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]

Uber and how it makes the case for laissez faire capitalism

Uber has been hit with complaints that it’s running “an Objectivist LARP,” a live-action role playing of a capitalist utopia from an Ayn Rand novel. That’s pretty much what it is doing, and the results are awesome. And the benefits don’t stop with more drivers and lower rates. Uber is ploughing a fair portion of its profits into another wave of technological innovation — self-driving cars — that promises to offer even greater improvements in the future.

All of this should counter some of the despair about how to promote free markets, especially among urban elites who have been programmed by their college educations to embrace the rhetoric of the Left. Give them half a chance, and they will flock to capitalist innovations run according to the laws of the market.

The problem is that they don’t want to admit it. That’s where the euphemism “ride-sharing” comes in. To cover up the capitalistic nature of the activity, they tell themselves they’re “sharing” something that they are quite obviously paying for, and paying at market rates. Imagine what could be accomplished if they were just willing to drop the euphemisms and embrace the free market.

Robert Tracinski


Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on VK

‘Class War’ pillocks do wonders for a Hipster business they hate

Class War claims to represent a local community that is sick of rising house prices and an influx of wealth from overseas. However, Cereal Killer employs people from the local community, and many more residents come to the café to socialise and bond over a bowl or two of Coco Pops. The café remains defiant in the face of bullying and intimidation, and locals have since rallied behind it, with other businesses dropping off care packages for the owners. Moncrieff told me that footfall has actually increased since the attack.

The Fuck Parade was made up of a small core of balaclava-wearing pillocks and a lot of posers. People who rail against gentrification are, thankfully, the minority, and they have no right to speak for residents who are probably too busy enjoying new amenities and job prospects to protest.

Gentrification is not part of some conspiracy against the poor. Opportunities for people in Shoreditch to improve their lives are growing, and that is no bad thing. Fortunately, a bunch of idiots throwing cornflakes at a shopfront won’t change that.

George Harrison

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on VK

In Germany, they are only obeying orders…

Or perhaps issuing them, as, if reports are true, an unfortunate German woman has found. After 23 years of renting her apartment off the state, in the form of the municipality, Frau Gabrielle Keller is the second German woman who has been told to leave her apartment by the end of the year, reportedly to make way for refugees.

If true, this would be a salutary lesson in life. The words of Dido’s song, Life for Rent, spring to mind (albeit I think the song in point is more about commitment to a relationship).

If my life is for rent, and I don’t learn to buy, well I deserve nothing more than I get, ‘cos nothing I have is truly mine.“.

And look at the lives and effort Air Marshal Sir Arthur Harris put into dehousing Germans in WW2, only for them to do it to themselves in peacetime.

Of course, there are lessons here.

1. Private ownership of property (real or otherwise) is the bedrock of civilised life.
2. The State (in any form) is a bad servant and a worse master.
3. If you do have private property, it should be inalienable except in satisfaction of a debt, or by voluntary exchange or gift.

I suspect some form of ’eminent domain’ will probably end up being used in Germany and elsewhere to achieve the State’s desired results in any event, if not on this pretext, on some other. This is not just an issue in Germany, but is a tale re-told across the world, where political convenience leads to particularly cruel acts of government. And of course, the legal position is presumably that a person who occupies a property in Germany as a tenant may be given notice to leave for any reason or no reason whatsoever (unless, of course, discrimination is involved).

The political ramifications of the crisis appear to be that the ‘Ossis’ (the former East Germans and their offspring) now distrust the Kanzerlerin Dr Merkel more than the ‘Wessis’, the former West Germans, per the article.

Only 24 per cent of those polled in the former East named Mrs Merkel as the politician they trust most, down from 32 per cent just a month ago, the survey for the Insa Institute found.
But in the former West, 33 per cent named Mrs Merkel – up from 31 per cent in August.
The West’s larger population means that nationally support for the Chancellor remains strong.

Not that this decision could be put directly at the door of one of the few West Germans to emigrate to East Germany (albeit as an infant), but this is on her watch.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on VK

The UN report is not “well-meaning”

The UN report is not “well-meaning.” It’s an effort to use the hysteria of privileged Western women to slip through global censorship in service of autocrats and oligarchs at home and abroad. The people pushing it are not good people who are going too far. They’re awful, horrible people exploiting useful idiots.

Glenn Reynolds

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on VK

Samizdata quote of the day

Nobody who asks for “authenticity” in politicians understands how decadent this sounds. Most people in most societies for most of history would have made do with administrative competence, incorruptibility and a disinclination to plunder citizens or conscript them as war fodder. Mid-20th century Britons dreamt of low inflation and heated homes before they caressed hopes of conviction politics. A country with the leisure to take umbrage at scripted interviews and bloodless technocracy is doing fine. The modern distaste for spin, which makes heroes of plain-speakers such as Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the UK’s opposition Labour party, is like the campaign against obesity: warranted, but also a mark of how far we have come. There are worse problems to have and we had them not long ago.

Janan Ganesh

I made a related point about the use, or misuse, of the word “authentic” a short while ago here. Some people demurred and said a better word might be “integrity”, but I think that the way that people are praising Corbyn for being “authentic” is that they perceive him as being the opposite of slick or spun. That is all well and good, but I can see only one merit in being an authentic admirer of the IRA, of socialist Venezuela, of Hamas, of nationalisation, punitive tax and central bank money printing – and that merit is that the warning is out there, big and bold. There is no pretence.



Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on VK

An (almost) forgotten BBC drama about what happens under extreme collectivism in the UK

1990″, which is a drama on the BBC (made in the late 1970s), portrays a Britain where emigration by persons in certain professions is banned, extortionate taxes are imposed. In short, a Britain where the hard left is in charge. The series was not issued onto DVD (I wonder why?) but can be viewed on YouTube. It is quite striking that the BBC made this at all.

(H/T: The Conservative Woman. Read the whole article.)

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on VK

Mine craft in a commodity bubble – peaks and troughs for Glencore

The ‘mining giant’ Glencore, a commodity trader/mining company formed in the heat of a commodity price boom a few years ago, appears to be encountering some difficulties, of the sort that you find when your debt exceeds the value of your assets. The current instar of this company formed as commodity prices ‘boomed’ (for no obvious reason it would seem, it was on the back of a rather well-noted ‘recession’), with a take-over of the Anglo-Swiss commodity trader/mining company Xstrata in May 2013. Now, however:

Hunter Hillcoat, an analyst at Investec, said: “Mining companies gorged themselves on cheap debt in a race to grow production following the Chinese stimulus that occurred in the wake of the great financial crisis.
“The consequences are only now coming home to roost, as mines take a long time to build.”

The CEO of Glencore, Mr Ivan Glasenberg, is certainly a very capable and impressive individual, and had, when younger, been a world-class race-walking athlete, barred from international competition by his South African citizenship. We were even fed stories of how, when he paid his income tax in the Swiss village he calls home, Rüschlikon, the locals got a rebate on their income tax (how distasteful, why not cut taxes for the man himself with a cap on total take, like the Isle of Man?)

Could it be perhaps that the monetary policy of the Federal Reserve, followed by others around the world, had created an illusion of value in the mining sector, that led to what (for now) might appear to be a prodigious mal-investment, as commodity prices fall?

Mr Glasenberg has followed the ‘price signals’ coming from the markets in building up the company that he manages. Now, however, the price signals may well have been a mirage. What if debt had not been ‘cheap’? Might this company now be in better shape? Wouldn’t almost any Austrian economist have said, back when this merger was being contemplated, that commodity prices were a bubble (and that they still are)? Would anyone involved, blessed with some foresight, economic knowledge and patience, have said ‘Let’s wait for the bust after the boom before deciding what to do next.‘.

(Of course, the boom in money hasn’t ended yet, it’s just that the prices have stopped moving up for now). Then again, why should those involved care?

Now consider that lesson right across the world, what might it look like if ‘cheap debt’ had never existed, but only debt that came, not from creating money from nothing in a fiat money system via Central Banks, but via borrowing others’ savings, which were not being spent elsewhere? Everything from the cost of a home’s rent or mortgage, to the cost of the metal in a nail on your wall, might be different. What might that world look and be like?

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on VK

Samizdata lunatic quote of the day

I came across this quote on Facebook by a person whom I won’t name – since it was on a closed group – and it was written in response to an item about tax as a cost. The idea that tax is a cost struck this person (who I don’t think was trolling, but just holding collectivist views) as bizarre:

“Taxes are redistributed throughout the economy. Taxes provide public services and government spending that consumes goods/services and pay public sector wages that fuel business success which in turn, creates further tax revenue. You’re mistaken – Tax is not a cost – It drives nigh on 50% of our entire economy! Right wingers continually fail to notice this incontrovertible economic fact.”

The idea that taxes cut into existing productive activity, and that as a cost, will be passed on to consumers (such as the financial transaction tax passing on costs to bank clients, shareholders, etc) doesn’t occur. No, taxes are part of that wonderful magic money tree. Why stop at a pathetic 50 per cent? Why not tax the lot? Give it all to the State, so those clever people can spray it around and make us richer, except of course the money has that odd way of disappearing from our paychecks……..Sorry, excuse me, time for my pills.

You do have to wonder what a century or more of compulsory education has wrought.



Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on VK

Who should we blame in the Volkswagen scandal?

By now, everyone knows about the Volkswagen scandal. VW have admitted installing software that cuts exhaust emissions when their cars are being tested and lets them spew death and disease every which way when they’re not.

So who is the villain here? To my mind there are two possible suspects: the US Environmental Protection Agency and the European Union. I know what you are thinking: why can’t we pin the blame on both of them? Well, cheer up because I think we can.

To my mind pollution is simple. The polluter pays the victim. I would like to find some non-state means for doing this and as I understand it in the days prior to environmentalism just such a mechanism – albeit involving courts – did indeed exist.

Of course, since then government has queered the pitch for everyone introducing two principles which it rolls out according to taste. One, that the polluter pays the government. Two, that the polluter becomes subject to government violence – or to put it in statist terms: pollution is regulated.

So, the government imposes regulations in which if you score below a certain number you are left alone and if you score above they send the boys round. Black mark against the EPA.

But meanwhile the EU has been promoting diesels like crazy over recent years. Whether this is a sinister French plot or the result of the global warming hoax, who knows. The really sad thing is that we have ended up with that abomination: the diesel-powered sports car. Oh yeah, and London’s air ain’t too great either.

Some diesel

Some diesel

Miscellaneous thoughts and questions

Why is that we are quite happy to use the term NOx but not the term COx? It makes no sense.

What were VW doing selling diesel cars in the US? Petrol (US = gasoline) is much cheaper there. So the market for diesel cars is much smaller. Come to think of it it’s probably because they were trying to make inroads into the market in the expectation that diesel taxes would come down making diesels more attractive. It is a tax issue isn’t it?

Why is it that cars are regulated in this way? I find it difficult to believe that a lorry or bus is in any way cleaner than a car. But I bet the latter two are not nearly as stringently regulated. To ask the question is, of course, to answer it. They do it because they can.

Did anyone else catch that excellent Mark Evans documentary about the diesel engine on BBC4 the other night? Comet swirl chambers, eh?

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on VK

I know my Corbyn routine is getting old but he won’t stop sending me jokes

Via JohnW and the rest of the internet,

Treat meat eaters like smokers, warns Jeremy Corbyn’s new vegan farming minister Kerry McCarthy

(Just a little note to the Telegraph subs: she isn’t actually farming minister yet. Labour would have to win an election for that.)

Meat should be treated like tobacco with a public campaign to stop people eating it, Jeremy Corbyn’s new vegan shadow farming minister has suggested. Kerry McCarthy, MP for Bristol East, has irked the British farming industry with her veganism and vice presidency of the anti-hunting League Against Cruel Sports.

In an interview with Viva!life, a magazine for vegans, she admitted she was a “militant” when it came to clamping down on meat consumption. She said: “I really believe that meat should be treated in exactly the same way as tobacco, with public campaigns to stop people eating it.”

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on VK

Tournament of cringe: Jeremy Corbyn vs Natalie Bennett

In the green corner, a 3 min 41 sec clip from an LBC radio interview with the Green Party leader Natalie Bennett by Nick Ferrari dated 24 February 2015:

Incredibly awkward interview with Natalie Bennett

(I posted about this interview back when it happened.)

Most cringeworthy moments: her ghastly fake coughs at 2:07, 3:10, and 3:25 whenever Nick Ferrari pressed a point particularly hard. She really did have a cough, but even a real cough sounds wrong when told to perform before it is ready. Ferrari’s expression of sympathy after the 3:25 coughing fit was not meant to deceive her or the audience.

In the red corner, a four minute clip from a BBC Northern Ireland radio interview with Jeremy Corbyn by Stephen Nolan dated 8 August 2015, while Mr Corbyn was the front-runner in his ultimately successful bid to become leader of the Labour Party:

Jeremy Corbyn asked five times to condemn IRA violence

The most cringeworthy section again involves a pretence. Listening from 3 minutes until the end, Mr Corbyn’s initial claim not to have heard was credible; there was interference from another station to contend with. But as the interviewer doggedly repeated the question in an admirably clear voice, my belief in Mr Corbyn’s deafness trickled away.

Jeremy Corbyn: “Can we take the thing forwards rather than backwards?”
Stephen Nolan: “Are you refusing to condemn what the IRA did?”
[Background noise – interference from another station.]
JC: “Sorry, couldn’t hear that.”
SN: “Are you refusing to condemn what the IRA did?”
SN: “Jeremy?”
JC: “Hello? I think we’re going to have to do this later…”
SN: “OK, let me just – let me just ask this last question while it’s quiet there. Are you refusing to condemn what the IRA did?”
[Sound of indrawn breath.]

Who wins this round?

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on VK

David Gillies on Jeremy Corbyn

Every so often I encounter a comment that seems to me to deserve to be dragged out of the credits at the end of the show, and given top billing in its own right.

Here is one such, by David Gillies, at David Thompson’s blog, on this posting. Someone had introduced the subject of Jeremy Corbyn into the comment thread. This was what Gillies had to say about the man:

Jeremy Corbyn was born in 1949. Stalin was still in power then. Since then we have been through the Korean War, the 1956 Hungarian revolution, the Prague Spring and its subsequent repression, the Communist takeover of Viet Nam and Laos, the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia, the fall of Eastern European Communism, the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Tiananmen Square and the recent upswing in Russian revanchism. We have also seen free markets and the rule of Law lift billions out of utter destitution, leaving mainly untouched those areas where the Left still has sway. Despite all this, Corbyn still cleaves to the most disgusting, barbarous ideology that has been seen on Earth since the Conquistadors put the kibosh on Aztec thoracic surgery. That’s not misguided. That’s evil. Just because he looks like a geography teacher shouldn’t let him off the hook. He is a wicked man busily surrounding himself with wicked (mainly) men and a few wicked women. We should not be afraid to state, plainly and repeatedly, what he is and what he stands for. To do any less is to acquiesce in his vileness.

On the other hand, the commenter directly above Gillies pours scorn on Corbyn’s fondness for photographing manholes. I see nothing wrong with that. And if Corbyn could be chased out of politics and persuaded to stick to doing only that, I would then see a lot less wrong with Corbyn.

If only there was some way for the Labour Party to be trashed, which is what Corbyn seems to be doing, without the trashing of my country also being risked.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on VK