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]

Democracy ≠ Liberty

“America is the world’s most successful economy because it is a democracy”, sayeth Iain Martin. I am not convinced.

It is not a coincidence that the United States is such a success and a democracy. It is such a success because it is a democracy. Indeed, the American impulse is rooted in the rejection of tyranny and scepticism of excessive government power. That commitment to free competition – sometimes imperfect, often producing uneven results – is what drives innovation.

It is a point made brilliantly by Guy Sorman in his latest piece for CapX, published this week. As he says, if you want meaningful innovation, the lifeblood of technological improvement, rather than copying and refining existing technology, then you need that clash of ideas that happens in a free society in which those in charge can be kicked out or established players can be outflanked by upstarts.

But it is liberty, not democracy, that brings these things. It is constitutionally separated powers and limited government, which is to say limiting the scope for democratically impelled politics, that enables people to challenge established business models.

And those limits on what government can do are in precipitous decline in the USA (and elsewhere) regardless of ‘democracy’… and often because of it. A great many people are quite happy to vote for excessive government power and more ‘free stuff’ that other people will have to pay for.

The Executive Order

Libertarians on Reddit are calling out an executive order from Obama that appears to allow the federal government to seize property from anyone who donates money to anyone that the federal government does not like. The New York Times makes it sound far more reasonable and mundane.

How bad is it?

Samizdata quote of the day

The part I find hilarious is the divestment movement that’s popping up around this law. They’re basically saying that Indianans have done something they find deeply and personally offensive, so the boycotters are going to refuse to do business with them as a result. It sounds like a prima facie argument for the exact bill that they’re opposed to.

– Samizdata commenter Alsadius

US state Indiana to allow freedom of association?

… and you cannot have freedom of association without freedom of disassociation.

Therefore I am perfectly willing to see a non-state owned company decline to do business with me because of my politics, or because of my hippopotamus fetish, or because I tend to wear red trousers. Of course by ‘perfectly willing to see’ I mean ‘that a company is legally permitted to discriminate against me’… I am not suggesting I would be thrilled by it.

So is there any reason anyone who cares about liberty should oppose this? Indeed would it not be better if the law just stated it was none of the state’s business who a company chooses not to do business with for any reason, absent any prior or overarching contractual obligation?

SLS cathedral building

Rand Simberg points out yet more reasons why the Space Launch System is nothing but a cathedral building jobs program.

I would disagree. Cathedral building at least produced something of beauty that lasted for centuries. SLS is more like a strip mine where there are no resources to be had. It keeps loads of people working digging the hole… until the public catches on to the fact that there is nothing there.

It is risen… but from the other place

The House is busy performing some very Un-American Activities this week. I have just heard HR 1147 was introduced a few days ago and is being rammed through with minimal notice to the public.

So… what, you may ask, is HR 1147? It is the shiny new version of Real ID, risen once again from the depths of hell like a B Movie demon. It would, according to Campaign For Liberty:

• Allow federal bureaucrats to include biometric identification information on the card, potentially even including fingerprints, retinal scans, or scans of veins on the back of hands, which could easily be used as a tracking device.

• Be required for all U.S. workers regardless of place of birth, making it illegal for anyone to hold a job in the United States who doesn’t obtain an ID card.

• Require all employers to purchase an “ID scanner” to verify the ID cards with the federal government. Every time any citizen applies for a job, the government would know – and you can bet its only a matter of time until “ID scans” will be required to make even routine purchases, as well.

It is the One Card To Bind Them All In Darkness. It is the card to tie the masses of legally and illegally collected government data about you together for real time access by bureaucrats and the overarmed enforcers. There is no Liberty in a Surveillance State. There is only temporary forbearance for so long as your activities are ‘within parameters’.

Call your Congressman if you are a US Citizen. Tell them that no American would vote for this measure.

I will go further and call on anyone who supports Real ID to turn in their US Citizenship because they do not deserve it or understand what it means. You do not belong to the same nation as I do and you should leave.

You might try North Korea.

Samizdata quote of the day

“Asset forfeiture” is the an Orwellian term for “the government steals your shit and there’s pretty much fuck all you can do about it.” It was supposed to be a way of going after what the government deemed ill-gotten funds and property – gotten with the sale of illegal drugs, for example. It became a sick (and legal) way to steal from law-abiding citizens, who were not afforded “innocent till proven guilty” but instead needed to prove their money or property was NOT gotten through illegal means. Many couldn’t afford lawyers and were simply screwed by the government.

Amy Alkon

Mickey is back and he speaks truth

Rand Simberg pointed out this link over on Transterrestial Musings. Mickey Kaus has gone back to his old Kausfiles blog and is trashing Fox News on a topic on which they very richly deserve it. They have joined the Democratic controlled media in burying the story of the congressional immigration fight.

My suspicion is the Golf Club Republicans do not want a fight on immigration because that will play more to the strengths of the populist side of their party. The Golfers want to keep their toys and really do not want to share them with the unwashed masses.

Eatless in Seattle

Via Twitchy, I came across this article asking “Why are so many Seattle restaurants closing lately?”

The writer, Sara Jones, goes through the possible answers to this question at some length. Ownership changes. “Concept switches”, whatever they might be. Premises too big. Ingredients too pricey. Menus too esoteric. Too loud. Too quiet. Managers who do too much. Managers who do too little. Many and various are the potentialities diligently listed by Ms Jones. It is a little hard to see why a plague of Managers Doing Too Much should suddenly descend on so many of Seattle’s eateries all at once, though. Could there be something else behind it all, some really strange and frightening phenomenon whose name no one in Seattle dare speak? It’s like in Jaws when no one wants to say the word “shark”.

Dim-dum dim-dum dim-dum dim-dum dim-dum dim-dum dimdum dimdum dimdumdimdumdimdumdimd-AAAAAAAGH!

Though none of our local departing/transitioning restaurateurs who announced their plans last month have elaborated on the issue, another major factor affecting restaurant futures in our city is the impending minimum wage hike to $15 per hour. Starting April 1, all businesses must begin to phase in the wage increase: Small employers have seven years to pay all employees at least $15 hourly; large employers (with 500 or more employees) have three.

In fairness to the author, she does discuss the effect of the minimum wage hike eventually, after having exhausted all other options. She’s doing better than many.

Biji Kurdistan Azad

Iraq is over, done, finished. The literally insane paranoiac Nouri al-Maliki guaranteed Iraq was toast and only a wilfully blind fool can pretend it can be put back together, or that doing so would even be desirable at this stage. There is only one tortuous bloody route to regional stability and that needs to be centred on an independent Kurdistan.

And I am delighted to see that both Ted Cruz and now Rand Paul seem to understand this. There are already willing and able ‘boots on the ground': Kurdish ones. There is totally no need for US boots or anyone else’s boots to be there in any substantive way, beyond training missions and perhaps some SAR capabilities. Enough with the whole White Man’s Burden shtick already! Even a great many locals are embarrassed about how often they need to get bailed out by the US, arguing they really need to do this themselves!

Yes yes, I know an independent Kurdistan will horrify theocratic Iran, the Iranian dominated rump of Iraq, the Ba’athist Socialist rump of Syria and Islamist dominated Turkey. And whilst that is really just awesomely wonderful, it is just gravy on the many benefits that will eventually come from an independent Kurdistan.

Biji Kurdistan azad.

Does this make members of the Democratic Party uneasy I wonder?

There is an interesting video well worth a watch here called: What LBJ Really Said About Selma.

Considering the people being protested against by the Civil Rights marchers were members of the Democratic Party, there is a certain sense of irony to be had when looking at who seems to have wrapped themselves in the mantle of those times now.

Samizdata quote of the day

In his first six years in office, President Obama has performed well for those who wrote those checks. He brought in Wall Street insiders such as Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers to concoct his economic policy, which brought a recovery to the financial plutocracy before virtually anyone else. Wall Street was back by 2009; the rest of us have had to wait for 2015. Obama and the Democrats in Congress also handed the big banks a nice gift in the form of the Dodd-Frank Bill which helped them achieve that “too big to fail” status and has accelerated the growing consolidation of the American financial system. Indeed, since Dodd-Frank was passed smaller banks’ share of banking assets has dropped twice as quickly as before, notes a recent Harvard Kennedy School of Government study. Smaller and community banks – historically more likely to loan to small businesses – have seen a 50 percent drop in their share of lending while the the five largest banks now control over 40 percent of lending, twice their share 20 years ago.

Joel Kotkin