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Samizdata quote of the day

The Prime Minister’s rhetoric was bombastic but vacuous and economically illiterate. This was an agenda for levelling down to a centrally-planned, high-tax, low-productivity economy.

– Adam Smith Institute review of the Prime Minister’s speech at the Tory conference.

43 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Couldn’t sum it up better myself.

  • George Atkisson

    Coming soon to the US with the Left’s $5 trillion total spending plans and Vax/Mask mandates.

  • pete

    Running a low wage economy for the benefit of the affluent will always be difficult when everyone has a vote.

    That explains why many Remainers tried long and hard to stop a referendum on EU membership.

    Exploitation of the poor only works if they are few in number and can be ignored at election times.

  • Exploitation of the poor only works if they are few in number and can be ignored at election times.

    Pete, your remedies for that ‘exploitation’ typically involve more state control of the economy rather than less.

  • Sam Duncan

    I knew Boris couldn’t be as good as he was painted. None of them ever is. I was prepared for that. But I didn’t think he’d be this bloody awful.

  • Mary Contrary

    Sam,

    I think there’s a lot of that going around.

  • JohnK

    Boris is a liar, a bluffer and a bullshitter. Anyone who knows anything about him knows this.

    He had a reputation of being a libertarian. Clearly that was a lie. He used to write amusingly about the madness of so-called green energy. Looks like that was a lie too.

    He was elected to “get Brexit done”. He did that in a most unsatisfactory manner which has left Northern Ireland, nominally a part of the United Kingdom, in a constitutional limbo. Even Mrs May baulked at that, but if your stock in trade is lies, bluffing and bullshit, it is not a problem.

    I think it fair to say that Boris Johnson is a narcissist and borderline psychopath. As far as he is concerned, it’s a Boris world, and we just live in it.

    It is time for the men in grey suits.

  • Fraser Orr

    @pete
    Running a low wage economy for the benefit of the affluent will always be difficult when everyone has a vote.

    Nobody “runs” the economy. The economy consists of lots and lots of people engaging in voluntary transactions. Sometimes the government interferes with that by making some types of transaction illegal (even though all parties want to engage in it) or butting in and demanding that they get a pay off too, and that screws things up. But even then they aren’t “running” the economy. It is still just people engaging in voluntary transactions with some pest interfering where he isn’t welcome.

    As far as I know, everyone with the exception of children and criminals does have the vote. Unfortunately I think the opposite of what you say is true. Now I use the term “poor” loosely here, since the poor in Western democracies live with an abundance that would make Kings from 200 years ago green with jealousy[*], but let’s use that word anyway. The “poor” always outnumber the rich, so when a society gets the idea in its head that society is responsible for the success or failure of a person rather than their own efforts, the next step is to believe that the rich are rich unjustly and that we should use force to take from them what they have earned. However, since the rich are generally rich because they created amazing things out of nothing, and produced massive jobs and wealth in the process, this causes the collapse of the incentive to do so, and so everyone gets poorer. It is like eating the seed corn.

    [*] if you doubt this is true consider just three of the many things that the “poor” have that those Kings would desperately want: dental anesthetic, refrigeration and a cell phone.

  • Alexander Tertius Harvey

    Men in white coats rather than grey suits.

  • Paul Marks

    I had the television turned on for the speech – but I was doing something else at the time, and I find that I can not remember what the Prime Minister said.

    Someone told me that the Prime Minister wants to “rewild” large areas of the United Kingdom – take them out of farming, surely that is not true?

    If that is true (and I hope it is not) he might as well go about wearing an “Agenda 2030” shirt. I wish I had really listened to the speech (turned off the computer and concentrated on what the Prime Minister was saying) – I should have done. I can really remember a line about Jacob Rees-Mogg having lots of children. Everyone laughed – but I do not know why. There was also something about Winston Churchill saying in farewell to the Cabinet that man is really spirit, I agree with that.

    But that is about it – I really can not seem to remember anything else.

  • Paul Marks

    I do not have fridge – well I do, but it has not worked in many years.

    I do not have a mobile telephone either.

    I have had dental anesthetic once in my 56 years – but I do pay private dental insurance so that if I did need it, I would have it (I do not envy the medical treatment that even Kings received in past centuries). Medical knowledge has marched on – although with the take over of “The Lancet” (and so on) by social activists, that advance appears to have horribly slowed (if not gong into reverse).

    The lack of Early Treatment for Covid 19 – when Early Treatment has been well understood from the start and is not expensive, has shocked me deeply. Most of the people who have died of Covid 19 in many Western nations could have been saved.

    It is truly terrible and yet the nightmare just goes on. The shape of worse things to come? As reason is replaced by “Social Justice”.

  • George Atkisson

    Paul Marks –

    “Social Justice” resembles more and more that infamous ‘Procrustean Bed’. If you don’t follow The Narrative of the Day enthusiastically, you’re outlawed. No job, no bank, no social services, no medical care, no travel, no legal rights.

  • bobby b

    Paul Marks
    October 7, 2021 at 10:57 pm

    “Someone told me that the Prime Minister wants to “rewild” large areas of the United Kingdom – take them out of farming, surely that is not true?”

    I remember when the Democrats rewilded Detroit back in the 70’s. It wasn’t pretty. They still haven’t resettled it yet.

  • Fred Z

    As a Prime Minister Boris Johnson is a great failure, but as a con-man he has been a great success.

  • the last toryboy

    Boris’s plan for eternal power is apparently to be so left wing that in response Labour is forced into actual communism to keep left.

  • Roué le Jour

    I think Boris’s plan for power is to replace Labour as the preferred party of those who are actually running things.

  • llamas

    bobby b. – no, you’re wrong. Parts of ‘rewilded’ Detroit are remarkably pretty, looking very much like native prairie/savannah. I’m not kidding, it’s really true. Google Earth will show you. Creatures like sandhill cranes are plantiful within the city limits, whitetail deer roam widely, and I understand that there’s a very-healthy coyote population. The rough shooting would be excellent.

    Of course, these parts are rather like Madagascar or Kerguelen – very wild and beautiful, but you wouldn’t like what you have to go through to get there 😉.

    llater,

    llanas

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Mr Johnson thinks he can make water flow uphill by legislative fiat. That never ends well.

    He has a certain amount in common with Joe Biden, of whom the Wall Street Journal has this to say in a suitably acerbic editorial: You have to admire the audacity of pitching higher taxes and more social welfare as the path to national revival, especially when the global evidence is the opposite. The result of Mr. Biden’s expanded entitlements is likely to be reduced incentives to work and invest, slower economic growth, lower living standards, and less fiscal space for essential public goods like national defense.

  • Paul Marks

    Johnathan Pearce – one of the things that disturbs me is the slogans.

    I could not look at the screen when the Prime Minister was speaking, which is one reason I can not remember what he said, because the words “Build Back Better” were behind him. The Prime Minister has often said “this is our slogan” – but the Conservative Party did not create this slogan, it is an international slogan pushed by the World Economic Forum (Dr Klaus Schwab), the United Nations, and the rest of the international establishment.

    Mr Biden does the same thing – “my plan” when talking about the “Build Back Better” international agenda, that has been given to him. In short he is acting under orders, but pretending he is in command.

    How can someone stand up and use this term and claim they invented it, that it is some sort of national political party slogan (and agenda), when it is an international agenda – under slogans that are also international. When they are doing what they are TOLD to do.

    Perhaps I should be angry – but I am too baffled to be angry. I am utterly confused by the brazen nature of all this.

  • Paul Marks

    bobby b and llamas – even if I had the money, I do not think I would take a trip to Detroit. If that is the plan for the United Kingdom…. well that is not good (to put the matter mildly).

    George Atkinsson – what you say about the evil (and it is an evil) of “Social Justice” (the abomination that it is) reminds me of my late friend Antony Flew. I remember him as if it was yesterday – at the New Cumberland Club in London, at Freedom Association gatherings.

    I have become a weak, sentimental, old man – as I find myself quite moved by the memory.

  • bobby b

    llamas: sometime around 2000 I lived in the Pontchartrain for two months – it was walking distance to the fedcourt building – and spent many nights walking around DT, dressed as someone not worth robbing. It was as I imagine walking around Berlin would have been right after WW2. Sounds idyllic now.

  • llamas

    @ bobby b. –

    I think our gracious host will allow us a little sidebar.

    You weren’t by any chance appearing before His Honor Judge Avern Cohn in the Federal court, were you?

    I ask because, in 1999, I also spent 4 days in the old Pontchartrain hotel, doing prep and then walking up Shelby to the Federal courthouse each day to wait around to be called – or not. It was a patent case, and while it pains my heart to think, per impossible, that you were appearing for the other side (because he was a double-dealing prick that only a thorough beating could have improved) it also warms my heart to imagine that we might have rubbed shoulders in the elevator. What a place – the only hotel I was ever in that sported a ‘motor lobby’ and other such faded gems on a past era.

    It was pretty bad around there then – this was right around the time and place of my ‘favorite Detroit story’ (https://www.samizdata.net/2013/07/samizdata-quote-of-the-day-313/) – and that immediate area is a lot worse now, having been much levelled and flattened to suit the needs of the Ford Field / Comerica Park / Fox Theater / Greektown casino complex – none of which does jack s**t for the city or its inhabitants. It’s a dark and dangerous expanse of deserted and unlit lots, no place for the delicately-nurtured. You must have been a bold man to walk there at night, no matter how roughly dressed. I got to go home each night, plus a combination of my local tin and a good friend on the bailiffs meant that I was able to carry everywhere. No way I would have walked around there at any time, day or night, in my 3-piece whistle and polished Justins, as for court.

    For the true prairie / savannah experience, you need to go about 3 miles out from the center, to areas like the Springwells, Dexter-Linwood and the Cass Corridor. YouTube will show you just what it can be like there – it has a strange beauty that reminds me of some of the wild country of Southern Africa. See ‘Itchy Boots’ on YouTube to see what I mean. But likely a lot more dangerous – there’s an average of one dumped corpse every 2 weeks or so in these neighborhoods.

    Happy memories. Stay safe 🙂

    llater,

    llamas

  • bobby b

    @ llamas:

    No, not your judge or case, but it may well have been in 1999, so we might have elevatored together! Funny. If you saw a guy in Nice Suit before 6pm, and then in Homeless Guy Mufti at night, might have been me. I toured lots of cities at night that way, as I had switched from retail lawyering to repping insurers in coverage cases and was all over the map. (For that case, I had one of many insurers of Destitute Corporation being told by fedgov that we owed oodles of money to clean up a Superfund site. We disagreed.)

    The Pontch was definitely . . . interesting. It was obviously just about to be condemned or abandoned or sold or something – The water kept going off, the rooms all smelled bad, the locks didn’t work, the help was absent, and calls for assistance just rang and rang. But they gave us a great monthly rate! And, after they checked me out several times walking, the Detroit police were quite friendly and helpful, but I think they thought I was crazy.

    (Ah, memories! I went back and read your old Detroit posts. Right on the money.)

    (To get things back on track: I wonder at what stage London is today compared to where Detroit was then. Certainly fits the high-tax low-productivity model.)

  • Bobby:

    I would guess London has the British equivalent of what I would call the Beltway Class in America. It’s no accident that the counties around Washington DC are some of the few that have been growing tremendously and becoming among the wealthiest in the nation even though they’re not producing anything of value. So London probably won’t collapse the way other badly-run cities will.

    Detroit, not being the capital of Michigan, doesn’t even have the state-level version of those parasites and hangers-on.

  • Paul Marks

    Ted Schuerzinger – London does indeed have its version of the “Beltway Class” – sometimes called (perhaps tongue in cheek) as the “Metropolitan Elite”. But they do not just live in London.

    Also never underestimate just how little information even the friends of liberty get in Britain. For example, I was very annoyed with Steve Baker Member of Parliament siding with “The Squad” against President Trump – but I found out that he had no knowledge of “The Squad”, Mr Baker just assumed that President Trump was being “racist” (not anti Marxist), because that is what ALL THE MEDIA in Britain said.

    My own Member of Parliament has voted against the lockdowns and so on. But he had no knowledge at all that there is Early Treatment for Covid 19 – not “no knowledge in March 2020”, no knowledge of Early Treatment options when I spoke to him A FEW HOURS AGO.

    I have long assumed that everyone in Parliament “must know” – but why “must” they know? If no one has told them?

    I am now sitting here thinking to myself “but I must have told him – many times” – but if that is so, WHEN did I tell him? And I find I have no specific memory of when I have done so.

  • Lee Moore

    I’m afraid that for electoral purposes, I continue to be willing to forgive Boris for being less than perfect. Or if you prefer for being horribly statist and lefty and authoritarian. I strongly oppose most of his policies and the policies of the Tory government. But not to the extent of wanting to vote them out of office.

    This is simply because, well – look at Natalie’s thread above about Jacinda Ardern. The alternative to Boris – at present – is Jacinda Ardern. Maybe it’s a chap in a suit whose parents named him after a much beloved bearded Scottish socialist, maybe on the day it’ll be some other nutter. But for practcal purposes they’re all Jacinda Ardern.

    When Natalie is standing and her party is well ahead of Labour and the Tories in the polls, I’ll vote for her in a heartbeat. But in the meantime, a kick in the nuts is better than being beheaded. I’ll take the kick in the nuts.

  • I would guess London has the British equivalent of what I would call the Beltway (Ted Schuerzinger, October 9, 2021 at 12:26 pm)

    SW1 (the postcode for a certain London area) is often used as the UK equivalent of ‘the beltway’.

    The London district of Islington is sometimes used as a UK equivalent of Portland (or at least of Portlandia – I hope Islington has not quite caught up to Portland’s current state). Jeremy Corbyn has been MP for Islington North since 1983, and the political judgement of Islingtonians who live in the south can also be questioned. (Go back a good few decades and the district of Bloomsbury had a similar reputation; I’ll let those who live nearer London than I do say if remarks like ‘The Bloomsbury Set’ still have any relevance today.)

  • I’m afraid that for electoral purposes, I continue to be willing to forgive Boris for being less than perfect.

    Yes, thank goodness for Boris because the opposition had been in power, they would introduce a mad NetZero agenda, let the wokesters take over education, increase taxation, introduce a bill to control the internet calling it an “Online Harms Bill”, and introduce utterly insane lockdowns for a disease with a 99.7% survival rate…

    Oh, hang on.

    Seriously Lee, what would it take to make you conclude the laughably named ‘Conservatives’ are leading the nation over a cliff? Well I live in one of the most marginal seats in the UK & I will not be voting Tory again.

  • llamas (October 8, 2021 at 11:02 pm) modestly links to the 2013 Mark Steyn quote about Detroit (itself very relevant) rather than his own first comment in the thread below it.

    His example of how Detroit Dems use the ‘law’ to break people in their way deserves recall today. Biden’s FBI and DoJ may have that method in their playbook.

  • Lee Moore

    Seriously Lee, what would it take to make you conclude the laughably named ‘Conservatives’ are leading the nation over a cliff?

    Of course they’re leading the nation over a cliff. The question is whether they’re leading the nation over a cliff faster than the alternative government. I believe approaching the edge of a cliff at a steady trot, is better than approaching at full gallop. Can you seriously offer an example of one single thing the Boris government has done, of which you disapprove, that you think a Starmer government would not have done ? You don’t like the batty Covid policies pursued by Boris ? Starmer called the 19 July limited hang out semi-reopening “reckless.” You think you’re going to get more common sense on Covid from Labour ? The test is – is Boris worse than Labour ? If not, is there another (plausible) Tory leader who would be better than Boris ?

    Seriously, Perry, this is how you get Daniel Ortega back. Split the scoundrel vote to let in the mad dog. Boris does execrable things because he’s a lazy chancer, who wants to stay on as PM. When the British public as a whole has had enough of Covid panic porn, Boris will shamelessly pivot – to whatever he thinks the public wants. Which will probably be what they usually want – more spending and less tax. Which, yes, will lead to ruin. But it’s much less scary than “we are your single source of truth.”

  • Snorri Godhi

    Paul Marks:

    Mr [Steve] Baker just assumed that President Trump was being “racist” (not anti Marxist), because that is what ALL THE MEDIA in Britain said.

    Allow me, since it’s been a while since i last said this:
    The fundamental reason why Mr Baker assumed that President Trump was being “racist”, is that the modern British diet made Mr Baker delusionally insane.

  • Can you seriously offer an example of one single thing the Boris government has done, of which you disapprove, that you think a Starmer government would not have done ?

    Not a thing. But so what? Frankly I see it the other way around… would Starmer be materially different? Not really. And in that case, I would rather these policies be done by a Labour government so the Tories actually see value in looking for different policies, because at the moment, we might as well have a Labour government.

    When the British public as a whole has had enough of Covid panic porn, Boris will shamelessly pivot – to whatever he thinks the public wants.

    Indeed. And the ONLY way that happens is if there is a credible risk the public will stop voting for his party. Why did Boris make Brexit happen (albeit imperfectly)? Because people really would have voted BXP in the general election like they did in the final Euro elections (certainly would have) if he had not pushed it through. But without that kind of threat, the threat of people actually not voting Tory… that’s it… nothing changes this side of economic collapse.

  • Graham

    Paul, you said “Someone told me that the Prime Minister wants to “rewild” large areas of the United Kingdom – take them out of farming, surely that is not true?”

    I went to Knepp Park for a weekend a few years ago and loved it (and happily paid quite a large fee for the privilege). Three thousand acres of Sussex have been re-wilded and now support a far richer and more diverse ecology than before. I understand that the change was ‘subsidy neutral’, meaning that the estate receives the same subsidies for what they do now as for their former prairie-style arable farming.

    As a free-market extremist I hate subsidies of course. The market case for re-wilding is that if subsidies and tariffs were abolished, far more food would be imported from abroad (hurray for food miles), thus helping all parties by the law of comparative advantage, and as a side-effect, some landowners here would re-wild their estates and charge campers and walkers for access, the amenity value of such land being greater, in a rich society, than its value for farming. The rocky treeless semi-deserts that intensive subsidised sheep farming has produced in the uplands of Wales and Scotland would recover their lost foliage and diversity in time. Those areas already make far more money from tourism than farming, therefore no great structural changes to the economy would occur.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Lee Moore,

    I’m afraid that for electoral purposes, I continue to be willing to forgive Boris for being less than perfect.

    This reminds me of a girl who keeps going back to her physically abusive and psychologically abusive boyfriend. Sad! The abuse will only stop when the boyfriend realizes there is a real risk of losing you and Boris knows he can do anything and millions of people like you will keep voting for him and his party lol.

    Of course they’re leading the nation over a cliff. The question is whether they’re leading the nation over a cliff faster than the alternative government.

    As Perry said, not materially different speed. Maybe 2% more slowly. Not even a noticeable difference.

  • Paul Marks

    To be fair – the Adam Smith Institute statement (which I have now, finally, looked up) was far from perfect itself.

    Its denial that migrants lower the standard of life for existing workers flies in the face of basic Supply and Demand (basic economics), if there are lots more unskilled workers, of course this makes the lives of existing workers worse (it means lower wages and worse conditions than there otherwise would have been, – and the destruction of many places the existing population valued) . The idea that the government of Prime Minister Johnson is too tough (too harsh) in immigration would cause bitter laughter among Conservative voters who see the endless boats landing.

    As for “meaningful planning reform” – the idea that existing Planning Laws prevent big companies building housing estates is utterly absurd – totally false.

    The Planning Laws do lead to injustices – but they are injustices against small landowners who just want to build a few houses (say just outside a village boundary) – they do NOT stop big companies building vast housing estates.

    Turning the South East England into one great big sprawl may be ideal for people with fantasies of being “Judge Dredd”, but it would be election suicide. There are two primary reasons for the urban sprawl – mass migration over decades (leading to a ripple effect – as new people come to live in the cities, the people who used to live there move out to new estates around once good towns), and FAMILY BREAKDOWN.

    Increasingly, as Civil Society has decayed since the 1960s, more and more people live alone – and this adds to urban sprawl. And urban sprawl is massively subsidised by government road building (and so on) – at taxpayer expense.

    I remember reading a certain person at one of the Institutes (some years ago) talking about the need for hundreds of thousands of “housing units” a year, for continued mass migration and family breakdown (family breakdown being seen as something Progressive and Liberating), it would be interesting for such a person to stand for election on his “Turn England into Mega City One” platform.

    Overall it is very high levels of government spending that is the main threat to the economy – but the Adam Smith Institute statement seems to miss this.

    The vast level of government spending and the Credit Money financial system that finances it – that is the threat, that is what should be opposed.

    As Roger Sherman (the only person to sign all the founding documents of the United States) understood – if the money is not sound and government spending is not kept down, then it is not much use to talk about anything else.

    It is not much use to talk about anything else (if the money is not sound and government spending is not kept down), because a de facto BANKRUPT country loses all its liberties.

  • pete

    Levelling down is just fine when it happens to others.

    But if it happens to too many people then they become an electoral force.

    Boris recognises this.

  • Pete, your solution to everything is to add more state control & then expect things to somehow get better for low value-add British folk, even if it prices small businesses out of existence.

  • Lee Moore

    As Perry said, not materially different speed. Maybe 2% more slowly. Not even a noticeable difference.

    Two important differences for me are :

    (1) the fact that the Tories can see that slightly less fraud in elections is in their interests, and appear to be in the process of trying to achieve that – and that does preserve a small voice for the common people as against handing the whole thing over to postal fraud – and

    (2) the fact that the Tories seem, at last, to have realised what a deadly enemy – to them – the BBC is, and are slowly installing people who are appreciably less deranged than the people Labour would be installing. Since the BBC is a deadly enemy to the country and to liberty, this is a good thing. Though not enough of it.

    But I suppose it’s also an emotional thing. Actually delivering something approaching a real Brexit, when all the forces of Mordor were dead set on preventing it and were in pole position to succeed, earned Boris quite a lot of goodwill from me. It matters not – to me – that he probably only did it for personal advancement.

    But Brexit is a fragile child still. Labour would reverse it. Not in name perhaps, but some very unpleasant treaties would get signed lickey split between the next Labour government and the EU. And the EU certainly knows how to write a treaty that leaves its sting in a victim that tries to exit from the treaty. We need another ten years to drift apart before it would be even half safe to let Labour back in again.

  • Paul Marks

    “pete” – there is no such person as “Boris”, that is a stage persona. The Prime Minister does not use this middle name in real life.

    If you really were on first name terms with Prime Minister Johnson – you would know that his family and friends call him “Alex” (his name is Alexander).

    I suggest to you Sir, that you know as little about Mr Johnson as a person as you know about economic policy. And you do not know very much about economic policy Sir.

    You believe that endless government spending and regulations are good for the population – that is the opposite of the truth.

  • APL

    Shlomo Maistre: “As Perry said, not materially different speed. Maybe 2% more slowly. Not even a noticeable difference.”

    It’s not the speed of the approach that matters, it’s the drop to the rocks below.

    What can you say to someone who knows the ultimate destination is destruction at the foot of the cliff, but is ok with that because, it might happen a day later than some other course of action. Really, what there to say to such a person?

  • Lee Moore

    Really, what there to say to such a person?

    “Here is my realistic plan – that would be REALISTIC PLAN, not teenage temper tantrum – to carve out a third option of not going over the cliffs at all, rather than going over on Wednesday week, or Thursday week. Here it is…………COPIUS DETAILS including how I’m going to persuade 15 million people to agree with my plan in the voting booths (even though my ideas have never succeeded in attracting more than 219 registered voters ever before)….and that would be AGREE WITH MY PLAN, not just agree that the other plans suck….”

  • Shlomo Maistre

    I think Boris’s plan for power is to replace Labour as the preferred party of those who are actually running things.

    This is interesting.

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