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 Spectator magazine has lost its way

The Spectator magazine is the oldest conservative magazine in Britain – indeed I believe it is the oldest conservative magazine in the world. However, it has lost its way…

First came the attack on Chris Heaton-Harris Member of Parliament, for daring to ask for details of what the taxpayer backed universities were teaching – with the implied hint that he (horror of horrors!) wanted to answer back, to counter the conditioning efforts of the leftist academics. But now things have moved on… In this week’s issue of the Spectator Mr James Forsyth has hidden leftist suggestions behind free market language. What specific suggestions do I mean? “Stimulus” (Keynesian language – fit only for the people who control the universities) infrastructure government spending (no figure given for how much money this would be ), and fifty billion Pounds of extra government borrowing (on top of the vast borrowing the government is already engaged in) to build houses in the South East of England – thus turning the area into one huge urban sprawl, and pushing the country to certain bankruptcy and economic collapse

There is no way that Conservative voters could support such criminal insanity – they would stay away from the polls in disgust. The Spectator magazine has lost its way.

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Samizdata quote of the day

Neo-Socialist Macron is ‘pro-free market’ like wolves are anti-sheep abortion.

The Dissident Frogman

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Samizdata quote of the day

Two decades after the Guggenheim fell from the sky on Bilbao, the global arts establishment clings to the faith – and it is a faith, a belief with no empirical evidence to support it – that run-down cities can be healed by something called cultural regeneration: by building museums and galleries. The number of people unemployed and dependent on welfare in Bilbao has risen during those two decades. Like prayer or relics, it seems not to work.

Jonathan Meades

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Samizdata quote of the day

The news around Europe is that the Dutch have formed a government after a record 208 days of negotiations; Austria has elected an anti-immigration leader in a notable lurch rightward; and the Czechs have chosen a Eurosceptic as a prime minister (h/t Adam for the roundup). You’d have thought this would be a major point of discussion in the British media especially with the ongoing Brexit negotiations, but what was the BBC’s main headline yesterday afternoon? This one:

Widow of dead soldier hits out at Trump

Never mind European populations swinging to the right and voting Eurosceptic politicians into office, what is important is who is saying what about Trump on Twitter.

Tim Newman

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Samizdata quote of the day

Washington is a parasite that sucks the rest of the country dry. The counties surrounding Washington, D.C., have the highest per capita income of any metropolitan area in the country including New York, Hollywood and Silicon Valley. The unemployment rate is also the lowest of any large region in the country.

At least New York, Silicon Valley and Hollywood all produce something we need or enjoy. Washington produces red tape, taxes and new ways to handicap innovation on a daily basis.

While America staggers after its first lost decade (2007–17) and with a new lost decade set to begin (Japan, anyone?), Washington grows fat and rich. Trust me, the hotels and restaurants in town are jammed. No depression here.

Jim Rickards.

Not sure I’d agree with him on Hollywood but he is one of an apparently growing number of commentators who have noticed the parallels between the West’s current predicament and the Fall of the Western Roman Empire.

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Samizdata quote of the day

It is highly unsurprising that, if marginal tax rates are cut, the people who will benefit directly are those who actually pay the tax.

Opponents to rate cuts on these grounds are criticising tax changes on the basis that they do not help people who are already completely exempt from them. This is bizarre. It effectively implies that they are against all tax cuts, of any sort.

Ryan Bourne

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Samizdata quote of the day

The United States wants Canada to end supply management, which impedes agricultural imports – dairy, eggs, and poultry. Canada’s trade negotiators and politicians steadfastly refuse, and in their defense of the policy call up an astounding piece of logic: that the less Canadians have, the richer we are.

Canada’s Agriculture Minister insists that supply management is an “excellent system” and that “to deal with anything else is simply a non-starter.” Supporters on the left argue that the policy is necessary to protect domestic farmers from unfair competition from American farmers who receive government subsidies.

Conservatives have argued the same. Current Parliament Member and former International Trade Minister, Ed Fast argued in a recent essay that America simply wants access to the Canadian market “to deal with its own problem of overproduction, to the detriment of Canadian farmers.”

Here is what all proponents of supply management are arguing: If we allow the Americans to send us milk, then their problem of overproduction becomes our problem. Don’t you see how problematic it is, how much poorer we will become if we allow them to send to us the fruits of their overproduction, and at a low price to boot? Don’t you see how much richer we would be if we had less milk?

Matthew Lau

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The Heart of Emptiness

“It is no strange thing … to find a violent persecutor a perfect unbeliever of his own creed.” (Edmund Burke)

I can’t have read 1% of what’s been written about Harvey Weinstein and Hollywood in the last few days, so to say there’s a point I’ve not seen spelled out may mean very little. But as I’ve not seen it yet, I’ll say it here.

Of course, I’ve seen much that I agree with – and much that I already knew.

– Long before this story broke, I knew that the very industry that virtue-signalled its devotion to PC in public was certain to be the very place where vile conduct would abound, just as Sweden is rated a world-leader in feminism – and is where a raped girl waits more than a month for the police even to interview her. Only someone stupid enough to be surprised that the workers are starving in socialist Venezuela would be surprised to find the politically-correct victimising a group they patronise.

– I see, as Virginia Postrel does, that Hollywood’s recent rush to escape Harvey includes a preference cascade – far, far, far more of one than the way everyone in East Germany had always hated communism after the wall fell. (For a rare exception, if you can pass the Times paywall, read the revolting Matt Frei’s revoltingly sympathetic account of his revolting East German apparatchik relations’ feelings in the October 24th 2009 edition.) It’s easy to see why the PC mantra ‘regret is rape’ is so well liked by those who remember how unenjoyable their career-enhancing trysts with Harvey were  – and remember less well how indifferent they themselves were to others. I have not a moment’s doubt there were actual crimes; the details of Harvey’s technique that have emerged scream that there were. And I have not a moment’s doubt that the acted pleasure of others, who knew well the bargain they were making, was as fake as the better sex under communism that the NYT believes in (but I don’t). Who wouldn’t ‘regret’ spending time with the elephant in the hotel bedroom? Thay say power is an aphrodisiac; it would need to be.

– I see, as many do, that this phoniness of many Hollywood women is grossly (in every sense) matched by that of many Hollywood men. I’d like to write that I can’t imagine a less convincing apology that Tarentino’s – except that I don’t have to imagine it. Hillary Clinton, let alone his fellow Hollywood types, offered still worse or still less honest or still slower, or all three. If Brad Pitt had carried out his threat to beat up Harvey long ago – if he had done it somewhere so public that the story was unkillable – then he might have spared more than just Gwyneth Paltrow from future unpleasant encounters. That would have meant taking a risk; that would required him to act like the heroic characters he acts. But Brad took it out in unpublicised venting – which still puts him well above the filthy norm of Hollywood, I guess. Far lower is writing a blank-verse poem (after the story broke!) about your shameful inaction in all the years before. It shows some contrition, but my poems rhyme and scan, so I rate low the value of one that doesn’t make that much effort. At least the author’s poetic form lets him naturally repeat again and again his refrain: “Everybody-fucking-knew”. Finding out that Harvey’s contract included a clause protecting his company from paying his harrassment suits is as if we learned Hillary’s pre-nup included a protection against her money being used to pay off future Juanitas, Paulas and Etceteras. We don’t need that to know Hillary is full of it – and we didn’t need that clause to know that the poem tells less than the whole truth, not more.

– I see that Sarah Hoyt writes sense about passes, and that Stephanie Gutmann describes a real un-Hollywood workplace. I see just as clearly that those who took their pay-offs in career-boosting gigs or confidentiality-agreement payouts or both have yet another reason to indulge the left-wing tendency to blame society as a whole, not specific individuals typical only of their specific self-chosen society. On recent data, Harvey perpetrated one-and-a-half incidents per year over decades. My not-so-left-wing views tell me that many crimes are committed by far fewer criminals, so I agree with those who say that number will rise.

So (if you’re still reading 🙂 ), what have I not seen? Well, John Ringo, repeated in instapundit, tells a parable about how many in Hollywood (and it would be men as well as women) might need, for their own self-respect, to believe men outside Hollywood are far worse. It’s a well-written piece and it could explain the crazy antics of an Ashley Judd. But Occam whispers a simpler explanation in my ear. THESE PEOPLE ACT. The one thing we truly know about them is they can act – all of them competently, some exceptionally.

(To pick a name entirely at random) I never believed Chloe Grace Moretz drank blood for dinner because her vampire character does in ‘Let Me In’. I never thought she loved guns better than Dana Loesch because Hit Girl does, or that Hit Girl’s mocking, “Dude, that is one gay-looking taser”, meant Chloe never bowed to the tyranny of “you can’t say that”. I would very gladly believe she never suffered at Harvey’s hands what her character does in “I love you Daddy”. But when we see her nervously praising Hillary at the Democrats 2016 convention, why would we believe her? I don’t mean, why would we believe she is a good judge of political character, I mean why would we believe this is not just a career-serving acting gig in her own mind? It is easier, and less demeaning, to feign liking for Hillary in public than liking for the elephant in the bedroom in private – isn’t it? (Female commenters, please feel free to correct my victorian-valued mansplaining if I’m wrong about that.) In a Hollywood where some were enduring Harvey and more were covering for him, and this is far from the only such scandal, why on earth would we assume that anyone’s enthusiasm for PC is any more sincere than the eagerness for Harvey that was feigned on the casting couch? That Harvey never believed in his public creed is well, kind of obvious, but isn’t it the simplest explanation to assume that pretty well none of them do?

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Samizdata quote of the day

Unilateral free trade benefits us all and even benefits the poor more than other groups in society. Just what we learned 169 years ago with the repeal of the Corn Laws. Further, as they say, tariff protection makes all poorer while also weighing more heavily upon the poor. This is not an argument in favour of trade protection.

Unilateral free trade it is then, eh?

Tim Worstall

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Samizdata quote of the day

There is an argument, I think, for having people who want “a strong leader” shot immediately on the basis that it will save the dictator time later.

– David Aaronovitch, discussing these findings by the Pew Organisation in The Times (£). Unlike Pew, neither Mr Aaronovitch nor I find it very comforting that only – only! – 26% of the UK population thinks “a system in which a strong leader can govern the country without interference from parliament or the courts would be a good way of governing this country”.

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Samizdata quote of the day

Certainly flirtation is gone from the workplace. Some years ago your humble correspondent was an intern at a National Public Radio affiliate station in Chicago. The chief engineer had a habit of referring to me as Legs, as in, ‘Woooah, here she comes. It’s Legs Gutmann.’ Dear Reader, I am not ashamed to admit I liked it. I flashed him a big smile and a giggle. He was a very decent chap and I have no doubt that if I had instead looked wounded and frightened he would have cut the ‘Legs’ thing faster than he could unplug a sound cable.

Now, of course, he wouldn’t even try such hijinks. The risk is too great. He could be fired for such ‘sexual harassment’. Or what if I had been fired by National Public Radio (if you can be fired from an internship)? I could have retaliated by claiming that NPR (of all places) created a ‘hostile work environment’ in allowing such a beast continued employment. At the very least I could get my internship back; at most, I might be able to snare a big payoff. Sexual-harassment allegations can make you rich.

Stephanie Gutmann

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Something’s very rotten in the state of Malta

Oh my beloved Malta:

An investigative journalist in Malta who exposed her island nation’s links to offshore tax havens using the leaked Panama Papers was killed in a car bombing on Monday, an attack that shocked Malta and was condemned by leaders of the European Union.

The journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia, 53, died when the car she was driving exploded in Bidnija, a hamlet in north-central Malta. Her final blog post, accusing the prime minister’s chief of staff of corruption, had been published about a half-hour earlier.

Even if, like yours truly, you don’t think that there is anything necessarily wrong with offshore tax havens (haven is a place of safety, and I am quite keen on being safe from the predations of the State), it is worth getting angry about politicians who talk a good game about compliance with taxes salting – allegedly – kickbacks in far-off locations and hoping no-one will notice. We live in a world where governments the world over, through pacts such as the Common Reporting Standard, are to all intents and purposes creating a global tax “cartel” in pursuit of high net worth individuals’ wealth. Assuming, for example, that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party wins power at the next UK general election, and imposes all manner of controls (including capital controls) then UK residents may now already be thinking of where to park their money. Global anti-tax avoidance/evasion efforts make those bolt-holes harder to reach. So on certain levels I don’t have an issue with Malta being a tax haven, or its citizens being wily about it. What I do, however, have an issue with is the double-standards, and furthermore, the tolerance of bribery and corruption that is not just a by-product of an expansive state, but part of a culture that has become too embedded in certain countries.

Malta wants to become an important financial centre; it is already pretty significant in that regard. But it is in competition with rivals such as Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Mauritius, Singapore, etc. All of these places have their faults, but the murder of a campaigning journalist by the use of a car-bomb in broad daylight in Malta represents a shock even to those wearily familiar with the nastiness of current affairs.

Final point: whatever her merits or faults, the journalist known to many as “Daphne” was rightly famed for her courage in facing up to some very dodgy people. Such persons have also paid a price in countries such as Russia.

If the Maltese were astronauts, they would be saying the equivalent of “Houston, we have a problem”.

 

 

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