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

If you don’t own your own body, I shudder to think of the implications of the tragedy of the commons.

– Commenter “charles austin”, here. Read about those implications here. The mills of incentives grind slow but they grind exceeding small.

15 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Paul Marks

    A real thing – because collectivism does NOT stop at goods (it an not).

    Historically demands for “all goods in common” included “all women held in common” – for example the insane chaos that engulfed the Persian Empire a few years before the Islamic conquest.

    “Ah that is just because they were sexist”.

    Was it?

    How about a modern example.

    How is Obamacare supposed to work (long term) if doctors are not FORCED to accept government paid for people?

    If doctors are just allowed to make individual (or family) contracts with people – that is what they will do.

    They will say “pay me so much per year – and I will treat you (and accept the higher cost if you get ill)” and such contracts may develop into lifelong relationships (either individually or with churches, clubs and fraternities).

    After all, in the pre private insurance company days, that is what happened.

    What doctors would CHOOSE the insane bureaucracy of the Federal government if they are not FORCED to do so?

    Just confiscating the money and goods of doctors is not enough.

    They must be made SLAVES – forced to accept (and treat) those the government sends to them.

    “It will never happen”.

    It has already has happened.

    With the Emergency Room Act of the 1980s – someone turns up to your PRIVATE hospital and you MUST treat them (slavery).

    Now individual doctors are told they MUST perform abortions (even if they regard this as murder). Such orders have not yet “stuck” legally – but the pushing keeps happening (and new Judges are being appointed).

    The whole of the modern (post 1964) “Civil Rights” doctrine is based upon SLAVERY.

    Being told you MUST serve a client (or else the government hits you) is SLAVERY. You are no longer allowed to choose your own clients.

    And the government must do this – if it is to achieve its objectives.

    After all just stealing your shop (or whatever) is not enough – you might start again.

    The government must steal your BODY (make you a slave) to achieve its objectives.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes – an honest collectivist (one who accepts that collectivism is slavery) could simply reply…..

    “Prove slavery is wrong!”.

    To those who demand such “proof” all fundamental moral matters (such as the evilness of slavery) are impossible to “prove”.

    That is why it was so tragic that Ben Franklin’s advice (settle with the Southern slave owners NOW – pay them whatever it is, just settle NOW) was so important – and it was so tragic that his advice was ignored.

    In the late 18th century the leaders of the South accepted that slavery was an evil – they just were making a fuss over details (such as how much compensation they should get – no compensation for the slaves of course, just for the slave OWNERS).

    By the mid 19th century slave owners (the new generation) had shifted their position.

    It was no longer “of course slavery is wrong – but……”

    It was now – “slavery is a positive good – PROVE it is not!”

    With the former one can make a deal – and one should make a deal.

    With the latter one can only settle the matter with cannon and rifle.

    And YES – I know what this means with the modern slavers, the modern defenders of slavery.

    For example with the New Mexico judge who says that the “price of citizenship” is that a photographer (a private business person) should photograph whoever the state orders them to work for – for example a lesbian couple whom he did not wish to work for.

    One can not “reason” with such a judge – as the foundations they are starting from are fundamentally different.

    To them “freedom of association – freedom of contract” (i.e. the right to say “no” to not to associate) mean nothing.

    “Slavery is a positive good” to such people – it is the “price of citizenship” (at least one big selling Southern writer made this argument before the Civil War – EVERYONE should be a slave so the Northern “capitalists” could have no argument – see “Cannibals All – Slaves Without Masters”).

    When one is dealing with one of the “Slavery is a positive good!” crowd one is forced back to bullet and shell.

  • Mr Ed

    @ Paul, here is an article on The Emergency Room and Active Labor Act, which appears to be quite authoritative.

    It seems that the obligation is more a form of haphazard serfdom, and the Act only applies to hospitals with emergency rooms that took Medicare funds (i.e. all 98% of them).

    Here is some information on the Act’s provisions, with a nice observation on sanctions, which seem to be civil, but also loss of Medicare money, and I like:

    A physician who is on call and who fails or refuses to appear after being called by an E.R. physician (or other physician) may be subject to a penalty under the statute, or may subject his hospital to a penalty. The wording of this section [1395dd(d)(1)(C)] is so garbled as to be virtually indecipherable.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    I don’t know if it was deliberate, but the above quote touches on one of the most threatening and overlooked aspects of everyday authoritarianism.

    It was recently exemplified by my sister-in-law. She has fallen out with my brother-in-law because he just had a 5th kid. He has a job, but through things like child tax credits she is convinced that hard working people like her and her husband are bankrolling her brother’s reproductive profligacy. Her solution? They shouldn’t be allowed to have 5 children.

    My wife tried to point out to her that the state spending your money on things you don’t like is not an argument for making you Empress over everyone else’s life, it is an argument for scrapping non-voluntary taxation. This fell on deaf ears.

    It is such an insidious doctrine I have even seen it espoused within the pages of Samizdata itself. It is often in the form of “Well, it’s not ideal that I have to pay X tax, but if I absolutely must pay that tax then I want a say on how it is spent, who gets to use it, and how the recipients are allowed to live”. Which is ironic, because even the beneficiaries of the state’s largesse usually did not ask for it. Making chattels out of them simply to salve the wounded pride of taxpayers wont do anything to solve the root problem.

    A dictatorship of begrudging taxpayers would still be a dictatorship.

  • Mr Ed

    JV a good point, if your s-i-l wants a say over how her money is spent, the only means is by cutting taxes so it remains her money. It’s not clear of she and your b-i-l are siblings, I hope not.

    Similarly it is often said that taxpayers’ money wasted on X could have been spent on Y, e.g. Nurses, or more flower vases for hospital patients to drink out of when the extra nurses make it worse, rather than the money being left where it is owned.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Paul: could you provide a link or a reference about that Persian Empire story? the decline and fall of great empires is morbidly fascinating.

    WRT the main point of this post, i suppose that i’ll have to be the first to mention forced sterilization of undesirables.

    Jaded: actually i don’t think that the doctrine you mention is “insidious”, it’s just that it should not lead to demonization of unwitting beneficiaries of State largesse, let alone to family quarrels.

  • Paul Marks

    Alas Snorri – no book springs to mind, but it was a religious heresy, that hit the Empire some years before the Islamic conquest.

    Of course the wars with the Byzantines also undermined the strength of the Persian Empire – and the Byzantines were convulsed by their own internal religions divisions although the Byzantine theological disputes to have been purely theological and involved no economic and social dimension.

    The Byzantines really do appear to be as Gibbon related them – a mixture of weird complicated court politics (Byzantine politics indeed) which could, for example put a 12 year old on the throne at a time when the Islamists were over running the Empire. And an obsession with theological detail (no latitudinarian spirit) that would have made God turned away in boredom.

    Mr Ed.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes Mr Ed – government money always means strings in the end. Which is why Hillsdale is wise to shun it.

    But they will catch people one way or another – “you used a government road” or “it is the price of citizenship” or whatever….


    The government help not being asked for…….

    Formally speaking it usually is asked for – for example no one forces people to take Food Stamps.

    But once it is there – if is hard (very hard) not to take it.

    Then the door is opened….

    “You should not be using Food Stamps to buy this – you should buy that…..” (and on and on).

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    for example no one forces people to take Food Stamps

    Not sure that’s quite true. They completely destroy economies with their Supreme Soviet-style central planning, to the point that many people struggle to put food on the table. I’m not sure that taking a handout or starving really qualifies as a choice.

  • Paul Marks

    JV – that is true. And the saying goes “first they smash your face in – then they say you were always ugly”.

    Mr Ed – do not be so hard on the Islamists.

    One head looks much like another head – particular when they have cut off so many.

    So this time they cut off the head of a friend (not a foe) – it is just another head, and they meant well.

    By the way – to be serious for a moment……

    The Syrian government also relies on Islamists – just Shia ones (from Lebanon and Iran) rather than Sunni ones.

  • Paul Marks

    Meanwhile the “successful” part of Obamacare, more and more people on MEDICAID, continues.

    How is this to be paid for?

    And, as doctors HATE working under the Medicaid bureaucracy, how are medical staff going to be de facto conscripted to serve the state?

  • DocMartyn

    I have worked in hospitals in Britain and the US.
    If you are a crap surgeon in the US you hospital will fire you and you will end up running the cuts/scrapes/stabbings unit in a community center, because the hospital admin don’t want to get sued.
    In the NHS they promote you, so that you have less theater time, and you have shorter operating slots, so you do less complex procedures.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Just posted at Counting Cats: A video from 2010 in which Richard Epstein gives a wonderfully lucid hour-long explanation of why the Health Fraud Act would necessarily implode, dragging the U.S. even deeper into the darkness as it went down. He shows what’s wrong with the theory of the thing, and its predictable results — rather than arguing its moral status, although moral issues do peep round the door here and there — in his usual rapid-fire style. One of his best, and one with which the main quibble would be with his infatuation with Pareto. But it really doesn’t depend on that.


  • Julie near Chicago

    By the way — he also says the British and Canadian systems are actually less bad than the (then-proposed) U.S. system.