When I started this blog, I took a decision not to discuss my political or economic beliefs too aggressively. I am robustly liberal in my economic and social outlook and this means that I tend to upset statists, paternalists and those that believe they know how to spend other people's money better than those other people know themselves.
My thinking has been influenced by the likes of Milton Friedman, Russ Roberts, Don Boudreaux, Tim Worstall and, on matters to do with the welfare state, James Bartholomew. (I'd like to say I was influenced by Adam Smith and Hayek but I failed to complete reading either of their key books, so I'm afraid it's probably fair to say I've only been influenced by them through the influence they've had on the other people listed here)
Several years ago, I was far more lefty but, after spending considerable time trying to understand economics, I began to realise that a lot of the outcomes I regard as desirable (e.g. helping the poor, ensuring nobody goes without food, looking after the old, ensuring all get a good education, etc, etc, etc) were not the outcomes that resulted from the policies I supported. In other words, the noble intents of the policies I supported did not lead to good outcomes. That was the trigger that started my journey.
One of the books that influenced my thinking on the role of the welfare state was James Bartholomew's. I blogged about it shortly after reading it and RedMonk's James Governor commented.
I lent him my copy of the book shortly thereafter. It was surprising, and gratifying, to see him label the book today as one that had the most influence over him last year.
It also reminded me that I need to get the book back! James - we need to have that drink. You can give me some advice on tech sales :-)