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Adam Smith Institute
The Adam Smith Institute is one of the world’s leading think tanks. Independent, non-profit and non-partisan, it works to promote libertarian and free market ideas through research, publishing, media commentary, and educational programmes. The Institute is today at the forefront of making the case for free markets and a free society in the United Kingdom.

Adam Smith Institute

That public choice concept gains another proving

A proof as in a test of the veracity rather than an insistence upon it:Specifically, “bad” outcomes, such as apartment blocks being built (which locals oppose) or school closures, are significantly less likely in neighbourhoods where politicians from a local ruling party live (compared with areas where local opposition politicians live). The effect is large: when a party wins power it leads to a 19 percentage-point fall in the chance of proposed school closures in areas where politicians from...

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Put not your faith in central government

We’re told often enough that government must intervene, take charge, because of market failure. Part of this is simply because the general conversation misunderstands what economists mean by market failure. Which is not that all flavours of all markets have and will fail to deal with a particular point or problem. Rather, that markets as currently constituted aren’t doing so.Thus we get Nick Stern’s statement that climate change is the world’s largest market failure ever. His point being that...

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There’s an easy answer here – public choice economics

A piece in The Guardian lauding the end of neoliberal economics and politics:Taken together, these developments indicate that neoliberalism is dying in Britain, for the time being at least. But those who have long dreamt of neoliberalism’s demise should think twice before popping the champagne. A more assertive state does not inherently lead to more progressive outcomes. Instead we must ask: in whose interest is the state intervening? In the UK, the unprecedented levels of state support in...

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What do women want?

“Minister.  Can you spare a few minutes?” “Of course, Humphrey.  How can I help?” “We’ve drafted a new consultation paper.  May I take you through it?  We are asking women what they want.” “Good luck, Humphrey. That is not a question I have ever been able to answer.” “We are asking women, and of course men, what the government should do, or rather what women would like the government to do, to improve women’s health.” “You’re joking. You are asking men what women think the male Secretary of...

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About half of Americans are in poverty or near poverty, have low incomes

This is one of those claims about the United States that we rather like. Not because we revel in the low living standards of the cousins you understand, but because it’s something that is both true and entirely meaningless. This insistence that some half of all Americans live in poverty or near poverty - the alternative formulation being in poverty or have low incomes.Every month, millions of working folks are forced to choose between rent, bills, healthcare, childcare and food because they...

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Just who do these people think the media is?

The specific complainant here is George Monbiot but it’s a more general whine that can be heard from points left: The media are allowing this government’s cronyism and dishonesty to flourish George MonbiotOK, that’s actually The Guardian’s subeditor giving a precis of Monbiot’s views in the headline but still, it’s an accurate enough one. The interesting question is who is this media? Monbiot’s column has been running over 20 years now. If we’ve managed to manipulate The Guardian’s search...

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There is no reason to tax wealth in the UK

We might have mentioned this before, just the once or twice, but the reform that the UK needs is the abolition, the blowing up, of the Town and Country Planning Act 1947 and successors. This is the one reform that solves a number of problems, from how the young might afford a house, to lowering the equilibrium unemployment rate to dealing with that wealth inequality Mr. Piketty and others whine about so much.It would even solve the problem the IFS is worrying about:Rising house prices,...

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Nomadland and the Amazon labour monopsony

The New York Times tells us of Joan Robinson’s injection - perhaps reinjection as the idea is clearly there in Marx - of the idea of labour monopsony into economic discussions:Crucially, Robinson argued that workers, as sellers of their own labor, almost always faced monopsonistic exploitation from employers, the buyers of their labor. This technical point had a political edge: According to Robinson, workers were being chronically underpaid, even by the standards of fairness devised by the...

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Theorising around The Theory of Moral Sentiments

Today we think of Adam Smith as an economist. But it was not his 1776 book The Wealth of Nations that made him famous. It was a work of moral philosophy, published seventeen years earlier.The Theory of Moral Sentiments came out on 26 April 1759. It was a sensation, and made Smith a hot intellectual property. Moralists had been struggling for centuries to work out what makes some actions morally good and others morally bad. To clerics, who held great sway over the public and in intellectual...

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This is a problem with using planning over climate change instead of the market

A letter in the Sunday Times:Your article on the battle over the technology used to remove carbon emissions from heating rightly mentions the heavy lobbying by the gas industry to promote hydrogen over heat pumps (News Review, last week). As my own research shows, lobbying power is stacked in favour of these companies because of their market dominance. In reality, heat pumps are the only deployable option in the short term; and studies have shown there are fundamental problems with hydrogen....

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