Early this year I wrote about how the French were standing up to anti-smoking legislation. The Dutch are now doing the same. I wish the British didn’t roll over so easily. Forcing pub owners (or anyone else) to enforce your preferences is wrong and a thoroughly illiberal idea. It makes the world more homogenous and less interesting. Don’t stand for it.
I’m kinda undecided on the BAA break-up. The FT thinks it should definitely go ahead. But as a fairly strict libertarian, and therefore keen on economic freedom, I’ve always had a problem with monopoly break-up except in the most extreme of cases (and I’m not sure this qualifies). Nevertheless, as my job now takes me onto an aeroplane more than I before, I’m curious and so I read the summary from the Competition Commission’s provisional report.
Why don’t we see this kind of defiance of illiberal legislation more often? It’s something the French do well. In a time when vices are being outlawed left, right, and centre, I’d like to see a bit more bolshyness from the British public.
Good to see Hampshire County Council are spending my taxes wisely. In the propaganda brochure accompanying their latest letter demanding 800 pounds for rubbish collection and clogged roads, I find this item: These pages have been checked for clarity by Plain Language Commission [sic]. Sometimes I’m ashamed to live in a socialist country.
Every time I get sad about the illiberal attitudes of the public sector in the UK, at least I can reassure myself that I don’t live in France.
The political arguments around government and business are well understood. At one extreme are people who despise profit-making businesses, considering them a necessary evil at best, and who’d prefer to see governments take more action to protect their and society’s interests. At the other are those who’d prefer to see governments scaled down significantly and businesses given more freedom. People with my political opinions often make arguments for the latter based on either practical or moral arguments.
Today is Milton Friedman day. Friedman is a personal hero of mine, an economist who worked hard to publicise the concepts of freedom and liberty, and who sadly passed away last November. His clarity and forthrightness in explaining his beliefs to the layman won him praise, and deservedly so: The most important single central fact about a free market is that no exchange takes place unless both parties benefit. Milton’s son David is also an economist, and continues to promote his ideas on this blog.
Faffing with the contents of my wallet today in the supermarket, I began wondering about reward cards - are they still worth the plastic they’re printed on? They’ve been around in the UK for over a decade, and two major supermarkets - Tesco and Sainsbury’s - still use them. I have one of each. However, I sometimes wonder why I don’t throw them away - cash rewards of approximately 1% (presumably all that the supermarkets can afford) hardly seem worth the bother of carrying them.
Richard and I went to see Steve Forbes (of Forbes magazine fame) speaking last night at an event organised by The London Junto (a libertarianish organisation). The topic was flat taxes, and Forbes made a compelling argument for one - albeit probably preaching to the converted. Forbes has to be one of the most knowledgeable people I’ve ever seen speak - he dealt with economics, business, and geopolitical questions with equal capability, forthrightness, and clarity.
It seems to be a commonly held contemporary belief that transport and travel are a guilty pleasure at best, and reprehensible at worst, mainly due to the unpleasant environmental side-effects, and should be minimised. Environmentalists have already invented carbon offsetting to assuage collective and individual guilt about the trendy problem of carbon emissions (Tim Harford has explained why this makes no sense; and I think it’s nothing short of miraculous how carbon offsetting services can put a price on emissions so easily).