Want a bank account? Vote 1 ‘The Government’

March 19, 2009

If you weren’t already convinced that nationalising banks was a terrible idea, then read this story in the UK Spectator: The newly-nationalised Royal Bank of Scotland is now insisting that its customers take political tests. As Spectator writer Fraser Nelson reflects, “in Britain, one is never required to discuss one’s political beliefs” – that is until politicians start to control the economy.

This week the IPA hosted Jerry Jordan, a former member of the US Federal Reserve. He raved about Amity Shlaes’s 2007 book The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression. I haven’t read it yet, but it seems that everybody I meet recommends it. It’s a comprehensive rebuttal of the popular idea that the US government saved the world from the dangers of free markets.

(The Forgotten Man will be reviewed in the next edition of the IPA Review, but as a teaser, here’s a review in the International Herald Tribune. And I highly recommend Amity Shlaes’s blog, particularly her discussion about the different views that historians and economists have about the success of FDR’s New Deal.)

So do we really need a New ‘New Deal’? The economic historian Robert Higgs convincingly makes the case that Roosevelt made the Depression worse by eroding investor confidence – something that Kevin Rudd and Barack Obama should think about before continuing down their path of crude economic populism.

And what should you be allowed to see on the internet? If the Australian government implements its internet filtering plan, then not only will you be stopped from looking at otherwise legal websites, but you won’t be able to even discuss what sites are censored. The communications regulator is threatening people who simply link to blacklisted sites with a massive $11,000-a-day fine. Of course, the government hasn’t quite answered the question of how you are supposed to know what you are doing, if the blacklist itself is a secret.

In the Australian Financial Review, the IPA’s Alan Moran argued that government spending isn’t the solution to the financial crisis: “We can’t spend our way out of this one“. And in The Age, Chris Berg wrote that “More police, fewer daft ideas, is the answer to city violence“.

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