A budget that will take the lid off the top and increase inequality

Will the Conservatives show their true blue colours tomorrow in Osborne’s third budget or try to keep the peace with the Lib Dems and the general public? Will the 50p income tax rate stay or go? It looks likely to go, but why? The arguments for and against the 50p tax rate are well rehearsed, here they are in brief.

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Austerity isn’t working. Don’t drown the dog, Mr Osborne

‘Labour isn’t working’ was the iconic political campaign poster of the 1970s, credited with helping to elect the Conservative Party and its new leader Margaret Thatcher. It showed that first impressions can overshadow irony. Unemployment at the time was just under 1.5 million. Before the end of the Conservative’s first term of office it had more than doubled to over 3 million.

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In defence of well-being

We always welcome debate about well-being. So when, in January, the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) published a collection of articles which criticised the use of well-being metrics in policymaking, we were pleased to see that even the most hardened critics engaging in a debate about well-being data. More

Crime, punishment, and support

For Mr P, appearing in Plymouth Magistrate’s court on a drunk driving charge was the culmination of a bad couple of months. The offense may have been  his first in more than ten years, but hardly an isolated incident. It came in the wake of personal tragedy – his partner losing their baby, their separation, a period of near-homelessness. Now P, a lorry driver, was facing the loss of his license and his livelihood. As he told the magistrates who heard his case he “didn’t know where he was going” when he left.

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The Public Services (Social Value) Bill explained - with lettuces

Yesterday I heard the story of Evergreen Cooperative Initiative in Cleveland, USA. This is social value with a capital S. The basic idea is to build an economy ‘from the ground up’ using the procurement budgets of institutions like hospitals and universities. Evergreen try to identify what these large institutions want. They then create cooperatives that can supply them creating as much social value as possible.

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How Heathrow entrenches our economic problems

Never in the field of human conflict has so much lobbying money been spent to promote so empty a promise.

Everywhere I look there is the evidence of British Airways and BAA’s political campaign to get the third runway ban at Heathrow overturned. Preventing expansion at Heathrow was the first measure brought in by the coalition – and they are stopping at nothing (tube adverts, Evening Standard opinions by long-retired economics commentators, letters to the Times).

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Cleaning up the shame of low pay

Zoe Williams's article on “the women who do our dirty work” raised a number of troubling issues. She considered the minimal status, pay and employment rights of cleaners and childcare workers, noting that “in a world that believes your worth is your work, a lot of people aren’t going to feel very valuable”. More

Three steps to transform local food

When I first began working on food issues, it was the early 1980s. At that time our worries were primarily environmental (loss of top soil, contaminated aquifers from agricultural chemicals, monoculture desertification of the Great American prairie) and economic (a growing reliance on industrial agriculture and the loss of family farms to a policy of ‘get big or get dead).

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Can changing the accounting system make a difference?

Some time ago Tim Harford commented that ‘Money (whether pounds or Brixton Bricks) isn’t wealth. More

If Iain Duncan Smith really cares about prevention he should focus on economic inequality

Iain Duncan Smith wants to shift more investment upstream to prevent harm before it happens, instead of spending money picking up the pieces after things have gone wrong. An excellent idea. When public resources are increasingly scarce, it becomes all the more urgent to spend wisely and avoid waste.  In human terms, no-one would prefer to be ill instead of well, to be homeless rather than housed, to be jobless and poor rather than earning a decent living. More

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