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

He doesn’t mean to be a monster and I don’t want to see him as one, but in his presence my blood ran cold. I was afraid of him. I was even more afraid of the way the earnest folk in the room laughed as he joked about the unintended consequences of various programmes to clean up the act of the idiotic, self-destructive great unwashed, I realised that I might be the only one there who included himself in the category of “the people” to be shaped as opposed to the smug elite doing the shaping.

No one seemed remotely concerned for the freedoms of those on the receiving end of Dr Chadwick’s mind bending, “nudging” and manipulation — the benighted mugs who ultimately pay to have such well-shod professionals sneer about them behind their backs.

– Tom Paine writing an article titled ‘An unexpected encounter with a monster

Oh boy, do I feel Tom’s Pain (sorry).

It reminds me of the following remarks I made when speaking to a rather earnest employee of Her Majesty’s government. It was at a PPE dinner at an Oxford college, filled to the rafters with pretty much the same people who filled the room where Tom Paine’s blood ran cold. As I was clearly very off-message, she had just told me that “You’re the sort of person we need to convince”:

“Don’t waste your time trying to convince me its all for my own good, because the objective isn’t my good, its making sure the people in this room have power. If you keep nudging people, and you just won’t stop, eventually they’ll punch you in the face. But we both know the reason that doesn’t happen to you is because Mao’s dictum is entirely correct. Your presumed right to do what you do to the hoi polloi is embedded at an axiomatic level, you don’t have any coherent moral argument to back it up, and why should you? The only reason you can do what you do is because you keep the police force funded, which is why you don’t need to convince me of anything.”

For some reason I don’t get taken to those kind of dinners any more 😆

Samizdata quote of the day

In recent weeks, Labour could not make a simple statement in support of those protesting for freedom in Iran. It couldn’t give a straightforward condemnation of a regime that stones people to death for adultery, publicly hangs gay people, and forces women by threat of criminal punishment to wear headscarves in public. The hard left’s virulent anti-Americanism renders it ‘just not that simple’. No, with the influence and influx of ‘Stop The War’ ideologies, Labour has been dragged so deeply down the rabbit hole of anti-imperialist theories that they cannot condemn dictatorial, theocratic, repressive Iran in case it somehow strengthens, or implies support for, democratic, secular and free America. My Labour would see America is a necessary bulwark against Iran, yet the Labour we have sees Iran as a necessary bulwark against America. I cannot in all good conscience tell a single person to vote for that.

– Nora Mulready, writing an article titled “Today I resigned from the Labour Party

As I am some manner of wild-eyed libertarian/classical liberal, I suspect Ms. Mulready and I might not see eye to eye on certain issues, yet I have to respect someone who has the emotional maturity and intellectual integrity to transcend the tribal impulses we are all prone to, to detach themselves from an institution they were once deeply invested in.

Samizdata quote of the day

The unhinged Nazi talk discourages reasoned analysis in favour of chasing the cheap thrill of yelling “fascist!” at someone you don’t like. It is profoundly anti-intellectual. But it does something worse than muddy the present and harm rational debate about politics today; it also ravages the past; it relativizes the Nazi experience and, unwittingly no doubt, dilutes the savagery of the Holocaust through comparing that immense crime with what is simply an elected American administration many people don’t like.

This might not be Holocaust denial, but it is certainly Holocaust dilution. It is Holocaust relativism. And as some historians have been pointing out since the 1970s, Holocaust relativism, the treatment of the Nazi era as just a wicked brand of politics that crops up every now and then, including now, is the foundation stone of the vile prejudices that underpin actual Holocaust denial.

Brendan O’Neill discussing the toxic absurdity of the ‘Trump is a Nazi’ notion.

Samizdata quote of the day

Your group identity is not your cardinal feature. That’s the great discovery of the west. That’s why the west is right. And I mean that unconditionally. The west is the only place in the world that has ever figured out that the individual is sovereign. And that’s an impossible thing to figure out. It’s amazing that we managed it. And it’s the key to everything that we’ve ever done right

Jordan Peterson

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.