IEA Conversations
From BBC to NBT: Is it time to scrap the fee?

From BBC to NBT: Is it time to scrap the fee?

November 14, 2019

The world in which the BBC operates has changed dramatically. Viewers and listeners have unlimited choice and are ruthlessly discerning. So, is it time to scrap the licence fee?

Today’s guest, the IEA’s Senior Academic Fellow, Professor Philip Booth, says that we should, arguing that the BBC funding model needs to be pulled into the 21st century. The UK has a long history of successful mutuals and co-operatives, Philip argues, that are popular with their members. Such an ownership model for the BBC would be fit-for-purpose in the modern broadcasting world, detach the BBC from the state, and promote real diversity of corporate structures in the world of media.

A re-modelled BBC could better leverage its brand internationally and be a commercial success as well as perform other less-overtly commercial functions that its member-viewers value.

You can subscribe to this podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or Podbean!

Why has no other European country copied the NHS model?

Why has no other European country copied the NHS model?

November 7, 2019

No other European country has copied the NHS model in half a century. Almost all comparable countries use a mix of funding mechanisms, rather than relying on taxation alone, and most outperform the NHS in health outcomes.

UK cancer survival rates lag behind those of comparable countries, A&E delays are increasing, the number of operations being cancelled is dire, staffing rates are in freefall and the tick-box target culture is sending doctors and dentists screaming into the private sector. The UK has one doctor for 356 people, against a developed world average of one for 277.

The NHS’s archaic divisions of labour between GPs, hospital doctors, pharmacies and clinics is now indefensible. So too is the division between the NHS itself and social and domiciliary care. As any victim of these restrictive practices knows, treatment delayed is treatment denied.

Sooner or later, the pressure of demand (now from all age groups) will force the NHS to choose between rationing by some form of means-tested pricing or by further bureaucratic delay. Last year’s Guardian survey of foreign systems showed there were plenty of other ways to organise public health. Before the coming of the NHS, London’s (local) health service was regarded as the best in Europe. It is not that now. 

So what are the alternatives? 

In countries without the NHS what does healthcare and insurance look like for sick, older or poorer people? Are the rich able to purchase a luxury tier of healthcare and what happens if your insurer goes bankrupt in countries like the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium or Israel?

To discuss, the IEA’s Darren Grimes asked Dr Kristian Niemietz to join him, author of ‘Universal Healthcare without the NHS’.

Advancing freedom, human rights and economic development in Venezuela

Advancing freedom, human rights and economic development in Venezuela

November 2, 2019

Venezuela is currently facing the worst dictatorial regime in Latin America. Moreover, its economic collapse is the worst in the modern history of the western hemisphere. Jorge Jraissati is the President of the Venezuelan Alliance, an international platform for initiatives advancing freedom, human rights and economic development in Venezuela, Jorge will not only explain how Venezuelans plan to reconquer their democracy and rebuild their economy but also share some lessons from the Venezuelan experience applicable to other nations. Why is the Venezuelan economy ruined? How and why did Venezuela become socialist?

Jorge’s work has focused on raising international awareness about the importance of achieving a free and democratic Venezuela and he has been invited as a guest lecturer to more than twenty academic institutions such as Harvard, NYU and Cambridge. Academically, Jorge is an economist from the Wilkes Honors College, and a Visiting Fellow of the Abigail Adams Institute at Harvard.

This recording was taken during a talk by Jorge at the Institute of Economic Affairs in October. 

30 years on from the fall of the Berlin Wall

30 years on from the fall of the Berlin Wall

October 31, 2019

November marks the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Built to separate East and West Germany and to stop the flow of people from East to West, the wall came to symbolise the ideological divide between the communist Soviet bloc and the western democratic capitalism. Years on, East Germany still lags the West.

But after four decades of socialism, just how big was the economic gap between East and West? Whilst West Germany experienced aWirtschaftswunder and became one of the world’s economic powerhouses, in 1989, the East German economy lay in shambles. But is this perception correct, or is it sometimes overblown? How different really was the standards of living between East and West and what did it take to overcome the “legacy cost” of socialism after 1989?

Today, according to some surveys, many people in Central and Eastern Europe say they miss the “good old days” of socialism, or at least important aspects of it. Some seem to have “buyers’ remorse”, disappointed with the results of economic liberalisation. Does this show that capitalism is not that great, after all? If people still look back fondly on the days of state socialism, can we truly say we’ve won?

It’s true to say that socialist ideas has had somewhat of a resurgence in this country. Proponents – often young people – argue that this time around socialism will be different. When challenged, they say Marx never advocated any of the terror, coercion and loss of life incurred under Soviet rule, nor did Marx demand a wall be built through the German capital. Is it therefore inevitable that socialism leads to coercion and the stamping out of freedoms? Or is it as John McDonnell put it, like blaming all Catholics for the Inquisition?

Joining the IEA’s Digital Manager, Darren Grimes to discuss the legacy of the Berlin Wall's fall is the IEA’s Head of Political Economy, Dr Kristian Niemitz and author of ‘Socialism: The Failed Idea That Never Dies’.

Gig economy: empowerment or exploitation?

Gig economy: empowerment or exploitation?

October 24, 2019

The IEA's Mark Littlewood, having watched Ken Loach's latest film, would recommend it "if you want to see the gloomiest, bleakest, worst possible run of luck that a family in Newcastle could have, working in flexible gig jobs, this film shows it."

But Mark says he was left scratching his head thinking about the counterfactual: would these people have been better off in the pre-gig economy world? Mark concludes that he doesn't really think they would have been, but for their horrific run of bad luck. Mark asks whether Loach’s film might have been a little stronger if the characters involved hadn’t had all of the very worst things imaginable thrown at them.

So the IEA's Digital Manager, Darren Grimes, spoke to him about the film, the legitimate concerns raised in it, and questions Mark on if the gig economy offers genuine empowerment or very real exploitation.

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!