The event continues to surpass expectations, with bold policy suggestions on tax and on the defence of national sovereignty in an age of supra-national organisations chipping away at democracy.
It should be noted that the agenda items that play into hands of the discredited neo-conservatives and national security extremists are yet to come, so the conference could yet take a turn for the worse. Former CIA chief General David Petraeus and the National Review’s Jonah Goldberg, for example, are yet to weigh in on the discussion panels.
Key highlights from the late morning and early afternoon sessions include:
STOP THE PRESSES – An important proposal on tax. The Centre for Policy Studies rolled out #ThePolicy, which involves eliminating capital gains and corporation taxes completely for small businesses, unleashing them to create jobs. The loss of tax revenue would be balanced by reductions in the welfare bill and increases in PAYE and National Insurance Contributions from the newly employed.
A lively debate over whether corporations or big government pose the bigger threat to liberty. The result came down emphatically on the side of big government (79% to 21%), perhaps rather surprising considering the increasing synergy between the two.
Art Laffer telling it like it is, with his five keys to success for any national economy: A low rate, broad-based flat tax; spending restraint; sound money; free trade and sane (not excessive) regulation.
A call to embrace the rise of developing economies: Art Laffer says “You need China. Without China there is no Wal-Mart and there can be no middle class”.
Big or small business is irrelevant – what matters is efficiency and competency, and may the best size win, according to Laffer.
The Battle of the Professors: Luigi Zingales and Deirdre McCloskey slug it out in a panel discussion, arguing whether the economic situation of the average (median or mean) person has improved faster or slower in recent years.
An attack on the bailouts, with The Economist’s John Micklethwait declaring that “too many people were bailed out for too much, and it perpetuated this sense of unfairness”.
The conference now continues, with General David Petraeus rebutting some of the theories of American decline in the panel discussion “After America, What?”
Stay tuned to @SamHooper on Twitter for live-tweets from the conference, and to this blog for discussion and analysis of the conference after the fact.