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

Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.

― Frédéric Bastiat, The Law

Just a periodic reminder from Frédéric 😉

16 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Alsadius

    But I was told that “Government is simply the name we give to the things we choose to do together”!

  • “Government is simply the name we give to the things we choose to do together at gunpoint” 😉

  • Fraser Orr

    @Alsadius
    “Government is simply the name we give to the things we choose to do together”!

    If “we choose to do it together” you don’t need the government. After all you don’t need government when I have a pot luck dinner at my house, or when I get together with some partners to start a business, or where me and my friends go on a trip to Vegas.

    Government is “where we chose what you will do”. And woe betide he would would deny the collective will.

    I was thinking about this regarding that link someone posted about a $30,000 fine for not cutting your lawn. It reminds me that the worst offense is to disobey.

    “Government is what we do together” is just a smoke screen to disguise the truth, that government is bullying, violence and force. Which isn’t to say it is entirely illegitimate, some things do demand a response with such extreme measures. Not though, perhaps, the length of one’s grass.

  • Bell Curve

    “Government is what we do together” is just a smoke screen to disguise the truth

    And I’m also certain Alsadius would agree based on previous form

  • pete

    We object to a state broadcaster but socialists know we don’t object to any broadcasting at all.

    Only the broadcasting which is good for us.

  • pete (June 19, 2019 at 3:04 pm) has a point. How far do socialists actually think no national health service means no health and how far do they merely find it convenient to contrast the NHS with nothing rather than with what existed in the year the NHS was created?

    Natalie has a book which details the Labour party’s literature (mid-to-late 40s) on why the NHS would be great. One can deduce much about what the system they were nationalising was already achieving by what that literature does and does not say.

    Bastiat is right about the trend of socialist thought, but it commingles with pete’s point that our choices must be directed (to ‘higher’ ends, of course) where something would exist without the state, and with my point that wanting to believe that the alternative to socialism is mere absence flows naturally into a propaganda claim when they are aware that “it ain’t necessarily so” but have votes to win.

  • Runcie Balspune

    “Government is simply the name we give to the things we choose to do together”

    Quite, but socialists have a habit of taking something that comprises of people, and making it a separate entity, therefore things that are good for the “government” or the “state” are actually different to being good for the people it comprises, “society” no longer encompasses individuals, the state rises above it all.

    Socialism makes its god by the deification of the state, and its leftist high priests channel its wishes for us to do its bidding.

  • Flubber

    How far do socialists actually think no national health service means no health and how far do they merely find it convenient to contrast the NHS with nothing rather than with what existed in the year the NHS was created?

    Same thing happens when you try to suggest alternatives to the NHS. They go straight to the dysfunctional US model and ignore the decent French one.

  • Gavin Longmuir

    Flubber: “They go straight to the dysfunctional US model …”

    You mean, like Mick Jagger went straight to New York when he needed heart surgery back in April?

  • bobby b

    “You mean, like Mick Jagger went straight to New York when he needed heart surgery back in April?”

    Thank you. It does get tiring to hear that our system – in which no one dies for lack of treatment, and which manages to produce quite a bit of cutting-edge improvement for the world – is somehow dysfunctional. Is our system for selling cars dysfunctional? Food? Houses? There are no monopolies, we can go elsewhere if the quoted price is too high.

    I have a friend working down at the Mayo Clinic who tells me he meets so many interesting Canadians . . .

  • Fraser Orr

    bobby b
    Thank you. It does get tiring to hear that our system – in which no one dies for lack of treatment, and which manages to produce quite a bit of cutting-edge improvement for the world

    Something that just doesn’t ever seem to come up in the discussions on this is that the reason healthcare costs less in non US countries is because the American medical consumer massively subsidizes the world of medicine for everyone else. Just as a simple example, since the second world war 91 Americans have received Nobel prizes in medicine verses 74 non Americans, and, based on my rough count, about half of those 74 conducted their research in American universities. Because the marginal cost to development cost is so tiny there are lots of ways to redistribute that development cost so that the American consumer pays a vastly disproportionate share.

    I have a friend who is a type 1 diabetic. Her insulin costs her about $250-$400 a month (and the price goes up far faster than inflation), but she could, if she were allowed to, buy exactly the same stuff in Mexico for $10. Well not exactly the same — the label is in Spanish.

    I am a bit disappointed in our President in this regards, although he has made some weak moves in the right direction. The price of drugs in the USA could be solved literally overnight with only administrative actions at the FDA. Simply allow American consumers to buy their drugs from overseas pharmacies. Overnight prices would equalize with world prices (which, of course, means that everyone else’s prices would go up.) The FDA provides an extraordinarily powerful mechanism of price discrimination which drug companies exploit and that is why the prices are so high. (And of course patents make the whole situation vastly worse.)

    So American medicine is among the best in the world (though places like Thailand aren’t far behind — for tourists anyway) but the pricing is an utter mess due to massive interference by the government. The idea that we have a free market healthcare system is laughable. Almost everything anyone in the medical business does from band aids to brain scanners, from nurses to neurosurgeons, is brutally regulated by the government.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Fraser:

    Something that just doesn’t ever seem to come up in the discussions on this is that the reason healthcare costs less in non US countries is because the American medical consumer massively subsidizes the world of medicine for everyone else.

    Can one person tie with himself for Samizdata Quote of the Year? !!!

    Richard Epstein (I think, but won’t swear, it was) made this exact point in the case of medicines, several years ago. I think I’ve read the same elsewhere.

    Speaking of neo-neocon, the very issue of BernieCare is under discussion at

    CORRECTION:

    https://www.thenewneo.com/2019/06/19/as-our-left-demands-socialist-health-care-the-scandinavian-countries-move-towards-increased-private-coverage/

  • I have seen Fraser Orr’s point (at June 20, 2019 at 3:05 am) from the British side. Stories over the years via my family and friend connections to the NHS and the UK pharma industry do suggest that something about the UK was not proving a great prop to medical research long before Brexit came along to be given some of the blame.

  • Gavin Longmuir

    Fraser O: “The price of drugs in the USA could be solved literally overnight with only administrative actions at the FDA. Simply allow American consumers to buy their drugs from overseas pharmacies. Overnight prices would equalize with world prices (which, of course, means that everyone else’s prices would go up.)”

    That is one scenario. Here is another — following the FDA action, the US market gets flooded with low-priced copies made in India & China (whether legally or not), and R&D for new drugs comes to a grinding halt. We all know that most of the price of a drug is in the R&D, testing, & approval process — and that the successful drugs have to carry the costs for the lost expenditures on other drugs that never make it to commercial sales. At the moment, most of that cost recovery happens only in the US market. Take away the potential to recover those costs, and the incentive for the development of new drugs dies.

    The problem, as Fraser correctly points out, is the rest of the world free-riding on the backs of over-burdened Americans. This may be only one example of situations which made sense for the US at the end of WWII when Europe was on its knees and China & India were backwards & poverty-stricken. It was generous then for the US to carry most of the costs of medical R&D, and most of the costs of the UN, and most of the costs of policing the world, and most of the costs of NATO …. . Now the US can’t afford that anymore, the rest of the world is going to have to start carrying its share of the freight.

  • Eric

    But I was told that “Government is simply the name we give to the things we choose to do together”!

    I make sure to mention this to my leftist friends whenever we go to war or there’s a major government scandal.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes the left do try and destroy the distinction between state and society – indeed it is part of the very definition of a leftist to do that.

    However, this is not just a matter of calling the state “society” – it is also a matter of corrupting society by corrupting the independence of non state enterprises.

    Are the “private” television stations in the United Kingdom really better than the BBC? No-they-are-not – as “Ofcom” makes sure that Sky and so on are also leftist. But the Quangos and so on do not have to work very hard – because most modern Corporations and so on are dominated by managers who have been “educated” (brainwashed) with leftist doctrines as school and university.

    The “equality agenda” pushing “stake holders” (and so on) is at the core of what modern enterprises are normally about (making a profit is an after thought now “stakeholders not shareholders”).

    This started with “mission statements” and so – but has become vastly more radical.

    We now live in a world where it is considered normal (indeed highly moral) for corporations to denounce political and cultural dissent against the left – and to make all sorts of threats against dissenters.

    The expression of conservative political or cultural opinions (even years ago) can lead to the dismissal of employees – and this is considered moral (not immoral – not EVIL).

    “Repressive Tolerance” (what Herbert Marcuse considered Freedom of Speech to be – “repressive” because to allow anti “Progressive” thoughts to be expressed was against the “equality agenda” as it would be called today) is now the mainstream position of “capitalist” companies.

    Facebook, Twitter, Google, Mastercard (yes Mastercard – one of only two major payment clearing companies in the West, the other being Visa) and many of the banks see it as their rule to CRUSH “Repressive Tolerance”, by crushing “Hate Speech” – i.e. speech the left does not agree with.

    In the 1960s this was the position of a few Marxist academics (such as Herbert Marcuse), now it is the mainstream position of the Corporate world.

    “But it is insane – the businessmen are supporting doctrines that will lead to their own MURDER and the MURDER of their own families”.

    Yes I know that – but the head of Facebook does not know that, and neither do the executives of Mastercard or the big BANKS.

    The basic institutions of society, both business and non business (such as charities and churches) are now working every day for the destruction of society – these people are working for their own murder and for the murder of their own families. And they do not even know it.

    For example, Google (a search engine) rigs search results to favour the left – it did so in the 2018 Congressional elections (people doing a search on the names of the Democrat and Republican candidates in contests were led to stuff that was favourable to the Democrat candidate in a contest – and hostile to the Republican candidate).

    A search engine (Google is really nothing much else than a search engine) rigging the result of searches. In a sane world that would DESTROY Google – but in this world the establishment see nothing wrong with rigging search results on political grounds, not if it supports the “equality agenda”.

    Please think about this…..

    Google executives (like other executives of other companies) are subjected to “protests” from the left in San Francisco and other places – they can hear the leftists screaming for their blood (“Eat the Rich” is meant literally). Yet the executives are so “educated” that they just carry on supporting the left – even supporting the criminal gangs (vast “Social Justice” criminal gangs) that have been responsible for thousands of kidnappings and murders in Latin America and are now gaining power in the United States. This is who the “Sanctuary Cities” and “Sanctuary States” movement encourages.

    The business executives, and the RICH in general, are openly shown what the left have in mind for them (robbery, and the rape and murder of their families) and STILL support the left.

    The same is true of the people who make up the other institutions of civil society – such as the churches.

    And it is not just in San Francisco and New York City – it is just about everywhere.

    “Would you support the Social Justice Equality Agenda even if it means the eventual rape and murder of your own families” is the question the rich (and the non rich) are being asked.

    And for many of the rich (the “liberal”, “educated” rich) the answer is clearly YES.

    “Enlightened” “liberal” opinion in London is not different – even as the Social Justice gangs grow in power and their murderous violence becomes obvious.

    And it will not just be the rich – it will be people in general.

    The left promise a “new society” – but all the left will produce is ashes and dried blood.

    This is what the “equality agenda” really means – it means death, for only in death are humans truly equal.

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