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]

Practical ways to fight the ID / National Identity Register

This appeared in the comment section of the previous post, writen by Michael Taylor. It is just too interesting to leave as a comment:

One thing we in the online community can do is to work to ensure transparency and accountability is brought to this process. We need to find out who has been pressing this scheme from its infancy: that doesn’t just mean finding the Labour Party hacks who’ve embraced it; it does not even just mean finding the Whitehall Committees which pushed it.

It means finding the details of the people who sat on that committee: it means getting their names and track records out in public. I want names and reasons and track records. Where possible, I would want those personal details which they would collect from us out there on the web for all to see. It also means tracking every single hardware and software supplier who is bidding for the work – again, we need personal names not company names. And then these people need to be monitored closely, and lobbied intensively. There needs to be absolutely no place for these securocrats to hide: there must be no secrecy, no privacy for them.

Let us also make sure we use the Freedom of Information Act aggressively to get this information: swamp them with requests for every detail of every person’s career who has ever been on any committee which has recommended any part of this scheme. If nothing else, such an intensive and personal campaign of transparency gives opponents of the scheme the best possible chance of keeping these people on the back foot.

Look, for example, at how angry the govt has got with the LSE’s report. That should be only the merest footfall, the tiniest ripple of administrative inconvenience and distributed informational opposition they must face. Do this, and we will win.

Michael Taylor.

The time has come to resist

The ID card is at hand in the UK and we should now start thinking very hard about how to wreck the government’s plans at every level. Every options needs to be considered because if this can be made into a political fiasco of epic proportions and is remembered as ‘Labour’s Poll Tax’, then it will be a long time before any party tries this sort of abridgement of civil liberties again.

It is important to remember that the Poll Tax was not defeated in Parliament, it was defeated in the streets.

And the US military is helping communists… why exactly?

It seems just a tad perverse that whilst uttering rhetoric about supporting freedom and democracy, the US is sending its military to help train Communists in Vietnam.

Why, exactly?

Blogging the G8

It is good to see that some dissenting voices are being heard amidst the babble that is surrounding the G8 event.

I find it interesting to see that a moderate voice for the free market like Alex Singleton (who, unlike me, supports Third World debt cancellation) is being attacked by a neo-communist who describe him as a ‘dangerous extremist’, even though Alex’s views on these particular issues are little different from the Department for International Development or that paragon of Thatcherite virtues, Clare Short. Well who knows, perhaps some of Alex’s critics have pecuniary ties to large pharmaceutical companies? It is amazing the enemies you make when you stand up for free trade and against vested interests.

Alex is a splendid chap but frankly I do not find him nearly extreme enough when it comes to Africa, but perhaps that is my job.

Not responsible

In another of the cases dumped on an unsuspecting public today, the last day of the US Supreme Court’s session, the High and Mighty Nine reiterated that a municipality cannot be expected to provide competent police protection for its residents. The only twist was that this time the plaintiff was trying to hold the local coppers liable for failing to enforce a restraining order issued by a court.

The bad guy in question violated a restraining order to kidnap his daughters from his ex-wife’s front lawn. After being informed that the perp had announced he was taking the girls to an amusement park in Denver, the local constabulary neglected to call the Denver police or go to the amusement park. Their effort was limited to trying to contact the perp on his phone, and “keeping an eye out” for his truck.

Ultimately, he was killed in a shoot-out with police. After they had tracked him to his mountain hideaway? Not exactly. He was shot in front of the police station. One suspects that he was double-parked, and had blocked in the cruiser detailed with making the morning donut run.

Oh, the three little girls? They were found dead in his truck. Heaven forbid, though, that the municipality should be held to standards of ordinary care.

An armed society . . .

From the New York Times op-ed pages, of all places, confirmation of a number of libertarian ideas, including the axiom that an armed society is a polite society.

These revisionists’ history, unlike the one now fashionable in academia, is not a grim saga of settlers exploiting one another, annihilating natives and despoiling nature. Nor is it like the previously fashionable history depicting the settlers as heroic individualists who tamed the frontier by developing the great American virtue of self-reliance.

The Westerners in this history survived by learning to get along, as Terry Anderson and Peter Hill document in their new book, “The Not So Wild, Wild West.” These economists, both at the PERC think tank in Montana, argue that their Western ancestors were usually neither heroic enough to make it on their own nor strong enough to take it away from others.

Always gratifying to see the NYT take a slap at the PC bilge being ladled out in institutions of higher learning, of course, but what is perhaps more interesting is the nod given to the voluntary ordering of civil society on the frontier.

Roger McGrath, a historian who studied dozens of Western mining camps and towns, found a high rate of homicide in them mainly because it was socially acceptable for young, drunk single men to resolve points of honor by fighting to the death. But other violence wasn’t tolerated, he said.

“It was a rather polite and civil society enforced by armed men,” Dr. McGrath said. “The rate of burglary and robbery was lower than in American cities today. Claim-jumping was rare. Rape was extraordinarily rare – you can argue it wasn’t being reported, but I’ve never seen evidence hinting at that.”

One suspects that the presence of substantial numbers of prominently displayed large caliber handguns would have a certain pacifying effect. I submit that this would appear paradoxical only to animists or people infected with an irrational fear of inanimate objects.

Let this be the litmus test

It is just plain wrong to think things were just peachy in the United States until last week when all the Supreme Court did was make de jure what had been de facto for quite some time regarding the state’s ability to sieze private property for no other reason than to get more tax. But perhaps this is for the best as there is no longer any doubt that things are badly broken and that this should not be a left vs. right issue. As Clarence Thomas wrote in his dissent:

If ever there were justification for intrusive judicial review of constitutional provisions that protect discrete and insular minorities, surely that principle would apply with great force to the powerless groups and individuals the Public Use Clause protects. The deferential standard this court has adopted for the Public Use Clause is therefore deeply perverse. It encourages those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms to victimize the weak.

Those incentives have made the legacy of this court’s public purpose test an unhappy one. In the 1950s, no doubt emboldened in part by the expansive understanding of public use this court adopted in Berman, cities rushed to draw plans for downtown development. Of all the families displaced by urban renewal from 1949 through 1963, 63 percent of those whose race was known were non-white, and of these families, 56 percent of nonwhites and 38 percent of whites had incomes low enough to qualify for public housing, which, however, was seldom available to them. Public works projects in the 1950s and 1960s destroyed predominantly minority communities in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Baltimore, Maryland. In 1981, urban planners in Detroit, Michigan, uprooted the largely lower-income and elderly Poletown neighborhood for the benefit of the General Motors Corporation. Urban renewal projects have long been associated with the displacement of blacks; in cities across the country, urban renewal came to be known as Negro removal. Over 97 percent of the individuals forcibly removed from their homes by the slum-clearance project upheld by this court in Berman were black. Regrettably, the predictable consequence of the court’s decision will be to exacerbate these effects.

I trust that decent Democrats who are not in the pockets of public sector employee associations and who actually have at the core of their convictions the desire to help the ‘have nots’ against whom the system can at time be so slanted, will set aside partisan politics and join with Republicans who are not in the pockets of well funded business interests to rebel against this savage wound to the US Constitution which in effects rips out the Fifth Amendment. Let this case be the litmus test of decency against which political figures of both left and right will judged and judged harshly.

Pressing the nose against the shop glass

Still buzzing with pleasure after a terrific day with pals at the Goodwood Festival of Speed on Saturday, it struck me as I walked around the ground and past the huge car park as to how fantastic is the level of motoring engineering, aesthetics and of course safety these days. But we are hemmed in as never before by rules and regulations, speed cameras and road humps, the combined effect of which is to make driving in most of Britain a frustrating experience. The joys of flooring the accelerator on the open road, with the roar of wind in the hair, are over.

Such a shame. As my dad said, it is a bit like being surrounded by the world’s most beautiful women and then to be told by the State that you are not allowed to ask any of them for a date.

Then they can call the tune

Bob ‘give-us-yer-fokken-money’ Geldof must be losing his touch:

Berlin’s planned Live8 concert next week threatens to turn into a fiasco because it has failed to attract the support of politicians or business sponsors, the event’s German organiser has admitted.

Marek Lieberberg, a friend of Bob Geldof contracted to run the Live8 concert in Berlin, said the lack of support meant the rock bands appearing at the event risked having to pay for the €1m (£663,000) show themselves.

A risk? Surely not a ‘risk’ but a heaven-sent opportunity for the socially-conscious cream of the rockeratti to put their own money where their big ‘fokken’ mouths are.

Oh now this is sweet…

Read this

…then read this.

Oh how sweet and utterly deserved. As they would say in the on-line gaming world: owned!

The ascendancy of the fascist view of private property

There is an industry in the USA in which people make a career based on using the power of the state to seize the private property from churches, home owners and small businesses and turn it over to large corporations in order to let them benefit by setting up large businesses and thereby provide more tax money for more public sector employees to share in.

It has been pointed out by many that this is a deeply corrupting process in which wealthy developers simply pay local government officials to use force in their narrow economic interests. Yet ‘corrupting’ seems a rather weak term for what is simply naked theft which at the same time negates the often stated pretence that the state is there to ensure individual rights are not trampled upon by the rich and powerful. In fact the Supreme Court ruling overtly institutionalises the fact that the police and courts are vehicles for the rich and powerful (business and governmental interests) to do whatever they wish if there is money to be made.

To understand how this could happen it helps if you realise that many Democrats these days take what is technically a fascist view of private property (that you are free to own property provided you further state objectives with it) rather than a socialist one (that all means of production should belong to the state). So next time a some hysterical Democrat from the Daily Kos tells you how important it is to prevent George Bush from adding some conservatives to the Supreme Court because of the need to safeguard civil liberties from The Wingnuts, understand that these same people actually have no problem from a civil liberties point of view with enriching already wealthy property developers at the expense of community churches and poor people. Exactly how this squares with their purported support for ‘the little guy’ (have you ever heard of a wealthy district full of stockbrokers and lawyers being bulldozed to make way for a Wal-Mart?) is an interesting question answered only via some impressive pretzel logic. In reality the Justices who stood up to corporate interests were ‘conservatives’. The fight to prevent eminent domain abuse now has to be conducted at State level now that the Federal battle has been lost to the corporatists.

But also many advocates of the Second Amendment talk about how private firearms are the ultimate bulwark against tyranny and injustice. Well maybe now it is time for them to walk the walk. Maybe if some of the people who make their living as ’eminent domain professionals’ were unable to scout out their targets in the most egregious of these cases without considerable personal risk, much like any criminal casing a property they intend to rob, then perhaps the true nature of what they are doing becomes harder to hide behind legal verbiage.

The only upside to this whole situation is the likely radicalising effect this ruling will have on people to whom civil liberties matter and to whom private property is the very corner stone of those liberties.

The many faces of Tony Blair

Listening to Tony Blair addressing the EU parliament is a rather strange experience. He calls for reform of spending and recognising economic reality whilst at the same time declaring that he is a ‘passionate European’ and saying that he supports the idea of an intrusive welfare state.

That Blair’s views on the need to ‘liberalise’ makes him a Thatcherite radical in the eyes of many Continental politicians shows how truly doomed to long term stagnation and irrelevance the EU really is. It also shows Blair’s wish to be all things to all people and why in the long run NuLabour cannot help but choke on its own contradictions just as the Tories have.