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

Oxfam have, again, come up with a gross misrepresentation of world poverty which fails to line up with everything else we know about human advancement and income improvements. Demonising capitalism may be fashionable in the affluent Western world but it ignores the millions of people who have risen out of poverty as a result of free markets.

Mark Littlewood, summing up why I would never give a toxic outfit like Oxfam a penny. Oxfam is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Samizdata quote of the day

One of the great tragedies of the NHS is that it has unnecessarily turned health into a Zero Sum Game. Because it has a limited budget, money spent on one treatment means that it cannot be spent on others. It therefore has to make life and death decisions based on what those running it perceive to be its priorities.

Madsen Pirie

Samizdata quote of the day

In the NHS, unforeseen demand simply results in more queuing and rationing. Given that budgets are largely fixed by the political process, and resources are allocated to different parts of the service based on highly speculative demand estimates, deviations in demand can lead to acute shortages.

Of course, on the margin, having more resources can help. An NHS awash with cash would no doubt be under less pressure than it is today. But no reasonable amount of funding would solve these structural economic realities entirely.

There is a reason the NHS has these winter crises regularly, and other countries do not

Ryan Bourne

Samizdata quote of the day

That’s a movement I want no part of. Or, as I like to put it—because I’m neither a feminist nor much of a lady: Count me the fuck out.

If you’re a woman, I encourage you to join me—count yourself the fuck out of what feminism has become.

Amy Alkon

I have been fortunate enough to met Amy, and she is quite simply marvellous.

Added bonus from Alice Smith on twitter.

Thank goodness so many people have university degrees

In 1820, the vast majority of people lived in extreme poverty and only a tiny elite enjoyed higher standards of living. Economic growth over the last 200 years completely transformed our world, with poverty falling continuously over the last two centuries. This is even more remarkable when we consider that the population increased 7-fold over the same time. In a world without economic growth, an increase in the population would result in less and less income for everyone. A 7-fold increase in the world population would be potentially enough to drive everyone into extreme poverty. Yet, the exact opposite happened. In a time of unprecedented population growth, we managed to lift more and more people out of poverty.

[…]

Despite the clear evidence, many people are not aware of the fact that extreme poverty is declining across the world. The chart below shows the perceptions that survey-respondents in the UK have regarding global achievements in poverty reductions. While the share of extremely poor people has fallen faster than ever before in history over the last 30 years, the majority of people in the UK thinks that the opposite has happened, and that poverty has increased!

The chart below presents evidence from a survey in the UK, but ignorance of global development is even greater in other countries that were also surveyed. The extent of ignorance in the UK is particularly bad if we take into account that the shown result corresponds to a population with a university degree.

Max Roser & Esteban Ortiz-Ospina

Presumably this is part of an adverting campaign for home schooling?

Er, hang on, what’s that grinding sound I hear?

Samizdata quote of the day

Public regulation is static by principle. According to his knowledge of the past, a regulator will define conditions for the presence. However, she cannot know what will come in the future. By definition, innovation represents the direct opposite. Innovator cares not about what people did in the past or what the current situation is. Innovation is a projection of the future. The issue arises when these two concepts collide in a concrete case. The regulators then judge the innovation on the basis of the old standards and the innovators judge the regulation based on their own vision of the future.

Today the static barriers of government regulations are exceeded by new technological innovations and new entrepreneurs. Therefore, it is necessary to take a step back and look at these issues from a broader perspective. We can also look at this problematics simplistically and see if the new technology fits into the official regulatory box, or not. And if it, by chance, doesn’t fit, we ban it automatically.

Robert Chovanculiak

Samizdata quote of the day

Specifically, Buffett offered to bet that over a ten-year period from January 1, 2008, to December 31, 2017, the S&P 500 index would outperform a portfolio of hedge funds when performance is measured on a basis net of fees, costs, and all expenses. Hedge fund manager Ted Seides of Protégé Partners accepted Buffett’s bet and he identified five hedge funds that the predicted would out-perform the S&P 500 index over ten years.

As I reported last September on CD, Buffett’s now-famous bet was actually settled early and ahead of schedule, because the outcome was so one-sided in favor of the S&P 500 index over hedge funds

Mark Perry

I have been following this for a while and given my views on hedge funds, I was not in the slightest bit surprised at the outcome. Factor in fees, costs, and all expenses and the difference becomes eye-watering. Personally I am a big fan of the Terry Smith school of thought (which is to say when it comes to investments “don’t just do something, sit there!”): with a few glorious exceptions, managed funds almost always over-trade.

Have a splendid New Year

2017 was a very good year for me, and I would like to wish our fractious community of contributors and readers a splendiferous 2018.

New Year’s Eve at Samizdata HQ with a La Bomba Daiquiri

Samizdata quote of the day

This was a real threat to the press, and our #FreeThePress campaign urged citizens to say No to both prospects. Section 40 would mean strong-arming newspapers into signing up to a press-backed regulator – ending centuries of a (relatively) free press. What’s more, the only press regulator that has been approved by the Leveson-created Press Recognition Panel is Impress, which is staffed by snobbish ‘hackademics’ and funded by tabloid-loathing millionaire Max Mosley.

Naomi Firsht

Christmas greetings

Wishing our readers a splendid Christmas…

Duck with skin turned to quackling, stuffed with pheasant & wood pigeon. Beware of shot. Crispy roast potatoes coated with polenta. More off-camera!

Samizdata quote of the day

But the problem is worse. For in our taxation of the richer among us we’re pretty much at that Laffer Curve point. Sure, we can argue about whether the income tax take peaks at 40%, 43%, 47% and so on but all the experience (our own experience with the 50% rate, academic research by Diamond and Saez and so on) tells us that when we look at taxes upon income (so, adding NI and so on) then we are at least around about that peak.

Which means that if we’re to increase the tax take as a percentage of the economy, the thing being demanded, then we’re going to have to tax the poorer among us. The very people who don’t have much to start with and who are really going to miss that marginal income.

Tim Worstall