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]

Yet more crap from the Economist

I do not bother to write articles attacking leftist stuff from openly leftist publications or broadcasters.

For example, it may irritate me that the BBC sneer at Sarah Palin as “close to the oil industry” when, in fact, the lady exposed corrupt links between oil and Alaska politics. And it may be annoying that the BBC sneers that Governor Palin made her speech with “her husband and children in tow”, when it did not say that Senator Obama had “his wife and children in tow” when he made his speech. But the BBC is the BBC… it is a leftist broadcaster and its job is to present a leftist view of the world – although it is irritating that people are forced to pay for the BBC.

However, the Economist is different, it claims to be a free market magazine (sorry “newspaper”) dedicated to rolling back the state – and it simply is not.

The latest example is the front cover story “Bring back the real McCain“. When one turns to the article it turns out to be yet another Economist attack on the “irresponsible” policy of John McCain – the policy of trying to keep tax rates from being increased, and even reducing some of the absurdly high tax rates presently in place. The general tone of the article was both that tax cuts for “the rich” are immoral and that, on top of this, they must be “paid for”.

Contrary to what the Economist seems to believe, it was not the reduction of top rates of tax that was the problem under President Bush – on the contrary the revenue from the top rates of tax increased. It was the wild increase in government spending that has been the problem under President Bush.

Not just the mis-management of the Iraq war, although whatever one thinks of the judgement to go into Iraq in the first place the lack of planning for an insurgency meant a lot more blood and treasure being spent in the long run than would have been spent if more troops had been sent in the first place. There has also been all the subsidies, new entitlement programs and other wild spending and, again contrary to what the Economist thinks, the “earmarks” have been very important – for often Congressmen and Senators only vote for a spending bill because of the little earmark for some special interest buried on page…

And who in the Senate has been the most important voice of opposition to all this wild spending over the last few years – for all his faults, it has been John McCain. So for the Economist to claim he is not tough enough on spending to “pay for” his desire to make taxation less heavy is absurd, anti-earmark McCain is but it does not stop there – and, as stated above, the earmarks grease the wheels for the rest of the spending.

As for the idea that higher rates of tax at the top end will mean more revenue, the basis of the Economist claim that not ending the Bush tax rate reductions will cost X vast amount of revenue, this claim does not just ignore the reality of higher revenue from the reductions in the top rates of certain taxes under Bush, it ignores what happened under both Reagan and Thatcher, and under President Kennedy, and under every government that has reduced high top rates of tax since at least the Grand Duke Leopold II of Tuscany in the 18th century. Perhaps Grand Duke Leopold is too recent for the Economist writers, but to the horror of collectivists, “tax cuts for the rich” really do “pay for themselves”.

However, there is also another factor. On the very day the Economist hit the shelves, its sister publication the Financial Times reported that yet more companies were leaving the United Kingdom because of our very high rate of Corporation Tax.

Yes, you guessed it, the American combined State and Federal Corporation Tax burden is actually worse than that of the United Kingdom. “But lots of American corporations do not pay Corporation Tax” – the ones that make losses do not pay for they have no profits to pay tax out of (hint – this is not a good thing for the corporations concerned), other companies do not pay because they are not “corporations” at all – they are privately owned companies whose owners pay income tax on their profits.

Sadly ignorant of all of the above, the Economist specifically targeted John McCain’s proposal to reduced the rate of Corporation Tax as one of his “irresponsible” policies.

John McCain is no economic genius, but has shown the ability to learn. The Economist writers show no such ability, all they can do is to trot out the moronic collectivism they were taught at school and university. I know I have said this before, but it needs saying whilst the Economist still pretends to be a “free market” publication.

On not comprehending US politics

Probably it is the whole world I do not understand, but I am going to stick to not grasping it a bit at a time. It seems less daunting.

How does this work? Some commentators are saying that Senator McCain picked Governor Palin as his running-mate in order to attract supporters of Senator Clinton who are cross with Senator Obama for not giving up when he was winning the Democratic nomination.

Just who is crazy here? The Clintonites who think Obama is such a middle-of-the-road disaster for failing to appeal to the activist base that they might consider voting for a party that is over the other side of the road? And having done so, I look forward to their saying is the racism of the American public not Democratic-party petulance that has kept him out of the Whitehouse. Or the super-Clintonites who say they are mad at Obama for not being a woman? Republican strategists (if they exist) who care about what the tiny number of leftist Democratic activists think, but nevertheless think Palin will attract them, despite her being of the religious right persuasion and ideologically about as far from a leftist Democratic activist as possible? Or the commentators who assert such a strategy would make sense?

Or are there really large numbers of Americans who will vote for McCain solely because Palin is female and for no other reason of policy, personality or competence dividing the candidates and their platforms? That would be crazy. Wouldn’t it?

Holy bananas

This morning’s superstrangeness:

Ministers are being urged to stop faith schools in England selecting pupils and staff on the basis of their religion.

Accord, a new coalition of secular and religious figures, wants the government to stop state-funded schools engaging in what they say is “discrimination”.

As an atheist I find a lot of things to do with religious faith incomprehensible, so maybe I’m missing something that’s obvious to a believer, but in what way is a school with no religious requirements of pupils or teachers a “faith school”?

Samizdata quote of the day

But if Republicans want another Reagan, they should recognize that he didn’t come from nowhere, and work on their farm team.

Glenn Reynolds. I am not quite sure about the expression “farm team”, but I am assuming that is an Americanism. I agree with the general sentiment, for all of Reagan’s drawbacks. There is no one on the political right in the English-speaking world who comes close to the Gipper. That is a shame.

Rumours of Mr Jobs’ death were greatly exaggerated

I guess the Bloomberg editor who transmitted this story in error has suffered the equivalent of being thrown into a pool of sharks, as happened to a baddie who got on the wrong side of Largo in Thunderball. There has always been a Spectre-like feel about the Bloomberg news operation, not to mention a cultish aspect, even. In their London office, there are lots of fish-tanks dotted about, presumably designed to make the staff feel calmer, but you never know what sort of beasties might lurk.

There is this wonderful story – I am not sure if it is totally accurate, though – about how an employee who fell out with a notorious Bloomberg editor, called Matt Winkler, managed to transmit headlines on the service that repeated for hours, with the words: “Winkler is a Wanker – Official”.

I just love the news business.

Malapropism

I’m sure that Hugo Chavez has done some good. Much more bad than good probably, but some good. And Ken Livingstone is certainly not totally evil. But when the two of them get together it is very implausible that it is good news for the world on average.

Though if Mr Livingstone spends a lot of time in Venezuela, that will be pleasant both for him and for Londoners, I am really quite puzzled what Latin America, or even Mr Chavez, gets from this deal:

Ken Livingstone, the former mayor of London, has found a new role as an adviser to the Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez and his political allies. During a surprise visit to Caracas, Livingstone said yesterday that he would act as a consultant on the capital’s policing, transport and other municipal issues.

“I believe that Caracas will become a first-world city in 20 years. I have a very extensive network of contacts both domestically and internationally which I will be calling on to assist in this,” he told reporters at the presidential palace after meeting Chávez.

But the most puzling thing of all is that use of the phrase “first-world city”. I was under the impression that the ‘first world’ was the capitalist western countries, the ‘second world’ the realm of state-socialism, and the ‘third world’ the unindustrialised rest, not clearly part of either. Continuing the metaphor of separate worlds – and wishing away trade and travel and telegraph – the Rev John Papworth has even coined “Fourth World” for the poorest of the poor and those rejecting economic development altogether.

I cannot believe Red Ken was trying to suggest that the Bolivarian Revolution will fail, and that in 20 years Venezuela will be fully part of the capitalist first world again. Surely Mr Livingstone means he wants Caracas to be a second-world city?

Samizdata quote of the day

So what might shift contemporary impressions of President Bush? I can only speak for myself here, but something I did not expect was the discovery that he reads more history and talks with more historians than any of his predecessors since at least John F. Kennedy. The President has surprised me more than once with comments on my own books soon after they’ve appeared, and I’m hardly the only historian who has had this experience. I’ve found myself improvising excuses to him, in Oval Office seminars, as to why I hadn’t read the latest book on Lincoln, or on – as Bush refers to him – the “first George W.” I’ve even assigned books to Yale students on his recommendation, with excellent results.

“Well, so Bush reads history”, one might reasonably observe at this point. “Isn’t it more important to find out how he uses it?” It is indeed, and I doubt that anybody will be in a position to answer that question definitively until the oral histories get recorded, the memoirs get written, and the archives open. But I can say this on the basis of direct observation: President Bush is interested – as no other occupant of the White House has been for quite a long time – in how the past can provide guidance for the future.

John Lewis Gaddis

The dilemma of ‘doing something’

Darryl Watson wrote in with something that is indeed a topic worthy of pondering…

I am not sure if this is a worthy topic of discussion, but the issue is gnawing at me right now, and thought I would share:

I have a ten-minute walk to my preferred parking spot, from where I work in downtown Denver. The parking lot is in a less savoury neighbourhood. While I was on my way to my vehicle, half a block away, I saw a man come around a corner quickly, pushing a bicycle. He was moving too quick to simply be going from point A to B, and I immediately knew something was wrong. As he hopped on the bike and started pedalling toward me, another man came around the corner, grizzled, a biker type, with a big beard and leather hat. He was shouting, ‘Hey! Hey!’ at the man on the bike, who started to increase his speed.

It was clear that the man on foot wanted the man on the bike to stop, and that the man on the bike was fleeing. And both were approaching me quickly.

I was immediately conscious of the motorcycle helmet in one hand, my bag of work sundries in the other, and the distance between us. There was no one else anyone else within a block. I immediately moved to block the fleeing man’s path on the sidewalk; he saw me and swerved sharply out into the street, trying to stay out of my reach.

This is the instant where I disappointed myself. If I had not hesitated, I would have been able to clothesline him and bring him to a stop, but instead I was thinking:

  1. This situation might not be what it looks like… a bicycle theft
  2. I knew without a doubt the fleeing man would have to be knocked off the bike to get him to stop
  3. I had my cowboy boots on (yes, I work in an office in cowboy boots… it is Denver) and they were terrible for running
  4. If I injured the guy, I could get charged with battery

It was option ‘4’ which caused me to hesitate and let the thief slip by. He got away, and the man on foot ran after, calling for police to no avail.

I imagine the threat of criminal charges for being decent and willing to apply a little violence to better one’s neighbourhood is a sore topic in this blog. We in Colorado have not quite gotten as bad as England, but, I fear it will come to that as people increasingly rely on authorities to rescue them when there is trouble. I would be interested in reading commentary on the issue.

Countering Russian disinformation about Georgia

One of the blogosphere’s brightest lights, Michael Totten, once again finds himself up the sharp end and brings some interesting reportage from Georgia. If you are interested in the real chronology of events and understanding why Russia, not Georgia, is the prime mover of this regional tragedy, check out his article.

An upwardly mobile population

Freedom of movement is a simple principle and some countries are more attractive than others. Britain may have some 77 million by 2060, overtaking Germany as the most populous country in Europe . A happy result as this adds more energy to our mongrellous mix. Get rid of the welfare state and we may attract even more economic migrants, even more entrepreneurs and get even richer faster.

Still, good news brings out the illiberal. We have the Tories aping Labour, adding stasis to their statist hungers, with a po-faced limit on all immigration.

The Conservatives are demanding an annual limit on immigration, to take “into account its impact on the public service infrastructure” as well as a broader policy “to tackle other issues like family breakdown” and ageing.

The prize for chumpdom extends to greenery: with their wistful carry trade of ecocide and dreaming spires, with cyclists trading organic marrows between villages of happy farmers:

Rosamund McDougall, policy director at the Optimum Population Trust, has called “for stabilisation and gradual decrease to five million fewer people in Britain by 2050″.

“This population growth is absolutely unsustainable, in environmental terms, energy terms and food production. It will make life for British citizens significantly worse,” she said.

“Even if we comprehensively greened our lifestyles, the UK could only support 27 million people – less than half its present population – from its own resources.”

The green response to freedom of movement is illiberal restriction cast in a PC lexicon:

OPT supports immigration. We want to go on doing our share of protecting persecuted refugees as well as welcoming additional skills and cultures to our already rich mix of people. The problem is how many? Since we believe that our population density is now too great for our resources, we think that a just solution is to balance immigration with emigration to help reverse population growth. As around 350,000 people leave our shores each year, we suggest limiting immigration to similar numbers, to produce a neutral effect on our population growth. More asylum seekers could be accommodated if there is a corresponding reduction in the number of economic migrants.

This fundamental divide between liberals and greens has not been grasped by the general populace. If the greens are unable to attain the carrying capacity of the United Kingdom by voluntary means, where will they go in their quest for sustainability?

The big ideological defeat hidden by environmentalism

I like this, from a blogger I have only recently discovered, Will Wilkinson:

Climate eschatology really is the ultimate in big lie crisis politics. The far-left has failed so comprehensively to make the case for its vision of society and economy that the only thing left to do is to brazenly and repeatedly assert that the world will literally collapse unless we implement this otherwise indefensible vision.

Well said. The rest of Wilkinson’s blog, which goes by the name of The Fly Bottle is well worth a regular look also, in the event that you need telling.

One of the things that irritates me about propagandists on my side is that they are often reluctant to spot a great victory, even when they have just won one. Wilkinson’s point is not just that climate chaos-ism is nonsense, a claim that I increasingly find myself agreeing with completely, not least because the now undependable notion of “global warming” has been replaced by the idiotic phrase “climate chaos”, or, even more idiotically, “climate change”. When was there ever a time when the climate did not change? What Wilkinson is also noting is that the hysteria whipped up around the changeability of the climate was whipped up because these lunatics came to realise that they had no other arguments against a more-or-less capitalist, more-or-less-free-market world economy. They have now conceded – not in so many words, rather by changing the subject – that capitalism works, and the only nasty thing they have left to say about it is that it works so well that it ruins the planet.

I do not want to suggest that this is a dazzlingly original observation. I merely thank Wilkinson for clarifying something that most of the regular writers of and readers of this blog all know, in the sense of agreeing when they are told it, but which they might not have said to themselves with absolutely clarity before. One of the reasons I noticed this posting of Wilkinson’s was that I had made precisely the same point in something else I was recently writing, about how well I think capitalism has been doing lately, both in practice and in the ideological enthusiasm sense.

Wilkinson continues:

I think the point is that the clock really is ticking. If we don’t “do something” soon, we’ll probably see that we don’t really need to do anything really dramatic, and then the window for radical social change will be closed. So I expect the volume to get much louder.

Exactly. As and when it comes to be agreed that capitalism is not now ruining the planet, that will be another huge victory for the forces of sanity. Two-nil to us, that will make it. What idiocy will the lunatic tendency think of next, I wonder (comments welcome), to take everyone’s minds off that huge defeat?

I know I know. The incorrigibly pessimistic part of our commentariat will now want to say that the damage has been done, etc. Maybe so. But although ideological shifts do not necessarily have immediate consequences, they do have consequences, and these shifts will have good consequences. They already are, I would say.

However, I do agree with the point that Johnathan Pearce makes from time to time that it would be good for us to ponder what would be the least-worst arrangements for if and when capitalism ever does start ruining the planet for real. I favour technical fixes rather than global regulations, but then I would, wouldn’t I?

Mrs Obama’s speech – the first draft

Comrades! – and revisionist Hillary supporting scum. Only a little joke, Hillary comrades – your support is really most welcome.

I stand before you today to tell you that Now is Our Time. The pathetic remnants of Western Civilization are ripe for destruction, and we will be the generation of revolutionaries that will finally achieve the goal of creating the new society. Outmoded institutions like private property will be swept away, and a new progressive order created.

And this will be achieved without once mentioning such words as “socialism” or “Marxism” in public. Indeed it is our very care to avoid scaring those mislead by capitalism, the ignorant who still cling to their guns and religion, that will help us achieve total victory. Ultimate power is within our grasp.

No longer we will have to pretend to be “proud of our country”, for as the Intellectual Vanguard of the Revolution our country is the whole planet.

We have the children and young people already. It is true that most children are still given such outmoded and old fashioned things as birthday and even “Christmas” presents. Few children are given the intense political education that these two children receive [at this point Comrade Speaker is to wave the two girl props], or that the Great One himself received – the three hours of political education per day that our Beloved Leader was given by his mother, the untypical white person, from his most early years.

However, such intense political education is only needed for the leaders, for the Community Organisers – for the Intellectual Vanguard of the Revolution. For the masses the level of conditioning provided by the progressive media and by the public collective schools and even some of the “private” schools, is enough. With minds clear of experience or information, the young can be taught that all problems are due to the greed of big businessmen (we need not even use word “capitalists” ) and can be solved by enlightened collective power.

It is true that we have made compromises and sacrifices, but look at things have turned out:

For example, only forty years ago our Comrade Revolutionaries were fighting on the streets with the corrupt Chicago Machine. We decided not to fight that Machine – but to cooperate with it, using our family ties to the Machine when we had them. And look at the results.

Now the machine is ours. It is our instrument – the instrument of the Revolution!

Today many of the largest corporations fund our organizations – just as Saul Alinksy predicted they one day would. But it is more than fear – the infiltration and, more importantly, the permeation of ideas (as Gramsci taught) means that many of the largest corporations are managed by people who are in whole or part in sympathy with us. The transition will be easy -for the managers of such corporations as General Electric hate the whole concept of share OWNERS already.

This is what pragmatism has given us – power, ultimate power. And soon this whole stinking Imperialist country will fall to us. And when this place falls, so will the whole world!

This is the secret of our success – our flexibility. If the “liberals” with their bourgeois humanitarianism are against the death penalty then we are against the death penalty – whilst they are useful to us.

But as soon as it is more useful to be in favour of the death penalty then we are in favour of it – indeed more in favour of it than anyone else. Indeed we truly are in favour of the death penalty, although not for the offenses the deluded reactionaries are – pause for laughter and shouts of “kill them all”.

Comrades, Comrades – we must remember Comrade Lenin’s teachings.

If it is for the good of the Revolution we should kill off nine tenths of the population of the whole Earth, but if it is for the good of the Revolution to resist our urges and kill no one at all – then that is the policy we should follow.

The only morality is the Revolution – the new society. There must be no more self indulgence in killing than in anything else.

Just as living children may be used as props to attract the votes of sentimental idiots – the kind of people who give “Christmas” presents [pause for more laughter], so they may be killed out of hand after they are born, or used for experiments [pause for laughter]- experiments the capitalists and their dupes are so weak as to be forced to fund with their taxes – pause for wild laughter.

There is no contradiction – for the only truth is the Revolution and its needs. For this end we may even set up Churches to take over the “God” nonsense.

Of course this is more than “we may” – for we already have, this is what Liberation Theology is about.

For whilst religion is the opium of capitalism – it can also be the energy of the Revolution!

When the new society is achieved, and it will be soon comrades, we will get rid of this “God” concept for the only true God is the Collective – not some mythical individual. Just as we will get rid of other things we pretend to hold in high regard, such as the “family” [wave prop children again – to wild laughter] – but till then these absurdities are of use. We will even use the idea of the pathetic Bush of capitalist taxes to subsidize religous groups – our religious groups. Indeed we have so ordered things that we get most of this money already!

Wild laughter – and shouts of “the capitalists fund the rope with which we will hang them”, other shouts of such things as “Warren Buffet and …… do this without being forced to” more laughter.

Comrades, Comrades we must not indulge ourselves even by too much talk – there is still much to do in the campaign.

So I will conclude by telling you that I think that our traditional private chant of “Death-to-America” is too narrow – too much in the spirit of narrow bourgeois nationalism and counter nationalism. Indeed it is has even been taken up by Islamic radicals, although of the more anti imperialist and useful kind, and they are even stupid enough to chant it in public.

So I propose a new chant. I was inspired by some of our more weak minded, but useful, comrades at Stamford University – with their “Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho – Western Civilization has got to go”. But I propose something that is shorter and less flippant.

[At this point the speaker leads the crowd in the new private chant].

Death-to-the-West! Death-to-the-West! Death-to-the-West! Death-to-the-West!……….