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

Looking back, what I most clearly remember now about the febrile atmosphere of February and March last year was my own naïve optimism. I knew that some people were panicking. But I ascribed this to social media-led melodrama that would soon blow over. And I genuinely thought I was part of a silent majority of sensible people who weren’t getting swept up in the frenzy. I don’t think I appreciated at the time that I am, actually, a bit unusual: my father died of the ‘flu, so the idea that respiratory viruses can really be quite nasty was not a shock to me; I have lived through a bona fide life-threatening natural disaster and know what an actual catastrophe looks like; I don’t have any social media accounts so my antennae have not been borked by echo chambers; I have spent a long time overseas so I don’t imbue the NHS with quasi-religious significance or see it as my duty to ‘protect’ it; I have read my Hayek, my Bastiat, my Friedman, my Smith, and I am predisposed to value freedom and limited government. I hadn’t realised that I was somewhat different from my countrymen in these respects. So I was genuinely flabbergasted on March 23rd when it turned out people were actually going along with the nonsense. And since then I have found myself constantly surprised at just how out of step I am with the people around me.

David McGroggan, Associate Professor of Law, Northumbria Law School

12 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Yes, quite. Despite my underlying cynicism, I was still surprised by the eagerness with which my fellow countrymen accepted totalitarianism. Embraced even. And the willingness to vilify any dissent and to spy on and report neighbours, the stupidity with which they uncritically accepted whatever bullshit the likes of Ferguson, Vallance and Whitty spouted even when the evidence for it being wrong was staring them in the face. This has been the year when junk science became the national religion. My mild misanthropy of last year has morphed into loathing.

  • […] One year since this insanity started. Think all I can do is repeat the comment I left over at Samizdata. […]

  • David Bishop

    Lockdown Sceptics is an island of calm good sense surrounded by a turbid pool of frothing and heaving Covid irrationality. David McGroggan’s is one of the many fine pieces in their year-end summary, The First Anniversary of “Three Weeks to Flatten the Curve”.

    Like David McGroggan I now feel isolated from many if not most of my fellow men, and at my age (early 70s) I am concerned that normal rational behaviour will not return in my lifetime. The Overton Window has not simply moved; it has been wrenched out of its rational frame entirely.

    Mike Hearn’s piece further down the page is an excoriating takedown of the appalling statistical modelling at the heart of the initial analysis which informed the government.

    A financial journalist makes the same point: “Epidemiologists remind me of modern economists, likewise addicted to mathematical models whose dubious inputs guarantee unreliable forecasts. Both these academic disciplines appear to have banished common sense.”

    To which one only has to add a third so-called discipline: climate science.

  • X Trapnel

    ‘Flattening the Curve’ started off as a policy designed to get the numbers/projected numbers of deaths or critically-ill cases down to roughly the level of critical-care bed space. The difference between, say, an ocean liner hitting a 40-foot wave, and an ocean liner hitting, say, a wall of water a quarter of a mile high.

    Over time, and quickly, to tackle a critical incident for which no playbook beyond the Precautionary Principle existed, a government policy intent on ‘flattening the curve’ changed to mean exactly what it says: flattening it – as in “flatten your hair, Johnson, you unspeakable hobbledehoy” – with similarly successful results.

    There is now no concept in government circles of acceptable levels of Bad Shit Going Down on our Watch. They think ‘Saving Lives’ means ‘eliminating death’. The Greeks had a word for pride like that. It was associated with more than just a wee tumble afterwards.

  • Confucious

    “Flattening the Curve” in the sense of ensuring:
    Covid Cases Serious Enough to Require an Intensive Care Slot < Available Intensive Care Beds
    was reasonable enough. If there's more cases than treatment spots, then you have deaths that could have been prevented if those cases had been more spread out time wise. As was figuring lockdowns may be necessary to ensure that without the benefit of hindsight.
    However when in Sweden where during the 1st wave the "Covid Cases Serious Enough to Require an Intensive Care Slot" figure never went above 3/4ths of Swedens total amount of "Available Intensive Care Beds" the latter not even counting a military field hospital that was erected in a park in Stockholm just in case, they became unjustified in my view. Expect of course by then most of Europes Civil Servants, Academics, Journalists and others working in de-jure or de-facto recession-proof gouvernment jobs aka people who don't have to worry about loosing a paycheck due to lockdowns and have disproportionate political power, had long since convinced themselves the virus can be squashed if they just lock down hard and long enough. And the rest if history.
    They say never to attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence, but it seems to me that most of the hysterical reporting about Sweden being about to collapse into a Post-Apocalyptic-Black-Death hellspace "any day now" since April 2020 was intended to hopefully scare us into not becoming Europe's control group.

  • DP

    Dear Samizdata Illuminatus (Arkham, Massachusetts)

    All I can do is repeat my comment at Mr Longrider’s blog:

    Zero unhappy returns on this anniversary of a day of infamy.

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/189200946@N04/50998039340/in/dateposted-public/

    Note that 85+ and 75-84 weekly deaths are now below the average of the previous 5 years (-525 and -124). Only the 45-64 age group is significantly above the average: +219.

    I despise my government and all who grow rich within it at our expense.

    Trashing the economy is a small part of the cost: they have trashed our society and culture, they have destroyed the very meaning and purpose of life itself; social gatherings of social beings, meeting up with friends and relatives, celebrating births, marriages and mourning deaths together. Partying, going to concerts, on holiday anywhere in the world, meeting in groups, small and large, without fear and with un-nappied faces.

    They have replaced it with a world of fear and loathing.

    They are bastards, the lot of them. May they burn in hell.

    To which I would add:

    In a free and civilised world one could drop in to a cafe, restaurant or pub for a cup of coffee, a bite to eat or a pint any time they choose to be open.

    Or even get a haircut, instead of having to have one’s hair covid style.

    DP

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    Well, we here in NSW, part of Australia, must be living in paradise! No lockdowns now for us, and we have long been able to go to the pub, and actually order drinks and food. Tourism suffers- international tourists come here, get locked up for a fortnight, and (since they only have a fortnight for holidays) then go back home. But, overall, the economy is in better shape than many other countries.

  • Paul Marks

    I would like to be able to boast that I knew the lockdown was an international power move (rather than a public health measure) from the start – but I did not. On the contrary I was very gullible – I believed what was said on the television and so on.

    It took me a very long time to work out that the international establishment were not interested in saving lives (hence their SMEARING of Early Treatment), and had a political agenda. Indeed I resisted people who told me this – again and again I refused to believe them.

    Once one has accepted that, for example, the American “liberal” establishment are prepared to allow half a million people to die, in order to push their agenda of totalitarian collectivism, then one has entered a nightmare world where the international “liberal” establishment will commit any crime (any crime at all) in order to further their agenda of tyranny.

    Sadly, tragically, that nightmare world is the real world – I think most people did not want to accept that, the evidence had to be overwhelming before we would accept it.

  • Paul Marks

    Nicholas Gray – you do have some problems. For example the left are blaming the flooding on human C02 emissions, just as they blamed draught on human C02 emissions (they are shameless), but I agree with you that NSW is a much freer society than here.

    I am told that the Australian government is one of the few governments to refuse to use the international slogan “Build Back Better” – is that true?

    Still have fun in New South Wales – you will not starve or run out of other basis resources there. But try to make sure that you do not rely too much on other countries for manufactured goods – contrary to the Economist magazine “engagement” is not the best way to relate to the People’s Republic of China – on the contrary “engagement” puts their boot on the throat of nations foolish enough to become economically dependent on the CCP dictatorship.

    As Adam Smith put it “defence is more important than opulence” – do not become dependent on tyrannies for basic manufactured goods (or anything else – including “Rare Earths”).

  • Bruce Hoult

    “they have trashed our society and culture, they have destroyed the very meaning and purpose of life itself; social gatherings of social beings, meeting up with friends and relatives, celebrating births, marriages and mourning deaths together. Partying, going to concerts, on holiday anywhere in the world, meeting in groups, small and large, without fear and with un-nappied faces”

    I absolutely and completely sympathise with this. I can scarcely imagine the horror of living through a whole year of this, with still no end in sight. Have Christmas at Easter they say? Nope .. sorry.

    As with Nicholas, I’ve had a near normal year. I got out of the USA (SF Bay Area) at the end of March 2020 and returned home to NZ. We had 49 days of pretty strong lockdown (stronger than Australia), but then after that we have been free as usual, in every respect except international travel. Fortunately, NZ turns out to be quite a good tourist destination so many of us have been exploring that this year instead of going to Thailand or Hawaii or whatever. Tourist prices have dropped a little, but not enough to kill the operators, and everywhere is PACKED (or was over the summer).

    There have been maybe a dozen music festivals around the country over the summer, with packed crowds and not a facial nappy in sight. The same goes for the rugby, the cricket, and the Americas Cup yacht racing.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1S8xukA42Qo (start from 20s)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_pstjOoyXrI

    The economy has suffered a bit — how could it not between closing the country for two months, and the rest of the world having problems? Our 2020 calendar year GDP was down 2.9%. I understand Australia was *up* 3%. Either way that’s a better result than countries such as the UK, USA or EU which I believe were around -10%, -3.5%, and -7% AND suffered large numbers of COVID deaths and lengthy intrusive restrictions on freedoms as well.

    I am ANTI lockdown as a “let’s spread the infections over a longer period” measure.

    I am PRO short term hard lockdowns of a few weeks as “let’s KILL this damed virus and get back to normal life ASAP” measure.

    VERY GLAD I made the choice I did on February 23 2020 to get out of the USA. I’ve rented a house at a lovely remote beach (50 houses, 45 of them used only in weekends/holidays) and used the last 12 months for personal improvement, to de-stress, and to do some personal projects and learn a few things I never got a chance to in the last few years working in Moscow and San Francisco.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    Paul Marks- I don’t know if they refused, or were never asked, but I have never heard a government member, Federal or State, utter those words. In fact, we have several sex scandals going on at the moment, so we have no time for economic problems. I would advise you to get rid of any evidence that you were ever close to any member of the opposite sex, at any time, if you don’t want to be smeared.

  • Paul Marks

    Nicholas Gray – I will try and spell your name correctly, I keep getting it wrong.

    Yes you are best off where you are, and you know that.

    Bruce Hoult – as you know there are two main policy alternatives.

    Either go for herd immunity as Sweden, but also Belarus, Nicaragua and so on …. did. Or close the borders – as New Zealand and Australia did.

    To go for an internal lockdown and NOT close the borders (unofficial slogan for Britain in 2020 was “pubs shut – borders open”) is incomprehensible.

    That “Nullius” defended this policy (internal lockdown – but borders left open to the virus) was one of the things that made me understand what this person is.

    Of course the terrible blunder that most nations have made is to not go for EARLY TREATMENT.

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