I keep saying that if you care about poor people, you should be a libertarian.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies is pointing out that while poorer people are paying more for food and fuel, richer people are enjoying low interest rates. So government spending and borrowing and the artificially low interest rates that go along with that are harmful to poor people, as are taxes on fuel, and income tax on minimum wage earners, and countless other instances of state meddling.
Real money and a small state lead to high growth which makes everyone richer.
“With legal property, the advanced nations of the West had the key to modern development; their citizens now had the means to discover, with great facility and on an ongoing basis, the most potentially productive qualities of their resources. As Aristotle discovered 2,3000 years ago, what you can do with things increases infinitely when you focus your thinking on their potential.”
- Hernando de Soto, The Mystery of Capital, page 50.
I just wished the readers of my personal blog (and these people do exist) a Merry Christmas by sticking up photos of local tradesmen’s signs saying Merry Christmas.
But I saved this sign for here:
There is also a website. I particularly like this bit of it.
One of the intellectual highlights of my year has been hearing Anton Howes (whom I first noticed while noticing the Liberty League) expound the idea that the British industrial revolution was, at heart, an ideological event. The industrial revolution happened when it did and where it did because certain people in that place and at that time started thinking differently. To put it in Samizdata-speak, the metacontext changed. Particular people changed it, not just with the industrial stuff that they did, but with what they said and wrote.
I first heard Howes give this talk at my last Friday of the month meeting in July of this year. Happily, Simon Gibbs of Libertarian Home also heard Howes speak that night, and immediately signed him up to do a repeat performance, this time with a video camera running, for Libertarian Home at the Rose and Crown.
And the good news is that the video of this Howes talk at the Rose and Crown is now up and viewable at Libertarian Home. If spending half an hour watching a video does not suit, then you might prefer to read Simon’s extended summary of the talk. The same video is also up at YouTube.
I wrote a bit at my personal blog about that subsequent evening, and there is lots else I want to say about what Howes is saying. But one of the rules of blogging is not to let hard-to-write and consequently not-yet-actually-written pieces interrupt you putting up easier-to-write pieces that you actually can write and do write.
So: Anton Howes is a clever guy. Watch the video. And watch out for him and his work in the future.
“You think minimum height restrictions make children taller?”
- Luke McCormick, who I think has finally found the minimal summary of minimum wage laws.
Recently I’ve been getting emails from the Cato Institute plugging their new website, HumanProgress.org.
Personally, I find the way that this website works to be annoying and confusing and just generally off-putting in a way I can’t quite pin down. I can find stuff, but every time I try to make progress through it, I am assaulted by what feels to me like mild-to-severe waves of user hostility. The screen, for instance, frequently covers itself in grey, in a manner which feels to me like it’s not working properly. But it could easily be that it is just me that is now semi-permanently annoyed, confused and hostile. I’d be slightly interested in whether anyone else shares my annoyed, confused and hostile reaction to the way this website works.
But I am really far more interested in the message that the website is trying to put across. It could be that there is just so much good news about human progress to be navigated through, such an abundance of data choice when it comes to learning about how well the human species is doing just now, that any website devoted to such matters is bound to overwhelm and confuse someone like me, whose brain is rooted in the twentieth century, when news like this was so much harder to come by and when websites were only being dreamed of. (The multiplication of genuinely useful websites seems to be a story that HumanProgress.org doesn’t seem to provide data about, but maybe they do and I just haven’t spotted it yet.)
This message, of relentless human betterment, will surely remind many readers of Steven Pinker’s recent book, The Better Angels of Our Nature, which I wrote about here (where there are links to other and earlier postings on the same subject).
The headline above Allister Heath’s latest over at City A.M. reads as follows:
America is slashing spending – but its economy is still growing
By “spending” Heath, or Heath’s headline writer in the event that it’s not Heath, means government spending.
We’ll know we’re really winning when headlines like that one replace the “but” with an “and”.
Although I am only posting this at midday, I wrote most of it at three o’clock this morning.
I did this because I am now suffering from severe Ashes Lag (The Horror! The Horror!), and also because it is in the spirit of the news I am passing on, which is that soon, London will be experiencing (no doubt some would prefer to make that “enduring”) all night underground train service at weekends:
For better or worse, London is on the way to becoming a city that never sleeps, leaving other British cities even further behind.
Not the District Line, though. That’s one of the lines I often use late at night, and I would have liked that one also to be going round the clock. The other line I use, but less often late at night, is the Victoria, which will be all round the clock at the weekend.
But this is only a start. And it is only at the weekend. What has long puzzled me is why London has not, for the last several decades, been a city that never sleeps, but is instead only groping slowly towards one day becoming such a city. London always comes near the top of those lists of the world’s greatest cities, yet for much of the time London is almost entirely asleep, unlike one, in particular, of its most famous rivals (immediate music warning – don’t click on that if you wish to go on listening to something else). All that frighteningly expensive office space, basically doing nothing for about a third to a half of every day, and nothing at all at the weekends, since for ever. Why? Modern electronics means that there is always someone wide awake to be doing business with, somewhere in the world. So, why no big night shift activity in the City? It can’t take all night just to keep those places clean.
Maybe there is lots of City of London night shifting going on already, and I merely haven’t been told about it. After all, night shifters mostly only need transport when they start and when they finish, which they already have. I can see why they are starting this at the weekend, for people for whom the difference between getting home at 4 am rather than at 8 am is all the difference.
Talking of London staying awake all night, there was a time, in about 1941, when a lot of it did just that, for quite a while. This was when London Pride got itself written. Take that, Sinatra. Someone (can’t find who – anyone know?) once said something like: there are many more tunes to be written in C major. I don’t know the key of London Pride, but it is one of my favourite tunes ever, and it always makes me think of that remark.
Ivory is valuable and this leads to poaching (which is another way of saying ‘seeking more supplies of rare ivory’).
The US government had decided to reduce the global supply of ivory by destroying six tonnes of the stuff.
“These stockpiles of ivory fuel the demand,” said Dan Ashe, director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, “We need to crush the stores of ivory worldwide.”
And when supply is reduced, what happens to prices and therefore the motive to secure new supplies?
Surely if they wanted to reduce the incentive to poach ivory, rather than crushing their stockpile, they should have flooded the market with it. But of course Dan Ashe and his ilk work for governments and thus know nothing of this ‘economics’ malarkey.
Back in the early 1980s at Auburn University, Roger Garrison (now retired from teaching there) had to give an undergraduate student an “A” grade for an answer to a test question about minimum-wage legislation. The student endorsed the legislation precisely because the legislation prices many blacks out of the labour market – and that southern-boy student believed that consequence to be just dandy. The kid, like Unz, has values that I (and Roger Garrison) abhor. But that kid, like Unz, got the economics right.
- Don Boudreaux
Regulars here will know my interest in the phenomenon of Custom Built Headquarters Syndrome.
So now, I can’t help suspecting that maybe what Roger Kimball says, about the disaster that is Apple’s latest version of something called iWork (says Kimball:
I’ve never seen a shoddier release. The fate of particular pieces of word processing and spreadsheet software may not much signify much in the world at large. But among the population of people who use and depend on it, there is grave unhappiness. Apple really messed up on this, and it is interesting if unedifying to ask what it portends about the giant company’s future.
…), and this new Apple HQ building that now has the go-ahead:
… are somehow connected.
It seems that Steve Jobs himself was responsible for setting this particular architectural wheel in motion.
Instapundit reckons Apple only did their shambolic software launch just now to make Obamacare look better, arf arf. But there is a more serious point to be made about this comparison. The difference between the public sector and the private sector is not that the private sector never screws up, as this Apple screw-up illustrates. And it is most certainly not that the public sector never builds itself dysfunctionally lavish buildings. The difference is that as and when the private sector screws up, it suffers. Money is lost. In this case, Apple market share is being lost even as I blog this. Apple will either sort this iWork mess out quick, or watch a lot of people move over to Microsoft.
If a custom built headquarters causes a private sector screw-up, as I surmise may just have happened to Apple, the building may then get sold on to other more capable people, or be partly rented out, to cut costs.
When the government screws up, taxpayers will foot the bill both for the screw-up and for all the money they then throw at it to unscrew the screw-up, and as likely as not the people who presided over the screw-up will end up with even bigger buildings to luxuriate in.
To escape Obamacare, your only hope is kayak.com. I watched the whole of that Saturday Night Live skit last night on Youtube, but now, Youtube refuses to play it to me, what with me not living in the USA. But trust me, it’s very funny. Will the BBC ever show it, I wonder?
Christopher Booker writes in The Telegraph:
What on earth was in David Cameron’s head when, amid raucous Commons exchanges on our soaring energy bills, he shouted at Ed Miliband, “we need to roll back the green charges” that the Labour leader “put in place when he was energy secretary”? Mr Cameron must have known that he and his party cheered every single one of the green charges introduced by Mr Miliband when he was energy and climate change secretary. Along with George Osborne, William Hague and most of his present Cabinet, Cameron happily voted for Mr Miliband’s Climate Change Act, committing us all to paying up to £18billion every year until 2050; in fact, the Tories wanted to go even further
So are the likes of David Davis plotting to remove the catastrophic Cameron? And if Nigel Farage is not intending to make hay out of this I would be very surprised. But then regular readers of Samizdata has long known we regard Cameron’s Tories, the LibDems and Labour as pretty much interchangeable.