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

If you’re a UK taxpayer, don’t bother donating to the British Red Cross for the relief of Hurricane Irma. You’re already giving. About £13bn a year of tax. Not all to the Red Cross of course – they get only a fraction of this. The bulk of it goes to teaching Ethiopian nomads how to play electric guitar, setting up pedicure shops in Sudan and sending top British hat-designers to Basutoland to show the natives how to fashion Crêpe De Chine and ostrich feathers into women’s headgear. In other words, the bulk of this money is wasted on hopeless schemes that don’t develop anything by one iota.


Samizdata quote of the day

That’s terrible economics. It’s a classic application of a well-known fallacy called the Lump of Labor — the idea that there are a fixed number of jobs in the world, and those jobs get divvied up among people.

How do we know this is a fallacy? It’s obvious that the number of jobs in the world isn’t fixed. Imagine if the United States deported every single American except for Jeff Sessions. Would Sessions then have his pick of any job? No, he’d be in the forest trying to eat berries to survive. Kicking people out doesn’t just reallocate jobs from one person to another. It also destroys them.

Noah Smith

Samizdata quote of the day

Black markets are the most underutilized tool for alleviating poverty. These underground markets are often portrayed in a negative light by governments because they are untaxed, unregulated, and therefore are a hazard to public safety.

A more sinister description often involves black markets as a cesspool of organized crime, overflowing with drugs and weapons, and a source of income for terrorist groups.

Such portrayals are completely dubious. Ninty percent of India’s workforce is employed in the informal sector, which includes everything from agriculture to small scale manufacturing and services

Jairaj Devadiga

Samizdata cobbled together quote of the day

It’s official: every cyclone or hurricane these days is the worst, strongest, most powerful [insert hyperbolic untruth of your choice] EVER!

Hurricane Irma has been no different.

Of course, the reality is far less sexy…

…when it comes to 1-minute sustained wind speed, Irma ranks tied for second place (with four others) when it comes to North Atlantic hurricanes. In terms of intensity (the lower the air pressure the higher the intensity), Irma doesn’t even crack the top 10 in the North Atlantic (it’s 12th).

How does the mainstream media get away with this?

– Marcus over on Catallaxy Files.

Samizdata quote of the day

Hayek had a profound personal interest in the outcome of the great ideological struggles of his time and understood them very well. He too was driven out of his home by the Nazi threat and landed in London where the academic scene was dominated by Fabian-style socialists who imagined themselves to be great fighters of fascism. Hayek shocked them all by calling them out: the system you want to manage society will actually bring about the very thing you claim to oppose. In other words, the book is not as much about the reds as it is about the browns and the threat that this way of thinking poses even to England and America.

Jeffrey Tucker

Samizdata quote of the day

I should have though feminists have more to worry about this film than everyone else. The point of Golding’s book is that, freed from societal restraints, the boys descend into savagery.

If gender is a social construct then, freed from societal restraints, girls should also descend into savagery because the only difference between boys and girls is how society shapes their behaviour.

But this contradicts feminst doublethink that tells if that although gender is a social construct, girls are actually more caring and empathetic, even without social conditioning.

If the film follows the plot of the book then it isn’t going to show a feminist utopia; it’s going to be more like Heathers or Mean Girls.

– ‘Shatterface’

This is an interesting comment by ‘Shatterface‘ on a Spiked article about an all-female remake of Lord of the Flies.

Samizdata quote of the day

Mrs May is like a self-inflicted bullet lodged near the heart of the Conservative Party after a botched political suicide – Cameron’s resignation. Leaving it there for now or operating are the options. The risks of the general anaesthetic, cutting open the chest and infection seem rather unattractive to the patient, who has a mountain to climb, but leaving the bullet in risks fatal damage upon any exertion.

The bullet seems to think that it has a mandate to go on and dig deeper, like a Nazgûl knife blade fragment going for Frodo’s heart.

Mr. Ed of this parish

Samizdata quote of the day

Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.

– George Carlin, as quoted by the Cobden Centre.

Ok, here is the ‘real’ SQOTD 😀

If investors were rational, they would choose their investments on the basis of valuation. Cheap assets good, expensive assets bad. Markets are tricky things and tough to beat or even match, so it helps to have an edge. No other characteristic has more bearing on the likelihood of an investment’s long term success than its starting valuation. That tiny word “if” carries an awful lot of freight, though. The reality for many is that, consciously or otherwise, they favour financial assets that have self-evidently “worked”, in that their prices have risen strongly in the recent past. Human beings are nothing if not straightforward extrapolation engines. This is not to denigrate price momentum, which is a perfectly respectable trading strategy, but it is to denigrate the animal spirits of the average investor, who has an unerring tendency to conduct investment strategy by way of the rear view mirror.

Tim Price

Samizdata quote of the day

We also want to increase supply, though, and being able to sell in Houston for $99 something bought for $9.99 in Beaumont (again, just to invent an example) might well get a few boats carrying loads in – although quite possibly not from Beaumont. Thus, by allowing prices to rise, we’ve at least potentially increased supply.

Our price system, operating without constraint, is thus achieving the two things we desire, a curtailing of demand through rationing to only truly important uses, and a rise in supply.

“But,” goes the cry, “this isn’t fair!”

Indeed it isn’t, and ain’t that a shame, fairness not being a notable feature of this universe we’re struggling to inhabit. All we can do is the best we can. Which is, again, why I insist that there should be variable prices, why there should be no laws against price-gouging. Because this really is a disaster, there really are significant shortages in Houston right now, we really do want to solve them. Which means that we should be using all of the tools at our disposal.

Tim Worstall

Samizdata quote of the day

There is some debate as to whether we can conceivably talk about the ‘alt-left’. Does the term have any meaning? Is it but a sly invention of the alt-right in order to reduce its opponents to a level moral footing – as if to say ‘you’re no better than us’?

The term certainly enrages those on the activist left, who regard themselves as championing the poor, marginalised, women and ethnic minorities against the behemoths of ravaging neoliberalist economics and white privilege. There could be no possible moral equivalence between such noble characters and the creepy, brutal voices of neo-Nazism, elitism and white nationalism. Surely?

Surely indeed. Events this summer suggest that the term ‘alt-left’ is justified – that is to say, if the prefix ‘alt’ denotes sulky, rancorous, childish thuggery. This is the year that some sections of the left lost all pretence to holding the moral high ground. The alt-left has become ideologically fanatic, with its lust for instability now clear to behold.

The most obvious manifestation of its evolution into a febrile cult is its new mania for iconoclasm. Remember at the beginning of the 2000s, when we were horrified at the Taliban for blowing up ancient statues? Yet 16th-century-style statue-smashing has become mainstream in the US, as the alt-left has cultivated a craze for pulling down inanimate representations of people.

Patrick West

Samizdata quote of the day

In effect, Google is telling the world that unmoderated, no-holds-barred exchanges are not welcome in cyberspace. Playing censor, playing government – both made possible by Google’s market power, which, in its turn, makes it susceptible to government regulation.

Susceptible and even vulnerable as they might be, I don’t expect anti-trust proceedings anywhere in the world to put an end to Google’s and Apple’s dominance in certain markets. If I have hope – if never too much – it’s for new technology and know-how both to dislodge the oligopolies and defang government censorship.

The Dilettante’s Winterings

Samizdata quote of the day

Rarely has the hypocrisy of the West’s ostensible liberals and leftists been as violently exposed as it has been this week. Between Charlottesville and Barcelona, between their fury over the former and their embarrassment at the latter, we have gained a glimpse into today’s extraordinary double standards over extremists who loathe liberty, democracy and swathes of mankind. If the extremists are white and fond of the swastika, they’ll be roundly condemned, organised against, transformed into a focal point for the activities of a flagging left. But if they’re Muslims, if it’s a misogynistic, homophobic caliphate they want to build, if their targets are ‘kuffars’ rather than pinkos or black people, they will be frowned upon, of course, but never raged against. Never organised against. They will be treated more forgivingly, and explicitly so. It’s clear now: leftists only dislike certain kinds of neo-fascism.

Brendan O’Neill