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

I wish you all the luck in the world Baltimore. And I truly wish you had the courage to change. If you ever do, send up a flare. Until then, there is nothing anyone can do for you. You are victims of your own choices, and no one can make choices for you but you.

– John Nolte, from ‘Baltimore is a Democrat problem, not America’s problem

Marco Rubio just struck out

As time goes on we learn more about the possible GOP candidates and which ones might be satisfactory to libertarians.

It appears that Marco Rubio is not going to be amongst that number if this report from CATO is correct.

So my American chums, answer me this…

You guys have the Second Amendment. Guns, you has ’em. I am told it is the ultimate bulwark against tyranny. At least in principle I agree completely that an armed population is a good thing, which is sadly not the situation here in disarmed Britain.

Then why is this possible?

Cindy Archer, one of the lead architects of Wisconsin’s Act 10 — also called the “Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill,” it limited public-employee benefits and altered collective-bargaining rules for public-employee unions — was jolted awake by yelling, loud pounding at the door, and her dogs’ frantic barking. The entire house — the windows and walls — was shaking. She looked outside to see up to a dozen police officers, yelling to open the door. They were carrying a battering ram. She wasn’t dressed, but she started to run toward the door, her body in full view of the police. Some yelled at her to grab some clothes, others yelled for her to open the door. “I was so afraid,” she says. “I did not know what to do.” She grabbed some clothes, opened the door, and dressed right in front of the police. The dogs were still frantic. “I begged and begged, ‘Please don’t shoot my dogs, please don’t shoot my dogs, just don’t shoot my dogs.’ I couldn’t get them to stop barking, and I couldn’t get them outside quick enough. I saw a gun and barking dogs. I was scared and knew this was a bad mix.”

So a politically motivated raid by armed police in Wisconsin is conducted against a political rival, and… well… and what?

As news of what happened belatedly spreads, are militia’s urgently forming in the ‘Land of the Free and Home of the Brave’ to meet this use for political armed force with opposing armed force? Is there a hash tag #NewMinuteMenMuster calling armed civilian enemies of tyranny in the USA to take up those 2nd Amendment blessed arms yet? Or at least are folks coming up with SOPs for an en-mass armed response for the next time this happens?

Clearly it would be wholly justified to start putting up NO POLICE ZONE signs backed up with lethal roadside IED’s to be used against the thugs who did this, so why in the land of the Second Amendment are such things not happening?

This is not a slide towards tyranny in the USA, this is tyranny. The tree of liberty is looking mighty parched right now.

Damn, I thought things were bad here, where all we have to defend ourselves with is pointy sticks, bottles full of soap flakes & petrol, and creative imprecations.

The US Navy is celebrating Earth Day… is this some kind of joke?

The US Navy, who job it is to, well you know, kill people when directed to, it proudly celebrating Earth Day.

No doubt this is a strategy to cause the ships of the Chinese Navy to collide, their captains unable to issue orders due to tears of mirth and uncontrollable fits of laughter.

If anyone doubted the western world’s political class and their retainers have been utterly debased … well, here we have proof positive… I can only hope we snap out of it collectively, before it is too late and the congruent cultural decline leaves us with the future prospects of Carthage. And no, I do not accept that it is already too late, and will ignore the usual wailing suicide note comments that suggest otherwise ;-)

California’s malaise

“California has met the future, and it really doesn’t work. As the mounting panic surrounding the drought suggests, the Golden State, once renowned for meeting human and geographic challenges, is losing its ability to cope with crises. As a result, the great American land of opportunity is devolving into something that resembles feudalism, a society dominated by rich and poor, with little opportunity for upward mobility for the state’s middle- and working classes.”

Joel Kotkin (hat-tip, Café Hayek).

The Kotkin article seems to be getting a bit of attention around parts of the blogsphere, and rightly so. I like his writings and keep an eye on them. There is no doubt that California is in danger of being past the “tipping point” where so much bad decision-making (more and more power to unions, higher taxes, regulations, etc) are pushing the state into a bad place. I occasionally hear calls for California to be broken up, but I have no idea how realistic such a move is. Thoughts?

It is of course easy to get sucked into a downward spiral of pessimism, so that every event appears to confirm the worst. Appearances can be deceptive: when I visit the West Coast it all tends to look very swish and prosperous, and it is only when you spend a bit of time there that the other, less flattering details, arise. The same arises elsewhere: I have been on a business trip to Singapore (I’m back later this year) and I could not help but wonder if there could be a similar issue over there at some point, such as when the Lee dynasty that has run that island with a market-friendly, if not particularly libertarian hand, is replaced by something else.

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