IEA Conversations
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.

The truth about Denmark and Socialism

The truth about Denmark and Socialism

July 4, 2019

Martin Ågerup is a Danish economist and the current president of the think tank CEPOS.

The IEA's Director General Mark Littlewood sat down with Martin to discuss the meme that Denmark is somehow a socialist Valhalla to those on the Left. Martin dismissed the claim that Denmark is somehow proof that socialism is preferable to free-market capitalism, promising more happiness, greater wealth, or both.

Martin explained the contradiction between Denmark’s big government and prosperity, with its liberal social values, a reformed welfare state, broad tax base, low corporate tax, efficient services and discussed the public perceptions of it, and even offered a Danish liberal's perspective on the EU and Brexit.

You can subscribe to this podcast channel on Apple Podcasts.

The morality of tax cuts

The morality of tax cuts

June 28, 2019
Britain’s tax burden as a proportion of national income is at its highest for nearly half a century and our tax rulebook is one of the lengthiest and most complex in the western world.

Candidates in the Tory leadership contest have put forward proposals to reduce at least one tax or another. Boris Johnson has suggested raising the threshold at which the 40p rate kicks in, from £50,000 to £80,000 and Jeremy Hunt favours a substantial reduction in corporation tax, to 12.5 per cent. 

But there has been backlash on such proposals, that they are designed for the well off and big business, rather than with those on low or average incomes.

So what can be done? Are these the right tax cuts to be prioritising? Is there a case for slashing taxes for the rich? Are we doomed to continue down the path of our tax system becoming ever more contrived, impenetrable and even failing to sensibly maximise government revenue?

The IEA's Digital Manager Darren Grimes invited the IEA's Director General Mark Littlewood and Associate Director Kate Andrews to debate how we make the moral case for a slimmer tax rulebook, and a significantly less complex one at that.

School vs Parents: Who should have the final say?

School vs Parents: Who should have the final say?

June 20, 2019

The No Outsiders programme was created in 2014 by Andrew Moffat, the assistant headteacher at Parkfield Community School in Birmingham. The programme aims to teach children about the characteristics protected by the Equality Act - such as sexual orientation and religion. Books used in the programme include stories about a dog that doesn't feel like it fits in, two male penguins that raise a chick together and a boy who likes to dress up like a mermaid.

But some parents at Parkfield Community School in Birmingham say lessons featuring books depicting same-sex relationships are not age-appropriate.  The lessons have created a furious debate, involving court injunctions and many pages of opinion columns. 

The debate ultimately raises the big question about to what extent societies need to share the same values, and how those values are communicated to the next generation. Does a cohesive society have to uphold a shared and single version of the Good? 

Or is okay for views on this topic to diverge? Should there be many different schools teaching different perspectives? Is it right for a state education system to impose a particular set of moral values on everyone, even if we are sympathetic to them? To what extent should the state shape and determine attitudes and feelings, and thought?

Joining the IEA's digital manager Darren Grimes to discuss is Joanna Williams, associate editor at spiked and Benjamin Butterworth, Weekend Editor and reporter for the i newspaper

Is fracking compatible with a fossil-free future?

Is fracking compatible with a fossil-free future?

June 13, 2019

Opponents of Fracking argue that it was always a bad idea, because of climate change. Cutting carbon emissions means reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. So, to develop a new gas industry is to do the opposite. Polls have consistently shown that fracking is unpopular. When three anti-fracking activists were freed from jail they were greeted with cheers. The public, says the Guardian newspaper, were ahead of the Government in realising that giving up on this industry makes sense.

But joining the IEA’s Digital Manager Darren Grimes in this week’s podcast, Natascha Engel, who recently resigned as the Government’s fracking tsar, Natascha argues that an urge to ‘do something’ about climate change will hustle politicians into bad decisions — and almost certainly make things worse. in the past, hasty policy has had us driving now-discredited diesel cars. We are felling tropical forests to make space for palm oil to provide biofuel. We are burning “renewable” wood pellets that are significantly more carbon-emitting than the coal they displaced. Now the government, in response to environmental pressure, has instituted a de facto ban on fracking.

Trump, trade & twenty-twenty

Trump, trade & twenty-twenty

June 6, 2019

This week the UK rolled out the red carpet for Donald Trump's first state visit. The controversial President holds over a 75% disapproval rating among the UK public. But putting the politics aside, what should we make of the policies behind the visit?

What is the status of the Special Relationship? Can a free trade deal between the US and the UK really be secured? Would the NHS actually be on the table? And what about the economic debates taking place back in the States in the run-up to the 2020 election?

Joining IEA Associate Director Kate Andrews on the podcast today are Tim Stanley, historian and leader writer for the Daily Telegraph, and Freddy Gray, deputy editor of The Spectator, and editor of Spectator USA.

Free speech and the push for online censorship

Free speech and the push for online censorship

May 23, 2019

Do you have to think like those who are seeing their social media accounts wiped or banned, to see that social media censorship is a grave concern in a free society? 

On this week's podcast, the IEA's Head of Education Dr Steve Davies talks to our Digital Manager Darren Grimes about free speech online and the push for censorship. 

Subscribe to our podcast channel here

In Conversation with Liz Truss MP

In Conversation with Liz Truss MP

May 17, 2019

On this week's podcast IEA Associate Director Kate Andrews interviews 'self-proclaimed freedom fighter' and 'state-proclaimed Chief Secretary to the Treasury' Liz Truss MP. 

The pair discuss the likelihood of a free-market Brexit, the near 50-year high tax burden, spending cuts, devolution, whether or not strawberries and cream should be banned from tube advertisements, and young people's flirtation with liberal ideas.

Don't miss the rapid-fire questions at the end! 


The debate on high pay

The debate on high pay

May 8, 2019

The Labour Party’s Peter Mandelson once remarked that Labour was “intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich”. But in 2019 a politician is more likely to be heard saying we must all be deeply concerned about the apparent excesses of pay at the top of organisations – both public and private sector. 

But do they have a point? Many argue that the current requirement for large businesses to spell out the basis of their pay structure may be acceptable, and find maintaining a watchful eye on pay in the public sector to be eminently sensible. But are those calling for the state to have the power to fix pay ratios or even introduce pay caps at risk of ignoring the numerous downsides which come from government intervention?

Well! Fortunately, a new IEA publication debates these very issues, with Top Dogs & Fat Cats: The Debate on High Pay launched this week. It looks at all aspects of the high pay debate and features chapters debating the rights and wrongs of CEO pay, the links between corporate governance and executive pay, and the gender pay gap in executive roles.

It features contributions from leading academics and economists and was brought together by IEA Editorial Research Fellow Professor Len Shackleton. Joining Darren Grimes to discuss the topic is Len himself and Luke Hildyard, Executive Director of the High Pay Centre, a UK think tank carrying out research and analysis on issues relating to top incomes, corporate governance, and business performance. 

The Power of Capitalism

The Power of Capitalism

May 2, 2019

"The market has failed, we need more government intervention" - that's the mantra politicians, the media and intellectuals have been reiterating constantly ever since the outbreak of the 2008 financial crisis.

By taking the reader on a journey across continents and through recent history, author Rainer Zitelmann disproves this call for greater government intervention and demonstrates that capitalism matters more than ever. The author provides compelling evidence from across the world that capitalism has been the solution to a number of massive problems. He compares developments in West and East Germany, North and South Korea, capitalist Chile v. Socialist Venezuela, and analyses the extraordinary economic rise of China. For many people, "capitalism" is a dirty word. This book provides a timely reminder of capitalism's power is enabling growth and prosperity and is alleviating poverty.

Dr Kristian Niemietz joined Dr Rainer Zitelmann to discuss the 'Power of Capitalism'.