We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

It’s only when you read Leviticus that you realise just how into food, drink, clothes, haircuts and beards God is. He comes across as some kind of allegedly divine, yet utterly materialistic hipster.

– ‘Deschain’ commenting over on the Guardian

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A defeated country? – Lawyers for Britain on Mrs May’s approach.

The good folks at Lawyers for Britain (all donations appreciated) have cut to the chase with Martin Howe QC’s assessment of the situation as it appears to him.

 The European Union’s proposals for the UK’s transition period make grim reading. They are the sort of terms which might be imposed by a victorious power in war on a defeated enemy. They are not terms which any self-respecting independent and sovereign country could possibly agree to, even for an allegedly limited period.

Apparently, we must agree to implement every new EU law while having no say or vote; and we shall not be allowed to conclude trade agreements, even to roll over existing agreements which the EU has with other countries so that they continue to apply to us, without the EU’s permission. We must abide by the rulings of a foreign court on which there will no longer be any British representation.

Apparently, an outrageous and demeaning proposal by the Commission that the UK should be subject to extra-judicial sanctions under which the EU could suspend market access rights is now to be “re-worded”. But that would still leave the UK extremely vulnerable to damaging new rules being imposed on us during the transition period by processed in which we would have no vote and no voice. As reported in the Telegraph last week, the EU has plans to use these powers in order to launch regulatory “raids” on financial institutions on British territory and to make rules which will damage the competitiveness of the UK’s financial services industry

Do not think that this is just a lamentation, there is a perfectly sensible alternative.

What is the alternative? One alternative if the EU persist in offering these unacceptable terms is to walk away from a deal with the EU altogether. That is possible; but there is another way. That is to walk away from the transition arrangement, but still to pursue a longer term trade agreement with the EU.

The post goes on to make a lot of valid points about a way forward, and has an excellent analysis. (Although he is wrong about there being no orange production in the UK, I have just finished a pot of marmalade made commercially from English-grown oranges, albeit on a microscopic scale).

But let it sink it, what we are facing is Finlandisation, a modern-day ‘Treaty of Versailles’ with us as the Central Powers, when it should be a re-run of 1776 and its aftermath.

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Antiquated attitudes

Thus saith the EQUALITY AND HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION to its anointed, to the BBC, whose right hand it hath holden, to subdue the unrighteous before it:

Employers still have ‘antiquated attitude to female workers’

Many employers still live in the “dark ages” when it comes to recruiting women, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) says.

In a poll for the EHRC, 36% of employers thought it reasonable to ask a women about plans to have children.

Some 59% agreed that a woman should have to disclose during the recruitment process whether she is pregnant.

The commission said the poll of 1,106 male and female decision-makers showed worrying attitudes.

The EHRC said its study showed that many employers needed more support to better understand the basics of discrimination law and the rights of pregnant women and new mothers.

EHRC chief executive Rebecca Hilsenrath said: “It is a depressing reality that, when it comes the rights of pregnant woman and new mothers in the workplace, we are still living in the dark ages.

“We should all know very well that it is against the law not to appoint a woman because she is pregnant or might become pregnant.

“Yet we also know women routinely get asked questions around family planning in interviews.”

Other findings from the YouGov survey of small, medium and large firms included:

– 46% of employers agreed it was reasonable to ask women if they have young children during the recruitment process

– 44% agree women should work for an organisation for at least a year before deciding to have children
About one third believe that women who become pregnant and new mothers in work are “generally less interested in career progression”

– 41% of employers agreed that pregnancy in the workplace puts “an unnecessary cost burden” on the workplace

– 51% agree there is sometimes resentment towards women who are pregnant or on maternity leave
The EHRC said its survey revealed antiquated beliefs, including two out of five employers saying women who have had more than one child while in the same job can be a “burden” to their team.

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Samizdata quote of the day

When host Andrew Neil said survival rates for some cancers were worse in the UK than in Costa Rica and Brazil, Soubry responded, ‘And?’. When Andrews said, ‘The principle of universal access has been adopted by everyone, but the centralised bureaucratic system has not and that’s why they have better patient outcomes… Can’t we just look at these systems to try to get some better healthcare in the UK?’, Johnson replied, ‘Why?’.

As frustrating as it was to watch their cloth-eared reactions, it at least revealed the absurdity of what has now become the standard response from politicians when it comes to discussing the NHS. This abject denial of any problems within our healthcare system has resulted in the NHS being ringfenced from criticism. Today, criticising the NHS amounts to heresy.

Naomi Firsht

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Samizdata quote of the day

I asked my friends how they’d voted last year. Sanjit’s a Tory, but hard-working Annie and Marion, highly trained and usefully employed, said “Labour” without a pause for reflection. I wasn’t surprised, but I am fearful. Think what they’ll do when their generation puts a Marxist like Corbyn into power, eyeing up those assets we prize, those homes we once took for granted. What would be your instinct, if you’d never been able to buy a house, while the generation above you were getting richer by £35 a day, just by sitting in the home they refuse to let you afford?

Graham Archer.

The issue of the housing supply/demand problem has been noted several times before here at Samizdata, such as here, here and here.

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Samizdata… er… Chinese word of the day: Baizuo

The word baizuo is, according to political scientist Zhang Chenchen, a Chinese word that ridicules Western “liberal elites”. He further defined the word “baizuo” with the definition “People who only care about topics such as immigration, minorities, LGBT and the environment” and “have no sense of real problems in the real world”; they are hypocritical humanitarians who advocate for peace and equality only to “satisfy their own feeling of moral superiority”; they are “obsessed with political correctness” to the extent that they “tolerate backwards Islamic values for the sake of multiculturalism”; they believe in the welfare state that “benefits only the idle and the free riders”; they are the “ignorant and arrogant westerners” who “pity the rest of the world and think they are saviours”. The term has also been used to refer to perceived double standards of the Western media, such as the alleged bias on reporting about Islamist attacks in Xinjiang.

The use of the word “Baizuo” could be an insult on the Chinese Internet.

Wikipedia

Noted 😀

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The message on those Oxfam T-shirts

Have you ever watched someone make a speech and caught the moment when the speaker lost the sympathy of the audience? Those friendly to the speaker wince, suppress it, and lock their heads and their eyes into looking straight ahead. In contrast the hostile part of the audience exchange glances – did you hear it too?

There can be moments like that when reading a news story too. Suddenly a detail leaps out. The reader who is friendly to the subject of the story winces, while the hostile reader cannot wait to click on the comments. For the Oxfam story I think that detail was the prostitutes half-naked except for Oxfam T-shirts. Without that the story was and is a bit meh.

So men far from home use prostitutes? Meh. They call it “the oldest profession” for a reason. Most people, even those with traditional views on sexual morality, would say that is a private matter.

So women in countries stricken by war or disaster turn to prostitution to survive? In that case the power imbalance makes the picture look uglier – but realistically it is inevitable. There was a sweet letter in today’s Times in which the writer suggested that we send the army to administer aid rather than these NGOs. Like the writer, I have a higher opinion of our armed services than I do of our misnamed “non-governmental” organisations, but consider the centuries old connotations of the term “camp follower”. Where soldiers are, there will be women offering to sell them sex.

Every story on this seems to include the line that some of the prostitutes may have been underage. Serious if proven, but so far, not proven. No one has put their name to a definite allegation citing times and places. May have been underage. Meh.

But this is not meh:

Oxfam in Haiti: ‘It was like a Caligula orgy with prostitutes in Oxfam T-shirts’

“The group lived in a guesthouse rented by Oxfam that they called the ‘pink apartments’ — they called it ‘the whorehouse’,” said a source who says he was shown phone footage by one of the residents of the guesthouse.

“They were throwing big parties with prostitutes. These girls were wearing Oxfam T-shirts, running around half-naked, it was a like a full-on Caligula orgy. It was unbelievable. It was crazy. At one party there were at least five girls and two of them had Oxfam white T-shirts on. These men used to talk about holding ‘young meat barbecues’.”

That image has deeply unpleasant associations. There is not even the fig leaf of buying the girl a drink and making a little awkward conversation to make it feel more like an interaction of equals. Black women are labelled as available for white men by brand name packaging. Think how that must rankle in Haiti.

But we’re libertarians, right? (I have used this line before.) Indeed we are. Neither guilty whites in London nor resentful blacks in Port-au-Prince should have a veto on two individuals making a deal. Subject to some provisos about promises made by either party to their spouses, to local laws, and to agreed conditions of employment, that is still my opinion.

However it is not Oxfam’s opinion. Do a search for the word “Oxfam” on this blog. There were a few sensible noises on free trade from this semi-fake charity fifteen years ago, but in recent years Oxfam has grown fat peddling economically illiterate bullshit on the alleged evils of “inequality” and “speculation”. White guilt and black resentment were its stock in trade. Actual trade was something to be taxed, regulated and eternally prefixed with some veto-word like “Fair” or “Ethical” that showed permission had been given by censorious third parties for the transaction to occur.

Live by the sword, die by the sword.

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Samizdata quote of the day

Over the past 100 years, women have gained so much. Unlike those in 1918, we can vote, work, live independently, divorce, have sex without getting pregnant; we are free agents. Yet too much of contemporary feminism and mainstream politics seem determined to row back some of these hard-won freedoms. To mark the centenary of votes for women, prime minister Theresa May promised to make it illegal to intimidate politicians. She was largely spurred on to this by female politicians’ complaints in recent years that they face abuse online. In the name of ‘protecting women’, May is seriously threatening our right to protest against powerful people.

Ella Whelan

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Samizdata quote of the day

Next time you hear someone talking about the triumph of ‘neo-liberalism’, or the prevalence of free markets, remind them that the financial markets have been explicitly state-dependent for a decade. And this is not some unintended policy side-effect. The central banks got what they wanted. They hoped to push up financial asset prices, both to keep borrowing costs down – financial prices and interest rates generally move in inverse directions – as well as to make people and institutions feel wealthier in the hope they would spend more. It’s proved much easier to stimulate financial wealth than it is to help bring about real new wealth creation through producing more goods and services efficiently.

Phil Mullan

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Samizdata quote of the day

In a recent comedy routine, Chappelle provided a succinct explanation of why it makes more sense for the United States to import some goods from China rather than try to pursue a protectionist trade policy aimed at producing everything domestically. Chappelle summarized President Trump’s position vis-à-vis China: “I’m gonna go to China, and I’m gonna get these jobs from China and bring ‘em back to America.” Chappelle then interrupted his Trump soliloquy, asking: “For what, so iPhones can be $9,000? Leave that job in China where it belongs … I wanna wear Nikes, I don’t wanna make those things. Stop trying to give us Chinese jobs.”

Allan Golombek

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Rod Liddle on Oxfam

The people of Haiti needed help — what they got was a bunch of Oxfam sleazebags

Yet another brilliant party I’ve missed out on. The Oxfam gig in Haiti back in 2011 — the whores, I’m told, were sensational, if a little on the young side. My own fault for having assumed it would be a grim convocation of death and destruction — plus pious white liberals blaming capitalism for everything. Not a bit of it. Those Oxfam staffers know how to party, especially the top brass.

No sooner had they arrived in the earthquake zone than they had set up their bordello, “the pink apartments”, and were ready for — as one of them put it — “young meat barbecues”.

The women were purchased — some of them younger than 16, allegedly — and decked out in Oxfam T-shirts — no undergarments, no jeans or skirts, just Oxfam T-shirts. Then began what was described as a “full-on Caligula orgy”, led by Oxfam’s then country director Roland van Hauwermeiren. Roly is 68 years old — you have to admire his energy. All that misery to sort out, but he still had the time to give some local teenagers a good charitable seeing-to.

Better still, Roland could later appear before the cameras, wringing his hands and saying of the situation in Haiti: “Too many donors from rich countries have pursued their own aid priorities.” You’re not kidding, Roland. You were clear about your own aid priorities, weren’t you? But, hell, what a party. And to think I felt bad about the Presidents Club dinner, where some right-wing men may have touched a woman’s knee.

This scarcely believable story was revealed in The Times: four senior Oxfam workers booted out for engaging prostitutes in Haiti as the country tried to recover from its earthquake. Oxfam complained it was old news and that the press had been told about it at the time.

Oxfam was lying. Sure, we’d been told back then some staffers had been sacked for “misconduct”. But misconduct could have been tearing up parking tickets or referring to a dying earthquake victim by their gender at birth, rather than the one to which she/he had transitioned. I suppose lying is stretching it, mind. Technically, you could say the Yorkshire Ripper was guilty of “misconduct”.

Oxfam also claims it told the Charity Commission about everything. That’s not how it looks. It told me on Friday: “We have written to the charity as a matter of urgency to request further information regarding the events in Haiti . . . This information will be considered as part of an ongoing case regarding the charity’s approach to safeguarding.”

It does give you an insight, though, into the way these perpetually angry and concerned middle-class lefties actually think of the people they are supposed to be helping. So pristine and pious, so sanctimonious towards the rest of us. So aloof from our own national concerns: internationalist to a man and especially in favour of countries where, like Haiti, the whores can be bought for one dollar. Yay, that’s the kind of country we like!

This is the second scandal to affect Oxfam this year: income £408m in 2016-17, almost half of it from government, with huge sums spent on salaries or advertising or lobbying — or indeed whoring. A few weeks ago the charity castigated capitalism for having enmired the Third World in poverty. It was pointed out, fairly quickly, that capitalism had elevated most of the world out of poverty and into affluence.

Oxfam’s assertion was the usual adolescent political grandstanding and weird warping of reality — and ignored the desperate poverty inflicted on hundreds of millions of people by socialism. It was virtue signalling by an organisation that, by now, is denuded of the slenderest vestiges of virtue. Most of the world’s poverty today is occasioned by bad governance and a predatory Third World elite, not by capitalism.

I think the Oxfam staffers know this. I think they know this and it makes them hot. Never give these people any of your money.

I have been known to give Oxfam small amounts of my money. I love a bargain, and if I’m passing an Oxfam charity shop I’ll pop in, and if there is a little something that takes my fancy, I’ll spend a quid or two to have it. Er, not in the Roland van Hauwermeiren sense. Call me over-optimistic, but I would like to think that alongside what Liddle rightly calls Oxfam’s “adolescent political grandstanding and weird warping of reality” – a.k.a. “socialism” – the charity has some employees who are actually quite good at getting help quickly to desperate people after an earthquake or similar catastrophe. That’s my excuse anyway.

By the way, so long as they are over the age of consent, I strongly oppose prostitution or the hiring of prostitutes being an offence in law. However I believe it was the case that Oxfam made a rule forbidding its aid workers to employ prostitutes, then covered it up when senior employees broke that rule.

Much of Oxfam’s sickness comes from its receipt of government money. No longer was it entirely dependent on the goodwill of ordinary people with their naive belief that the money they gave should be spent on medicine or tents or emergency latrines rather than politicking, and their equally tedious preference that their donations not be spent on prostitutes. Freed from all that, Oxfam could branch out into being a political party for people too sensitive to do the hard graft of going door to door and canvassing for votes, and as a bonus it could use government money to advocate for the policies that would keep the stream of government money coming.

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Puritans IN SPACE!

H.L. Mencken defined “puritanism” as “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy”. Meet Nathan Robinson, editor of a journal called Current Affairs, Guardian contributor, and a man who has almost certainly named his kids “Fly-extravagance”, “Sorry-for-misgendering” and “If-carbon-had-not-been-offset-for-thee-thou-hadst-been-damned”. He writes,

Why Elon Musk’s SpaceX launch is utterly depressing

There is, perhaps, no better way to appreciate the tragedy of 21st-century global inequality than by watching a billionaire spend $90m launching a $100,000 car into the far reaches of the solar system.

Musk said he wanted to participate in a space race because “races are exciting” and that while strapping his car to a rocket may be “silly and fun … silly and fun things are important”. Thus, anyone who mentions the colossal waste the project involves, or the various social uses to which these resources could be put, can be dismissed as a killjoy.

But one doesn’t have to hate fun to question the justification for pursuing a costly new space race at exactly this moment. If we examine the situation honestly, and get past our natural (and accurate) feeling that rockets are really cool, it becomes hard to defend a project like this.

A mission to Mars does indeed sound exciting, but it’s important to have our priorities straight. First, perhaps we could make it so that a child no longer dies of malaria every two minutes. Or we could try to address the level of poverty in Alabama that has become so extreme the UN investigator did not believe it could still occur in a first-world country. Perhaps once violence, poverty and disease are solved, then we can head for the stars.

Many might think that what Elon Musk chooses to do with his billions is Elon Musk’s business alone. If he wanted to spend all his money on medicine for children, that would be nice, but if he’d like to spend it making big explosions and sending his convertible on a million-mile space voyage, that’s his prerogative.

But Musk is only rich enough to afford these indulgent pet projects because we have allowed gross social inequalities to arise in the first place. If wealth were actually distributed fairly in this country, nobody would be in a position to fund his own private space program.

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