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Miller R.C.B.,Institute of Economic Affairs
Economic Affairs | Year: 2014

One of the great scientific achievements of the second half of the twentieth century was the advance in linguistics. Noam Chomsky was one of its foremost exponents. Chomsky and his followers claim that human beings have an inbuilt 'language acquisition device' which allows children to acquire language with extraordinary ease. Language is as much part of human nature as flying is that of birds. This paper argues that, like language, the propensity to trade is an inbuilt characteristic of human beings. Language permeates all human faculties including the ability to plan for the future. As a result human economic activity shares many important features with language, in particular its recursive and unbounded character. There is also evidence that the concept of property is innate. It follows that attempts to frustrate or limit the exercise of property rights and their use in trade works against the grain of human nature. Limits on the natural expression of entrepreneurship may be as damaging as other constraints on human flourishing. © 2014 Institute of Economic Affairs. Source


Snowdon C.,Institute of Economic Affairs
Drugs and Alcohol Today | Year: 2013

Purpose: The paper aims to describe the public health potential and legal status of electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) and Swedish snus. The author evaluates claims made for and against tobacco harm reduction. Design/methodology/approach: The author presents the scientific evidence for tobacco harm reduction and evaluates competing claims. Findings: The legal status of cigarettes, e-cigarettes and snus in many jurisdictions is not commensurate with their respective risk profiles. The prohibition of the least hazardous forms of nicotine delivery is not based on any coherent regulatory pyramid and can only be explained by the hostility of some anti-smoking campaigners towards tobacco harm reduction. Originality/value: The paper uses the most recent data available at the time of publication in its analysis of a rapidly growing market and a volatile regulatory environment. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited. Source


Swarup A.,Institute of Economic Affairs
Economic Affairs | Year: 2012

In January 2014, the European Union will introduce a new piece of insurance regulation, Solvency II. Its implementation will represent the latest pinnacle in the prescriptive approach adopted by EU regulators towards the insurance industry in their efforts to reduce risk and increase policyholder protection. It is also likely to become, in due course, the latest case study in the law of unintended consequences. © 2012 The Author. Economic Affairs. © 2012 Institute of Economic Affairs. Source


Niemietz K.,Institute of Economic Affairs
Economic Affairs | Year: 2012

Housing costs in the UK have exploded in recent decades. Contrary to what is often claimed, this has nothing to do with population density, demographics or a lack of public housing. A review of the empirical literature shows that the key determinant of housing costs is the severity of planning restrictions. Faced with a well-organised NIMBY opposition, the coalition failed in its attempt to make the planning system more development-friendly. This is not surprising, because the current system provides incentives which make NIMBYism a rational option. The coalition ought to address these incentives rather than trying to sidestep them. © 2012 The Author. Economic Affairs. © 2012 Institute of Economic Affairs. Source


Robinson C.,University of Surrey | Robinson C.,Institute of Economic Affairs
Economic Affairs | Year: 2013

After a brief period of liberalisation, the UK energy market is reverting towards its pre-1980s state in which central government intervenes extensively, particularly in the fuel choices of electricity generators. Many powerful interest groups benefit from centralised energy planning, which may be why the market reverts to that situation as a norm. Of the two principal reasons given for government intervention, there is little substance in the argument that it improves security of supply. There may be a better case for action to offset prospective climate change, but the present centralised approach risks massive errors. Decentralised, market-based action is more appropriate. © 2013 Institute of Economic Affairs. Source

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