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Life, death and taxes

Tom Sutcliffe explores economic liberalism with Vicky Pryce, Dominic Frisby, Alexander Zevin and Judith Hawley.

Nothing is certain in this world except death and taxes. If this is true, then the comedian-cum-finance writer Dominic Frisby says it’s time we better understand the latter! He tells Tom Sutcliffe how taxes have shaped our past, are upsetting our present and could be the answer to changing our future.

The economist Vicky Pryce also wants to change the future, by reforming capitalism so that it stops failing women. She interrogates the pay gap and glass ceiling. But she also argues that the free market is predicated on perpetuating inequality - and that it is women who bear the brunt.

The free market economy was advanced during the Enlightenment. The academic Alexander Zevin explores how a century later economic liberalism became fused with political liberalism in Britain. And how the liberal message evolved through the pages of the Economist Magazine, founded in 1843.

As BBC Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime prepares to read Voltaire’s satire Candide, Professor Judith Hawley looks back to the ideas that were fermenting at the time of the Enlightenment, and how optimism can quickly lead to disillusionment.

Producer: Katy Hickman

Available now

42 minutes

Last on

Mon 18 Nov 2019 21:30

Vicky Pryce

Vicky Pryce is Chief Economics Adviser at the Centre for Economics and Business Research, and former joint Head of the UK Government Economic Service. She was also Director-General for Economics at the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.

Women vs Capitalism: Why We Can't Have It All in a Free Market Economy is published by Hurst Publishing.

Dominic Frisby

Dominic Frisby is a financial writer who has written two books, Life After the State and Bitcoin: the future of Money? He writes a weekly investment column for Moneyweek and also writes for the Guardian, Aeon, the Independent and other publications. He speaks at conferences around the world on the future of finance.

Daylight Robbery: How Tax Shaped Our Past and Will Change Our Future is published by Penguin.

Alexander Zevin

Alexander Zevin is an Assistant Professor of History at City University of New York and an Editor at New Left Review.

Liberalism at Large: The World According to the Economist is published by Verso.

Judith Hawley

Judith Hawley is Professor of 18th Century Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London. She has published on a range of subjects and in recognition of her work to preserve cultural heritage, she was recently made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of London.

Voltaire’s Candide is Book at Bedtime on BBC Radio 4 from 18 – 22 November at 12.04 and at 22.45.