I’m delighted to be able to confirm the final speaker line up for The Causes of the Cost of Living Debate. We have a hugely diverse panel of white males from the left and right, including progressives, Objectivists, parliamentarians, bloggers, academics and activists. I am expecting an interesting clash of opinions on each of the segments on energy and the environment; food and trade; housing and planning; vice and taxation; and income inequality and labour markets.
Dr Kristian Niemietz
Kristian is poverty research guru for influential right-wing-think-tank the Institute of Economic Affairs. Kristian’s research in “Redefining the Poverty Debate – Why a War on Markets is No Substitute for a War on Poverty” has helped move the debate away from how much extra redistribution is needed to sort out poverty and towards the causes of high prices in key industries. His work original work has recently been updated and expanded with the help of Ryan Bourne as part of the IEA’s 2020 vision campaign. This work resulted in two new publications: “Low pay and the cost of living: A supply-side approach” and “Smoking out red herrings: The cost of living debate“. Kristian’s work has helped to draw those concerned with poverty into the libertarian movement.
Dr Yaron Brook
Yaron is president and executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute. Widely regarded as the leading spokesperson for Objectivism he has spoken at corporate, academic and intellectual gatherings all around the world. He is co-author of “Free Market Revolution: How Ayn Rand’s Ideas Can End Big Government” and “Neoconservatism: An Obituary for an Idea“. He is apparently fond of controversial titles: in a former role he directed a seminar named “Executive Pay: The Sky’s the Limit” and at the University of Michigan in January he gave a talk entitled “Inequality: Who Cares?” and has repeatedly argued that perfect equality is unjust or immoral.
Recently profiled on these pages, regular readers will know James Bloodworth is editor of influential progressive blog Left Foot Forward.
James’ recent journalism has touched on the arguments for a living wage, and against food bank use, and the importance of trade unions in keeping up “proper” wages. He has cricised Osborne’s increased borrowing in the face of promises to “balance the books” the unequal impact of the so-called recovery and argued that labour MPs should oppose benefits caps.
Amateur player, graphic designer and the original swear-blogger, Chris Mounsey’s well-articulated fury represented the fire and passion of the libertarian movement during the Labour years and his Devil’s Kitchen blog drew many into the fold. He stayed at the coalface of British libertarianism for many years until he crashed and burned out of the leadership of the Libertarian Party after a media appearence in which his more extreme writing was stiffly challenged. He left LPUK untained by the financial irregularities of that organisation and with the respect of members.
Some of Chris’ best writing under the Devil’s Kitchen persona concerned the management and interpretation of the climate change issue by the IPCC and allied “scientific” political activists. His art was bringing the details of complex scientific controversy to a broader audience and articulating the anger many felt over an issue that has undermined prosperity on an unimaginable scale.
Chris Mounsey now works as a senior web technologist.
Activist for the Priced Out, the house price campaign, Duncan is passionate about the issues leading to high accommodation costs. He should be, for his adopted home of Oxford is, he says, the least affordable place to live in the UK. As a Liberal Democrat he is somewhat fatalistic about his party’s chances at the next election but he says he is in it for the long haul and will be there to sort the party out whatever happens to it. He works a research engineer for Redux Labs helping to create “customisable, high-resolution haptic feedback and speakerless surround sound audio” and formerly worked at Oxford Digital “an established centre of excellence in Audio Processing”. As such, I expect some pretty sophisticated arguments for his proposals. You can get a sneak preview of sorts thanks to Russia Today (pictured).
Dr Lee Rotherham
Historian and linguist, Lee has been a behind the scenes player in the institutions of the EU for many years. Involved in the anti-Lisbon / constitution negotiations he opposed the development of EU statehood. As well as writing as columnist in the European Journal he is closely involved in the Bruges Group and co-wrote the 2006 to 2008 editions of the Bumper Books of Government Waste for the Taxpayers Alliance. He is also the author of Ten Years On: Britain Without the European Union, The EU in a Nutshell, A Fate Worse than Debt, The Sassenach’s Escape Manual (on Scottish independence) as well as historical texts such as The Discerning Gentleman’s Guidebook to Britain’s American Colonies and his most recent book on politics A Spotter’s Guide to Sound Government Policies. Lee will, I have no doubt, also be mentioning his work “FOOD FOR THOUGHT How the Common Agricultural Policy costs families nearly £400 a year”.
Dr Rotherham also served with the Territorial Army in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
Christopher Snowdon is the paid shill of a global conspiracy of giant corporations who are intent on addicting you to horrible things like cake, fish and chips, gin and an instantly addicting and recklessly dangerous thing called “tobacco” (you may have heard of it on the signs reminding you it is banned). This has been proven incontestably by activists at Tobacco Tactics who showed that the lifetime of passionate pro-liberty and anti-puritan campaigning was simply bought and paid for by evil purveyors of vice and SIN!
What is true is that Chris Snowdon has calculated that the sin taxes he opposes not only inconvenience corporations but constitute a severe drain on incomes, particularly for the lowest paid. His work Aggressively Regressive questions whether such punitive penalties are compatible with a free society and whether their impact is compatible with concern for the poor. Chris has also taken on the work of Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett in “The Spirit Level Delusion“, named after their famous and well regarded book The Spirit Level which is seen my many as proof of the evils of inequality.
Christopher blogs at Velvet Glove Iron Fist.
Dr Ben Etheridge
Assistant professor and lecturer at the University of Essex, Dr Etheridge’s research specialisms include consumption, saving and labour supply, the welfare cost of risk, earnings and income dynamics, optimal taxation and inequality. He has two published refereed papers: Consumption, income and earnings inequality in Britain (data) and The environmental and economic impacts of the UK climate change agreements. Dr Etheridge is ready to defend the use of measures to redistribute income and fix inequality.
Dr Etheridge teaches Quantitative Economics and Intermediate Microeconomics at the University of Essex. Prior to working in academia he was an Energy and Environment Analyst for Cambridge Econometrics.
The price includes access to refreshments, including beer.