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The Worst of It

May 8th, 2013 Posted in Civil Liberties, Economics by

I was recently asked to list my three least favourite government policies. As you can imagine, this was a tall order… But I’ve managed to narrow it down.

1. War

Governments kill in times of war but it’s never clear that they have reached their aims from an IR perspective. Apart from the the death and destruction there’s the awkward legislation that follows in times of war. Wars are expensive, your taxes rise to pay for them and they don’t come down once the war is over. Your civil liberties get eaten up and you never get them back. There is still legislation in this country which was made in World War One and is not getting repealed anytime soon. There are both selfish and selfless reasons to opposed war. The killing of innocent men, women and children and the fact that 10 years after Iraq they are still groping our b*llocks at the airport – nobody wins.

2. Agricultural Policy

I suppose we should be grateful that we have agricultural markets at all since we have food and people in North Korea don’t. But distortions in the agricultural markets in the form of trade tariffs, subsidies and regulation (although I do appreciate that this is slightly simplifying things) are the reason some people on this planet still don’t have food despite the fact we have the capacity to produce more than enough for everyone.The food system isn’t free/fair and, sadly, the many meaningful efforts to make it more fair (e.g. Fairtrade) simply amount to more distortions.

Further more agriculture is one of the biggest polluters. Were the markets not so stilted I’ve no doubt that people in cities would be eating a greater variety of fresher produce grown in carbon neutral, pollution-free, super-efficient vertical farms by now. More importantly those who previously had no seat at the table would be able to eat at last.

3. School Policy

School choice, or lack thereof, is one of my biggest pet peeves. Not only that but schools in England are oversubscribed and over subscription is a problem you can solve very easily. Privatise all schools. Give parents vouchers so they can send their children to the school of their choosing. Government vouchers give poor people what rich people have – choice. New schools rise to meet demand and all schools compete for higher quality and better value for your voucher. You would slowly see greater plurality and innovation in the education sector.

So there you have it. What I consider to be the worst of it!

2 Responses to “The Worst of It”

  1. mpg Says:

    Think the idea of a voucher system for social education is the boldest and potentially the most rewarding reform any government could usher in. I hope that one day, the Liberal Democrats will have the courage to adopt this policy.


  2. Jack Hughes Says:

    The worst govt policy has got to be the obsession with green issues.

    For example covering the country with thousands of windmills. In an average year they generate as much electricity as just one power station – Drax. Yes all that effort and disruption for not much energy. But it gets worse. The power generated from wind can often be as much as 7% of demand. But it can also drop to nearly zero. Twice this year it has been down to 0.1%. Energy companies are forced to keep gas plants on standby to take up the load. This is like having a sail on the roof of your car and thinking it will help you.

    But Drax is now converting to burn “bio-mass”. This is wood pellets imported from clear-felling in N American forests. Yes they need to “destroy the environment to save it”. Now where have I heard that before?


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