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]

System ‘D’

For any of you who may be feeling particularly depressed about the state of the economy, politics and the regulatory leviathan in general, this will cheer you up greatly. It certainly improved my overall outlook.

Although this trend is very much a good thing, I do have some concerns. One of them is for intellectual property protection. All advances in technology and the arts are the result of intellectual endeavors, and assuring the rewards and return on investment of those endeavors is essential to continue the advances. Another concern I have is for ‘real’ property rights. I would very much like to hear from any of the Samizdata commentariat who have access to, and perhaps even do business in “l’economie de la débrouillardise.”

As the dollar and the Euro flare off into nothingness like the methane from a decomposing landfill, I presume System ‘D’ is Plan ‘B’ for advanced Western societies as well. How will that unfold?

17 comments to System ‘D’

  • I love how the author mentions being outside government regulation, antipollution rules etc as being implicitly a Bad Thing.

  • Roue le Jour

    Interesting synchronicity with UK tax schedule ‘D’ for self-employment. That’s the kind of thing that makes an idea catch on.

    The west’s current system of government grew up in symbiosis with mass employers. It taxed to socialise the cost of labour and regulated to prevent competition. It’s raison d’etre is long gone but it is like a dinosaur that it is determined to drag us all down into the tar pit with it. Even as the EU disintegrates, the bureau of enterprise destroying bureaucracy is no doubt planning fresh assaults on the business that sustains it.

    What little I know of street markets here in Thailand is that they most certainly do have men who collect ‘rent’. Still, at least gangsters don’t tell you how much salt to eat, eh?

  • Robbo

    “assuring the rewards and return on investment of those endeavors is essential to continue the advances.”

    More important, in my view, is to ensure innovations can be cumulative, that one innovator can improve on the work of another, so as to maximise the rate of advances.

    Today’s IP ‘system’ works fine for rent-seeking large players. It does not work for small players who cannot afford to defend their IP in the courts. On balance it fails.

    What makes a difference to consumers is fast and effective exploitation of innovation. It’s hard to see that this would be harmed if the only advantage the innovator had was ‘first-mover’, rather than years or decades of monopoly.

  • the other rob

    More important, in my view, is to ensure innovations can be cumulative, that one innovator can improve on the work of another, so as to maximise the rate of advances.

    I fear that this point of view risks prioritising “society” over the individual innovator (cue Atlas Shrugged analogies, repeat ad nauseum) and, with modern technologies and manufacturing techniques the emphasis on first mover advantage is disingenuous. It didn’t help Yahoo! or Alta Vista, for example.

    With that said, Robbo’s point about the current system favouring large rent-seeking players is certainly valid, though (in the USA at least) much of that is the result of regulation rather than of a lack of it.

    For example: Copyright on creative works to reward creators = Good. A certain media conglomerate buying Senators to rewrite the law every few decades so that the copyrights that it owns never expire = Bad. Patents to create a short monopoly period so that pharmaceutical companies can recoup investment and make a profit = Good. Big Pharma using the FDA and other so-called regulators to restrict or eliminate competition (as in the current e-cigarette debacle) = Bad.

    The question then becomes “What norms for managing and exploiting IP will evolve in Systeme D, outside the influence of perverse regulation.” I suspect that the answer will depend upon the balance shifting from parasitism on “white economy” innovation towards genuine innovation occurring wholly inside Systeme D.

  • the other rob

    Smited!

  • RRS

    What MW cites here is another example of circumvention of institutions, which is essential to escape from the status quo that the formation of institutions fosters, promotes and protects.

    As information is better disseminated, individuals and groups are finding more ways of circumvention, in order to seek their objectives, rather than being constrained to objectives that are wthin the institutional parameters.

    Watch India as circumventions take hold, slowly at first, then predominately.

  • profwalker

    I like to read Georges Simenon. But every time I see ‘Simenon Family Rights’ on the first page, I become angry. The man has been dead for many years; and his family have no just claim to any of the profits from the sale of his works. There are many such examples, I’m sure.

  • Schrodinger's Dog

    Roue le Jour wrote < >

    I nominate that for Samizdata Quote of the Day.

  • Schrodinger's Dog

    Roue le Jour wrote: “What little I know of street markets here in Thailand is that they most certainly do have men who collect ‘rent’. Still, at least gangsters don’t tell you how much salt to eat, eh?”

    I nominate that for Samizdata Quote of the Day.

    (I don’t know why it didn’t appear correctly the first time.)

  • bobby b

    . . . I presume System ‘D’ is Plan ‘B’ for advanced Western societies as well. How will that unfold?

    For us in the USA, we’ll all just stop reporting financial transactions to the government. That IS System D.

    I’m still not sure if this will happen because so many people simply decide that opting out of the tax system sounds way more profitable, or if O’s growing lamprey administration, latched firmly onto the already-shrinking economy, will finally suck it dry and pretty much end financial transactions anyway.

  • buwaya

    Systeme D is an ironic old French military term. I.e., to muddle through or improvise, and the systeme of course is no systeme at all. Its just what soldiers are reduced to when their superiors incompetence has left them in the lurch. Not an uncommon thing in the French military.

    I expect that if these are indeed common terms in French Africa they come from the French army.

  • Roue le Jour

    That’s very kind of you, Schrodinger’s Dog, but I was making a joke, not an original observation. I think our hosts are aware of that.

  • RAB

    “The world is our Lobster Rodney! No income tax, no VAT…”

    There was a very heartening series of documentaries on the Beeb last year, Welcome to Lagos. About people who lived on a rubbish dump and salvage and sell anything that can be salvaged and sold.

    It is a little world unto itself that even has restaurants and shops on it, and is completely outside the control of the Nigerian Government.

  • Great link Mid, thanks.

    RAB, there’s a similar world in Rio.

  • lucklucky

    “Still, at least gangsters don’t tell you how much salt to eat, eh?”

    I concur with Schrodinger’s Dog: Quote of the Day.

  • Some…actually, a lot of numbers, here.

  • Paul Marks

    “Loophole” capitalism can only go so far.

    As de Soto (and many others) have pointed out, it is simply wrong to think that because some people avoid high taxes and endless regulations the future of the economy is bright.

    It is not – this will not work (not so much to make a real difference).