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 whole system is clearly a tax-collection scheme masked as justice. In the end, what this court wanted was money, and the people it squeezed were the least able to pay. What I saw rivaled the worst forms of petty tyrannies I’ve read about in history books: how tyrannical kings would use every trick to pillage the population of their meager resources. I very much doubt that there is anything unusual about what I saw. It probably goes on every day in your town, too.

Jeffrey Tucker

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.


Samizdata quote of the day

What would cutting Canada’s emissions in half really look like? Which schoolbuses and fire trucks would Mulcair say we shouldn’t use any more? Which farms will be shut down? Which factories? (Has Mulcair he told his union friends about that last part?)

Mulcair’s plan will cripple our country without changing the world’s temperature one degree. Because as the UN IPCC itself admits, even if every country in the world obeyed the Kyoto Protocol, including China, it would not change the temperature of the world by 1/100th of one degree, even after 100 years.

These cap and trade schemes are really about deindustrializing the West, and crippling capitalism and progress.

Ezra Levant

Who should we blame in the Volkswagen scandal?

By now, everyone knows about the Volkswagen scandal. VW have admitted installing software that cuts exhaust emissions when their cars are being tested and lets them spew death and disease every which way when they’re not.

So who is the villain here? To my mind there are two possible suspects: the US Environmental Protection Agency and the European Union. I know what you are thinking: why can’t we pin the blame on both of them? Well, cheer up because I think we can.

To my mind pollution is simple. The polluter pays the victim. I would like to find some non-state means for doing this and as I understand it in the days prior to environmentalism just such a mechanism – albeit involving courts – did indeed exist.

Of course, since then government has queered the pitch for everyone introducing two principles which it rolls out according to taste. One, that the polluter pays the government. Two, that the polluter becomes subject to government violence – or to put it in statist terms: pollution is regulated.

So, the government imposes regulations in which if you score below a certain number you are left alone and if you score above they send the boys round. Black mark against the EPA.

But meanwhile the EU has been promoting diesels like crazy over recent years. Whether this is a sinister French plot or the result of the global warming hoax, who knows. The really sad thing is that we have ended up with that abomination: the diesel-powered sports car. Oh yeah, and London’s air ain’t too great either.

Some diesel

Some diesel

Miscellaneous thoughts and questions

Why is that we are quite happy to use the term NOx but not the term COx? It makes no sense.

What were VW doing selling diesel cars in the US? Petrol (US = gasoline) is much cheaper there. So the market for diesel cars is much smaller. Come to think of it it’s probably because they were trying to make inroads into the market in the expectation that diesel taxes would come down making diesels more attractive. It is a tax issue isn’t it?

Why is it that cars are regulated in this way? I find it difficult to believe that a lorry or bus is in any way cleaner than a car. But I bet the latter two are not nearly as stringently regulated. To ask the question is, of course, to answer it. They do it because they can.

Did anyone else catch that excellent Mark Evans documentary about the diesel engine on BBC4 the other night? Comet swirl chambers, eh?

Samizdata quote of the day

You may have recently seen that after Trump said the Bible is his favorite book, he couldn’t name a single Bible verse or passage that meant something to him. And we all know why, because it’s all just a show, and he hasn’t ever read the Bible. But you know why he hasn’t read the Bible? Because he’s not in it.

Bobby Jindal, as quoted by Jay Nordlinger.

On the jailed county clerk

For those who are not aware, an elected county clerk in Kentucky was jailed for contempt of court for failing to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples because she claims that aiding same sex marriage violates her religious beliefs. She had been given a court order to do so and refused to either comply with the order or to resign her position.

An acquaintance asked this on his FB wall:

He asked: “Do any of my libertarian (or anarchist or otherwise anti-‘state’) friends agree that Kim Davis should be jailed for not issuing marriage licenses to gay couples?”

I thought I’d reproduce my answer here.

So, there are two levels to this. On the one hand, as an anarchist, I would say the state shouldn’t exist at all, and a minarchist would agree with me that marriage licenses should not exist. No one should need to seek state permission to enter in to a private interpersonal relationship.

However, lets presume a world where the state does exist, and marriage licenses do exist. Under those circumstances, a government official whose job is to give out such licenses ought not have any discretion about withholding them from people who meet the general legal qualifications.

If you would like translated version of that, imagine that you have an official whose job is to give out building permits, and they refuse to give out a building permit for a headquarters for an organization that they feel offends their religion. As an example, imagine such an official refusing to grant permission for a church which is a heterodox schismatic sect of the religion they follow because they consider such people heretics. Now, clearly, there shouldn’t be building permits, and no state official should have such power to grant them in the first place, but given that state officials are out granting building permits, they shouldn’t be able to stop people from building things that offend them, even if their religion says that the people building the building are heretics.

In this particular instance, generally, I’d say that she should have been fired for failing to do her job, not jailed, but given that she is an elected official, the current legal regime provides very little in the way of other options to the judge.

Note that if libertarianism is about anything, it is about curtailing the power of state officials to deny people the right to do things, even if those things deeply offend them, if those things are purely consensual for all involved parties and do no violence to others. To the minarchist the state ought to be minimized, to the anarchist it should not exist at all, but neither would grant a state official the right to make the decision to interfere in such behavior.

Paper money? I dinar about that! say ISIL.

My mathematics teachers were far keener on us pupils showing our working than the final result of a calculation, to see if any error had intruded into our processes, and presumably because it was harder to cheat the working than a whispered or glanced answer. We now have, it seems, a rejection of paper money by ISIL or whatever it calls itself, the adoption of a gold dinar and silver, and a whole hour-long video explaining in English with arabic subtitles the thinking behind it, which is where the working starts to fall down, although I haven’t gone through the whole of it.

The problem of paper money is, of course, cited (wrongly) as the fault of capitalism and the Jews, but they do take a dig at the Federal Reserve, and what they term ‘America’s capitalist system of enslavement‘.

What a terrible prospect would be a fatwa on Keynes and his followers.

How protecting students from “offensive” ideas is building a monster

Rather suitably, following the link to a speech by Brendan O’Neill earlier on Samizdata, is this long, very troubling and hopefully widely-read item on the Atlantic Monthly. Excerpt:

The press has typically described these developments as a resurgence of political correctness. That’s partly right, although there are important differences between what’s happening now and what happened in the 1980s and ’90s. That movement sought to restrict speech (specifically hate speech aimed at marginalized groups), but it also challenged the literary, philosophical, and historical canon, seeking to widen it by including more-diverse perspectives. The current movement is largely about emotional well-being. More than the last, it presumes an extraordinary fragility of the collegiate psyche, and therefore elevates the goal of protecting students from psychological harm. The ultimate aim, it seems, is to turn campuses into “safe spaces” where young adults are shielded from words and ideas that make some uncomfortable. And more than the last, this movement seeks to punish anyone who interferes with that aim, even accidentally. You might call this impulse vindictive protectiveness. It is creating a culture in which everyone must think twice before speaking up, lest they face charges of insensitivity, aggression, or worse.


There’s a saying common in education circles: Don’t teach students what to think; teach them how to think. The idea goes back at least as far as Socrates. Today, what we call the Socratic method is a way of teaching that fosters critical thinking, in part by encouraging students to question their own unexamined beliefs, as well as the received wisdom of those around them. Such questioning sometimes leads to discomfort, and even to anger, on the way to understanding.

But vindictive protectiveness teaches students to think in a very different way. It prepares them poorly for professional life, which often demands intellectual engagement with people and ideas one might find uncongenial or wrong. The harm may be more immediate, too. A campus culture devoted to policing speech and punishing speakers is likely to engender patterns of thought that are surprisingly similar to those long identified by cognitive behavioral therapists as causes of depression and anxiety. The new protectiveness may be teaching students to think pathologically.

Remember: the students who are moulded by this process will, in a few years’ time and in some cases, become politicians, business leaders, civil servants and others of influence. The question I ask is whether there will be enough persons not infected by this nonsense to still have enough clout in the public life of the West to resist this. Because a generation that is terrified of giving offence is not going to be all that effective at, say, facing up to existential threats to the Western way or life, or even less intimidating concerns.

Final thought: the authors note that part of the problem begins when children are young and protected, arguably to a dangerous degree, by parents and not allowed to play outdoors and be unsupervised and learn, early on, about the risks and bugs of real life. I think this might be at the core of the broader problem. And the lessons here don’t just apply to the US.

Against ‘Crony Capitalism’

Jeb Bush has recently taken to criticizing crony capitalism in his speeches, but his record belies his rhetoric. For example, Bush joins Governor Walker in supporting taxpayer-financed sports stadiums. Bush flip-flopped, first opposing but later supporting a new ballpark for the Miami Marlins baseball team. Moreover, as governor, Bush regularly used taxpayer money to provide special benefits to favored businesses or industries. For example, he set up an “Innovation Incentive Fund,” which spent $456 million to lure biotech and life-science businesses to Florida. If you count local funding as well as this state funding, taxpayers ended up spending nearly $1 million for every job generated, and even the state was forced to admit that the fund “does not break even.” That’s just one example of Bush’s willingness to pick corporate winners and losers at taxpayer expense.

Michael Tanner

Now some in this parish dislike the term ‘crony capitalism’ as much as I dislike the loaded term ‘austerity’. So in the interests of collegiality and calm, let me say… tough shit. ‘Crony capitalism’ is an awesome term as it is a presupposition of something good made bad by the modifier ‘crony’, which is indeed correct. If you want to debate the use of the term, arguing crony capitalism is not capitalism at all, well yeah but so what? Tell someone who cares as I will keep using this spiffing term, as will Carly Fiorina apparently.

Samizdata quote of the day

I see no advantage to the American system at this point. We’ve had so much “yeah it says that but they didn’t really mean what the words say” reinterpretation of our founding document it’s essentially been rendered meaningless. The president can do whatever he wants, from starting wars to snooping though your computer to prior restraints on what you can say to using the apparatus of the bureaucracy in a campaign aimed at burying you under audits and investigations.

– Samizdata commenter Eric

Samizdata quote of the day

Republican politicians stink. This is because real Republicans don’t go into politics. We have a life…

Democrats, on the other hand, are brilliant politicians. And I mean that as a vicious slur.

P. J. O’Rourke

Hollywood vs. Google

Ok is this not like watching a Godzilla movie?

The news story I recently wrote about a corrupt attorney general conspiring with the MPAA to take down Google has certainly caught the interest of our readers. Although the emails that Google recently obtained did contain some new information, many details of the conspiracy have actually been publicly available for a while. The Sony hack late last year revealed several emails that mention a strategy for movie studios to take on Goliath. It becomes clear from reading a few emails that Goliath is in fact a code name for Google.

Grab some popcorn! This is going to be fun, the vast monsters clash and lays waste to Los Angeles! What’s not to like?