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The enduring curse of easy answers

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Political radicals are in the news, especially in Greece and now Spain. In the midst of tragic suffering, people are being seduced by the curse of easy answers. State socialism has always aimed at a spectacular improvement in the average person’s standard of living. It is a noble intention which I share. The problem is that the methods chosen by state socialists to achieve their aim cannot succeed. And, tragically, in the course of trying, state socialists have all but […]

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Book review – The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism

I frequently enjoy Hayek’s writing less than anticipated. The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism was no exception. The book is mercifully brief and its substance is insightful and yet it was a dull read. It begins by explaining that tradition arises between instinct and reason. Hayek destroys the case for a rational reconstruction of civilisation. It is a fatal conceit to imagine society can be designed, one grounded in fear and a revolt against reason. Markets, money and trade emerged […]

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Mises’ Socialism and George Osborne’s year of hard truths

Ludwig von Mises’ 1922 book Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis is the definitive refutation of socialism, ie coercive direction of production and distribution by the state. It is the book which persuaded Friedrich Hayek to turn to classical liberalism. He wrote in his foreword, Socialism promised to fulfill our hopes for a more rational, more just world. And then came this book. Our hopes were dashed. Socialism told us that we had be looking for improvement in the wrong direction. […]

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Heathrow – this price fixing must end

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Via BBC News – Heathrow Airport attacks regulator’s price-control plan: The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on Thursday said that Heathrow’s yearly rise between 2014-18 should not be more than the retail price index (RPI). Prices can only bring supply and demand into balance if they are allowed to find their own level. If some government authority fixes prices, it is bound to create problems: we should not be surprised Heathrow is overcrowded and other airports struggle if prices for access […]

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HS2: Update

I have continuously campaigned against a second state-funded high speed rail programme. It is slowly transpiring that the business case is collapsing. The benefit cost ratio (BCR) for phase 1 has fallen from 2.4 in March 2010 to just 1.2 today and 1.4 for the whole of the Y spur extension. A fifth downgrade is expected to be released in the summer incorporating the new, lower GDP figures. How low do the figures need to go until policy makers understand […]

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Low rates and the damage they are doing to the economy and society

Via Another “Operation Twist” will cause more damage to the economy » The Cobden Centre, Frank Shostak explains the damage that will be done by further credit market interventions: Last week the US central bank has announced that it will expand its “Operation Twist” program to extend the maturities of assets on its balance sheet and also said it stands ready to take further action to put unemployed Americans back to work. The US central bank will prolong the program […]

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The injustice and error of a “Mansion Tax”

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A so-called “mansion tax” may appear to embody a particular notion of fairness. One would think from the rhetoric that high-value homes all belonged to wicked billionaires, oligarchs and non-doms. One would think that owning such a home were inherently unjust. Far from it. Many valuable homes will have been bought by hard-working individuals and families using mortgages paid over many years. They will have paid tax on their incomes and capital gains. Hitting them again in this way would be […]

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How to repatriate 130 EU laws

This week Open Europe published a new report that shows how the Government could repatriate 130 EU laws on crime and policing, including the controversial European Arrest Warrant. The Government must decide before June 2014 whether a whole raft of EU police and justice laws, adopted before the Lisbon Treaty took force, will continue to apply in the UK beyond December 2014. Under Lisbon, if the Government opts out of any one of the existing laws, it has to opt […]

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Poster of the week – 1909, “Socialism Throttling the Country”

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From the Conservative Poster Archive, poster 1909/10-14, which seems apt with the Government still spending about half of national income:

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Who will make a speech like this for our time?

You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on Earth, or we will sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness. We will keep in mind and remember that Barry Goldwater has faith in us. He has faith that you and I have the ability and the dignity and the right to make our own decisions and determine our own destiny. And […]

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