IEA Conversations
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.

Fully Automated Luxury… Communism?!

Fully Automated Luxury… Communism?!

July 31, 2019

In this week's podcast, the IEA’s Digital Manager Darren Grimes and Dr Kristian Niemietz discuss two new books in which the authors claim to lay out their socialist alternatives. The first book is Fully Automated Luxury Communism by Aaron Bastani, which explores everything from the route to communism through socialism to Universal Basic Services, but does the book explain why socialism has already been tried more than two dozen times and failed every time without exception? The pair discuss. The second book is called The Socialist Manifesto by Bhaskar Sunkara.

How ideas can change the world, with Deidre McCloskey

How ideas can change the world, with Deidre McCloskey

July 25, 2019

IEA Digital Manager Darren Grimes introduces Deidre McCloskey’s talk at the IEA’s THINK conference on how ‘How ideas can change the world’.

From 2000 to 2015, McCloskey was the Distinguished Professor of Economics, History, English, and Communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). McCloskey’s ‘Bourgeois Virtues’ trilogy (2006, 2010, 2016) examines factors in history that led to advancement in human achievement and prosperity. She argues that enrichment comes from “innovation” rather than capital accumulation as is frequently argued.

McCloskey is also known for her critique of the post-1940s “official modernist” methodology in economics (McCloskey Critique). In her 1985 book, The Rhetoric of Economics, she argues that economic modernism has ultimately taken equilibrium model-building and econometrics “absurdly” far.

She self describes as a "Postmodern, quantitative, literary, ex-Marxist, economist, historian, progressive Episcopalian, coastie-bred Chicagoan woman who was once not."

After her THINK talk and for this podcast, Darren managed to catch up with Deidre to ask a few more questions.

You can subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts and find more films, blogs, podcasts and reports at iea.org.uk.

Would John Stuart Mill back the nanny state?

Would John Stuart Mill back the nanny state?

July 18, 2019

John Stuart Mill articulated the Harm Principle in On Liberty, where he argued that "the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others."

So would he have backed the nanny state? Eating sugary food, drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes are legal activities. But politicians still use the law to discourage them. They raise their price, prohibit or limit their advertisement, restrict where they can be sold and consumed, and sometimes ban them outright.

So do these politicians thereby violate John Stuart Mill’s famous principle that people should be free to do whatever they like, provided they harm no one but themselves? Or is the nanny state simply protecting consumers from the harms and excesses of, well, excess. The IEA’s Head of Lifestyle Economics and the Programme Director of Big Tent and PhD student studying evidence-based policy Dolly Theis debate the topic.

You can subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts and find more films, blogs, podcasts and reports at iea.org.uk.

How wireless deregulation gave us the iPhone

How wireless deregulation gave us the iPhone

July 11, 2019

The IEA's Digital Manager Darren Grimes sat down with Professor Thomas Hazlett.

Professor Thomas Hazlett's research focuses on public choice and public policy aspects of regulatory measures in the communications sector. The focus of his 2017 book: 'The Political Spectrum: The Tumultuous Liberation of Wireless Technology, from Herbert Hoover to the Smartphone' debunks the traditional view as to why the radio spectrum is allocated and licensed by regulators.

Hazlett argues that contrary to popular belief, radio broadcasting actually developed according to common law property rules and the 1927 move to political control was less motivated by a necessity to impose order on a chaotic system than as a result of pressure by incumbent radio stations and key policymakers – like Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover – to foreclose competitive entry.

Hazlett maintains that these developments have inhibited innovation rather than encouraged it. Hazlett's research, of course, has implications for current policy discussions, with issues like 5G and Net Neutrality both areas of debate for present-day communications and regulators. You can subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts.