From Institute of Economic Affairs <[email protected]>
Subject Rhodes block
Date June 13, 2021 8:00 AM
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I had hoped to be writing to you today on the eve of the announcement that the vast bulk of our freedoms will be returned to us on 21st June. If the newspapers are to be believed, however, then we face the grim prospect of a longer wait.

Whatever your view on the government’s handling of the Coronavirus, the last year has demonstrated how fragile liberty can be, and how hard it is to roll back an extension of state power. As we emerge from the final stages of the pandemic here in the UK, the IEA will be both at the forefront of considering trade-offs in public policy, and sceptical of the ability of central planners (even if their intentions are honourable).

The prospect of a delay to Freedom Day was the top item for debate on this week’s Live with Littlewood. If you missed it, you can catch up here ([link removed]) .

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My guests also discussed the G7 summit in Cornwall which, at times, has resembled little more than a series of photo opportunities for a cartel of politicians seeking to fix our tax rates ([link removed]) . There is probably some benefit to the leaders of the world’s richest democracies meeting together in person, but I voiced concerns to Times Radio ([link removed]) that a number of key strategic issues were going unaddressed. What reforms are to be made to the disastrous World Health Organisation to ensure we are better equipped to deal with future pandemics? What is the plan to recharge global free trade?

Here in Westminster, there has been controversy over the government’s plans to temporarily reduce foreign aid spending from 0.7 per cent to 0.5 per cent of GDP. This seems about the only reduction in state spending being proposed by any politician of any party. I sounded a sceptical note on the impact of development aid in an interview with Bloomberg Radio, which you can listen to here ([link removed]) .

Through our research, media appearances and growing online presence, IEA spokespeople will continue to remind people that government spending is rarely the best solution to human ills. As we edge our way back towards normality, thanks for your support in conveying that vital message.

Mark Littlewood
Director General, Institute of Economic Affairs

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The latest row at Oxford University over the statue of Cecil Rhodes has led to over a hundred tutors threatening to go on strike. IEA Head of Cultural Affairs Marc Glendening said students are "being collectively and irrationally punished" for a matter and decision over which they are not in any way responsible.

Marc added that while the dons are entitled to express their illiberal political values and demands, Oxford University should examine whether they will be breaching their conditions of employment if they carry out their threats. Marc's comments were featured in the Daily Mail here ([link removed]) .

Elsewhere on the Oxford campus, the decision by students at Magdalen College to take down a portrait of Her Majesty the Queen has sparked another wave of outrage. In an article for 1828 ([link removed]) , IEA Chief Operating Officer Andy Mayer argued the "histrionic" reaction is a very unwise response to a piece of "juvenile political theatre".

And Marc Glendening argued that the decision, taken on the grounds that the Queen represents 'colonial history' and her image could thus trigger emotionally traumatic reactions in some students, is "indicative of the sinister Culture Control New Left ideology that is dominant in virtually every sector of British civil society". You can read his full comments here ([link removed]) .

Marc also wrote for ConHome ([link removed]) on the Football Association and its stance on taking the knee. Marc argued that the FA board has transformed into "a sporting version of the politbureau", that can issue directives on issues that have nothing to do with football.

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Political compass... IEA Head of Political Economy Dr Kristian Niemietz looked at how the culture wars has led to a political realignment. In an article for 1828 ([link removed]) , Kristian argued that, for a long time, being a liberal broadly mean you were "right-wing on economic issues, and left-wing on social issues". In the age of 'wokery', cancel culture and offence archeology, this is no longer true.

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Bouncing back... Responding to the latest GDP figures, IEA Economics Fellow Julian Jessop said that the economy is "well on track" to return to its pre-pandemic size later this year, which would be "much earlier than most had expected". You can read his comment in full here ([link removed]) .

And with Joe Biden urging other G7 leaders to deliver big stimulus packages to drive their economic recoveries, Julian discussed the risk of inflation on BBC Newsnight. Julian warned that "a lot of the people hit by inflation are some of the poorest in society... Ironically the government spending more money to help people may end up harming those it is trying to support." Watch here ([link removed]) (from 17:00), or read the IEA's 2020 paper 'Inflation: The next threat?' here ([link removed]) .

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Economies of ale...
Figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed that 55 per cent of pub staff are still furloughed and only 24 per cent of pub owners have “high confidence” that their business will survive the next three months.

IEA Head of Lifestyle Economics Christopher Snowdon said it was "imperative" that all social distancing rules are abolished on 21st June. He noted that pubs have been used as "a scapegoat" too often during the pandemic and have shouldered an excessive burden. You can read his full comments here ([link removed]) .

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Christopher also wrote for The Telegraph ([link removed]) on how delaying Freedom Day would be the final nail in the coffin for parts of an already struggling pub and bar sector. You can read Christopher's recent briefing paper, Pubs and Covid-19: Flawed claims and faulty reasoning, here ([link removed]) .

Up in smoke... The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health has come up with a 12-point plan to end smoking by 2030. This includes a proposal to raise the smoking age to 21.

Christopher said that unless the APPG wants to raise the age of consent for all adult activities, this proposal will be seen as "a move towards prohibition". Christopher's comments were featured on the Sky News website here ([link removed]) and in the Yorkshire Times here ([link removed]) .

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And in an article for Spiked ([link removed]) , Christopher examined the proposals in more detail, concluding that the plan, drawn up by lobby group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), will fail to make Britain 'smoke-free' by 2030. Ultimately, it doubles down on the "authoritarian, battering-ram, regressive and supply-side approach" that may appeal to prohibitionists, but cuts little ice with smokers.

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Off air... Following the release of his paper on advertising regulation last week, IEA Editorial and Research Professor Len Shackleton wrote for The Critic ([link removed]) .

Len argued that paternalistic interventions by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), aimed at reducing harms allegedly caused by legal economic activity, "treat people as incapable of making their own choices". You can read Len's research paper 'Ad break: Why curbs on advertising harm free speech' here ([link removed]) .
THINK 2021

Yesterday, we hosted this year’s THINK conference. Hundreds of young people aged 16-25 attended talks by expert economists, politicians and journalists, including by former leader of the Liberal Democrats Sir Vince Cable, economist and journalist Tim Harford, and former Labour Secretary of State for Transport Ruth Kelly.

Topics included: ‘The economics of propaganda and fear’, ‘The tyranny of experts’ and ‘The economics of video games and virtual worlds’.

You'll be able to watch highlights from the event every Saturday on the IEA's YouTube channel ([link removed]) .

Thank you to all of you who have already signed up to become an IEA Online Patron. Becoming a Patron grants you VIP access to our latest videos, priority invites to our virtual events, and the opportunity to engage directly with IEA Director General Mark Littlewood and the IEA team. For just a small donation you can get all these benefits and more.

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To visit the page and find out more about the IEA’s Patreon, follow the link here ([link removed]) or watch our trailer here ([link removed]) .


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The deadline to apply for this year's Freedom Week is just hours away. This is an annual, one-week seminar which teaches students about classical liberal, free market, neoliberal and liberal perspectives on economics, politics, history and society. It is open to over-18s who are currently attending or about to start university. The week is entirely free to attend: there is no charge for accommodation, food, tuition or materials.

This year's Freedom Week will be held in Cambridge the week beginning 23rd August. If you would like more information on how to apply, please see:

*Dorian Fisher Memorial Prize

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The deadline to enter this year's Dorian Fisher Essay Memorial Prize is Friday 30th July. The competition is open to all A-Level and IB students, with the chance of winning a first prize of £500, and £250 each for three runners-up. The top 20 entries will also all be invited to a special one-day event at the IEA in the autumn term.

The prize for this competition is named after Dorian Fisher, the wife of Sir Antony Fisher, founder of the IEA, who was a long-time supporter of the Institute and its work. You can find out more details on the IEA website here ([link removed]) . If you would like to enter, please send you entry to [email protected] (mailto:[email protected]) , clearly stating your name and school.

*The Swift Half with Snowdon

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In this week's episode of The Swift Half with Snowdon, host and IEA Head of Lifestyle Economics Christopher Snowdon interviewed Dolly Theis. Dolly is a political activist and is currently undertaking a PhD in public health. The duo debated whether public health policy has become too interventionist, and whether it's reasonable to say that we live in a 'nanny state'. You can catch up here ([link removed]) .

*In Conversation with Dominic Frisby

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From 6-7pm tomorrow, Monday 14th June, the IEA will host the author, financial writer, comedian, actor, and prominent libertarian Dominic Frisby, for the latest episode in our In Conversation series with senior figures in public life.

Dominic writes a weekly investment column for Moneyweek, as well as occasional pieces for The Guardian, Aeon, Virgin, and The Independent. He has penned three books: 'Life After the State', 'Bitcoin: The Future of Money' and most recently, 'Daylight Robbery: How Tax Shaped Our Past And Will Change Our Future'.

The discussion – which will cover Dominic's books and his views on the political landscape – will be hosted by IEA Director General Mark Littlewood. Please join us on YouTube for the event here ([link removed]) .

*IIMR Money Webinar Series - Summer Term 2021

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On Wednesday June 23 at 6pm, the IIMR Money Webinar Series will host a roundtable discussion on the state of the economy and inflation outlook for 2021 and 2022, with founder and chairman of the IIMR Professor Tim Congdon, Director of the IIMR Dr Juan Castaneda, former treasurer of Barclays Capital Brandon Davies, and Geoffrey Wood, economics professor at the University of Buckingham.

On Wednesday 4th August, Dirk Ehnts at TU Chemnitz will give a talk asking: What should we do with the Government debt accumulated by central banks since March 2020?

And on Wednesday 18th August. Lawrence Goodman, President and Founder of the Centre for Financial Stability, will give a talk on money and inflation in the US.

You can register here ([link removed]) for the above events.

*MA in Political Economy by Research

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The IEA is working with the Vinson Centre for the Public Understanding of Economics and Entrepreneurship at the University of Buckingham on the delivery of an MA in Political Economy by Research.

The programme can be completed by distance learning and is aimed at graduates with a strong interest in the history of economic ideas and the application of economics to questions of public policy.

Online seminars will cover topics on Adam Smith; David Ricardo; John Stuart Mill; Alfred Marshall; the marginalists and neoclassical economics; Karl Marx; Friedrich Hayek and the Austrians; J.M. Keynes; James Buchanan, Gordon Tullock and public choice theory; the Frankfurt School; and behavioural economics.

For further information, please follow the link here ([link removed]) .


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