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

While it is perfectly reasonable to expect companies to obey the law in the countries in which they operate, the rage against Uber highlights how stifling regulation of economic life can be. Prior to the emergence of Uber, complaints of never being able to get a cab during peak times were common in every major city in the world. Uber’s sidestepping of licensing laws and other regulations that limit enterprise has enabled it to increase supply and meet demand.

What’s more, Uber’s cheaper fares have saved customers money, expanded our transport options and provided a source of income for a whole new sector of drivers. While the debate about Uber drivers’ pay and employment rights rumbles on, it is clear that banning the service, and forcing these drivers to go through the same costly licensing systems as everyone else, does no one any favours.

It is the competition that Uber provides that is driving its popularity with drivers and customers. But this is precisely what is enraging licensed taxi drivers.

Rob Harries

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

Samizdata quote of the day

Everything on [the Internet] is changing minute by minute, and the idea of establishing a level playing field, as if all bandwidth is homogeneous, is just ludicrous.

George Gilder

Companies must be allowed to make choices, and so must their customers

If you know for a fact that you won’t be able to buy Ribena if you shop at Tesco – for yourself or for your child – then shopping there might seem like an easy way of shopping healthily. Or maybe it’s just a simple PR move. McDonald’s salads were for some time the centerpiece of the company’s advertising, but were hardly less calorific than the burgers they were supposed to be a healthy alternative to.

Either way, as long as it’s just Tesco doing this, consumers can vote with their feet. My suspicion is that Tesco will lose money from doing this, and quietly reverse it after a few months, but the only way they can learn this sort of thing is by experimenting. As long as Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and plenty of other shops don’t follow suit, consumers will be only mildly inconvenienced.

The danger, though, is that the government uses this as a pretext to ban or tax sugary drinks across the board. This is a common sleight-of-hand used by the government, and we’ve seen seen it already this month: some firms pay their cleaners a living wage, so let’s make every firm pay all their workers a living wage.

Sam Bowman

Samizdata quote of the day

The world in the 21st century is beset with economic fallacies that are, for the most part, modern versions of those that Bastiat demolished 16 decades ago. The answers to the vexing problems those fallacies produce are not to be found in proposals that empower bureaucracy while imposing tortuous regulations on private behavior. It’s far more likely that the answers lie in the profound and permanent principles that Frédéric Bastiat did so much to illuminate.

Lawrence Reed

Samizdata quote of the day

Let me put it this way:

There’s nothing wrong with The Donald except that he’s a dishonorable, disgusting, opportunistic cronyist blowhard who has no problem getting the State to do his dirty work if all else fails, and maybe even if it wouldn’t. Either a liar or someone whose opinion depends on how the wind’s blowing, or both. Given a choice between Shrill and The Donald, one would have to wear waders that come up to the armpits to make it into and out of the polling place.

– Julie near Chicago

Thoughts on Singapore

Singapore is the only place I know where you can meet someone who has an economics degree from Stanford, and have her tell you that she has a liberal arts background.

Marginal Revolution

I have been to Singapore several times, and love the place.

Samizdata quote of the day

If the project itself would add value then it should be built, recession or no. And if it doesn’t add value then it shouldn’t be built, recession or no. There is no room left for the argument that it should be built because recession.

Tim Worstall, on the ASI blog writing “Keynesian infrastructure spending might not be the answer you know

Samizdata quote of the day

But the church has no particular expertise in science… the church has got no mandate from the Lord to pronounce on scientific matters. We believe in the autonomy of science

Cardinal George Pell

Samizdata quote of the day

Greece became what it is today through the tireless efforts of Andreas Papandreou, the anti-Pinochet, who helped create a second Greek lost decade, ran up the national debt, raised the natural rate of unemployment, and kept inflation sky-high. Today, Greece, relative to the E.U. 15, is in the same place in RGDP per capita terms as it was in the early 1960s, before the economic boom under the Junta. Greek convergence with the rest of Europe ended in the late 1970s, and it actively fell behind in the 1980s. Clearly, as Andreas was the anti-Pinochet, blaming neoliberalism for the post-1980 economic stagnation in various countries (including Communist ones!) is simply being unconscionable.

E. Harding, commenting here. The main article itself by Scott Sumner is also well worth reading.

Samizdata quote of the day

A notionally free-market party is endorsing a policy which will see a fifth of the wage distribution’s hourly rates determined by a government QUANGO – targeting not a basic wage floor to alleviate exploitation, but a measure of inequality.

Ryan Bourne.

The key word in that sentence is “notionally”.