Mar
31
2012
0

What does your printer do for the government?

yellow-dotsDoes your printer simply receive data from your computer and spit out printed pages? Or does it do more than that? At least nine printer manufacturers make printers that do more than just print your page: Canon Brother Casio HP Konica Minolta Mita Ricoh Sharp Xerox According to a 2012 request under the US Freedom [&hel[more...]

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Mar
21
2012
0

Where does the government get the money it spends?

blood-and-taxesMuch of the money that the government spends comes from taxation. Taxation includes income tax, social security or national insurance levies, sales taxes or goods and services taxes, import tariffs, excise taxes, property rates or council taxes, stamp duty, death duties, and many more. In the past, there were taxes on such symbols of wealth [&hel[more...]

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Dec
12
2011
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What's the difference between government debt and a government's deficit?

debt-spiralThe terms deficit and debt are sometimes used loosely by politicians. It may even be politically expedient to use the terms sloppily. If a government spends less than its income, the government is said to operating at (or “running”) a surplus. If a government spends more than it receives, it is running a deficit. If [&hel[more...]

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Nov
11
2011
0

What should Greece do about its debt and the Euro?

Over the past eighteen months, Eurocrats have held at least fifteen urgent meetings, and have claimed at least fifteen times that they have taken decisive action to reassure financial markets about Greece and ensure the stability of the Euro currency. It didn’t work, did it? So what should Greece do now? The government of Greece [&hel[more...]

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Nov
09
2011
0

What is a Patent Troll?

patent-trollA patent is a monopoly granted by the government to an inventor. For the duration of the patent, the inventor has the right to control who can make use of the invention described in the patent. If someone exploits the invention without licensing the patent, the patent holder can sue to recover the royalties they [&hel[more...]

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May
04
2010
1

What are the advantages of a hung parliament?

vote-hungThe term hung parliament is perjorative, implying a parliament that is unable to function properly. It sounds quite different if we refer to it instead as a balanced parliament. However that term doesn’t appeal to headline-writers. A hung parliament is one where no single party commands an overall majority. Common criticisms are that it leads [&hel[more...]

Feb
20
2010
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What is red tape?

Photo by Paul Lowry - CC-BYRed tape is when bureaucracy gets in the way of what you need: local government asking for obviously unnecessary documentation for something you want to do to your house—that you probably could have gotten away with without asking for approval; or it's taking ages to just get a stamp of approval on a simple form, [&hel[more...]

Apr
21
2009
1

What is the nanny state?

Gwinnett County sign (photo by Patrick Fitzgerald - CC-BY)A nanny is someone who is paid to look after someone’s children. A nanny state is a government which unduly restricts its citizens, treating them as if they were children unable to make decisions for themselves. It’s not restricted to the government, as nannying can be carried out by anyone in a position of authority. [&hel[more...]

Feb
12
2009
0

What is the Convention on Modern Liberty?

Young and carefree (photo by DownTown Pictures - CC-BY)The Convention on Modern Liberty is a broad movement taking place in the UK, with the stated goal of reversing the slide of the United Kingdom into a “Big Brother” state. Like any broad movement, it has brought together a wide range of supporting organizations. There are the “usual suspects”, such as Amnesty International and [&hel[more...]

Jan
28
2009
0

What is optimum income tax?

Payment required (image by Ape Lad - CC-BY)Many mathematicians and economists have investigated the idea that optimum taxation rates can be mathematically derived. However, depending on the underlying assumptions different conclusions can be reached. We can illustrate the situation with a simple example. Suppose tax rates are nil. Zero tax causes no disincentive to work (and therefore to produce), however, the government [&hel[more...]

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