The Difference Between Kidneys and Babies

29 March, 2010

The most interesting question that I’ve addressed in a debate recently has been whether there should be a market for adoption and surrogacy. Although the concept jars with most people, the real reason to oppose such a market isn’t immediately clearly.

After all, if two individuals can make themselves happier through the exchange of money for services, what business does the state have in prohibiting it? We have markets for everything else, and there’s strong evidence to suggest that organs trade should be legalised. So what is the difference between a kidney and a baby?

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Why Tobin Taxes Wouldn’t Have Prevented The Financial Crisis

24 November, 2009

The Economist discusses the populist rhetoric from Gordon Brown on the topic of the Tobin Tax, a fee levied by government on any financial transaction. US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner admits that any such policy would be useless unless adopted world-wide, because trading would simply migrate to unregulated jurisdictions.

Public support for such measures is worrying though, as the Tobin Tax is ineffective in preventing risk-taking in financial markets or harmful asset price bubbles. It would be extremely effective at making markets inefficient though..

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Why Fees Aren’t Free

9 November, 2009

The decision by the Irish government to repeal the reintroduction of fees has been met with joy by students around the country. But ‘free fees’ promotes inefficiency and propogates inequality, by not imposing the true cost of education on students.

Those who criticised the reintroduction of fees claim that students couldn’t afford to pay them, and that access to education would be limited as a result. Unfortunately, inequality in educational opportunity may stem from differing financial conditions – but free fees does nothing to stop this. As long as wealthier families can gain an advantage through spending (either through private tuition or grind schools), they will do so.

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A Different Kind Of Carbon Leakage

3 November, 2009

Red FoxThe Irish Government recently decided to ban fur farming in Ireland. Their justification for this, presumably, stems from concern for animal rights and the cruelty of the practice.

In fact, this measure may end up harming animals – by pushing fur farming out of jurisdictions with responsible and concerned governments, they are forcing fur farming into more permissive and cruel states.

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Turning The Tide

12 October, 2009

SaplingPresident Hu Jintao of China was lauded at the UN climate change summit last week for his bold plans to counter global warming, reports China Daily. His remarks represent a turn-around in China’s attitude and policy.

It is all very reminiscent of the Slave Trade Act of 1807, which banned the international trade of slaves in the British Empire. For fear of becoming economically uncompetitive, the British went on to tirelessly campaign against the practice elsewhere.

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Bacik To The Dark Ages?

6 October, 2009

CrossSenator Ivana Bacik claims in Trinity News that “the Minister for Justice has brought us back to the Dark Ages” with the revision of Ireland’s law on blasphemy. Unfortunately, censorship may be reappearing in response to a newer and far more malevolent force than catholic conservatism.

This week, it will have been 4 years since a terrifying manifestation of this – the controversy and violence resultant from the publication of cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed in the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten.

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Rolling Back the Rules of the Road

1 August, 2009

Traffic ConeThe Christian Science Monitor has a fascinating piece on how traffic laws cause accidents, by diminishing the attention that drivers pay to the roads and reducing their reliance on their own best judgement. Could their complete absence improve matters?

There is clearly a simple trade-off here. Drivers can choose to concentrate on the road, thus making them better equipped to react to unexpected occurrences and more aware of their surroundings. They could alternatively just trust the lights and the signs.

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