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

To me, (Britain) now seems a strange, immoral place. For example, I read articles in The Guardian and The Times this week about the abolition of inherited wealth. The Economist also recently wrote about it. It did not even occur to any of these columnists that they were talking about the property of others. They did not create it. They did not inherit it. They have no just claim to it. Yet they have no moral concerns about proposing its seizure.

- ‘Tom Paine’

Detlev Schlichter is back

Incoming from Detlev Schlichter. He is back blogging. His second recent posting, the one after the one that just says he’s back, is about Bitcoin. He thinks that the Bitcoin principle, so to speak, even if maybe not Bitcoin itself, has a future:

Central bankers of the world, be afraid, be very afraid!

My own sense is that, just as Schlichter says, the world’s rulers are now stuck in a monetary prison of their own making, from which they cannot now extricate themselves. Quite a few of them understand approximately what is wrong with their current policies, even as many others of these people have no clue. Many others favour the current state of the banking system, because it enriches them even as it impoverishes most others. But even those banker/politicians who do understand what harm they are now inflicting upon the world and would like to stop, don’t know how to. It is one thing to be in a prison and to know that you are in a prison, quite another to escape from the prison.

To switch metaphors from the prison to the hospital, the world’s banking system is now alive rather than dead, but not in the sense that the patient is up and about, playing beach volleyball with its children like a tampon advert woman. It is alive merely in the sense that a terminally ill patient, lying in a hospital bed after a horribly intrusive death-postponing operation, sinking slowly rather than fast, is also alive rather than dead.

Only outside monetary influences, such as Bitcoin or such as variations on the Bitcoin theme, will bring back a world of true money.

The fact that, if you put some of your wealth into Bitcoin, you just might lose damn near the lot is a feature not a bug. Government guarantees that you won’t lose out no matter how unwise your decisions may prove to be are the problem, not the solution.

Schlichter spends quite a lot of his piece denouncing a certain Mark T. Williams, a finance professor at Boston University’s School of Management, but he ends his piece by quoting him again…

If not controlled and tightly regulated, Bitcoin – a decentralized, untraceable, highly volatile and nationless currency – has the potential to undermine this longstanding bond between sovereign and its currency.

… and agreeing with him! That’s a feature rather than a bug.

Welcome back to the blogosphere, Herr Schlichter.

LATER: And as I should have added, I am hosting a talk tomorrow evening about Bitcoin etc., given by Dominic Frisby (that’s Dominic’s thoughts on the recent Bitcoin disaster/price plummet (which Bruce Hoult explained here)). There is not a lot of room left for more would-be attenders, but there is, as of now, some.

A day that got us thinking

It was twelve years ago now, so it is no particular surprise that nobody here, as September 11th 2013 comes to its end, had much to say about September 11th 2001. But Simon Clarke of Libertarian Home does say something of significance about this tumultuous day. In a posting entitled Libertarian Home started 12 years ago today, he says this:

To say that Libertarian Home is a result of 9/11 sounds like some random happenstance, but it was not. 9/11 woke me up, and got me thinking.

9/11 woke up a lot of people. It got a lot of people thinking. A great many blogs started up soon after that day. It wasn’t merely because, at around that time, they could. In the aftermath of 9/11 people found themselves wanting to say things that the regular media were not saying, and to criticise a lot of the things that the regular media were saying.

Simon did not immediately start writing blog postings, but he did start reading blogs, including this one, which is most gratifying to know.

Put the boot in, Guido!

When I read this

THE country’s top political blogger, Paul Staines – better known as Guido Fawkes – has threatened to sue Tory MP Claire Perry after she alleged he had “sponsored” a hack attack on her website.

… I was moved to say that this Perry is very much in favour of Guido using the courts to kick the living hell out of that Perry, the thuggish ‘Honourable’ member for Devizes.

Put the boot in, Guido!

They should have just said they were members of Hezbollah…

Although I think it is a mistake to consort with the EDL, does it not seem strange that the two US bloggers behind Jihad Watch and Atlas Shrugs should be banned from entering the UK… whilst Mohammad Al-Arefe can come into the country and preach the overthrow of Western Civilisation?

Samizdata quote of the day

Taking offence cannot be equated to being criminally victimised.

- “Cannot” as in: “should not”. Sadly, they just did. That’s Richard Carey, writing at Libertarian Home about the disappearance of the blog and twitter feed of Old Holborn, and other twitter accounts, for the crime of being “inappropriate and offensive”.

A libertarian meeting at my home on the last Friday of this month

From about 1990 until about 2005, I held speaker meetings at my home in London SW1, on the last Friday of each month. I began them because I was a libertarian and we wanted such meetings, and because, having acquired a settled home, I could. And I ended them because their main purpose for me had been to stir up writing for the Libertarian Alliance, which by 2005 I was no longer doing. When the internet arrived as a mass experience, available to anyone with a computer, a telephone line and a few quid a month to spare, around the year 2000, I ceased being an editor of paper writings for an organised group, and became instead a citizen of the blogosphere. Most especially, I became a regular contributor to Samizdata. Suddenly, the blogosphere was where the action was, where the big opportunity was, and it supplied more than enough food for thought and for writing.

But now, my Last Friday of the Month meetings are to resume. Partly, I have discovered that their incidental benefits to me personally were more real than I had realised. Basically, I felt that, very gradually, I was losing touch with people who were in that vital social hinterland between friends and strangers.

But there is also a more public – altruistic, you might say – reason for me to crank these meetings up again. In retrospect, I think we can now see that the arrival of blogging was a most unusual time for us libertarians. Libertarian notions had spread rapidly during the years just before the internet and then blogging arrived among us. But because the number of libertarian enthusiasts involved was small compared to the population at large, these ideas had found few outlets in the late twentieth century mass media, which meant that we libertarians reacted to blogging like drowning sailors encountering a lifeboat. Meanwhile, our statist adversaries, many of them comfortably ensconced in what were clearly now the old school media, could at first only grumble about how their seemingly God-given intellectual hegemony had been so insolently challenged. At first, these hegemons behaved as if enough bitching by them about the new media, in the printed pages and on the TV chat and comedy shows of the old media, would send us amateur upstarts back to the oblivion from which we had so rudely emerged. When that didn’t work, they tried linkless fulminating in their, at first, very clumsily electrified newspapers. Only when it became clear even to them that the “new media”, and the new voices enabled by them, were here to stay, that anyone could say to anyone whatever anyone wanted to say, did at least some of the old school journos and organs start seriously adapting.

→ Continue reading: A libertarian meeting at my home on the last Friday of this month

Linkage

I like this:

Given that time is a continuous variable, there is a certain arbitrariness to the way in which it is measured. For a long time, society has agreed a system composed of multiple units and one of those units, you may have noticed, just went up by one. Welcome to 2013.

It’s Simon Gibbs of Libertarian Home, greeting the new year and looking back over the old one. The posting contains many things of interest, but allow me in particular to draw your attention to one of Libertarian Home’s projects that Gibbs lists as having done well, in the year 2012:

Getting a push from Samizdata my video and article on the The Reality of UK Uncut is a late entrant from December.

The push in question being this. A reminder, if any of us Samizdata contributors need it, that our blog can make quite a difference, in this case to the morale of a fellow libertarian, with a bit of linkage that consumed only a fraction of the time and effort that went into the item being flagged up.  When I did that Samizdata posting I had no idea how definite would be the boost supplied to Libertarian Home’s traffic. Good.

And here is a mention of another libertarian whose links can make a huge difference to whoever and whatever he links to.  Says Gibbs:

The Newtown shooting however is the grim source of this year’s number one story. Receiving a push from Guido the story earned 10% of the sites total traffic in the last few days of the year. It’s an interesting kind of success story for a blog that starts with the death of 26 people, but it’s a success story that makes me proud.

Something like 2000 people saw that graph on this website, a graph that rubbished the idea that the UK’s “gun free” society is automatically safer than the United States as a whole. The real picture being far more complicated. It is a small contribution to a very important and intense debate but it is the kind of detailed analysis that can change the minds of many rational readers. The graph has also been widely copied and linked to and I like to think that this blog, and Richard’s number crunching will make it a little bit harder for the Obama administration to succeed in a further clamp down on gun ownership. If you believe, as I do, that gun ownership prevents violent crime then this blog’s success story is one that might make the world a little bit safer and a little bit better and that’s why we do this.

As I am sure Gibbs realises, at any rate in his more pessimistic moments, Libertarian Home is probably not daily reading in the White House. But, politicians do react to the opinions of others, even if their own opinions and ambitions remain unchanged by mere analysis.  Every little helps.

Wishing our readers…

… a prosperous and subversive new year.

samizdata_smite_control

Expect some new voices and views here soon.  And some confusion over names…

 

Road pricing at the IEA

Yesterday, as earlier reported, I attended an event about road pricing. It was typical IEA. Men in suits and ties with irreconcilable beliefs took it in turns to be irreconcilably polite about everything, while other men in suits and ties listened with equal politeness:

IEAroadpricingeventS.jpg

There are some of the men in suits and ties waiting their turn to be polite. And look, one man in a suit and a tie is even straightening his tie, James Bond style, although there the resemblance ends. That’s Oliver Knipping, co-author, together with Richard Wellings (the man in a suit and a tie on the right whose face is blocked out by the video camera) of a recent IEA publication entitled Which Road Ahead – Government or Market? Do you see what they did there? Which road, as in policy, metaphorically speaking, for dealing with roads, as in roads, literally.

I am being much too rude. It was actually pretty interesting if you like that sort of thing, which I only somewhat do, hence my rudeness. I went because I knew that although I would be rather bored during the event, I would afterwards be glad that I had attended, and so it has proved. I got a copy of Which Road Ahead for only a fiver, and better yet, I met a man with a blog, called Road Pricing.

I like road pricing, for the same reasons I think that governments shouldn’t give away train tickets to everyone just because the train system is government owned and/or government controlled and people have already paid for it that way. What if some people don’t like trains and never use them? It’s not fair. Without journey pricing, the trains will get even more impossibly crowded. Privacy? That argument was won and lost when they introduced number plates, I reckon. A man called Gabriel Roth was quoted as saying that the road systems of the world are the last bastions of Soviet style central planning. Which isn’t true. What about central banking? But I like the sentiment. This is a product for which people queue for the product on top of the product thereby destroying the product. That can’t be the right road ahead, now can it?

Scott Wilson, the Road Pricing blogger, agrees. But you won’t read many arguments at his blog about why road pricing is good. What you will read is reports about how road pricing is being done in various parts of the world, well or badly, and criticisms of places where it is being done badly, like, surprise surprise, the UK. In that posting there is a picture of people being charged to get across the Thames which makes you think, not road pricing, but: crossing a national frontier, of the sort that is taken seriously.

I ought to have known about this blog two years ago, when it started. But no matter, now I do. This is the kind of thing that you learn if you go to rather boring meetings instead of just staying home glued to a computer, the way I am now. Besides which, a blog is merely a blog. If you actually meet the man who runs it, see his suit and his tie, and hear him talking, quite intelligently, that makes you actually want to pay attention to his blog.

Bishop Hill has written another book

When historians get around to describing the late twentieth and early twenty first century hysteria about climate, Andrew Montford will get a big mention as one of the individuals who particularly contributed to turning back this bizarre tide of irrationality.

He blogged. Then he started blogging in particular about climate. Then Climategate happened. He had meanwhile written a book about it all. He blogged some more. And now he has written another book:

HidingtheDecline.jpg

Whenever I write about how blogging has made the world a significantly different and better place, the words “Bishop”, “Hill”, “Andrew” and “Montford” always seem to be included in what I put.

Says a Bishop Hill commenter:

Will buy.

Me too.

Samizdata quote of the day

That’s just my opinion, of course, but I happen to be right.

- Lynn Sislo speaks for us all.