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Our ballooning national debt – is City AM the only paper worth reading?


This morning in City A.M., Editor Allister Heath writes once again about the lamentable failure of the political and media class properly to inform the public debate on our country’s finances. Referring to a poll asking whether the Coalition is cutting the national debt, keeping it the same or increasing it: These same questions were first asked at the beginning of the year by ComRes, last time on behalf of the Centre for Policy Studies. Depressingly, the public’s economic literacy […]

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The Government vs the State


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ConservativeHome reports that the Government (the ministers) are scaling up their battle against the civil service: Outside of Manchester, the most significant political speech of the day is being delivered by Francis Maude to the Institute for Government. Indeed, it could actually be more significant than “the most personal speech ever given by a British political leader,” too. For Mr Maude’s subject is the structural relationship between government and the civil service, and how it should be altered. His words will […]

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Contemporary crony capitalism – Living with Leviathan


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For a contemporary and historical account of the scale of the state and its relations with nominally private business, I recommend David B. Smith’s excellent Living with Leviathan: Public Spending, Taxes and Economic Performance: In the last 90 years the proportion of national income spent by the UK government has increased from around 10 per cent to nearly 50 per cent. This general trend has been followed in most other developed countries, although levels of government spending are much higher in […]

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Who Exploits You More: Capitalists or Cronies?


Via Learn Liberty, Who Exploits You More: Capitalists or Cronies? See also this short book on how political decisions come to be made: Public Choice – a Primer by Dr Eamonn Butler. Or watch Yes, Minister.

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Can government spending activities have a positive impact on economic activity?


Can government spending activities have a positive impact on economic activity? Do federal spending programs designed to offset a recession’s negative effects add a boost to GDP growth? Can government purposefully and successfully take steps that will increase employment? In essence, do government stimulus programs really work? With various political parties advocating further economic boomerangs, find out here: The U.S. Experience With Fiscal Stimulus | Mercatus. The key conclusions are on the last page. After describing three hurdles to stimulus spending as an […]

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A massive failure of journalism is being corrected


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Via It’s austerity all right – but not of the kind we actually need, City A.M.’s Allister Heath makes his case: It has long been a theme of this column that the government and its critics alike have exaggerated the extent of the government’s belt-tightening. The coalition is doing this to try and reassure the bond markets while seeking to minimise the hit to the public sector; the opposition because it wants to blame the recession on “the cuts.” But […]

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Justine Greening must review HS2 in the public interest


I’m grateful to StopHS2 for drawing my attention to this video of the Public Accounts Committee hearing at which it was revealed HS2 has a Cabinet Office Major Projects Authority status of red/amber: As The Guardian reported: The latest figures issued by the HS2 high-speed rail scheme have revised down the economic benefits for the fourth time – suggesting the scheme will barely, if ever, break even. Originally the scheme was forecast to bring £2.40 of benefit for every pound […]

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I didn’t seek election to roll forward Labour’s surveillance state


Via Government web surveillance: ‘Expensive, impractical, totalitarian’ – Telegraph: The Government’s plan to make Internet Service Providers capture personal communications data is nothing new. It was brought up under the last Labour government as the “Intercept Modernisation Programme” and received heavy criticism from the Tory party in opposition. The article concentrates on the practicalities of recording people’s internet activity. For a more philosophical point of view about why it shouldn’t be attempted, see Sam Bowman’s Our road to serfdom. Meanwhile, […]

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The fuel pantomime: why put up with our vulnerability to the words of ministers?


Charles Moore is suggesting that this fuel pantomime may be a deliberate strategy: But now that I have heard the Conservatives’ private explanation, which is being handed down to constituency associations by MPs, I begin to feel angry. The private message is as follows. “This is our Thatcher moment. In order to defeat the coming miners’ strike, she stockpiled coal. When the strike came, she weathered it, and the Labour Party, tarred by the strike, was humiliated. In order to […]

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What kind of government? Looking forward to the budget


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Via the TaxPayers’ Alliance, this video explains vividly that the Government is spending £22,218 every second. In this week’s MoneyWeek, Merryn Somerset Webb’s editorial is titled “Slash spending and taxes”. She refers to Dr Tim Morgan’s work which explains that the economy has for too long been dependent on private borrowing and public spending and that, now these are “dead in the water”, 70% of the economy is incapable of growth. I have previously explained that this Government will be […]

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