By Tim Montgomerie
The London think tank with the best blog is the Adam Smith Institute. If you don't have it as one of your favourites I strongly recommend that you do. This conservative often disagrees with its more libertarian conclusions but it is always thoughtful, newsworthy and polite. Here is a selection of recent ASI blogs:
Prohibition drives activities underground: "Gambling in India is only ‘unregulated’ because it is prohibited (with the exception of 13 casinos, horse-racing, and state lotteries). But prohibiton doesn’t mean that the prohibited activity doesn’t take place, it just means that organized crime takes over. Corruption like that alleged in Pakistani cricket is the inevitable, inescapable result." (Tom Clougherty).
Businessmen and politicians spend too much time together: "I dream of a world in which businesspeople get on with making money for their shareholders, rather than spent their time (and their shareholders' cash) pandering to politicians. But politicians today have enormous power – both regulatory power that can spare you from annoying new competition, and purchasing power that can bring you lucrative contracts. Adam Smith complained of such sordid relationships back in 1776 – and government was a good deal smaller back then." (Eamonn Butler).
Why we don't do hypothecation of taxes: "I'm in the camp which says we should have a carbon tax: but that doesn't mean that the the general level of taxation should go up nor that there will be new pots of money to pay for things environmental. We tax carbon because we want the externality of emissions included into market prices: this enables us to lower other taxes at the same time as imposing this new one." (Tim Worstall).
The relentless march of judicial activism: "Yesterday’s Mail reported that the Equalities and Human Rights Commission is debating whether to contest the Government’s budget in court, following the IFS’ claim yesterday’s that the budget is ‘regressive’. Never mind that the British public voted overwhelmingly for the parties proposing realistic deficit reduction; it may well be judges whom decide the nation’s budgetary priorities and, thereby, its level of indebtedness." (Matthew Triggs).
Let universities choose universities without government interference: "Universities already take the applicants whom possess the most potential. They have both the means to identify them and the incentive to reduce offers in line with personal circumstances; allowing the best candidates in can only raise the university’s position in the league tables. Universities do not need government instruction to act in their own best interest, and recruit the best applicants thereby." (Matthew Triggs).
Political correctness closes an effective Catholic adoption agency: "Catholic Care has been offering adoption services for over 100 years, successfully placing children with families and offering post-adoption support services. It has a much better record than a lot of adoption agencies run purely by local authorities and receives its funding from the Catholic Church. By removing the agency’s right to offer adoption to heterosexual couples only, the Commission has effectively cut off funding for this service, as the Church will not give money to support a service that acts contrary to their beliefs. As a result, orphans and vulnerable children will lose out as a respected provider of these services is forced to close. It remains to be seen whether other agencies will be able to increase their provision in the area to make up for this." (Sally Thompson).
Decriminalising prostitution: "Under market forces, it would be likely that there would be certain streets where prostitutes operated, both in terms of soliciting on the street and premises. These would be secure; they could either be gated or patrolled by private police firms funded by the prostitutes collectively. This type of scheme would mean safer working environments; prostitution could operate there free from the drugs trade, human trafficking or protection rackets." (Harriet Green).
Don't ban the burqa: "Britain is a nation united by liberty under the law. It is an idea rather than an ethnic construct, an idea that allows people of any race, religion, sexuality, lifestyle or opinion to co-exist peacefully, governed by the same laws. It is a unity through liberty and tolerance that allows Scotland, Wales and England, each of them distinct ethnic and cultural constructs to be part of a whole. It is a unity that allows us to have a political culture predominantly based on conflicting ideologies rather than on ethnicities or religions. To ban an item of clothing then, especially one peculiar to a particular religion or culture, is fundamentally anti-British. A ban ostracises thousands, impinges on their liberty, and favours other ways of life at the expense of a minority, striking at the very heart of the British unifying principle." (Anton Howes).