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]

The perfect day for this Boris headline

I recently had a clean-out of my home, and one of the things I chucked out was a small stack of recent and not-so-recent newspapers.

Before binning them I took photos of their front pages, because front page photos, I find, can often make very evocative souvenirs. Plus, unlike the actual newspapers, they don’t clutter up my home. (Just my hard disc.) I also often take photos of front pages when I am out and about in London. Maybe (although I promise nothing) I’ll do one of those “a year in newspaper headlines” postings, come the end of the year.

I haven’t gone through this latest clutch of front page photos properly yet. My camera always sees more than I do, until I really look at what I’ve got. But, I have already been smiling at this front page headline:

BorisMoralPolitics

Someone’s having a laugh, right? I don’t think it’s just me.

And the date above the newspaper headline …:

BorisMoralPoliticsApril1st

… tells me that one of the someones having a laugh is the Evening Standard. Nice one, gentlemen.

Here, for those who care, is the story.

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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

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You will be assimilated

Obama collecting personal data for a secret race database, reports the New York Post.

A key part of President Obama’s legacy will be the fed’s unprecedented collection of sensitive data on Americans by race. The government is prying into our most personal information at the most local levels, all for the purpose of “racial and economic justice.”

Unbeknown to most Americans, Obama’s racial bean counters are furiously mining data on their health, home loans, credit cards, places of work, neighborhoods, even how their kids are disciplined in school — all to document “inequalities” between minorities and whites.

This Orwellian-style stockpile of statistics includes a vast and permanent network of discrimination databases, which Obama already is using to make “disparate impact” cases against: banks that don’t make enough prime loans to minorities; schools that suspend too many blacks; cities that don’t offer enough Section 8 and other low-income housing for minorities; and employers who turn down African-Americans for jobs due to criminal backgrounds.

So they want to push banks into making more loans to minorities who tend to lack good credit histories. What could possibly go wrong? When companies like Wonga encourage poor people to take out loans they cannot afford, it’s called loan sharking.

As with my previous post, I first learned of this story via the Drudge Report, which seems particularly good at sniffing out and really making public stories of this type in which momentous developments were previously “made public” in a purely technical sense by bland official reports. “You will be assimilated” was the catchphrase of the Borg, a “collection of species that have been turned into cybernetic organisms functioning as drones in a hive mind called the Collective”, formerly thought to be fictional.

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François Hollande pays tribute to Jacques Delors in more than one sense

Le Journal du Dimanche printed a loyal address made by President Hollande to Jacques Delors on the occasion of the old emperor’s nintieth birthday.

Here are some extracts, translated by me and Messieurs Google et Bing:

“Because Europe can only advance if it carries the idea of ​​transcendence. No nation can contemplate giving up part of its sovereignty if it is not satisfied that it will emerge stronger from this process. He [Delors] intuited that out of the crisis, Europe needs to define a new horizon that can give rise to a new hope, because he knows that the European idea runs out of steam when it is no longer put into action.”

“What threatens us is not too much Europe but too little.”

“The eurozone has managed this week to reaffirm its cohesion with Greece.

The quality of the Franco-German relationship had a great deal to do with it. The European spirit prevailed. But we cannot stop there. I have offered to take forward Jacques Delors’s idea for a Government of the euro area with the addition of a specific budget and thus also a Parliament to ensure democratic control.”

Found via Bloomberg and the Drudge Report. The French original can be seen at the first link. Is he really saying what I think he’s saying? A unified Eurozone government?

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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

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An infirm hand on the tiller has its advantages

I have been reading Derek Wilson’s book about The Plantagenets, which is a succinct, blow-by-blow history of England’s monarchs from the beginning of the reign of Henry II in 1154 to the death of Richard III at Bosworth in 1485 at the hands of Henry Tudor. It’s good. All the various blows are briskly and engagingly described. If that’s the sort of book you are looking for, look no further.

In 1471, it seemed at the time as if the fighting had ended. The chapter covering 1471-1485 begins thus (on page 259 of my paperback edition):

After half a century of governmental breakdown, baronial strife and dynastic uncertainty the country needed internal and external peace and a firm hand on the tiller, and Edward IV certainly settled things down for a dozen years. …

But as anyone familiar with Medieval English history knows, and as Wilson then of course immediately relates, the fighting wasn’t quite done. This same paragraph then continues:

… However, following his death at the age of 41 his family managed to tear itself apart, provoke fresh conflicts and pave the way for a challenge from a minor branch of the Lancastrian dynasty, something which had up to that moment seemed inconceivable.

But then, Wilson switches in his immediately following paragraph to a different story:

Beyond central politics profound changes were taking place in these years. Commerce – especially the trade in woollen cloth – flourished, and a wealthy capitalist, mercantile class emerged. Renaissance influences from the continent began to affect cultural life and provoke new patterns of thought. But most revolutionary of all was the appearance of cheap books from the new print shops, which brought the world of ideas within the reach of many more people.

Now I want to make it clear that I have no major complaint to make about Derek Wilson, or his book. His aim with it was to tell the story of the Plantagenet kings, and he succeeds very satisfactorily. What I am here regretting is the absence of a point which he might have made here, maybe in a mere couple of phrases. I am not accusing Wilson of failing to understand the point I am about to make. I am merely noting that, for whatever reason, this is a point that he does not, at this highly relevant moment in his story, make himself.

Wilson could have connected the two paragraphs above, with half a sentence which added something along the lines of: “Perhaps partly because the aristocracy were consuming their energies fighting each other rather by meddling with commerce …”, and then noted that commerce at this time flourished.

For my point is that this royal “hand on the tiller” that Wilson says the country so much needed can sometimes be rather too firm.

→ Continue reading: An infirm hand on the tiller has its advantages

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Portrait of an obsession: Every Alternet and/or Salon headline about libertarians from the last two years.

The following content was posted by Radley Balko to Facebook — I claim no credit for it. I would normally have just linked to it, but links to Facebook content are often a bit fragile, and this is perhaps one of the most spectacular things I’ve seen for a while and deserves wider viewing.

Now improved! Edited to add headlines from March through July!

Portrait of an obsession: Every Alternet and/or Salon headline about libertarians from the last two years.

As Gene Healy put it, “Never before have so many been so intimidated by so few with so little political power.”

[New articles up to July 2015]

Libertarianism is for white men

What Rand Paul’s libertarian hypocrisy reveals about the GOP’s giant race problem

America’s libertarian freakshow: Inside the free-market fetish of Rand Paul & Ted Cruz

Rise of the techno-Libertarians: The 5 most socially destructive aspects of Silicon Valley

Big Data’s big libertarian lie: Facebook, Google and the Silicon Valley ethical overhaul we need

Elon Musk will not save us: Why libertarians waiting for a superman are wasting everyone’s time

Beware the Silicon Valley elite: Ayn Rand, Google libertarianism and Indiana’s “religious freedom”

I was a troll on the white dude-bro Internet: The dark side of gaming, libertarianism, and guns

Rand Paul’s civil rights fiasco: How Jon Stewart just unmasked him — and exposed libertarians’ perverted view of freedom

Rand Paul’s dystopian America: 6 things to know about the war-mongering, faux libertarian

5 Worst Things About the Techno-Libertarians Solidifying Their Grasp on Our Economy and Culture

Liberland: Hundreds of Thousands Apply to Live in the World’s Newest—Very Tiny—Libertarian ‘Country’

Rand Paul, Doofus: The Libertarian’s Embarrassing “Racial Outreach”

Will War Between the Religious Right and Libertarians Tear the Tea Party Apart?

My Personal Libertarian Hell: How I Enraged the Movement and Paid the Price

How Big Business Invented the Theology of ‘Christian Libertarianism’ and the Gospel of Free Markets

Welcome to ‘Libertarian Island': Inside the Frightening Economic Dreams of Silicon Valley’s Super Rich

It’s Bizarre: Libertarians Are Clueless About the ‘Free Market’ That They Worship

The True History of Libertarianism in America: A Phony Ideology to Promote a Corporate Agenda

[New articles up to March 2015]

Libertarianism is for petulant children: Ayn Rand, Rand Paul and the movement’s sad “rebellion”

The atheist libertarian lie: Ayn Rand, income inequality and the fantasy of the “free market”

Nightmare libertarian project turns country into the murder capital of the world

21 Rand Paul quotes that expose libertarianism for the con job it is

Ann Coulter: Libertarian voters are “idiots” who deserve to “drown”

My unusual libertarian journey: How a former outlaw broke the political mold

Libertarian Sham: Using the L Word to Hide Even Worse Politics

Ayn Rand’s capitalist paradise lost: The inside story of a libertarian scam

The sharing economy is a lie: Uber, Ayn Rand and the truth about tech and libertarians

→ Continue reading: Portrait of an obsession: Every Alternet and/or Salon headline about libertarians from the last two years.

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Watching the Greek drama unfold is fascinating

People in Greece are rioting against ‘austerity’ (which is the term used to describe the state spending less of other people’s money).

Troika. IMF. Democracy. blah blah blah…

Yet what is all really boils down to is this…

Greeks-vote-not-to-pay

Hardly surprising so many Latvians, Lithuanians and Slovaks are utterly unmoved by the ‘plight’ of Greece.

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A “popular capitalism” blog defends state regulation of pay – eh?

“A good economist is one who can understand both the “seen” and the “unseen” consequences of policy. It is the proponents of this policy who are ignoring the complexities of the issue. `Britain deserves a pay rise, let’s give it one’ is hardly the height of sophistication when it comes to economic and political analysis.”

Philip Booth, who was unimpressed by how Iain Martin, of the “popular capitalist” blog CapX, wrote in defence of George Osborne’s atrociously-conceived “living wage” idea.

When you have a writer of an allegedly pro-free market blog such as Martin arguing for state fiat control of wage levels, and who belittles those who argue against such things as ideological nit-pickers, there is a problem. What also gets me is that this foolish idea was introduced by a government that does not need to pander to leftist economic illiteracy. The Tories don’t even have the feeble excuse of having to placate coalition partners after having won power outright in May.

There may be some good features of Osborne’s recent Budget (the upward rise in inheritance tax thresholds was welcome, although the system remains unnecessarily complicated) but there is far too much political gamesmanship from Osborne for anyone who supports free markets to take him all that seriously as a friend of capitalism and freedom. If or when the costs of a far higher statutory minimum wage start to really hit small and medium-sized firms – as they will – will he have the balls to admit this has been a foolish mistake? I am not betting on it – he’ll probably have moved on by then.

 

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Someone who has not adapted to modern society

A journalist called Catherine Porter took her nine year old daughter to a “Jobs, Justice and Climate” march in Toronto. While there the child had a conversation with Ezra Levant. Ms Porter gave her account of that conversation here: My daughter’s run-in with Ezra Levant at her first protest. She made Levant out to be a big bad bully. Her account appeared in a respected newspaper, the Toronto Star, and although Levant’s reply giving his own, very different account of his dialogue with the little girl was published, by the time it appeared the narrative had been settled and it was only his word against hers anyway.

Yes, of course I made that last bit up. This is the twenty-first century, you know. You know even if Catherine Porter does not. Naturally Ezra Levant made sure to get the whole thing on video and was able to conclusively – and amusingly – demonstrate that Catherine Porter’s account deviated from the truth in numerous ways. The weird thing is that she cannot have been unaware of the camera. Levant is a lawyer who has had numerous run-ins with leftists and he insisted on getting Ms Porter to state to camera that she gave permission for Levant to speak to her daughter. Incidentally, one of the details her account obscured was that it was Ms Porter who called Levant over to talk to her daughter and she who asked for the encounter to be filmed. He was initially quite reluctant to debate with a child, rightly fearing that Ms Porter Senior intended to set him up for propaganda purposes.

Why on earth did she write as she did in the Toronto Star? Good grief, it’s not as if potentially embarrassing encounters routinely being filmed at rallies as a defence against misreporting is something that only came in last month. Did she think Levant would just accept being slimed like it was 1999?

Hat tip: Bishop Hill

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The best way to reform the BBC should be obvious…

… burn this statist anachronism down and salt the earth upon which it stood.

At least the Stupid Party currently governing the UK seems willing to clip the BBC’s wings, but that really is not even nearly enough. In this age of the internet, the whole notion of a state owned media enterprise is redundant. Moreover it is absurd for the nominally conservative Tory party to sustain a tax funded media organisation that is run overwhelmingly by partisan Labour and Green party supporters.

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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.

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