By Lynn Parramore, Senior Research Analyst, Institute for New Economic Thinking. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website
Nobel laureate James Buchanan is the intellectual lynchpin of the Koch-funded attack on democratic institutions, argues Duke historian Nancy MacLean
Ask people to name the key minds that have shaped America’s burst of radical right-wing attacks on working conditions, consumer rights and public services, and they will typically mention figures like free market-champion Milton Friedman, libertarian guru Ayn Rand, and laissez-faire economists Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises.
James McGill Buchanan is a name you will rarely hear unless you’ve taken several classes in economics. And if the Tennessee-born Nobel laureate were alive today, it would suit him just fine that most well-informed journalists, liberal politicians, and even many economics students have little understanding of his work.
The reason? Duke historian Nancy MacLean contends that his philosophy is so stark that even young libertarian acolytes are only introduced to it after they have accepted the relatively sunny perspective of Ayn Rand. (Yes, you read that correctly). If Americans really knew what Buchanan thought and promoted, and how destructively his vision is manifesting under their noses, it would dawn on them how close the country is to a transformation most would not even want to imagine, much less accept.
That is a dangerous blind spot, MacLean argues in a meticulously researched book, Democracy in Chains, a finalist for the National Book Award in Nonfiction. While Americans grapple with Donald Trump’s chaotic presidency, we may be missing the key to changes that are taking place far beyond the level of mere politics. Once these changes are locked into place, there may be no going back.
A new report by Health Poverty Action.
The so-called ‘war on drugs’ was always built on shaky foundations. Now countries and jurisdictions around the world are dismantling it piece by piece and building a new, 21st century approach to drugs that puts public health first.
Read the report
Nowhere are the foundations of this new approach to drugs more obvious than in the global movement towards regulated, legalised cannabis markets. And despite the US being the ostensible leader of the ‘war on drugs’, it has been US states at the forefront of this move. The results from the US so far are generally positive: confounding critics whilst bringing in additional tax income to fund public services. And this is just the start: in the summer of 2018 Canada will become the first G7 country to legalise cannabis.
Regulating and legalising cannabis is an idea whose time has come.
Sign the petition
It is time to accept that prohibition is not only ineffective and expensive, but that regulation could – if it is done well – protect vulnerable groups and support public health. It would also generate both taxes (at least £1 billion annually, but potentially more) and savings, which taken together would mean more resources for health, harm reduction and other public services.
It is time for the UK government to catch up with the global shift and take the responsible approach by bringing in a regulated, legal market for cannabis.
To do this the UK government should
- move primary responsibility for cannabis policy and all other domestic (legal and illegal) drug policy to the Departments of Health (DH) and International Development (DFID);
- bring together a panel of experts to develop the most effective model for a regulated market; and,
- establish a Cannabis Regulatory Authority to implement their recommendations.
It is time to act.
Read the full report here:
 Transform, (2015) ‘Cannabis regulation in Colorado: early evidence defies the critics’ Available online: www.tdpf.org.uk/blog/cannabis-regulation-colorado-early-evidence-defies-critics
 Health Poverty Action (2018) ‘Building a 21st Century Approach to Drugs’ Available online: https://www.healthpovertyaction.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Building-a-21st-century-approach-to-drugs_briefing2018.pdf
Making cannabis legal ‘could bring £3,500,000,000 to the UK’
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0b4yzrm from 46:50
by Max Lawson, Head of Inequality Policy, Oxfam International
This week saw the launch of the first ‘World Inequality Report’ written by the team at the Paris School of Economics and based on the data collected by over 100 researchers behind the World Incomes Database. The summary is very short and full of fantastic charts, well worth taking a look at. They have pioneered the use of tax data and other sources to recalculate the incomes of those at the top, which are hugely underestimated. They have now done this for enough large countries to make some conclusions about global trends, which is the basis of the report.