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

The “safe spaces” that really matter now, after Paris and Mali, are the concert halls, restaurants, cinemas, hotels, workplaces and transportation systems of the free world. The ISIS-held towns and villages in the Middle East need to be liberated so that they might be safe for families to live in peacefully. The real “trigger warning” comes from the guns of those who shot peaceful people in Paris. Those students immersed in a self-indulgent merry go round of protest need to go back to their dorms, turn on the television, absorb what’s happening in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Europe and engage their brains. It is time to put away childish things. We are up against people who don’t want there to be any colleges, who want women to be clad head to toe in black, to barely if ever go outside and to be slaves of men.

Iain Martin, at the CapX website.

Samizdata quote of the day

“Whatever its protestations, Corbyn’s far left is not anti-war. Pacifism may not be a moral position in all circumstances but, in my view at least, it remains an honourable belief, rooted in Christian teaching. Corbyn does not share it. He does not oppose violence wherever it comes from, as the BBC’s political editor claimed this week. When anti-western regimes and movements go to war, his language turns slippery. Corbyn never quite has the guts to support the violence of others, but he excuses it like a gangster’s lawyer trying to get a crime boss off on a technicality.”

Nick Cohen.

For what it is worth, I would not be surprised if this evil man is toppled in a few months, possibly if the May local elections in the UK are poor for Labour. And yes I used the word “evil” quite deliberately. That is what he is. Corbyn is a bad man to the core.

Why people keep paying to watch 007 do his stuff

Bond is driven by a lust for life — for adventure, for sleek luxury cars, for truffles and foie gras and martinis, and yes, for beautiful women. He is certainly out of place in our age of Neo-Puritanism. He probably eats processed meat, the scoundrel.

But this is not mere gluttony. Bond is a man of refined and expensive tastes. He manages to be both aggressively virile and suave and sophisticated. He’s a stone-cold killer in a tuxedo. The guy with the British accent and tailored suit is usually the villain.

That’s something that is missing from today’s movies, or rather something that has come to be associated with villains in American films. We’ve got plenty of knockaround blue-collar heroes (a Bruce Willis specialty) or wisecracking rule-breakers (the space now being filled by Chris Pratt). But the guy with the plummy British accent and the perfectly tailored suit? He’s usually the villain. Maybe this is the leftover reflex of a country founded in a rebellion against British aristocracy. When we see someone with the markers of aristocracy — fine clothes, expensive tastes, a posh accent — we instinctively distrust him.

Robert Tracinski

By the way, his analysis of why Daniel Craig hasn’t quite got the part down perfectly is very true. He tries too hard at the gritty realism and “I’m the tortoured soul” angle, which I suspect has a touch of PC “we are all victims of our environment/genes” point of view . That’s not what Ian Fleming, a complex character himself, created.

Of course, one thing that genuine liberals will point out is that 007 is a government agent.  But leave aside the ideological correctness for a bit (libertarians can be as big a pain in the butt about this as any socialist): the author of the quotes above absolutely nails why people like the James Bond character, quite as much as why social justice warriors and others don’t. He’s been attacked by the puritan left almost from the year when Fleming started bashing out his lines in his Jamaica home. Long may James Bond continue to give such folk a headache.

Right, I am in deepest Dubai, and heading off for an event which involves dressing in a tuxedo.

When even alleged titans of capitalism subscribe to nonsense about economics

And also as ever, if you want to reduce inequality and also, not quite the same thing but close to it, raise the incomes of the working poor then what you should be agitating for is not more price fixing, but a return to full employment. Which, in this particular place and time, means arguing for less regulation of who may employ whom to do what and also arguing that the Federal Reserve should delay raising interest rates. For there are indeed things we can do to make the economy better but we do also have to make sure that they’re the right things.

Tim Worstall, who is picking apart the thinking of the chief operating officer of Blackstone, the world’s largest listed asset management house. I have been to briefings where I have heard investment managers say that minimum wage laws are a good thing and have dismissed worries about unemployment, especially among minorities and the young, as unwarranted. What I fear is that there are now quite a lot of people working in the investment sector who have imbibed some “making water flow uphill” socialistic nonsense, and these folk now oversee our investment portfolios. It is definitely worthwhile spending time working out if the investment professionals in charge of your money subscribe to these ideas or not.

For a brilliant take-down of minimum wage laws, rent controls and other attempts to push up/reduce prices from where they might otherwise be, Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson, over half a century old, is still a classic of devastating argumentation.

(Author’s note: corrected from the original where I wrote BlackRock rather than Blackstone. Mea culpa.)

Looking for a rational explanation

Wherever there’s an aggrieved terrorist or an undemocratic regime engaged in an existential struggle with the West, you can rely on Seumas Milne, Oxford-educated warrior for the Third World and former comment editor of The Guardian, to offer a full-throated, if slightly incoherent, defense. If your country’s constitution mandates the burning down of orphanages and the conscription of 6-year-olds in to the army, Milne will likely have your back, provided you also express a deep loathing for the United States and capitalism. So yesterday, in a signal to party moderates that he intends to burn Labour to the ground, Jeremy Corbyn appointed Milne his head of communications. It simply has to be a Tory plot.

Michael Moynihan.

It is worth noting that among the many vile qualities of Milne was his extensive excuse-making for the people who murdered the Charlie Hebdo journalists. That is really going to go down great with those journalists who have to deal with this Stalinist fucker as part of their day jobs.

Samizdata quote of the day

Licensing laws tend to have particularly harsh consequences on members of minority groups for a couple reasons. First, if a law requires a person to have, say, a college degree to practice the trade of interior design (which is the law in Florida), people who have less money and time to spend in college will find that avenue of opportunity closed to them. Since black and Hispanic Floridians are about 30 percent less likely to have a college degree, they will suffer more from this absurd licensing requirement than others will. Competitor’s Veto laws that forbid a person from practicing a trade unless they get permission from the businesses already operating in that industry are also very likely to create a sort of Old Boys Network, and to exclude entrepreneurs who lack political connections. Second, in a more general sense, any law that restricts economic opportunity for some to benefit others—as licensing laws tend to do—are likely to benefit those who have more political influence and can therefore get the government to regulate in ways favorable to them. Since members of minority groups have less political influence, they tend to be the ones excluded.

Timothy Sandefur

I do sometimes wonder if the jibes about Americans not having a sense of irony are correct

I have been re-reading Mark Steyn’s amusingly-written prediction of America’s coming Apocalypse, noting those parts where his predictions seem to be on course (debt, rising bureaucracy) and those which suggest there’s more vigour in that country than the doomsters suggest (fracking, the continued innovations of its businessmen and women, etc). I am not on the same page with Steyn about everything – he is more of a social conservative and culture pessimist than I am, but most of his points hit home or at least are a spur to change course. There is a laugh-out-loud paragraph on every page and this one in particular, on page 75, caught my eye. Steyn writes about the “stimulus” programme of the Obama administration:

“What sort of jobs were “created or saved”? Well, the United States Bureau of the Public Debt is headquartered in Parkersberg, West Virginia – and it’s hiring! According to the Careers page of their website: `The Bureau of the Public Debt (BPD) is one of the best places to work in the federal government. When you work for the BPD, you’re a part of one of the federal government’s most dynamic agencies.'”

“Most dynamic agencies”.

Have a good weekend.


Views on homeschooling

I liked this posting from American economist Bryan Caplan:

Questions non-economists ask when I tell them I’m homeschooling my sons:

1. What makes you think you’re qualified to teach them?
2. Who are you to decide what your kids should study?
3. What about socialization?
4. How come you’re not teaching [insert pet subject here]?
5. Won’t this hurt your kids later in life?
6. Aren’t you hurting your kids’ development right now?
7. When will they interact with girls?
8. Isn’t there more to life than academics?
9. Aren’t you undermining social cohesion?
10. Why are you turning your kids into brainwashed freaks?

Questions economists ask when I tell them I’m homeschooling my sons:

1. Doesn’t it take a lot of time?

I suspect, though, that even economists might ask a few of the questions in the first list, if only because they will hold the same sort of statist ideology when it comes to schooling that the vast majority of other people, in my experience, seem to have. Even so, Caplan’s posting is food for thought and here is an earlier article by him about the homeschooling topic, with shedloads of links.

Posing a question about migration

I wonder if it ever crosses the mind of any refugee that the countries of western Europe are free and prosperous not as a temporary co-incidence and a convenient solution to their woes, but because the inhabitants of those countries fought over many centuries at an incalculable cost to life for the freedom they enjoy today? It is a matter of not inconsiderable astonishment to me that of the many millions of us who care for justice and an end to human misery, few if any are calling attention to the conditions that prevail in theocratic tyrannies, or demanding, in the first place, absolute rejection by western governments of theocratic tyranny, wherever it may prevail (even in nominally “friendly” nations), and, concomitantly, resistance and rejection by citizens of theocratic (and secular) countries to the tyrannies that exist either in their name or the absence of their implacable resistance. No commentator that I have yet heard has ever held the citizens of theocracies accountable for the “governments” they live under, There has been much hand wringing at the absence of effective action now available to the Western powers to bring peace to Middle Eastern tyrannies, but no suggestion that citizens are complicit in the establishment of fascist regimes that always and inevitably morph into tyranny.

I am aware that by their endless chicanery, opportunism and hypocrisy, western powers have signally contributed towards the destabilisation of many countries of the world, certainly including many in the Middle East, and they therefore have a lot to answer for, but even so, this does not in itself exculpate the residents, the sometime voters, the fellow travellers, and – sorry it must be said – the co-religionists of tyranny, who looked the other way when bad things were done in their name, or who indeed conspired in the doing of such bad things.

It will be argued by the professional philanthropic classes of the West that the conditions prevailing in the many tyrannies of the Middle East or Africa or Asia are altogether too hostile, cruel and implacable to admit of resistance. They conveniently forget the iron grip that monarchism and the Roman Catholic Church had on Europe, but which was successfully prised open by freedom loving people, to say nothing of the unendurable socio-economic conditions that ordinary people had to fight so hard and so long against to overcome. It is the heroism and the courage of such ordinary people that we all have to thank for the blessed conditions of freedom that prevail in Western Europe, it is not a consequence of good luck or privilege.

Colin Bower

It is difficult to know to what extent people who live in theocracies can have or should have responsibility for the waking nightmare of the society in which they live or be blamed for not doing more to change it. For example, to what extent should I, or any other Samizdata commentator, take responsibility for some of the cretinous, statist, zero-sum economic views that are embedded in the governance of the countries in which we live? We can do what we can to change the climate of opinion, but this is hard and the beneficial effects of any struggles take decades or more to bear fruit.

Uber and how it makes the case for laissez faire capitalism

Uber has been hit with complaints that it’s running “an Objectivist LARP,” a live-action role playing of a capitalist utopia from an Ayn Rand novel. That’s pretty much what it is doing, and the results are awesome. And the benefits don’t stop with more drivers and lower rates. Uber is ploughing a fair portion of its profits into another wave of technological innovation — self-driving cars — that promises to offer even greater improvements in the future.

All of this should counter some of the despair about how to promote free markets, especially among urban elites who have been programmed by their college educations to embrace the rhetoric of the Left. Give them half a chance, and they will flock to capitalist innovations run according to the laws of the market.

The problem is that they don’t want to admit it. That’s where the euphemism “ride-sharing” comes in. To cover up the capitalistic nature of the activity, they tell themselves they’re “sharing” something that they are quite obviously paying for, and paying at market rates. Imagine what could be accomplished if they were just willing to drop the euphemisms and embrace the free market.

Robert Tracinski


Samizdata quote of the day

Nobody who asks for “authenticity” in politicians understands how decadent this sounds. Most people in most societies for most of history would have made do with administrative competence, incorruptibility and a disinclination to plunder citizens or conscript them as war fodder. Mid-20th century Britons dreamt of low inflation and heated homes before they caressed hopes of conviction politics. A country with the leisure to take umbrage at scripted interviews and bloodless technocracy is doing fine. The modern distaste for spin, which makes heroes of plain-speakers such as Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the UK’s opposition Labour party, is like the campaign against obesity: warranted, but also a mark of how far we have come. There are worse problems to have and we had them not long ago.

Janan Ganesh

I made a related point about the use, or misuse, of the word “authentic” a short while ago here. Some people demurred and said a better word might be “integrity”, but I think that the way that people are praising Corbyn for being “authentic” is that they perceive him as being the opposite of slick or spun. That is all well and good, but I can see only one merit in being an authentic admirer of the IRA, of socialist Venezuela, of Hamas, of nationalisation, punitive tax and central bank money printing – and that merit is that the warning is out there, big and bold. There is no pretence.



An (almost) forgotten BBC drama about what happens under extreme collectivism in the UK

1990″, which is a drama on the BBC (made in the late 1970s), portrays a Britain where emigration by persons in certain professions is banned, extortionate taxes are imposed. In short, a Britain where the hard left is in charge. The series was not issued onto DVD (I wonder why?) but can be viewed on YouTube. It is quite striking that the BBC made this at all.

(H/T: The Conservative Woman. Read the whole article.)