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

After Hurricane Sandy struck last fall, “Today” reporter Jeff Rossen did an exposé on how some contractors were “preying on” homeowners. How? By performing repair work without the proper licenses. Rossen found several contractors who lacked home-improvement licenses, but only one consumer who had been taken advantage of – and that was two months before Sandy struck. His big story boiled down to the fact that some Sandy-related tree removal and home repair work was carried out without prior government permission.

But wait – does Rossen have a license to practice journalism? Does he think journalists should be licensed? I reached out to Rossen by email. “What can I do for you?” he wrote back. But when I put those questions to him, he never responded – much like the unlicensed contractors he caught on camera. How scandalous!

A. Barton Hinkle

20 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    Firstly, does Barton Hinckle have a licence to ask questions of other people? Only then could he demand that ‘Journalists’ need to respond to him! The public WANTS TO KNOW!

  • Bit of a matrioska type doll question, innit.

    Good thing I don’t believe in licensing. Releases me from having to justify asking.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    As I like to point out, the Supreme Court’s decision in Heller found it permissible for the exercise of a constitutionally guaranteed right to be contingent on prior approval by the state. So why not journalism licenses?

  • Midwesterner

    I made sure I had certificates of insurance on file for all my subs (and myself). That is the only certification there is any need for. If your insurance underwriter is willing to gamble that you won’t drop a tree on a house, and willing pay for the damages if you do, what more is needed?

    Certainly the underwriter’s opinion is far more informed, useful and honest than any politician-created process. Insurance against third party liability* is the free market system for regulating trade and risky endeavors. (*counter party liability is addressed in the contract and may or may not stipulate coverage.)

    While we are discussing businesses that prey on people stuck by tragedy, is it appropriate to describe ‘journalists’ as “preying on” victims of tragedies?

  • Paul Marks

    Sadly vermin such as Jeff Rosen would, most likely, SUPPORT the idea of “qualified” journalists – correctly “educated” in “Schools of Journalism”.

  • veryretired

    It’s the narrative—individuals and/or private companies are fraudulent threats, and only the intercession of benevolent state licensing/authorizing cadres can protect and save us from them.

    It is repeated endlessly, in every conceivable venue, about every possible issue, so that it has become the reflexive, automatic assumption in every situation.

    Breaking that connection is one of our most imperative tasks.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Very: You have it in a nutshell.

  • Paul Marks


  • I seem to remember that when John Dillinger was being hunted by the police and the FBI, he accompanied his gangsters moll Polly into the Chicago PD to get her waitress’s licence.

    Link to Bryan Burrough’s book

    So if you had to license waitresses in the 1930’s, why not politicians?

    Hey Obama! Where’s your Presidents License? You got $14 trillion in professional indemnity insurance for that?

  • Julie near Chicago

    Very interesting, JG. Not surprising though–I’m not sure the Windy City* ever was run by actual biological humans. And thanks for the link. :>)

    *”Windy City,” it is said, because Chicago’s politicians had a national reputation for windiness well before the Turn of the 20th Century.

  • Julie near Chic .ago

    President’s License … Application refs not checked … Constitution–only sometimes … TP … TP … TP … SHUT UP … !!!

  • Julie near Chicago

    Apologies, Perry & Admin. I forgot to check. But it really was I–you can tell by the complaint. 😉

  • veryretired

    Somewhat related, there’s an article by two economists discussing the conventional wisdom that the state is needed to repair imperfect markets, and arguing that that assumption is not necessarily correct. I found a link to the article at NRO.

    The point being that statist solutions are so imperfect themselves, it is hard to actually believe they are better, unless that belief is a matter of ideology, not evidence.

    We are confronted by two, or more, pervasive ideological constructs that claim to answer any and all questions, if only everyone would suspend their own judgement, and submit to the will of either god or mammon.

    Oddly enough, that will always turns out to be the same as the desires of the ruling elite, and expressed through political coercion.

    Funny how that works out.

  • Paul Marks

    Julie – I have been told than an honest and decent person was once Mayor of Chicago, back in the mid 1920s (and he was a Democrat to boot).

    The name of the man escapes me – but how did he manage to become Mayor? Surely the dead would not have voted for him – and the dead normally decide elections in Chicago.

  • llamas

    Times of great natural disaster, when many of the normal mechanisms of life are disrupted, are the most-important times for the state to aggressively assert its authority in every possible way – before the citizens get a chance to see that things can actually work just fine without the state’s intervention.

    Remember how we were all going to die the day after the sequester? Children would starve, planes would fall from the sky, millions would be thrown out of work . . . . .

    I listened to this live on my drive to work yesterday and almost wrecked the car from laughing so hard.


    A month after the mass disaster of a 2% reduction in the rate of spending increase, and the worst thing that notoriously-liberal NPR can find to report on is that some no-account airfield in some forgotten corner of Georgia is going to lose its part-time air-traffic controllers. Oh, the horror . . . .

    The more chances that the populace get to see what happens without the intervention of the state, the more chances for them to see that the state is generally a hindrance and not a help. Can’t have that.



  • Julie near Chicago


    Per WikiFootia, a William Emmett Dever was the only Democratic mayor in the 20’s — his term was 1923-1927.

    I can’t say I ever heard of him.

    . . .

    The people for whom the small general-aviation airports are their home base generally hate their completely unnecessary towers, unless things have changed a lot lately.

  • Paul Marks

    I have heard that under Mayor Dever the mobsters fled Chicago – into the once respectable town of Cicero.

    Hence the line in the old Hollywood movies.

    “I am not from Chicago – I am from Cicero Illinois” (spoken with a strong Chicago accent).

    If Mayor Dever was actually an honest man, that does raise the question of how he managed to become Mayor……

  • BigFatFlyingBloke

    As I like to point out, the Supreme Court’s decision in Heller found it permissible for the exercise of a constitutionally guaranteed right to be contingent on prior approval by the state. So why not journalism licenses?

    Considering you need a state granted license to be a practicing Lawyer why does it not surprise me that some old Judges who are, well, Lawyers made this decision?