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

These idiotic terms such as “extremist”, and “ALT-Right” are simply euphemisms for “people who don’t agree with us.” Still, it’s nice to think I had such influence that I helped the Donald get the keys to the White House. Not too much hyperbole, eh?

No, what got him there wasn’t people like me bemoaning the vile identity politics espoused by Hope not Hate, it was that a critical mass of American voters realised that these people and their allies are themselves the purveyors of hatred – hatred of them and their kind. So they voted for the other and who can blame them? And, after the Brexit vote driven by a similar realisation, these people still don’t get it.

Longrider

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Conservatism is the new counter-culture

So says Paul Joseph Watson.

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Growth and laws of thermodynamics

When I was a teenager doing GCSE Science we had a guest speaker come in and talk about what I now know to be The Limits to Growth. We were told about peak oil and how oil production doubles every n years and blah blah blah and it sounded pretty convincing at the time. Fortunately I did not pay it much heed, much as I instinctively did not really care about acid rain or the hole in the ozone layer which were the subject of geography lessons around the same time. It was not until years later I found out about the Club of Rome. I still do not know how, exactly, that guest speaker came to be in that science class, but in retrospect it sounds pretty sinister.

I like the band Muse. Their latest 2012 album is called Thermodynamics The 2nd Law and includes the song “Unsustainable”. It is really annoying when the creator of art you enjoy starts spouting crappy nonsense politics. Anyway, the song contains a recording of someone saying:

The fundamental laws of thermodynamics will place fixed limits on technological innovation and human advancement
In an isolated system the entropy can only increase. A species set on endless growth is
Unsustainable

Of course, as someone at genius.com points out, we have the sun, which should last long enough.

I was reminded of all this in an instant messenger chat with Perry Metzger today. He was talking optimistically about solar power. I did a search to check that I was not just imagining that anyone ever took second law arguments about economics seriously. I found a paper.

…we shall examine some challenges which have been made to the limits to growth (Limitationist) position by those criticizing the scope and application of the second law of thermodynamics and we shall in turn defend Limitationism against these criticisms.

Perry M said, “if all else fails, we can always use the hot air produced by leftists as a power source indefinitely.” I shared that link. He replied, “that paper alone, Rob, could power London for a month.”

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Samizdata quote of the day

It is simply wrong to conflate British people’s decision to leave the EU with a normal political vote for a party or a leader. We were not voting for any politician. The vote to leave the EU was not a vote for Nigel Farage of UKIP, no matter what the Remainer sections of the press might say.

Naomi Firsht, discussing Marine Le Pen, Brexit and Trump.

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Samizdata quote of the day

I’ve been thinking for quite some time, and even mentioned it on this blog, that the transition of the gay rights movement from “keep the government out of the bedroom” to “get the government to insist the public comes in, watches, and claps in approval” will turn out badly for them in the long term. There are already signs that the feminists and trans lobbyists are going to throw gay men under the bus in the great game of victimhood poker, particularly if their political views are not of the approved kind. Look at the vitriol being heaped on Milo Yiannopolous at the moment: being a gay Jew with a preference for black men hasn’t stopped him being branded an actual Nazi by his opponents, including some supposedly respectable media outlets.

Tim Newman

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Fools and their money are soon divorced

A recent decision of the English Court of Appeal presents a sharp, but unsurprising, illustration of the perils of marriage for those interested in keeping their property and the fruits of their labours.

Surrey couple’s divorce payments raised after 15 years

The ex-husband of a woman who was awarded £230,000 on her divorce has been told by the Court of Appeal he must support her for life.
Maria Mills, 51, was originally awarded £1,100 a month from 50-year-old Graham Mills after 13 years of marriage.
Appeal Court judges also ruled he should pay her £1,441 per month as she is “unable to meet her basic needs”.

Some 15 years after the marriage ended, with an adult child, Mr Mills now faces a lifetime of supporting his ex-wife. Why is this, might you ask?

Because Mrs Mills unfortunately p*ssed away all her money in unwise property deals, despite the apparently endless ballooning of property prices in London and Southeast England, so she has had her maintenance order reviewed. To her credit, the former estate agent is working.

Mrs Mills works for two days per week as a beauty therapist

Well, that is something, and it belies the old jibe about why estate agents don’t look out the window in the morning, since they would then have nothing to do in the afternoon.

It’s high time for freedom of contract in marriage, let the terms be negotiated and if one side fundamentally breaches the terms, why not allow the injured party to repudiate the contract with no damages to the wrongdoer whatsoever for the other side?

As for the ‘child bomb’, could the law let child support be a matter of parental conscience, or perhaps 50/50 (excluding mitochondria donors)?

If you were seeking to destroy marriage as an institution, would you have done anything differently than to set up laws that allow for judgements such as this? The moral hazard is obvious: Risk the capital, take a part-time job, and come back for more, till death.

Would any person marry someone less wealthy, less industrious, or with fewer prospects under English law?

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Samizdata quote of the day

“Ministers are regularly put under pressure for not spending enough. It is very rare to hear Ministers under pressure for spending too much, for presiding over government waste, for failing to find cheaper and better ways of doing things. There is nearly always an automatic assumption that spending a lot in any specific part of the public sector is good, and spending more is even better. There is little probing behind the slogans to find out what the real numbers are, and to ask why in some cases so much is spent to so little good effect.”

– Former minister, and Conservative MP, John Redwood. He is talking about the different biases of the BBC. His point about how BBC journalists and programmes routinely take a pro-public spending line in questions to government ministers, lobbyists and the like is very true. Watch any regular news show, either national or regional, and note those times when a minister is given a hard time for spending too much, or spending on X or Y at all. They don’t happen very often.

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Left wing women threaten to bugger off for a day…

The comedy potential of a day without left-wing women is hard to overstate. It is a bit like malaria mosquitoes ‘threatening’ not to bite anyone for a day. Yup, that’ll show ’em!

Oh dear, how sad, never mind. Any chance of making this a more permanent fixture rather than just one single day off?

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Samizdata quote of the day

Compulsive liars shouldn’t frighten you. They can harm no one, if no one listens to them. Compulsive believers, on the other hand: they should terrify you. Believers are the liars’ enablers. Their votes give the demagogue his power.

– Nick Cohen in The Observer. It is long, but you should really read the whole thing, as we say. Cohen thinks of himself as on the Left, but I say we are already beyond that. It is liberals against the rest; the rest are suddenly terrifyingly strong.

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In retrospect

It is reported in the Guardian that the career of a noted creative artist is coming to an end.

… the offences of Phil Shiner, the human rights lawyer who has just been struck off by the solicitors’ disciplinary tribunal, are worse even than they appear at first sight. It is hard to comprehend the nightmare faced by British soldiers he wrongly accused of torture and murder in Iraq. But he did not only fail those he traduced in court. He failed Iraqis who believed they had a case; he failed genuine victims of abuse who will face a harder fight in future. And his dishonesty and deception, and the bringing of baseless cases, risks tainting the whole case for human rights.

There is quite a bit to agree with in this editorial, but the insouciance of the writer takes my breath away. Will the Guardian, so long his leading patron and publicist, be holding a retrospective exhibition of its own extensive Phil Shiner back catalogue?

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Samizdata quote of the day

In Neil Gorsuch, Trump has nominated to the Supreme Court a man with deep respect for the Constitution and the freedoms it protects.

David French.

I am not a great Trump fan but I find it hard to argue with this.

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Free movement of capital undermines the case for free trade?

An argument I have come up against recently, in this apocalyptic book by James Rickards, is that free trade, as classically defended by David Ricardo with his famous Law of Comparative Advantage, only works in theory because the freedom to move capital and factors of production around means the “playing field” of the market is never “fair”, hence tariffs/other controls are just to re-set the game. Straight off, this sounds bunk to me, not least because free movement of capital is part of what capitalism (clue is in the word) is all about. Capital, both in its physical and human form, goes to places where it can earn the highest rate of return. This is how, to summarise massively, we got from the caves to the skyscraper. If a businessman cannot use his capital where it works most effectively, it would render much investment pointless.

And if it is wrong for capital to move around because it somehow undermines some sort of “fair” trade, then this applies not just to between nations, but inside them, too. Ah, but I hear the Trumpistas cry, what about those evil currency manipulators gaming the system in their favour? The answer is that if the Chinese or others want to send us cheap stuff, made even more dastardly cheaper by currency manipulation, it means consumers don’t have to earn so much to buy imports. True, in the short-term it means that some jobs will be lost because of the cheap imports, but then again the pay packages of millions of consumers stretch a bit further. The pain of the affected industries is easy to see and makes for great TV and campaign spots for a Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders (whose views on trade are identical); the costs to consumers from protectionism is not easy to visualise. Also, if China, for example, sells or “dumps” cheap steel on the world market, manufacturers in the West who use steel will see their costs fall. It is worth nothing that when in the early Noughties George W. Bush slapped tariffs on steel, it “saved” some US steelmaker jobs, but cost many jobs in sectors where steel is a factor of production.

Finally, here are more thoughts on the idea that free capital movement somehow dents the case for trade trade, via Gene Callahan over a decade ago:

An honest advocate of free trade must admit that there will often be people who are made worse off, at least in the short run, by the freedom to trade internationally. But the same is true of trade within the borders of a country: If you open a restaurant near to and better than mine, my business will suffer.

It might be pleasant to live in a world of unlimited resources, where everyone who wanted to run a restaurant could do so without having to compete for customers’ scarce dollars. But since we don’t, the fact that my situation might worsen because of your business activities is an unavoidable consequence of the freedom to buy from and sell to whomever one wishes. If we try to prevent all such unpleasant outcomes, we will eliminate the market economy and regress to a hand-to-mouth existence.

 

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