Business at the Tiller

There is a long tradition in the United States of appointing people who have no political experience to the cabinet directly from business. This is particularly true of economic portfolios such as Commerce or Treasury but applies in other positions too. The Secretary of State has long been different. All recent Secretaries of State have had at […]

The Dangers of Monopoly

Would it be acceptable for the government to have monopoly control of the media? This is fairly common, around the world, but America has always shied away from such a position. Let us explore why it is unacceptable to most Americans. First, the idea of monopoly control itself is problematic. But government would not have […]

Tax: How It Works

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to £100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this: • The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing. • The fifth would pay £1. • The sixth would pay £3. […]

The Problem of Authority

If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs …. it probably means you don’t understand the seriousness of the situation! A local council has to decide whether to have a byelaw to prohibit blackberrying i.e. to make it an offence for members of the public to pick fruit from hedges in local authority parks […]

NHS Greater Glasgow

Apparently these were actually typed by NHS secretaries in Greater Glasgow: • The patient has no previous history of suicides. • Patient has left her white blood cells at another hospital. • Medical history unremarkable: only a 40 pound weight gain in the past three days. • She has no rigors or shaking chills, but her husband saysshe was […]

Jobcentre Plus: Rhetoric vs reality.

The ‘New Deal’ from Jobcentre Plus – neither ‘new’ nor any kind of deal. Gibbon famously described the Holy Roman Empire as neither holy nor Roman nor an empire. Likewise the UK government’s flexible new deal is neither flexible nor new nor any kind of deal – at least if that implies a symbiotic contract. This is the experience of […]

Ban the Ban: The Human Cost of Prohibitions

Prohibition describes the outlaw of the manufacture, distribution, sale or provision of particular goods and services by consenting adults. I recently edited a book for the Institute of Economic Affairs that examines the prohibition of ten goods and services that are prohibited or heavily restricted in some parts of the world, and in many cases in large swathes of […]