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]

Showbiz folk can talk economics, but cannot expect to be free from pushback

“I’m thinking of making T-Shirts for Guardian readers and Progressives. The first one would say: I GET MY OPINIONS FROM MILLIONAIRE ROCK STARS AND ACTORS.”

Taken from a comment by someone called Stuck-Record at Tim Worstall’s blog. Tim was describing how he left a comment on an article by the actor, Bill Nighy, in defence of a “Robin Hood Tax”; Tim’s comment – which he said was entirely civil - was deleted. The Comment is Free site of the Guardian clearly cannot take dissent from some pro-marketeers. (I expect Tim drives them mad with his dissection of their views on a daily basis.)

The red lights on the mental dashboard go on in my head when the words Robin Hood come out. The false assumption of the tax proponents is that you can tax an activity – such as bank trading – without the impact in any way being felt by us ordinary folk. More cynically, politicians might like the idea because the actual cost impact will not be easy to see (wider bid/offer spreads for exchanging money, lower returns to investors, cuts to service and jobs in banks, etc.)

Of course, not all actors and music folk have collectivist, interventionist views on things like economics, or other things. The US actor Rob Lowe seems pretty intelligent, ditto Clint Eastwood, Michael Caine, etc. I don’t have a problem as such with actors/others talking about such things – we should not fall into the ad hominem fallacy of saying that non-specialists on subject A cannot talk about it (democracy is based on such a position, is it not?). However, actors, singers or whatever who want to get into the arena cannot expect to be treated any more gently than an economist or other specialist in an area of controversy. Being a luvvie doesn’t get you special favours.

One commenter managed to get past the CiF “checkpoint Charlie” to leave what I thought was a pretty good point:

The whole flaw is laid bare in this one sentence – a tax can be tiny or it can raise billions, it is unlikely to do both. Those billions you claim can be raised are a powerful incentive for organisations to circumvent the tax; on something as ephemeral as financial transactions that’s quite easy to do. It would merely hand volume to New York, Hong Kong or Singapore.

Of course France, Germany et al are in favour of it. It would be a EU wide tax that would fall most heavily on the UK and you even point out that a whopping 50% of the money raised could be spent on domestic causes – oh fantastic, we adopt a tax that could be damaging to one of our major industries and get to spend half of the proceeds on our own country. Do you honestly believe that Germany would accept a similar deal in relation to a green tax on luxury motorcars or France on farming?

Reducing one’s footprint by drastic measures

“…you’d have to have a heart as cold and unmovable as Commonwealth Bay ice not to be howling with laughter at the exquisite symbolic perfection of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition ‘stuck in our own experiment’, as they put it. I confess I was hoping it might all drag on a bit longer and the cultists of the ecopalypse would find themselves drawing straws as to which of their number would be first on the roasting spit. On Douglas Mawson’s original voyage, he and his surviving comrade wound up having to eat their dogs. I’m not sure there were any on this expedition, so they’d probably have to make do with the Guardian reporters. Forced to wait a year to be rescued, Sir Douglas later recalled, ‘Several of my toes commenced to blacken and fester near the tips.’ Now there’s a man who’s serious about reducing his footprint.”

And this:

Big Climate is slowly being crushed by a hard, icy reality: if you’re heading off to university this year, there has been no global warming since before you were in kindergarten. That’s to say, the story of the early 21st century is that the climate declined to follow the climate ‘models’. (Full disclosure: I’m currently being sued by Dr Michael Mann, creator of the most famously alarming graph, the ‘hockey stick’.) You would think that might occasion a little circumspection. But instead the cultists up the ante: having evolved from ‘global warming’ to the more flexible ‘climate change’, they’re now moving on to ‘climate collapse’. Total collapse. No climate at all. No sun, no ice. No warm fronts, except for the heaving bosoms in Rajendra Pachauri’s bodice-rippers. Nothing except the graphs and charts of ‘settled science’. In the Antarctic wastes of your mind, it’s easier just to ice yourself in.

Mark Steyn, who, I am glad to see, is back at the Spectator. The whole article is glorious. I must admit when I first read about this group of folk who, no doubt hoping to confirm their AGW warnings, got trapped in the Antarctic ice in that region’s “summer”, I thought of the expression “Ship of Fools”. It has been used quite a lot. Talking of that title, there’s a great article under that title about a trip by Leftists to the Soviet Union by the great P J O’Rourke. Reprinted in his book, Republican Party Reptile.

Schoolboy howlers

We all love those daft things that school children put on exam papers – How long is the menstrual cycle? Three feet; that sort of thing. So, here are some from a hundred years ago (when they didn’t have such things as menstrual cycles):

After twice committing suicide, Cowper lived till 1800 when he died a natural death.

Much butter is imported from Denmark, because Danish cows have greater enterprise and superior technical education to ours.

In the British Empire the sun always sets.

The courage of the Turks is explained by the fact that a man with more than one wife is more willing to face death than if he had only one.

Under what conditions will a body float in water? After it has been in the water three days.

Some of the others might turn out to be even funnier if I understood them.

The birthday present

You don’t need to speak German to understand this.

“Damn you Mrs Clinton. You have just made me like a traffic warden.”

Thus laments commenter James Primavesi to this Times story (paywalled, but the title tells you all you need to know):

Do you know who she is? Hillary Clinton gets a ticket despite protests of her security detail.

Samizdata quote of the day

Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.

- Lord Ashcroft, spotted by the great Guido.

Too much information? Is that being a tad too transparent? I really did LOL. I say: For once, what sounds like truly good advice from a politician.

A Song for Australia

With apologies to all those who will be les misérables tomorrow, I give you… One Day More

RUDD:
One day more,
Another day, another destiny,
This never ending road to Calvary.
These men who seem to know my crime
Will surely come a second time,
One day more.

ABBOTT to ELECTORATE:
I did not live until today,
How can I live when we are parted?

RUDD:
One day more.

ABBOTT OR WOULD THIS WORK BETTER AS RUDD and ELECTORATE:
Tomorrow you’ll be worlds away,
And yet with you, my world has started.

GILLARD:
One more day all on my own.

ABBOTT CORRECTION RUDD YES STICKING WITH RUDD HERE and ELECTORATE:
Will we ever meet again?

GILLARD:
One more day with him not caring.

ABBOTT and ELECTORATE:
I was born to be with you!

GILLARD:
What a life I might have known…

ABBOTT and ELECTORATE:
And I swear I will be true!

GILLARD:
…But he never saw me there.

A FLOATING VOTER:
One more day before the storm
At the barricades of freedom
Shall I join my brothers there
When our ranks begin to form?
Do I stay or do I dare?

RUDD:
Will you take your place with me?

ALL:
The time is now!
The day is here!

RUDD:
One day more!

ABBOTT NO WAIT A MINUTE HE OUGHT TO BE LEADING THE REVOLUTION OH NEVER MIND I JUST CAN’T SEE RUDD AS JAVERT:
One more day till revolution,
We will nip it in the bud.
We’ll be ready for these schoolboys,
They will wet themselves with blood.

RUDD:
One day more!

KATTER, PALMER and OTHER BENEFICIARIES OF SECOND PREFERENCE VOTES IN THE INCOMPREHENSIBLE AUSTRALIAN ELECTORAL SYSTEM:
Watch ‘em run amuck,
Catch ‘em as they fall,
Never know your luck
When there’s a free for all,
Here a little dip
There a little touch,
Most of them are goners
So they won’t miss much.

VOTERS:
One day to a new beginning
Raise the flag of freedom high!
Every man will be a king
There’s a new world for the winning
Do you hear the people sing?

SOMEONE FROM A MINOR PARTY I’M HAVING TROUBLE FITTING INTO THIS ANALOGY:
My place is here,
I fight with you.

I’M LOSING TRACK OF THIS:
One day more!

THIS WOULD WORK BETTER AS RUDD AND THE ELECTORATE I THINK:
I did not live until today…
Tomorrow you’ll be worlds away
And yet with you my world has started

GILLARD:
One more day all on my own.

ABBOTT:
We will join these people’s heroes
We will follow where they go
We will learn their little secrets,
We will know the things they know.

RUDD:
One day more.

KATTER, PALMER, OTHERS ENDING WITH ER:
Watch ‘em run amuck
Catch ‘em as they fall
Never know your luck
When there’s a free for all

ABBOTT (I LOVE THIS BIT, GO JAVERT!):
One more day to revolution
We will nip it in the bud
We’ll be ready for these schoolboys

RUDD:
Tomorrow we’ll be far away.

RUDD and ABBOTT:
Tomorrow is the judgement day.

ALL:
Tomorrow we’ll discover
What our God in heaven has in store!
One more dawn
One more day
One day more!

UPDATE: I should have guessed I would not be the only one to think of it: Old Owl and 2dogs both pointed out in comments that “Bill Glasson, who is standing against Rudd in his seat of Griffith, has used this song in a video thanking his campaign volunteers.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Got it! I have finally settled on which character from Les Mis best represents Kevin Rudd. Gavroche. We are meant to find him loveable but he is an irritating little brat. He endlessly plays up his proletarian origins and faffs on about “what little people can do”. He denounces Inspector Javert and gets him sent off to be murdered by a People’s Court, setting the example for Children of the Revolution ever since. Then on the barricades, when the revolutionaries are offered the chance to leave, what does he do? He hams it up, sings his little song in a halting, childish treble, and basically dooms the lot of them. Go to the top of the class, little Gavroche! Or preferably go prancing out onto the top of the barricade – go on kid, you know you can’t resist an opportunity to show off – and get yourself slaughtered. Oh, you just did. Good show!

Samizdata quote of the day

All suspicions which have been raised have been dispelled

- German interior minister, Hans-Peter Friedrich, referring to reassurances that British and US intelligence agencies “had observed German laws in Germany”.

It is compulsory to recite this quote in the voice of Cecil Baldwin from Welcome to Night Vale.
Dogs are not allowed in the dog park.
People are not allowed in the dog park.
All suspicions which have been raised have been dispelled.
Do not approach the dog park.

Aiden Gregg tomorrow night at the Rose and Crown

Yes, tomorrow night at the Rose and Crown in Southwark, Aiden Gregg will be giving a talk entitled Sax and Violence, hosted by Libertarian Home.

Aiden Gregg already did an earlier version of this same presentation, at my home on May 31st. The second half of his talk that night was him reading out this essay, which concerns a country called Equistan. Attenders tomorrow night are asked to acquaint themselves with this interesting and thoughtful text.

Equistan is afflicted by extreme sexual inequality between different men, caused by there being many more men in Equistan than women. Luckily for Equistan, however, it has a government which addresses this issue by imposing sexual justice, of a sort that redistributes some of the sexual favours bestowed by women upon appealing men to less appealing men. Most Equistanians understand that these arrangements are both fair and necessary. A few sexual libertarians (such as the so-called “Liberty Belles”) grumble about them, but such malcontents are an extremist fringe, whose arguments are briefly described and refuted.

The talk at my place was not recorded, but this one at the Rose and Crown, assuming nothing goes wrong, will be. Highly recommended.

LATER: Libertarian Home has more.

On diminishing expectations, or how an Australian liberal could enjoy tales of American motorists escaping red light camera fines just a little too much

As a liberty-loving individualist, it is easy to become pessimistic in the face of the ever growing authority of The State. Perhaps you were delighted to be a part of replacing your centre-left governing party with your centre-right opposition party, but your lesser of two evils still turned out to be pretty damn evil. Or perhaps you were one of those libertarians who embarrassed themselves way back in 2007 by getting all excited over that compelling Democratic candidate whose background screamed **extreme belief in government action across society** to the point that his beltway CV was visible from space, yet was Hopefully going to usher in a libertarian-flavoured Change somehow. Or perhaps you’re just one of those goodly folk drinking in the glorious sight of the irrepressible green shoots of free association, free enterprise and free will that sprout up in spontaneous order everywhere, whilst simultaneously despairing of their vulnerability to the everpresent Big Farmer (how to work a Big Pharma pun in here?) who really loves to harvest. Is his scythe getting sharper? That’s not a soithe, this is a soithe.

Even when faced with the depressing reality of the modern welfare state, you can still find hope in minor but heartwarming tales of individual defiance and bureaucratic incompetence. Consider an article with a very boring title published by Popular Mechanics. If I were the PM subeditor, I think I would have gone with a food metaphor; Several Small Delicious Canapes Of Little Nutritional Consequence Which Nevertheless Make For Highly Enjoyable Eating Plus A Few Which Give You The Trots. Much snappier than 10 Crazy Red-Light Camera Cases, right?

Not feeling it? Well, me neither. I’m not a fan of pieces with excessively long titles. Still, there’s plenty of grist for the anti-authoritarian mill here, anyway. O, the palpable, glorious schadenfreude felt reading about how the city of San Bernadino tried to wring extra red light camera tickets out of motorists by illegally shortening the yellow/amber/orange light (this is an international blog, after all) duration by a second and got busted. The blood-red light revenue infusion henceforth became a revenue haemorrhage, particularly when the company the city had hired to run the haemorrhage insisted on sticking to the terms of their contract. Most unsporting. This contributed to the city’s bankruptcy. What a shame. All right, you may feel pity for the unfortunate residents of San Bernadino – well, perhaps only for those who didn’t vote for a Democrat to create new problems as well as expand existing problems created by a previous Democrat. (Regarding the majority of those who didn’t vote for a Democrat, what was I saying about the lesser of two evils above? Drat.)

Ah, San Bernadino, sitting pretty in the California sun. No rustbelt industrial decay there. Things aren’t so bad. Its bankruptcy was not the biggest municipal default in American history. Detroit’s was bigger. It’s not the poorest city of significant size in the USA. Detroit is poorer. That must be of some comfort.

However, the tale of San Bernadino’s red light blues isn’t my favourite vignette from the article. It is the following:

When Tacoma, Wash., motorist Kevin Schmadeka received a ticket accusing him of running a red light, courtesy of the Australian company Redflex that installed the system, he wanted to face his accuser and challenge the ticket. Just one problem: He was told he’d have to pay $670 in travel expenses to bring in a Redflex employee from out of state. “When I was at the clerk’s office inquiring about chain-of-custody information, the employee at the counter mentioned that if I wanted to subpoena a camera company representative that there was a fee,” Schmadeka told TheNewspaper.com. The judge singled out the Sixth Amendment right to face one’s accuser and dismissed the charges against Schmadeka.

This has got it all! A city authority falling afoul of their nasty little arrangement with one of those horrible private sector firms which exist solely to assist government authorities big and small to meddle in the lives of their subjects more effectively. A plucky individual fighting City Hall by asserting his natural born rights – and winning. A judge telling the state where it can stick its not-just-ridiculous-but-also-unconstitutional bureaucratic imposts. USA! USA! USA! There’s hope for us all yet!

Incidentally, I found this jolly article on the venerable Instapundit. Trouble is that the venerable Instapundit is liable to follow such an article up with a link to some story about how the NSA’s been collecting your e-mails, toenail clippings and belly-button lint, or perhaps an update on the IRS’s campaigning efforts during the recent Presidential campaign, or maybe even the media’s primary role in exorbitantly publicising and racialising the Zimmerman trial…and you, as an Australian small government-type, you start to feel a bit depressed again. Come on, America! We’re relying on you to somehow tow us out of this illiberal bog our ruling class has quite contentedly driven us into! It is really quite depressing to see that you are stuck in the same mud (if not quite down to your wheel arches like us)!

But after that flush of exasperation has passed, your thoughts may drift back to sunny California and San Bernadino, and you realise…well, at least we’re not Detroit. There will always be Detroit.

Sexism is fun!

I regularly read David Thompson’s blog, and like many of his postings, this recent one pokes fun at a Guardian article, this time a piece by Mike Power, complaining about the alleged sexism of barbecues. The outdoor cooking of meat is bad, because men think that this is men’s stuff!

Thompson copies and pastes Power asking the following:

But, as several thousand years have passed since men had to kill our protein, make a fire, cook it and eat it, why is barbecuing seen as something women don’t or can’t – or, more accurately, shouldn’t – do? How – and why – do men continue to claim this sacred fire-space as a male-owned sanctuary where women are not permitted?

My immediate reaction to reading this quote at Thompson’s was that Mike Power was confusing a comedy routine with a seriously held idea.

I recall enjoying a TV show that happened on ITV4 TV a couple of years back, called Richard Bacon’s Beer and Pizza Club. Series 1 was particularly good, I thought. Series 2 got a bit above itself and happened in a bigger studio and with a bigger budget, and the guests became less quirky and amusing, and I didn’t enjoy it so much, but it was still great fun. The basic agenda was a bunch of blokes sitting around discussing their man-ness, with a mixture of genuine pleasure at often decidedly daft male rituals but also a healthy dose of self-mockery.

I recently caught a repeat of one of these shows, in which comedian Rufus Hound described how a typical male stunt, namely doing something that looked dangerous but wasn’t actually that dangerous, had become truly dangerous. It involved him putting a small puddle of something flammable in his hand and setting fire to it. His story of how this had all gone very wrong, on account of him making the puddle too big and then the setting of it on fire being delayed until the fluid had seeped between his fingers, won Hound the round where they were taking it in turns to recount their worst injuries. That his injury was self-inflicted while pursuing manly fun was central to why Hound was victorious. Doing it to yourself trumps anything that merely happens to you. How manly is that? In both a good way, and a ridiculous way.

The Beer and Pizza Club regularly featured shots of women in the audience, creasing up with laughter at the various masculinities that were being thus both enjoyed and mocked. Ah, men.

And, getting to back to the original point of this posting, I recall another Rufus Hound fire-based comedy moment on the B&P Club, when they were each describing their idea of a perfect day. Hound’s perfect day involved him cooking meat out on his patio and inviting the neighbours round. He said something like: “Nothing says manliness like cooking meat, out of doors, over a naked flame.” Much audience laughter, from both men and women. And from me. “Bacon” being a good name for the man genially presiding over this meaty mirth.

This is the kind of thing Power was on about. But what he misses, probably on purpose because he’s such a puritan, is that … it’s a joke! No, says Power. It’s not funny, I tell you! Stop enjoying yourselves!

And guess what, David Thompson agrees with me, although really he said it first and I am agreeing with him.

He quotes Power again:

This grilled-food gender split is ubiquitous, odd and unacknowledged.

And he responds thus:

This may strike readers as a bold, indeed preposterous, claim to make. One of the rituals of the barbecues I’ve attended is the good-natured parodying – one might say acknowledgment – of precisely those conventions. “Man make fire. Man cook meat,” etc. But perhaps we’re to imagine that only the keen social observers who write for the Guardian have ever noticed such things or found them worthy of amused comment. More to the point, it doesn’t seem to have occurred to Mr Power that quite a few people, male and female, actually enjoy the role-play opportunity of the barbecue – the theatre, the ritual, the fun. Even – heresy! – gendered fun.

Gendered fun. Spot on. Can’t have that.

I particular like Thompson’s invention of:

The Plastic Spatula of Oppression.

Not that men oppressing women is always and everywhere such a joke. That other favourite blogger of mine, Mick Hartley, recently did a posting about how a woman in Pakistan was stoned to death by her male relatives for the crime of possessing a mobile phone. What does Mike Power make of that, I wonder? My guess (please prove this wrong if you can) is … nothing, on account of him being (I further guess) an anti-anti-Islamist. It’s not that stoning women to death for having mobile phones is right, you understand. Merely that complaining about it is wrong.

Samizdata joke of the day

What’s the difference between Fleet Street and Hacked Off?

One is a consortium of the rich and powerful with little respect for the law that has been given unwarranted access to our government, and the other… waaait a minute.

- Solent Minor