Brexit has revitalized debates about democracy. Restoring democracy and sovereignty can come risk for those strongly committed to free markets — that our fellow citizens might choose another path, perhaps even one that could lead to socialist and freedom-hindering policies. But is that a risk we must take? In a free society, what individual rights should never be infringed on? What should be voted on? And is there a place for technocratic decision-making? In a new paper, the Director of the IEA’s FREER initiative, Rebecca Lowe, argues that one clear answer to ‘improving’ democracy here in the UK would be to institute a proper focus on local decision-making — something that, she says, has been overlooked in past years. Rebecca joins the IEA's Darren Grimes to discuss, alongside Adam Bartha, the Director of EPICENTER, the European Policy Information Center.
Davos, the super-exclusive annual gathering of the world’s political and business elite displays all the features of a petri dish for the spread of “crony capitalism”. A tiny number of extraordinarily powerful individuals meet to discuss how the affairs of all seven billion human beings should be planned and co-ordinated. It represents an environment for the growth of regulation, intervention and enhanced barriers to entry for small businesses.
All too often what we see in criticisms of capitalism are actually examples of rent-seeking and corporations trying to game the system, which amounts to crony capitalism.
But has crony capitalism like that displayed in Davos become a catch-all term? The challenge for free markets, and for capitalism, is manifold: the message is tarnished, the frames are poor, and, fundamentally, the moral case for what they achieve is missing.
On this week's podcast, the IEA's Digital Manager Darren Grimes is joined by the IEA’s Director General Mark Littlewood and the Director of the IEA’s FREER initiative Rebecca Lowe to discuss these challenges.
Opinion surveys consistently suggest that the British public is overwhelmingly hostile to immigration - a hostility which shapes our immigration policies in many ways - often negatively. However, if we dig a little deeper into the polling data, it becomes clear that most people in Britain are not pro or anti immigration per se. Despite overall hostility to immigration, there are types of immigration that are widely accepted, or even popular with the general public. Today we're joined by the IEA's Head of Political Economy Dr Kristian Niemietz, the author of our latest report into migration. Kristian proposes a new post-Brexit immigration policy that would capitalise on the nuances in public opinion to push for the most liberal migration policy possible.
Last week, the Prime Minister suffered a historic defeat, after the Withdrawal Agreement was voted down in Parliament by a margin of 230 votes. Today we're joined by Victoria Hewson and Dr Radomir Tylecote, of the IEA’s International Trade and Competition Unit. Interviewed by Madeline Grant, the pair examine what these developments mean and what renegotiation with the EU could hold, especially when it comes to securing the UK's ability to have an independent trade policy. They also discuss preparation for a 'no deal' Brexit or WTO departure, and the importance of timing and sequencing in trade negotiations. Finally, they assess the continued impasse around the Irish Border question.
Victoria Hewson, Dr Radomir Tylecote, Madeline Grant
In this episode of the IEA podcast, the IEA’s Head of Education Dr Steve Davies walks the IEA’s Associate Director, Kate Andrews, through a relatively new theory called ‘The Foundational Economy’. This theory puts economic emphasis on material infrastructure in society - things like the water and sewer industries – and argues that these systems of provision have been undermined in the age of privatisation and outsourcing. Steve discusses the theory of the foundational economy, notes areas of support and criticisms, and highlights questions that arise from the theory: Is the British economy too London-centric? Have our politicians overlooked foundations of economic life and their importance? Should these services be delivered by the state?
One underexplored aspect of the global economy in recent decades has been an explosion in the creation, issuing and enforcement of regulations. But is this emerging regulatory state necessary in the modern age, both to protect consumers and adapt to the changing needs of contemporary trade - or is this weight of regulation excessive and harmful to competition? Some even argue that such rules - often issued by unelected officials and removed from the electorate - represent a threat to democracy itself? Britain’s withdrawal from the EU has revived interest in these issues, since the UK may soon be extricating itself from a weight of historic regulatory rules dating back to the Maastricht Treaty. Yet increasing regulation is actually part of a global trend, with the US, China, and to a lesser extent, Japan also defining the trade landscape through their different regimes. Today, the IEA's Head of Education Dr Steve Davies makes the case that the regulatory state, and its push for harmonisation, is damaging competition. Back in 1970s Europe, he argues, you could determine good regulations from the bad by monitoring each country’s individual rules and regulations and learning from best practice. On our podcast today, Steve and the IEA’s Associate Director Kate Andrews discuss these topics and more.
In this week's podcast, we were joined by the IEA's Head of Political Economy, Kristian Niemietz, the author of a recent paper which ventures into the realm of fiction to examine the fundamental flaws of socialism. Kristian and Editorial Manager Madeline Grant discuss the popular meme that socialism is a great idea in theory, but only fails due to bad implementation, or corrupt officials - as advocated by trendy millennial socialists today. Kristian debunks this idea, but explores how it has been extremely influential in art, culture and fiction over the last century. We look at why it has proven so compelling, and whether free marketeers need to do more to make the moral and philosophical case for capitalism - as well as arguing on raw economic grounds.
Have we reached peak nanny state – or as the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss recently put it – peak banny state? Politicians seem to be sneaking in nanny state legislation through the back door, often in the face of hostile public opinion. Labour brought in a draconian smoking ban in 2007 despite its 2005 manifesto explicitly exempting drinking establishments that did not serve food. David Cameron made no mention of plain packaging in his 2010 manifesto and the sugar tax did not feature in his 2015 manifesto.
These politicians violate John Stuart Mill’s famous principle that people should be free to do whatever they like, provided they harm no one but themselves. How did we get here? Joining me to discuss the banny state are the IEA’s Christopher Snowdon, Head of Lifestyle Economics at the IEA and the author of Killjoys, a critique of the health paternalism that has been adopted by governments around the world, and Rebecca Lowe, Director of the IEA’s initiative, FREER, which works to promote a freer economy and a freer society.
On our podcast this week, we’re joined by Sophie Sandor, an independent filmmaker and education expert, and Madeline Grant, Editorial Manager at the Institute of Economic Affairs. Interviewed by the IEA’s Digital Manager Darren Grimes, Sophie and Madeline take a look at state education in Britain – which currently operates in a near monopoly for all but the wealthiest. They look at why there has historically been so little room for innovation and disruption in the sector – and why educational outcomes vary greatly dependent on your household income. Finally, Sophie outlines policies which could invigorate education in Britain by promoting parental choice.
This year, Saturday November 10th was Equal Pay Day – the day the Fawcett Society calculates that women, on average, essentially start working for free, because of the gender pay gap. But Office for National Statistics calculated just a few weeks back that the pay gap is the lowest it’s ever been on record. Yet Equal Pay Day hasn’t moved. It’s the same day as it was last year. A new IEA briefing, written by Associate Director Kate Andrews and Chief Economist Julian Jessop, argues that this is a result of calculating the gender pay gap in order to obtain a figure nearly 60% higher than the official data. Kate Andrews has put together a podcast to provide ‘alternative listening’ for those who don’t want to engage in fear-mongering around women in the workplace. Kate brings together women from across the political spectrum, with diverse background and views, but who all agree on one thing – that’s that there’s a positive story to tell about women who work. She asks them all: ‘What positive message do you want to send to women today’, and also asks them for a practical policy proposal to help tackle the issues that working women still face.