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

Nobody is going to be banning meat in the near future, but that is for political reasons. There are simply too many meat eaters and not enough fanatical vegetarians. It is a question of power, not ethics, and the author of this article – vile authoritarian though he may be – inadvertently makes the libertarian argument very well. If it is the government’s business to prevent people taking voluntary, informed risks about one lifestyle choice, there is no reason to stop at smoking.

He asks whether it’s “OK to allow free choice” or “OK to prevent ‘unhealthy behaviour'”. In my view, the only moral answer is that it’s OK to allow free choice. It is not the government’s business. The author obviously disagrees, but I bet it wouldn’t take long to find something he likes doing that has been linked to cancer. At least his argument makes more sense than the scatter-gun bigotry of people who argue for state force to be used against activities they don’t like while demanding protection for those they do.

Christopher Snowdon, from an article titled “The NHS as a tool of social control”.

Ironies abound

The BBC reports:

Bolton transgender councillor comment treated as hate incident

A comment in which a transgender Tory councillor was called “he” by a Labour rival is being treated as a hate incident by police.
Zoe Kirk-Robinson, 35, said Guy Harkin, 69, referred to her twice as a man in a debate at a Bolton Council meeting.
The hate crime ambassador, who transitioned 10 years ago, said the comments on 24 August “hurt a lot” and she reported them to police.
Mr Harkin has apologised. Police said “hate incidents are not tolerated”.

[…]

Mr Harkin said: “I inadvertently referred to her as a he during a heated debate.
“As soon as I was made aware of it, I apologised… It is something and nothing.”
A GMP spokeswoman said: “Hate incidents will not be tolerated in Greater Manchester.”

Metro takes the story further:

Councillor refuses to take punishment for calling transgender woman ‘he’ instead of ‘she’

After reporting Cllr Harkin to Greater Manchester Police, officers downgraded it to a ‘hate incident’ rather than a ‘hate crime’ and advised the pair to talk it out through a restorative justice programme.
But the former Labour mayor has refused his punishment, maintaining that his comments were just a ‘slip of the tongue.’

The political affiliations of the parties add spice to this story, don’t you think? When Tony Blair’s Labour government introduced a purely subjective definition of a racist incident following the MacPherson Report, and then in 2006 added new provisions to the Public Order Act 1986 to cover “hatred” based on sexual orientation in the same way that racial hatred had been covered before, I doubt the legislators envisaged the roles of denouncer and denouncee falling this way round. Perhaps, too, they did not envisage that things would go so far that a misspoken word would bring the police to the council chamber. I expect they were quite sure that these laws would never be used against people like them.

“Green ownership is about having a stake in what matters, because how else are people supposed to care?”

“Green ownership is about having a stake in what matters, because how else are people supposed to care?”

– Caroline Lucas, usually described as Britain’s First but never Britain First’s Green MP, and recently elected along with A Bloke to be Green party co-leader.

You may ask what this means.

“It means democratising the economy, with banks to serve the people not the other way round.

Corporate taxation back under control, and financial structures that answer to you, not to the City of London and its shareholders.

We need an economy of, by and for the people.”

You see now? We need an economy by the people. Because how else are people supposed to matter?

Reasons for the UK to leave the EU keep piling up – the EU Arrest Warrant

I have been familiar with some of the details of a Romanian case, which has taken a shocking turn, and it highlights the mess of the European Union’s Arrest Warrant. Stephen Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle,  writes about the case. Even the more cynical out there will be shocked at the brazenness of the Romanian government in this case. And it raises a wider issue about governments co-operating to move alleged suspects from A to B and sharing data with one another about their citizens.

Consider a new anti-tax evasion regime called the Common Reporting Standard, under which certain governments swap data to catch alleged tax dodgers. With CRS, there is a presumption that the countries involved can move information around and that this will not compromise legitimate financial privacy. All I can say is “good luck with that”. Abuses will occur. (Governments in recent times have been happy to obtain data from Swiss banks via thieves, for example.)

The UK has an extradition treaty with the US and this has caused controversy at times because of the alleged lack of a need for a prima facie suspicion of guilt to be proven against a person before extradition (instead, a country has to show “probable cause”, which waters the test down marvellously). What may be a crime in the US, for existence (running an internet gambling site, for example) isn’t in the UK. And so on.

The Romanian case in question here is particularly noxious to a sense of justice because of the heavy-handed behaviour of Romania. Its attempt to bully news organisations that are covering controversies, such as arms dealing, is also outrageous – such an attack on freedom of the press hardly meets the sort of test one would have supposed is necessary for a country to be a member of the EU at all. And as long as this arrest warrant remains, I see zero chance of a country such as Turkey joining the EU.

I’d like to know what the UK government’s view is of the case, and of whether any MPs have taken this matter on. Theresa May, the Prime Minister, is not exactly a poster girl for civil liberty, but even she might be shocked at what is going on here. (When she was Home Secretary, she blocked an extradition of a person to the US.)

One way for Mrs May to prove that “Brexit means Brexit” is to ensure that the UK removes itself from the EU arrest warrant process immediately. The reasons why I am so glad the UK voted to get out of the whole wretched structure continue.

Addendum: As an aside, it is also worth noting that these actions by Romania are often typical of certain regimes seeking to crush alleged corruption. Much of the media will applaud this; I even spoke to a fund manager about Romania, who applauded the steps that the country has made against corruption. But as we have seen in countries such as China, anti-corruption sometimes means little more than score-settling or persecution of political opponents or those who are deemed to be embarrassing. (And needless to say, the ultimate case of this is Putin’s Russia, and Romania is to some extent under Russian influence.)

“Don’t mourn, organize!”

Such were the last words attributed to doomed American labor activist Joe Hill.

The British Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn decided to refresh his message for the new century. Rather than refraining from mourning and going into organization it refrained from organizing and went into mourning.

Labour left humiliated after G4S turns down last ditch plea to provide conference security despite boycott

Labour has been left humiliated after being forced to ask a security company it had pledged to boycott to help police its annual conference – only to be rejected.

G4S, which has provided security at the event for 20 years, is understood to be concerned about staff safety after Labour voted for a boycott over its prison contracts and links to Israel.

It follows a warning from Len McCluskey, the Unite boss, that the conference could be cancelled unless a provider is found urgently.

Sources close to the company warned that the short notice it was given and previous incidents at the event, including staff being spat at and verbally abused, made it impossible for G4S to accept the offer.

Jeremy Corbyn floored!

The Guardian, 16th August:

Corbyn joins seatless commuters on floor for three-hour train journey

Labour leader is filmed during trip from London to Newcastle, on his way to meet Owen Smith for leadership hustings

[…]

Later, Corbyn said: “Is it fair that I should upgrade my ticket whilst others who might not be able to afford such a luxury should have to sit on the floor? It’s their money I would be spending after all.”

The Guardian, 23rd August:

Virgin Trains disputes Jeremy Corbyn claim over lack of seats

Film of Labour leader sitting on floor of ‘ram-packed’ train countered by CCTV footage of him walking past empty seats

Guido Fawkes’ blog, 23rd August:

Owen Smith tweets a nice kick to a man when he is on the floor (unnecessarily):

“My campaign remains on track. Proud to be genuinely standing up for ordinary people.”

Samizdata quote of the day

Whenever dismal scientists agree so passionately about the impact of a complex, one-off and multi-faceted event, alarm bells deserve to go off

Allister Heath

Bloody Poles

This was on twitter and it is just too good not to repost:

bloody-poles

Twitter caption: Still our allies in NATO. We could have lost the Battle of Britain without them. I voted out I didn’t vote for hate

Sums up my views perfectly.

British government makes it illegal to tell a person how tax law actually works

Tax evasion is illegal. Tax avoidance is finding ways within the rules to arrange your affairs to minimise the tax you pay. So by saying advisers who tell you how to actually do that will be fined, the British government is prohibiting people from being told how existing tax laws work.

Unless there is something I am misunderstanding, this appears to be completely insane. It seems to now be illegal to, er, legally arrange your affairs in such a manner as to inconvenience HMG.

Samizdata quote of the day

If that sounds familiar, it’s because this amounts to Mr. Corbyn’s People’s Quantitative Easing concept in all but name. The idea much derided last year is becoming so mainstream that even a leadership candidate for Britain’s Conservative Party, Stephen Crabb, could recently propose a £100 billion ($130 billion) public-works investment fund that wasn’t so different from PQE. Mr. Corbyn’s PQE is essentially indistinguishable from the suggested 50-year Japanese bonds.

This probably says more about the central bankers’ desperation than Mr. Corbyn’s prescience. With government spending and borrowing constrained by slow growth and high debt, and supply-side reforms still politically far off in many economies, the pressure is mounting on central bankers to act as magicians pulling rabbits out of their hats. The longer this continues, the deeper they’ll have to rummage around for the next rabbit. It’s enough to make one wonder what will be the next extreme idea to follow the journey from crank to orthodoxy.

John Phelan

As time goes by

People vote for socialist policies. Time goes by. Things get worse. Time goes by. People vote out the socialist policies. Time goes by. Things get better. Time goes by. People forget what it was like before. Time goes by. People vote for socialist policies. The fundamental things apply…

Here’s why renationalisation won’t make the trains run on time

When Owen Smith was asked at his Labour leadership launch about his stance on railways, he replied, “I would re-nationalise our railways tomorrow.” Needless to say, this went down well. In August last year, a YouGov poll found that 58% of the British public support renationalising the railways compared to just 17% who oppose it. The irony will not be lost on followers of the Labour party who may remember that renationalisation of the railways was Corbyn’s first official policy as Labour leader. Recently, Corbyn has thrust this issue back into the spotlight, jumping on the recent troubles of Southern Rail.

To set the scene, until 1994, the railway network in the UK was operated by the Government-controlled and owned British Rail. The Railways Act 1993 started the break-up of British Rail and the privatisation process concluded in 1997. The operation of passenger services is now contracted out under a system of franchising.

Samizdata quote of the day

It is widely recognised that today’s generation of so-called snowflakes – with their Safe Spaces, microaggressions and ‘that’s offensive!’ tantrums – has its roots in an educational system governed by therapeutic norms. The same was true of the London riots. They emerged from the same assertive grievance culture, the same well of victimhood and entitlement, the same sense that it’s all someone else’s fault. One young rioter even justified his trashing of a local branch of Comet on the grounds he didn’t get a job there. Other kids gloated about how ‘we can do what we want’, a dismissive attitude to adult authority they no doubt picked up at school.

Now, five years on from the London riots, some commentators argue that welfare cuts and widening inequality mean that ‘many of the conditions that created the riots are still in place’. London’s Time Out magazine went further by arguing that the Brexit vote means that racism has acquired a new-found respectability, which will lead to greater poverty for, and ill-treament of, London’s ethnic minorities.

These cheap anti-Brexit jibes raise a question: why are marginalised rioters viewed with sympathy, while poor, marginalised Brexit voters are viewed with contempt? Why are the violent actions of looters and arsonists interpreted as a legitimate protest, while voting to leave the EU is seen as an exercise in brainwashed stupidity?

Neil Davenport