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

The point of free markets is to allow free action in the economic sphere so that people (individually and working together) can achieve their objectives. For some this might be more family life and less work; for others an interest in eating organic produce; some people might want to work for a co-operative (even if their productivity and wages were lower); and so on. All sorts of people – not just women – make choices that reduce their measured productivity, hours worked and wages and so do not maximise measured economic growth.I work for a charity and not a hedge fund; my wife teaches French and decided not to be a lawyer. My wife works shorter hours than me. We both work shorter hours than the Chief Executive of Goldman Sachs. Would Nicky Morgan have a problem with this?

In a free society, labour market outcomes are a product of preferences. Women may well prefer to work more flexible hours, shorter hours, closer to home, in jobs that fit in better with child care, and so on. Some women may wish to give up work altogether for a period of time (perhaps for life). Others might not. But, if women choose to combine family-friendly work with family life, this does not damage the economy or reduce productivity. It is the outcome of people’s own preferences: and, acting in accordance with their preferences, people maximise their welfare. These decisions are often taken despite the fact that the state heavily weights the dice against women choosing to work at home, both by the shape of the tax and benefits system and the existence of state-subsidised childcare.

Phil Booth, knocking it for six at the IEA

26 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • pete

    Free markets and a small state led to slavery for nearly all of human existence.

    We had to modify free markets for slavery to be abolished.

    A return to free markets means a return to slavery.

  • pete, that is completely delusional on every level. Indeed it is a real contender for the daftest comment on Samizdata since Samizdata added comments way back when.

  • Toastrider

    His definition of slavery probably includes ‘actually having to work for a living’, Perry.

  • Schrodinger's Dog


    One of the absolute, core principles of libertarianism is “no coercion”. And I cannot think of a greater form of coercion than one man forcing another to be his slave.

    If that’s too abstract for you, the demise of slavery was hastened by free-market economics: studies showed that paid workers, who were free to leave their employment if they so chose, were more productive than slaves.

  • SD, one of the absolute, core principles of free markets is “slaves make really terrible customers”.

  • Alisa

    And never mind that slavery would not have existed for very long without the protection of the State – ‘free market’ my eye.

  • Runcie Balspune

    Slavery was abolished by technology, a by product of free markets as it strives for efficiency for profit, and machines were becoming more productive than unskilled coerced humans. In fact the reverse of pete’s assumption is true; big states stop progress as they empower those who act in their own self interest – they defer freedom, they prolong slavery and they create more slaves.

  • Wil

    Slaves makes for a very sloppy work force and a rebellious one at that .

  • Dom

    Slavery exists in North Korea, hardly a small state, and hardly capitalism.

  • I further point out that socialism, in all its varients, is an ideology of universal slavery.

  • Laird

    Well, I see that Pete got in the first shot here and successfully hijacked the thread, diverting it from a celebration of women’s free-market choices to an argument over slavery. Completely irrelevant to the posted quote, as well as demonstrating ignorance of both economics and history, he nonetheless succeeded in stirring the pot and getting everyone worked up over nothing.

    Well played, sir!

  • I even further point out that, as a (liberal, libertarian, supporter of freedom) I do not support free markets per se, as an end in themselves. I also suspect that no one else who haunts this parish does either. Instead, I support (freedom, liberty, non coercion), and free exchange of goods, services, information and ideas, or free markets are an emergent property of any society based on this principle.

    So, even if what pete said had some validity in purely economic terms, in the context of the principles which underlie both my aims, and that of this site, he is talking pure ignorant and unadulterated bilge.

  • Niall Kilmartin

    As regards the real subject of the post, it is both comical and typical that some PCers simultaneously call it prejudice if others speak favourably of once-preferred roles for women and think it no prejudice in them to do more than just speak favourably of the roles they’d prefer women to adopt. However the good news is that, while it’s a symptom of PC’s evil that feminism always comes last in PC-land, easily trumped by anti-islamophobia, anti-racism and anti-homophobia in that order whenever a choice is made, the result is that my “more than speak” (though it could be justified I think), cannot offer examples to match the other three. Maybe feminism should rebrand itself as anti-masculism of suchlike; PCers seem better at hating than praising so maybe you need to be anti-Y rather than (pro-)-X to light their fire.

    (As regards improperly-far-off-topic-Pete, there was a long discussion about slavery and PC ideas on Natalie’s blog back in January and February 2006 (she posted several commenting emails plus her own thoughts. Go to http://nataliesolent.blogspot.co.uk/2006_02_01_archive.html and scroll down to the very first post in the month to get a one-post indication of it, then go back to January or forwards in February to find more stuff.)

  • Stonyground

    I apologize in advance for being slightly OT and hoping that I don’t derail the thread as well. I heard a rather chilling remark during a discussion about the NHS on the BBC this morning. If we can’t find the money to properly fund the NHS we will have to reduce the demand for it. Socialized healthcare, well socialized anything really, in a nutshell. The state has taken over the provision of something, can’t deliver, so you plebs are going to have to learn to live without it.

  • staghounds

    Isn’t the whole point of a “health care system” to improve general health and thus reduce demand?

    It might be better to refer to what we now call health care as “money for doctors, hospitals, and drug companies”.

    The innate problem with “free” health care is that the people providing the product decide how much of the product the ignorant-about-the-product customer needs. Without any cost to the consumer, everyone needs all the health care the state will pay the prescriber to provide.

    If we had a “National Automotive Service”, we would all be driving Veyrons, which would go into the shop for a week every time they ran low on petrol.

  • Well, I see that Pete got in the first shot here and successfully hijacked the thread, diverting it from a celebration of women’s free-market choices to an argument over slavery. Completely irrelevant to the posted quote

    Yes I should have just deleted it as being both preposterous and off-topic.

  • lucklucky

    The point of the free markets is the word free in the markets. If there are slaves that is not a free transaction. There is one person there that is not free.

    Pete doesn’t seem to understand. Maybe he is one of those persons that say that Somalia is Libertarian without understanding what Libertarian means.

    It was in Mercantilism – a state regulated system – that resisted to end slavery in West while instead Free Marketeers wanted to end Slavery. So the inverse of what Pete argues.


  • Paul Marks

    Good post.

  • Julie near Chicago


    Maybe he is one of those persons that say that Somalia is Libertarian without understanding what Libertarian means.

    A great light dawns! I am in receipt of a dreadful article from Commonweal, a self-proclaimed “Progressive Catholic magazine,” sent to me by a philosophy prof who was a classmate of mine in high school. Entitled “Libertarianism’s Iron Cage,” by an Alan Wolfe, who clearly doesn’t know the first thing about libertarianism. For instance,

    Libertarianism, however, is not just a set of policy prescriptions, but an ideology. It is, moreover, a total ideology, one that addresses every aspect of how people live. There is a libertarian way of riding a bicycle, of taking your medicine, finding a spouse, giving blood, and even calling a cab (can you say, “Uber?”).

    The thing is, luckylucky, I’ll bet you’re right, at least as regards the phil. prof. (And our classmate the SJW lawyer.) They probably do think Somalia is Libertopia. They did seem to think libertarians eat babies, when we had dinner together two or three weeks ago.


  • Tedd

    The point of free markets is to allow free action in the economic sphere so that…

    I’m probably reading more into this than was intended, but I’ve never been comfortable with consequentialist arguments for the free market. Not that they aren’t true, necessarily, but to me they are beside the point. The point of free markets is that people have a right to the fruits of their labour, and if you can’t trade those fruits freely then you don’t really have own them as of right. Free markets would still be the right thing to do even if it could be shown that something else produced greater wealth, or greater “fairness,” or whatever other measure you choose.

  • Tedd

    Sorry, “own them” not “have own them.” Poor editing.

  • Alisa

    Tedd, you have not read too much into it – unfortunately, you seem to have totally misread it. His point is fundamentally the same as yours, only he does not bring in the rights issue, which in my opinion is a better way to frame the argument. Rights only have meaning in a social context – and so what do you do when a person you are trying to convince does not recognize the rights you take for granted? Well, it seems to me that the next best thing is bringing up the utilitarian arguments, tailoring them to the particular preferences of the person you are trying to convince.

  • Tedd


    …unfortunately, you seem to have totally misread it.

    What non-consequentialist argument in that article did I miss?

    [W]hat do you do when a person you are trying to convince does not recognize the rights you take for granted?

    I explain my point of view and hope I can convince them to accept it.

    Weirdly (to me), in practice the people who challenge my rights-based views on property are usually other libertarians. Progressives, and even mild socialists, don’t generally object to them. So far as I can tell, all the progressives I know support a more or less Lockean theory of property. That common ground of principle opens the door for me to explain my thinking about free markets to them without violating values they already hold. I’ve found that to be a lot more successful than consequentialist arguments about the results of free markets, which they have likely spent a lifetime absorbing propaganda against.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Must be something in the water up there, Tedd. My recent run-in with a Convinced SJW indicated that neither property rights nor the moral status of the individual had anything to do with anything. “Yes,” I was told, “but we are social animals and we need society.”

    And it had been made clear at the outset that the concept of “entrepreneur” was not worthy of consideration.

    Who needs free markets when you can have ObamaCare.

  • Tedd


    Persuading a “Convinced SJW” is a different goal line than I’m aiming for, and perhaps one you’re unlikely to succeed in reaching. I’m talking about a garden-variety progressive (or liberal, in American terms; Liberal or non-ideological NDP voter, in Canadian terms). A solid majority of the people I know fall into that category, and I have often found them to be persuadable by the kind of argument I described, at least to some degree. Are they suddenly going to turn around and start campaigning for free markets? Not likely. But they will at least walk away from the conversation with a slightly different idea of what free markets are, and a better understanding that a lot of the things they object to aren’t actually characteristics or products of the free market. More importantly, they’ll see that actual free markets don’t conflict with values they already hold, which they did not know before the conversation.