nicola Sturgeon and Robert Mugabe

September 10, 2019

Robert Mugabe died four days ago on the 6th September 2019. He will be remembered for his human rights abuses, corruption and his disastrous land reform.Nicola Sturgeon is definitely not Robert Mugabe, but we can identify some similar themes within their ideologies. The SNP are known to be massive fans of land reform. They promise a new vision for Scotland with "a target of one million acres of land being in community ownership by 2020." However, there appears to be something much more sinister going on. The SNP claim the aim of registration is "to ensure that Scotland’s land must be an asset that benefits the many, not the few, and that our system of land rights promotes fairness, social justice, environmental sustainability and economic prosperity for all in our rural and urban

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How the UK pension system is a massive Ponzi scheme

September 2, 2019

Charles Ponzi was born in Italy in 1882 and immigrated to Boston in 1903. In January 1920 he set up a small scheme that involved buying vouchers for cheap postage stamps in Italy which could also be exchanged for more expensive stamps in the United States – thus making a profit from the difference. However, he soon realised he could make a lot more money by using new money from new investors to pay returns to old investors. This delivered high returns to investors and thus grew incredibly popular and thus even more rewarding. However, it eventually collapsed on the 11th of August when it all came to light on the front page of the Boston Post.  However, the central idea of the scheme of relying upon income from new investors to pay old ones ("robbing Peter to pay Paul") sounds slightly

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Give second homes a second chance

August 28, 2019

There have been a number of schemes both proposed and enacted to try and tackle the perceived problem of ‘second homes’. The ASI has written about the issue of second homes before (here).  Since then the problem of second homes has been strongly connected to the shortage of housing in this country. Many immediately put forward the case of restricting the welfare of others instead of addressing the root of the issue – that there are not enough homes for those living in these popular tourist communities. The St. Ives scheme of banning the construction of second homes has some serious flaws as pointed out in these excellent articles by Christian Hilber at the LSE (here) and (here). This ban will likely result in an accelerated destruction of the communities. Firstly, it maims growth (and

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Jeremy Corbyn’s Green De-industrial Revolution

August 27, 2019

A week ago Jeremy Corbyn visited the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales; a site that looks more like the survivors camp from a dystopian movie than a bright vision of the future. I suppose it is apt then that this is where he once again announced plans for his green industrial revolution – a sweeping programme of nationalisation, market restrictions and public spending. It might not send us straight back to the stone age, but it  would result in years of unnecessary economic hardship, stagnation, and a higher bill for families and taxpayers. It is ironic that while Labour argues that business executives and not consumers should be blamed for this ‘climate emergency’ their policies would leave consumers worse off and shoulder a heavy burden onto the taxpayer. Labour’s focus though

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Greetings everyone!

August 19, 2019

I have always wanted to take a gap year but was looking for something more interesting than the traditional ‘gap yah with Tarquin’. Thus, I was thrilled to find out that I would be spending my Gap Year at the Adam Smith Institute and getting involved in their policy-related mischief. The gap year is an opportunity to develop and research my political ideas before returning to a generation that seems increasingly in veneration of socialism. Thus, rather than spending my September in a fresher’s week explaining to drunk people in the pub why there’s nothing wrong with student tuition fees, I thought I would enjoy it more in Westminster talking to people less likely to glass me. I look forward to the opportunities for research and meeting interesting people in the year ahead. I have a number

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