The Great Debate UK
–Dr Richard Wellings is Director of the Transport Unit at the Institute of Economic Affairs. The opinions expressed are his own.–
The British government is finally recognising the strong link between transport infrastructure and economic growth. The Budget set out plans for a national road strategy while earlier this week the Prime Minister announced that motorways and trunk roads could be operated by the private sector.
The new proposals represent a significant shift in policy. Since the early 1990s public transport has been prioritised by successive governments. Huge subsidies have been given to buses, trams and trains. Expenditure on roads has focused on deterring car use through traffic calming, new controls and priority lanes for buses and bicycles. But despite these measures, private cars still carry 85% of passenger traffic. In most areas public transport carries a tiny minority of travellers (with the important exception of travel to and from central London).
In practice, public transport simply does not have the capability to move more than a small fraction of passengers and goods around the UK. Economic activity is too dispersed and buses and trains don’t offer the flexibility and convenience of cars and lorries. Moreover, public transport requires massive taxpayer subsidies – totalling over £10 billion per annum. It is inconceivable that a heavily indebted government could increase this burden much further.
–Tim Knox is Director of the Centre for Policy Studies. The opinions expressed are his own.–
Next year, the British government will spend £680 billion – or just under £2 billion a day, every day of the year. Remember that when considering all the noise – in both Parliament and the media – about yesterday’s Budget.
–Sheila Lawler is Director of Politeia. The opinions expressed are her own.–
The 2012 Budget seemed to have something for everyone. For low earners there are tax cuts; for business there are cuts in corporation tax; for well-off families fearing the loss of child benefit, a reprieve; and for all who recognise that the public finances and public spending must be brought under control, there is the comfort of a ‘fiscally neutral’ budget.
–Graeme Henderson is a Research Fellow at IPPR North. The opinions expressed are his own.–
George Osborne made it clear today that infrastructure investment is a central part of the Coalition’s plans to help accelerate us out of the current economic downturn, but in the build up to this year’s budget, a multitude of infrastructure proposals have been vying for the Chancellor’s attention. Announcements today that there will be further investment in work on the so called Northern Hub is therefore very welcome – to be most effective, infrastructure investment has to be targeted where it is needed most, and where it will make the greatest impact.
–Tony Dolphin is Senior Economist and Associate Director for Economic Policy at IPPR. The opinions expressed are his own.–
The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats agreed to co-own the first two budgets of this coalition government. The so-called ‘quad’ of David Cameron, George Osborne, Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander defended the measures in both budgets as if they had thought of them themselves.
–Patrick Nolan is Chief Economist of Reform. The opinions expressed are his own.–
The UK’s public finances are not out of the danger zone. This can be illustrated with a quick comparison of today’s Budget with earlier ones: in June 2010 the target for public sector net debt was expected to be 69.4 per cent of GDP in 2014-15, now it is 75.0 per cent. All up public sector net debt is still expected to increase by £440 billion over the next 5 years.
The coalition government has restive backbenchers on both wings seeking to fast-track tax reforms that promote fairness and create a platform for economic growth. These are rarely complementary agendas, so the Chancellor will have a difficult job satisfying their demands.
Despite recent downgrading of the UK’s outlook ratings, the Chancellor will be able to announce progress in the phased reduction of the fiscal deficit, and so the opportunity in the middle of the parliament presents itself, allowing Osborne to focus upon further authentic tax reforms for the remainder of this parliament. This will hopefully permit the UK to retain its AAA rating in the absence of a cataclysmic event out of his control in the European or Global economies.
from The Great Debate:
Instead, Smith is selling a warm, self-congratulatory glow to anyone who thinks that Wall Street used to be great. In some halcyon era, according to this view, Wall Street’s success was great news for employees, for customers and of course for the economy as a whole. And it was great because it was built of great things: “teamwork, integrity, a spirit of humility, and always doing right by our clients ... It wasn’t just about making money.”
from The Great Debate:
Last fall, my high school history teacher showed our class a documentary called Invisible Children. It was amazing: We got to know a boy in Uganda named Jacob, who shared his fears about being abducted again and talked about why he would never be normal. It made me want to do something, though I wasn’t sure how I could help.
The movie had been made in 2005. Then on Mar. 5, Invisible Children Inc. released a video on YouTube about Joseph Kony, head of Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army, based partly on the documentary.