IEA Conversations
Rebels without a cause?

Rebels without a cause?

October 11, 2019

When it comes to environmental problems in general and global warming in particular, the general consensus is that ‘something must be done’. Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion have become sensations. But what is worrying about this phenomenon is that the more detached from critical reason their arguments become the more they are acclaimed. Greta, for example, began by arguing that those who put forward alternative views were liars and asserted that she had a special gift for being able to tell when people were lying. Her recent speech at the UN Climate Summit was simply a series of assertions.

Extinction Rebellion seems to be strongly linked to far-left political movements. The left often argues that climate change cannot be solved by markets. And aren’t hasty, to be honest about the trade-offs involved. The IEA's Digital Manager, Darren Grimes, asked the IEA’s Victoria Hewson, Head of Regulatory Affairs, and the IEA's Head of Political Economy, Dr Kristian Niemietz, to join him and discuss the trade-offs and challenges of adopting such a radical carbon-neutral prescription.

The free market take on Conservative conference

The free market take on Conservative conference

October 4, 2019

The Conservative party conference is over and it is a good day when praise for free markets dominates the Prime Minister’s party conference speech. The freedoms and liberties we enjoy in the UK go hand-in-hand with a commitment to economic liberalism, which creates prosperity and raises living standards for everyone in society.

But Boris Johnson must pay more than just lip service to free enterprise and fiscal responsibility. 

The IEA’s Mark Littlewood argued that, contrary to what the Prime Minister claimed in his speech, results for patients on the NHS are not, “amazing”, but rather woefully mediocre in international comparisons of health system performance.

Expanding house-building on brownfield sites will not remove the need to dramatically liberalise planning law, to deliver the million new homes Britain needs to tackle the housing crisis.

And his endorsement of hiking the National Living Wage only serves to further politicise wage-setting, risking the productivity growth he hopes to generate in order to increase tax revenue and boost funding for public services.

Mark ended by saying that the Prime Minister’s instincts on the merits of capitalism seem to hit the mark. What was missing from his speech were concrete policy plans to reduce the tax burden and roll back red tape, which would allow market mechanisms to flourish.

Joining Darren Grimes to discuss the policy takeaways from conference is the IEA’s Associate Director Kate Andrews and Syed Kamall, the IEA’s Academic and Research Director. You can subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts.

The free market take on Lib Dem and Labour conference

The free market take on Lib Dem and Labour conference

September 26, 2019

With both the Labour Party and Liberal Democrat party conferences now over, what is the free market take on some of the policy announcements from them?

Joining the IEA's Darren Grimes to discuss is the IEA's Kate Andrews, Andy Mayer and Emma Revell.

You can subscribe to this podcast channel on Apple Podcasts. Look out next week for the take on policies announced by HM's Government. 

Making the case for freedom

Making the case for freedom

September 19, 2019

In this week's podcast, Mark Littlewood welcomes Syed Kamall to the IEA family and ask about prospects, opportunities and challenges for free marketeers.

  • What we need to do to be more successful in our mission.
  • Why are youngsters apparently so attracted to statism – or is this overstated?
  • Is the problem that classical liberalism is counter-intuitive – it’s “negative” (against the state doing things)?
  • Which free-market arguments work?
  • Do we appeal too much to the head and never to the heart?
  • Why are so many politicians on the centre-right likely to start their speeches with “I’m a free marketeer but….” Rather than “I’m a free marketeer because….”? 

You can subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts!


Reversing the injustice: Changing visa rules for foreign graduates

Reversing the injustice: Changing visa rules for foreign graduates

September 13, 2019

International students are to be offered a two-year work visa after graduating from a British university, the government has announced, overturning a key plank of Theresa May’s restrictive immigration policies.

Currently, graduates with bachelors or master’s degrees are allowed to look for work for only four months. From next year all international graduates could qualify for a two-year period to work in the UK, increasing their chances of finding long-term employment after studying.

The measure goes further than the Home Office’s latest immigration white paper, which proposed extending the four-month limit to six months and the limit for those with doctorates to a year.

It is a return to the policy that was scrapped by the coalition government in 2012. May as Home Secretary said the two-year post-study work visa was “too generous”. It’s a move that’s welcomed by two guests joining the IEA's Digital Manager Darren Grimes, the IEA’s Head of Political Economy Dr Kristian Niemietz and Associate Director Kate Andrews. Hello guys!

101 Great Liberal Thinkers, with Dr Eamonn Butler

101 Great Liberal Thinkers, with Dr Eamonn Butler

September 5, 2019

SCHOOL OF THOUGHT – 101 Great Liberal Thinkers profiles the lives and ideas of some of the leading thinkers on individual liberty – from ancient times to the present day. Award-winning author Dr Eamonn Butler outlines key elements of liberal thought and takes a chronological look at those who shaped it across the centuries.

In this week's podcast, the IEA's Digital Manager Darren Grimes questions primer supremo Eamonn on why he has written this primer on liberal thinkers now, asking if Eamonn believes this is a liberal age, is liberalism under threat, who are some of Eamonn's favourites from the primer and what Eamonn would like listeners to take away from the work.

You can download the primer here and subscribe to this podcast on Podbean or Apple Music.

Should we assess our economy through trendy ‘wellbeing’ metrics?

Should we assess our economy through trendy ‘wellbeing’ metrics?

August 29, 2019

GDP, or Gross Domestic Product, a strange statistic in modern political debate. Economists point out that it fails to capture the value of an increasingly digital economy but it remains the measure most politicians and journalists pay attention to.

According to GDP, if a mother decides to go out to work as a childminder and pay a childminder to look after her own child, rather than look after the child herself, that is increased GDP, despite the fact the same number of children are being looked after the same number of people.

So, should we be looking to alternative measures, perhaps ones which measure a country’s social and economic performance more holistically?

Recently New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has backed a ‘different approach for government decision-making altogether.’ "We are not just relying on Gross Domestic Product, but also how we are improving the wellbeing of our people," said her Finance Minister.

So, are our leaders too obsessed with growth – with playing the numbers game and failing to build what Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson calls “an economy that puts people and the planet first”?

Joining the IEA's Digital Manager Darren Grimes to discuss the best ways to measure a country’s economic performance is the IEA’s Senior Academic Fellow, Professor Philip Booth. You can subscribe to this podcast on Apple Music and Podbean.

HS2: A train to nowhere?

HS2: A train to nowhere?

August 22, 2019

The government is launching a review of high-speed rail link HS2 - with a "go or no-go" decision by the end of the year, the Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said.

When asked about the money already spent on the project, Mr Shapps said: "Just because you've spent a lot of money on something does not mean you should plough more and more money into it.” He said ministers were asking the reviewers to "just give us the facts".

But do we already know enough? HS2 is undeniably expensive: £80 - £100 billion to build a lot of untested tech on a small, densely-populated island. Few railway experts think it can be delivered on time and on budget. It bypasses smaller towns in desperate need of better transport. Management mishaps have been a feature.

So is it necessary? Supporters argue that when HS2 is finished, 35,000 seats will be available every hour out of the capital — triple the current level. The project will free up the existing lines for more services to other towns.

Joining Darren Grimes to discuss the issue is the IEA’s Head of Transport and my favourite Yorkshireman Richard Wellings. Subscribe to this podcast on Apple Music.

Is it time to delete the tech tax?

Is it time to delete the tech tax?

August 15, 2019

Last year the government announced a digital services tax on US technology firms – including Google, Facebook and Amazon – to make sure “these global giants with profitable businesses in the UK pay their fair share”. Former Chancellor Philip Hammond set out the case for the tax buy rehearsing populist themes: The tech firms are big and prosperous, they derive “substantial value” from operating in the UK, yet they don’t pay much tax to HM Revenue and Customs.

Opponents of big tech have used Amazon’s 25th birthday as an excuse to rehash accusations that the company is under-paying tax. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s message of ‘many happy tax returns’ was perhaps the wittiest remark of the lot, but does it show a real grasp of the economics or just a naked attempt to bash big tech to win a few political brownie points?

Joining the IEA's Digital Manager Darren Grimes to discuss pressing the delete button on the tech tax is the IEA’s Head of Regulatory Affairs Victoria Hewson and the IEA’s Economics Fellow Julian Jessop.

Is the NHS broken and decades overdue reform?

Is the NHS broken and decades overdue reform?

August 8, 2019

In this week’s podcast, the IEA’s Digital Manager Darren Grimes is joined by the IEA’s Head of Political Economy Kristian Niemietz and Economics Fellow Julian Jessop.

The discussion is centred around the recent decision by Prime Minister Boris Johnson's £1.8bn granted funding for the NHS. Whilst cash injections may help in the short term, Dr Kristian Niemietz argues they will prove to be a waste of taxpayers’ money if structural changes are not made alongside investment. Far from celebrating the NHS and this cash injection by the Prime Minister, should policymakers should be considering wholesale reform of the centralised system to improve patient care and save lives?

Additionally, as the UK leaves the EU there are some that argue that the NHS might well be on the table in negotiations over a future US-UK trade deal, but Julian Jessop begs for a more evidence-based look at this perceived 'threat' to the UK's healthcare system.