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]

The EU cares! And you should too!

DanielEuro

Found on and duly pilfered from Raedwald :-D

Samizdata quote of the day

“Google obviously has a monopoly in search. There are all sorts of questions about whether it is abusing that monopoly or not. But I distrust the power of the EU regulators to make things better. I think the technology industry is dynamic enough that the Google monopoly will not last for ever. In practice, anything [the EU does] to micromanage the Google product will produce a cure that’s worse than the disease.”

Peter Thiel (quote is taken from the Financial Times, which is behind a registration wall).

Putin warns Ukrainians against implementing EU deal, so…

Vladimir Putin has warned the Ukrainian government against getting closer to the EU, threatening their access to Russian markets.

So the Ukraine has to decide between losing their access to 142 million Russians with a total GDP of $2.1 trillion (official), or improving their access to 511 million people with a total GDP of $16.95 trillion (official).

Hmm, yes I can see how that might be a difficult decision :-D

The European Commission explains how it will save you from buying the vacuum cleaner you want

“Consumer will get better vacuum cleaners than ever before”

As regards power, the maximum allowed input power will be reduced: from 1600 Watt in 1 September 2014, to 900 Watt in September 2017. The current average on the market is about 1800 Watt.

One additional measure helping to tackle climate change

The new rules will save 19 terawatt-hour per year by 2020, which is the electricity produced by more than 4 power plants or consumed by 5.5 million households.

Of course, measures on vacuum cleaners alone will not tackle climate change. However, if we consider all products together for which minimum efficiency requirements exist in the EU, the overall savings achieve up to a third of the EU’s energy saving target for 2020.

ADDED LATER: Commenter “Vinegar Joe” has pointed out that this is a perfect example of producer capture. “This policy was lobbied for by Dyson, who will be less adversely affected by it than their competition.” In this document Dyson appears to boast that the new EU law was a result of their lobbying. Under the heading “Legislation”, it reads:

“Dyson has always shown that through efficient engineering, high performance can be achieved with low power – and we’re trying to encourage others to do the same. We have successfully lobbied the European Union to introduce a cap on the size of vacuum motors from 2014. The estimated energy savings from the EU Ecodesign and Energy Labelling measures for vacuum cleaners amount to 19 Terawatt hours of electricity per year by estimated 8 million tons of CO2e.”

I love that jolly “we’re trying to encourage others to do the same”. For “encourage”, read “force”.

Dyson appears to be attempting to play both sides. In this Guardian article it says that despite supporting the rule in principle, Dyson is seeking a judicial review of some aspects at the ECJ. While I’d like to think that was them being hoist by their own petard, I suspect that the real result will be some more fine-tuning of the regulations to more perfectly fit Dyson’s own requirements. The only thing that will stop me starting a lifetime boycott of Dyson products now is evidence that rival manufacturers were at it too.

By the way, does anyone remember this extremely unpopular policy being in the manifesto of any political party for which one could vote at either national or EU elections?

The worse the better

Perhaps I would not go quite so far as the Russian revolutionary Nikolay Gavrilovich Chernyshevsky in regarding with delight any failure to reform the old regime on the grounds that more misery for the poor brings forward the day of revolution.

But I am rather pleased that “arch federalist” Jean-Claude Juncker is to be the next president of the European Commission. Though it is not his fault, even the man’s name rankles.

The monstrous ECJ ruling about “the right to be forgotten”

This is now several weeks’ old and I fear that coverage of this issue could fade in the usual 24/7 news cycle, but it deserves to be kept in public view, hopefully continuing to raise a stink. I am talking about a recent European Court of Justice ruling regarding whether a person/institution can demand that an online outfit such as Google can be made to remove material about said person/institution that is damaging, sensitive or highly personal. People are talking about the “right to be forgotten”. Note that the information doesn’t need to be libellous. Even if it is embarrassing but clearly true, a website can be required to remove it. This means that certain organisations and people – and you can think of the sort I mean – have an open opportunity to remove items about themselves that they dislike. It is a monstrous interference with freedom of speech and demonstrates just how badly Europe misses any sort of First Amendment protection of free speech (although as I pointed out the other day, even the US these days has defaulted).

There doesn’t appear to be a lot of anger about this from the media as a whole – there hasn’t been the kind of reaction that attended the Leveson Report, for example. It is easy for some faux civil libertarians to say, perhaps, that the ruling affects nasty, big – usually American – firms such as Google, but that supposition is foolish. Anyone with a website carrying information that someone might object to might face this problem. As for journalists trying to track down information about people and using online channels, this is a very damaging step. It stinks.

There are lots of reasons for objecting to how Europe is currently run and I want out of the EU, although unlike some of those who want to quit, want to do so for pro-freedom reasons, not due to nationalism or terror about immigrants. I have no illusions, of course, about national courts and parliaments in that they can be just as moronic in trying to oppress freedom of speech as a supranational one. We tend to forget that point. But national stupidity can be easier to circumvent than transnational stupidity. Anyone who takes civil liberties and freedom of speech issues seriously ought, in my judgement, to want to see the entire European superstate edifice crumble into dust. It won’t end assaults on freedom, but it will make such assaults less difficult to escape.

How to make a good argument (leaving the EU) sound bad

I thought Nigel Farage trounced Nick Clegg in the second of the two televised debates about Europe a few weeks ago. When he sticks to that subject, he’s an excellent proponent of the argument. But when he brings Romanians into it, when he smears an entire nation to make the case against immigration, he’s clearly doing the cause more harm than good. You can sense more moderate voters recoiling every time he strays into this territory. It’s as if the Ukip leader is confirming the caricature of Euroscepticism that the BBC, the FT, the Independent and the Guardian have been trying to paint for the past 30 years – the Eurosceptic as swivel-eyed loon, as Little Englander, as closet racist. People like me have always claimed that’s a straw man. But Nigel Farage is that straw man.

Toby Young

There are other examples I can think of where a good argument – such as leaving a bureaucratic superstate – can be spoiled if those who argue for it seem to be, well, just not very pleasant people. Yes I know, one should not be distracted by that sort of shallow thing, etc, etc. The last few weeks I have heard a lot of stuff from UKIP fans about how, no matter how bloody ghastly many UKIP people are, and how crummy some of its views are, that it is still a force for good, pushing debate, etc. The trouble is that I think it does matter, a lot, if people form associations in their minds about a group and if that group helps to reinforce that association. In my view, Farage’s focus on what he claims are the negative effects of immigration, and his invocation of the idea that foreigners are taking “our” jobs etc (the lump of labour fallacy) has done damage. He should have been far more optimistic and positive about why leaving the EU is a good thing, rather than confirm the biases of those who all too easily dismiss the anti-EU case as being narrow and stupid. A shame.

Do not fear that Paul Weston will be brought to trial for quoting Churchill on Islam

“A candidate in the European elections was arrested on suspicion of racial harrassment after quoting a passage about Islam, written by Winston Churchill, during a campaign speech,” reports the Daily Mail. “Paul Weston, chairman of the party Liberty GB, made the address on the steps of Winchester Guildhall, in Hampshire on Saturday. A member of the public took offence at the quote, taken from Churchill’s The River War and called police.”

Here is a link to the Mail‘s story: Arrested for quoting Winston Churchill: European election candidate accused of religious and racial harassment after he repeats wartime prime minister’s words on Islam during campaign speech.

I note that the Daily Mail had the guts to quote the Churchill passage in full but not to enable comments, whereas (opposing candidate) Daniel Hannan in the Telegraph has the guts to enable comments but not to quote the passage.

Comments to my post are enabled and the passage is below:

‘How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries,’ wrote Churchill.

‘Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy.

‘The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live.

‘A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity.

‘The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property – either as a child, a wife, or a concubine – must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.

‘Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the faith: all know how to die but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it.

‘No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith.’

I wish I could claim that by both quoting the passage and enabling comments I have demonstrated political courage. I haven’t. Might I too not be arrested? I won’t be. At the moment that is not the way the process works. Mr Weston has been arrested but I doubt very much that he will ever brought to trial. Trials can so easily go wrong. In fact I suspect that he will – eventually – be in receipt of an apology and compensation for wrongful imprisonment, as was the Christian street preacher John Craven after his arrest under the Public Order Act 1986.

Mr Craven got £13,000 compensation. According to the Huffington Post article about him linked to above, “The total cost for Greater Manchester Police, including both parties’ legal bills, will be over £50,000.”. It is not clear to me whether the latter sum includes the former, but we can safely say that the total cost of arresting a man in violation of his right to free speech seems to be around £50k – £65k.

That’s peanuts for a government – and yet, the whip broke skin. The point was made. All saw, this is what happens. Cheap at the price.

Christopher Snowdon on fake charities and sock puppets

Here is part of slide number one of Christopher Snowdon’s talk at LLFF14 yesterday afternoon, entitled “How the state finances the opponents of freedom in civil society”:

JeffersonQuote

That is from The Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom, first penned, it would seem, in 1779, and actually passed in 1786.

Christopher Snowdon is described here as the “Director of Lifestyle Economics at the IEA”, which means he is their chief complainer about sin taxes.

His talk yesterday was based on the work he did writing two IEA publications, Sock Puppets: How the government lobbies itself and why and Euro Puppets: The European Commission’s remaking of civil society. Both those publications can be downloaded in .pdf form, free of charge.

Snowdon walked around a lot when talking, so although I took a lot of photos of him, only this one was any good:

ChristopherSnowdon Silhouette

Behind Snowdon is a long list of NGO’s which receive substantial funding from the EU. For legible versions, see Euro Puppets.

In the short run, all this money paying for leftist apparatchiks to lobby for more money for more leftist apparatchiks is good for leftism, but I wonder if in the longer run it won’t be a disaster for them. Another quote, about how all causes eventually degenerate into rackets, springs to mind. This is the kind of behaviour that even disgusts many natural supporters of leftism. As Snowden recounted, few people outside this incestuous world have any idea of the scale of this kind of government funding for “charities”, never mind knowing the extra bit about how the money is mostly used to yell and lobby for more money, and for more government spending and government control of whatever it is. In particular, Snowden recounted that when John Humphrys interviewed Snowden on the Today Programme, he (Humphrys) did not grill him (Snowden), he (Humphrys) mostly just expressed utter amazement at the sheer scale of government funding for “charities”, for anything.

What this means is that if and when a non-leftist politician gets around to just defunding the lot of them, just like that, he gets a win-win. He cuts public spending, even if only a bit. And he slings a bunch of parasites out into the street where they belong, who are then simply unable to argue to the public that they were doing anything of the slightest value to that public. Insofar as they do argue that they shouldn’t have been sacked, they do not further their own cause; they merely discredit it further and further prove that the decision to sack them was the right one.

Discussion point: currency options for an independent Scotland

In the event that Scotland disregards my feelings and votes for independence, what currency would you recommend it use?

Opinions on this matter do not split neatly between Left and Right. Here are two of today’s articles on the subject; one from the Adam Smith Institute and one from the Guardian. A few days ago the pro-independence, pro-market campaign group “Wealthy Nation” republished this article from the Institute of Economic Affairs, recommending that Sterling be kept for the time being. It looks a serious piece, but it was written before the recent interventions by George Osborne and Manuel Barroso.

Commenters wishing to use words like “seignorage” are requested to give me warning first so that I can hide behind the sofa.

Europeanism is born

In all the years I have been reading old editions of the The Times I have never come across anyone advocating a European Union. Until the other day, that is.

The Times 31 January 1914 p6

The Times 31 January 1914 p6


Annoyingly they are not entirely wrong:

If armaments could be greatly reduced, the savings effected would provide an abundance of liquid money to the great advantage of the people. Funds for industrial and commercial purposes would become plentiful.

Unless you piss it up the wall on a welfare state, that is. And on some things they are really on the money:

The nations of Europe and European civilisation itself threaten to break down under the military burdens. The people are groaning and muttering. Dissatisfaction is spreading apace. The tension is rapidly approaching breaking point.

The solution is a familiar one:

It is obvious that, if we wish to abolish war and the ruinously expensive preparations for war, we must deal with the fundamental cause of war. We must, therefore, above all, endeavour to abolish the disunion existing among the Great Powers and replace it by harmony and by a firm and lasting union.

I couldn’t help notice that then as today they seem to be extremely well-funded. I wonder how much a page in the The Times of 1914 compares with four pages in The Independent of today?

Shiver my timbers, shiver my soul / Yeo ho, heave-ho

From the genuinely scary opening sequence of Muppet Treasure Island

Shiver my timbers, shiver my soul
Yo ho, heave-ho
There are men whose hearts are as black as coal
Yo ho, heave-ho

And they sailed their ship across the ocean blue
A bloodthirsty captain and a cutthroat crew.
It’s as dark a tale as was ever told
Of the lust for treasure and the love of gold…

Shiver my timbers, shiver my sides
Yo ho, heave-ho
There are hungers as strong as the wind and tides
Yo ho, heave-ho

In other news, Tim Yeo has got the old heave-ho. Deselected as a Conservative MP by his constituency party.

For those unfamiliar with “Green Trougher” Yeo, this old post by James Delingpole explains why we mustn’t laugh. There are indeed hungers as strong as the wind and tides.