“Two plus two equals five”, argue Tories. “Two plus two equals three”, respond Lib Dems

Further worrying evidence of the decline in adult and further education was revealed in the debate about selling off the banks yesterday. The Conservatives have proposed selling bank shares cheaply to people on low incomes to reward taxpayers for putting their money at risk by buying bank shares in the first place. The political aspects of this are arguable (see below) – but this particular argument is a failure of elementary logic. The taxpayer will reap any of the revenue from the sale of bank shares. Selling them cheaply to one set of taxpayers will merely benefit that group of taxpayers and cost taxpayers in general. The Conservative Party might as well say that they will reward taxpayers for the money they have lost in the banks by cutting income tax financed by a rise in National Insurance.

Philip Booth is Senior Academic Fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs. He is also Director of the Vinson Centre and Professor of Economics at the University of Buckingham and Professor of Finance, Public Policy and Ethics at St. Mary’s University, Twickenham. He also holds the position of (interim) Director of Catholic Mission at St. Mary’s having previously been Director of Research and Public Engagement and Dean of the Faculty of Education, Humanities and Social Sciences. From 2002-2016, Philip was Academic and Research Director (previously, Editorial and Programme Director) at the IEA. From 2002-2015 he was Professor of Insurance and Risk Management at Cass Business School. He is a Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Federal Studies at the University of Kent and Adjunct Professor in the School of Law, University of Notre Dame, Australia. Previously, Philip Booth worked for the Bank of England as an adviser on financial stability issues and he was also Associate Dean of Cass Business School and held various other academic positions at City University. He has written widely, including a number of books, on investment, finance, social insurance and pensions as well as on the relationship between Catholic social teaching and economics. He is Deputy Editor of Economic Affairs. Philip is a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society, a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries and an honorary member of the Society of Actuaries of Poland. He has previously worked in the investment department of Axa Equity and Law and was been involved in a number of projects to help develop actuarial professions and actuarial, finance and investment professional teaching programmes in Central and Eastern Europe. Philip has a BA in Economics from the University of Durham and a PhD from City University.