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

The meaning of Guido


Even if the GDP numbers are not entirely unexpected, they are still a failure, a failure to grow the economy. The deficit can only be paid down if the economy grows, we can’t borrow our way out of a debt crisis. It is time for a supply-side revolution, why is the government implementing a policy of selected regional enterprise zones, why not make the whole economy an enterprise zone? It was a mistake to hike VAT and it is a strategic error to burden industry with crushingly high green taxes, penal marginal income tax rates of over 50% discourage entrepreneurs and investors from coming to Britain.

If the government is going to miss the deficit target, and it is, miss it because the government slashed taxes to grow the economy. The international bond markets will forgive a finance minister with a growing economy who misses his deficit target, they won’t forgive a finance minister with a contracting economy in any circumstances. Chancellor Zero knows that with no growth there is no hope for the deficit.

Whether Guido is right that there is any hope for the deficit, under any circumstances, is a proposition I leave to others to ponder. I quote the above posting because it illustrates something important about Guido himself.

In among all the knockabout gossip about who is sleeping with whom and who is cheating on their expenses, Guido regularly slips in more thoughtful stuff. He regularly, that is to say, drops in explicit libertarian messages, in among all the merely implicit libertarianism about how they are all conspiring with each other to rob us blind. This is why they all hate him so much. He is absolutely not one of them. They want to believe that he is only a gossip monger, and a mere partisan Tory, with no principles other than that he wants his particular team to be in charge of all the robbing and conspiring. But those of his pro-state (I often think more fun than is might be had with that hyphen) enemies and victims with any antenna or honesty know that he is something far more dangerous to them than that. He is a principled libertarian with readership numbers and influence most of them can only dream of. He, more than anyone else in Britain, is responsible for the widespread perception in British politics that the arrival of the internet was a breakthrough for libertarian ideas. Before Guido, we were talking amongst ourselves, which was good. Now Guido regularly shoves it in front of them, which is even better.

Okay, a simplification. Others were doing this before Guido. But none so entertainingly, or to such a wide readership. One of Samizdata’s prouder boasts, I think, is that before Guido found his own blog persona and his own voice as a blogger, he was briefly part of ours.

Here is a photo I took of the great man, at a recent gathering at Samizdata HQ:


A fine if rather blurry addition to this collection. (This is my favourite one of these.)

By the way, do you remember the posting I did here a while back about how so much of what happens in the world is down to two-man teams? Well, these days, anyone who cares knows that there are now two Guidos. I asked original Guido about this at the party where I took the above snap, and the partnership between him and Harry Cole is definitely the real two-man team deal.

8 comments to The meaning of Guido

  • Paul Marks

    The government has indeed opted for a policy of crushingly high taxation. 50% income tax, 20% national sales tax (and so on).

    The “reduction in borrowing” is largely because money sent to the IMF (and so on) is not included in the figures (that sort of two-set-of-books accounting is not illegal if you are a government). Even the official debt is now over a TRILLION Pounds (not counting all the unfunded liabilities of the Welfare State and so on).

    Instead of really going after government spending and reducing taxation – the government, instead, has gone for a wildly “expansionary monetary policy”.

    In the old days this would have meant debasing the coinage (but coins are totally base now), then it meant the printing press – but now technology has moved on and it is now computer screens.

    The best thing that can be said about government fiscal and monetary policy is that “it could be worse” – and would be if Ed Miliband was in charge.

  • RRS

    Swimming in the same cesspool of “public” (for which no one seems to feel responsible) debt, we in the U S probably have no “stature” to comment on the commentary there.

    It does seem odd for those of a U K libertarian bent to use the phrase to grow the economy. Economies can be shrunk, debauched, debilitated, stanched; but can they really be “grown.” Political actions (often referred to as Government) can not truly grow anything, although many things may grow upon them.

    Nit-picking natter, of course; yet is a perception of the continuing tendency to speak of governments as entities that do things, grow things, etc. things, when they are just mechanisms.


  • Richard Thomas

    RRS, it seems like they are trying to grow the economy by applying large amounts of aromatic fertiliser.

  • Shit fed to roses might give you good roses, but when you feed it to people, day-in-day-out they become resentful.

    The British have been reluctant to start combining politicians, piano wire and lampposts, but that reluctance can end just as quickly in Whitehall as it did in Tahir Square.

    Don’t forget that although we might be relatively civil compared to our Libyan counterparts, we also have form in civil war as Charles the First found out on that cold morning of 6th February 1649.

    I don’t know when the British will snap, but we’re at the point where only a straw is needed to break the camels back.

  • RAB

    Our Pols are scared shitless of Guido because of what he may discover of their personal peccadillos and financial troughing, they don’t see the bigger picture he presents yet, thank God!

  • @Patrick Crozier:

    My apologies, I stand corrected. It was 30th January 1649. Not sure where I got the original date from.


    Well, I will be raising a glass to Lord Protector next Monday. He may well have been an old bastard and I could never have agreed with his much of what he did, but he tried to put people first.

    What we need is a Libertarian Oliver Cromwell to kick out our current ‘Rump Parliament’.

    You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately … Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!

    Time these words were said again in Parliament.

  • Paul Marks

    Sadly any violent revolt is likely to come from people who want even MORE collectivism.

    As so much of the modern situation – Ayn Rand covers this in “Atlas Shrugged”.

    There are armed revolts mentioned in the novel – but after killing the taxcollecters and so on, the rebel groups then introduce common possession of all property. And such places collapse – even before the government soldiers reach them (in response to the killing of the tax collecters and so on).

    The only “revolt” by people who really do want less government is a peaceful one – based on hiding (and the hiding is only successful because of very advanced tecknology).