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]

The Gods of the Copybook Headings – a continuing series

As Madeleine Grant in the Daily Telegraph (£) notes today, it is a bit rich for people who dislike the fiscal austerity measures of the UK government to focus on the “mini-budget” tax cuts (now mostly reversed) of the recent Liz Truss administration, or Russia’s attempted conquest of Ukraine. To ignore the costs of lockdowns and mass furlough schemes seems particularly convenient for those, like the Labour opposition as well as many in government, that seemed to be positively enthusiastic not just about lockdowns, but about the idea of shuttering society. (And of course the current Net Zero insanity sort of plays to this authortarian mindset that seems to have arisen lately.)


During lockdown, the electorate was led to believe that we could borrow endlessly without consequence; that money-printing was nothing to worry about and someone else would foot the bill if necessary. The whole period didn’t just cross a Rubicon in what the state believed it would get away with, it irrevocably transformed how people viewed the state. There remains an odd amnesia about the the whole period; a reluctance to deal with the lockdown hangover. It’s as if nobody wants to hear that their lengthy furlough now has to be paid for, or that you can’t repeatedly switch a sophisticated 21st-century society on and off like a computer without disastrous, unpredictable consequences.”

And…”I can’t help noticing that many of those now railing against spending cuts are precisely the same people who shouted down anyone who warned of the economic consequences of lockdowns or questioned the severity of the measures at the time. Similarly, many MPs and pundits, having vociferously opposed “irresponsible” un-costed tax cuts, now condemn planned
spending cuts with equal vigour.”

It is absolutely vital that this point is hammered home. Classical liberals simply cannot let the narrative of “Ukraine/Truss caused our pain” BS to flourish, in the same way that “capitalism caused the 2008 financial crash” nonsense. Narratives matter. They must be countered, vigorously, and mocked at every opportunity. And it is also important to remind people that we have had 20 years of central bank money printing (remember, this stuff was going on way before the 2008 crash) to have created part of the condition for our plight today.

Update: Here is a link to Rudyard Kipling’s work of the title used on this posting.

9 comments to The Gods of the Copybook Headings – a continuing series

  • Paul Marks

    “The Gods of the Copybook Headings” refers to the statements of basic wisdom (“Common Sense”) that Victorian children used to copy out as writing practice – Kipling, in his poem, makes clear that these statements are true-and-important and that the “intellectuals” who sneer at them are fools who lead individual persons, families, and the nation to disaster.

    In this case the central problem is wild government spending, funded by the banks (backed by the Central Bank – the Bank of England) creating “money” from nothing.

    This wild government spending goes back long before Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak – after all even John Major (the “Conservative” Prime Minister from 1990 to 1997) said “we have spent more money that Labour even promised to spend!” (in his madness John Major thought that this was an achievement). However, Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak did take this wild government spending to a new level. And it should be remembered that Mr Johnson was increasing government spending BEFORE Covid (he even kept HS2 – a lunatic railway project) – as with his betrayal of Northern Ireland (again before Covid), we must not allow the legend to grow up that Mr Johnson was a Conservative Prime Minister blown off course by Covid – Mr Johnson was not a Conservative (not in any “fiscal conservative” sense and not in any “social conservative” sense either) Prime Minister, no more than John Major was.

    As for now – the vicious lie is being spread (even in the Daily Telegraph) that the problems of this nation are due to a “50 billon Black Hole” caused by the “tax cuts” of Prime Minister Truss – THERE WERE NO TAX CUTS, some minor reversals of previous tax increases were suggested but not-carried-out.

    “The markets” (i.e. a handful of vast corporate entities backed by the Central Banks – they have nothing to do with free markets, with the “invisible hand” that Adam Smith wrote about) must STOP LYING.

    There were no “tax cuts” – any “Black Hole” in the accounts is due to the high government spending of the person who was Chancellor and is now First Lord of the Treasury.

  • mikesixes

    Milton Friedman: Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon.
    Joe Biden: Milton Friedman’s not running the show anymore.
    Gods of the Copybook Headings: Hello, we’re here to see Mr. Biden!

  • Kirk

    I’ve been developing this thesis, over the years, that the entire system by which we select, educate, and then put in charge all these idjits running things into the ground is where the problem lies, for most of the West.

    I’d like to ask anyone reading this a question: Have you ever encountered anyone, anyone at all in a position of power and authority that demonstrated that they knew what they were doing? Have you, like me, noticed that the guys and girls who really understand what is going on around them in any of our institutions rarely wind up running them? Usually, because they lack the proper connections and credentials?

    Why is it that the “properly” credentialed and connected are such ‘effin dolts? Why do they crash and burn the projects and institutions they’re put in charge of so regularly and consistently?

    How many successful “initiatives” and “programs” out there actually work, functionally? Doing the job that they were supposed to be doing, by the initial work statements?

    How many incompetents get fired? Where do the people who ran failed programs in government and business wind up?

    Ask yourselves these questions, and whatever other ones that might occur to you as you contemplate the wreckage that is modern civilization. God knows, I’ve been asking them since I was a teenager, puzzled by the rest of you monkeys and your doings.

    What I’ve concluded, frankly, is that the entire system is based on a series of false premises dating back to the late 19th Century. The ideals of the Progressives here in America are typical of the problem; they felt that they needed to supplant and replace the old power structures with a new meritocracy, a new system. Which, most of them being academics, they just happened to have ready to go, and which they, not entirely coincidentally, happened to run.

    First thing they set out to do was to identify those with merit; being mostly academics, they thought that naturally those would be the kids who did really well on the tests they made up. That’s the first fallacy: Doing well on the tests does not indicate any real merit or virtue; it’s merely a marker that you can play the game really well. Or, like me, you just have a knack for taking tests and passing them. Which, I am here to tell you, does not necessarily mean you’re actually smart

    It just means you do well on the tests.

    Second fallacy of what they came up with was that there needn’t be any feedback loop or accountability built into their little meritocratic fantasy-land. Go look; where are there consequences for failure? Where’s the real-world feedback from the field, back into academia, where we train all these people?

    Academia has grown steadily more and more disconnected from the reality of the world; you don’t see practitioners going back into the academic world to bring in a healthy dose of reality, at least in most fields. It’s all rarefied and refined; if the academics come up with a bright shiny new theory, like “whole language learning” for teaching kids to read, it’s a rare occasion when some crusty-ass old primary teacher goes back to her theoretical lords and masters of the domain to tell them that they’re full of shiite; kids don’t learn like that, and phonics is a superior approach. If such a teacher had the temerity to do that, she’d be laughed out of the academy because “credentials” and precisely none of her hard-earned lengthy experience from decades of actually, y’know… Teaching kids to read would have the slightest bit of credibility to the idjit class that’s set itself up as the lords and masters of the various Education Departments.

    You see this crap across society. I’m a contractor, these days; the number of times I’ve been handed very expensive and very fancy new plans packages from school-trained architects and engineers that include (or, fail to include…) key and essential things is mind-numbing. Potential clients of ours showed up with set of architectural plans from an award-winning architectural firm that were essentially impossible to build affordably. Why? Because they set the mechanical spaces for the house up such that there was no way possible to run the HVAC system and be able to afford to build the place; they wanted the mechanicals in the basement beneath the huge prow-front cathedral-ceilinged “Great Room” with the wonderful view, and left us no way to get the forced air heating returns run without doing violence to their “architectural vision”. When enquiries were sent to said fancy-ass architects, they said that all of that was a “…problem for the contractors…” Said contractors politely put together a bid for the HVAC system that was a full third of the budget, which meant that the project never moved forward. Architects told their clients that it was all the fault of those nasty, money-grubbing contractors, and that they should be able to build the project for the budget they’d specified. Only problem was, no contractor in the business could have done that for the amount of money the architects were saying it would cost. Clients were left with a set of unbuildable plans that cost them close to a half-million bucks, and the house was never built.

    So far as I know, that clown crew of academically-trained and totally impractical idiots is still in business and still selling plans. Approximately two-thirds of which I am reliably informed are never getting past planning stages…

    Something has gone seriously wrong with how we do all this “meritocracy” BS. At some point, if you’re going to keep the general public sold on your virtues as a technocratically elite meritocracy, you’re gonna have to actually, y’know… Demonstrate some actual damn merit.

    Ran into a lovely turn of phrase to describe most of these people: “Educated, yet idiot…” The fact that this term can safely be applied to the vast majority of the people running things, these days?

    That’s a marker, a signpost on the road to whatever comes next, once they finish destroying everything around them and utterly discrediting themselves and the institutions they’ve taken over and ran for lo these many years…

    We’re in the later stages of what might be termed “The Great Discrediting”, as these overly-credentialed and totally idiotic autists run the aircraft of state they’re piloting into the mountains that the passengers can clearly see out the windows. I can’t see this ending well, and I suspect that the next turn of the wheel is going to look an awful lot like what Pol Pot did in Cambodia, dragging the credentialed “elite that really… Isn’t.” out of their palatial offices and putting them to work at something truly appropriate to their skillset, like forking manure in a feedlot somewhere. Which, because that can more effectively be done by machinery, means that an awful lot of these highbrow ivory tower denizens are going to starve.

    I really don’t like to be the guy pointing this out, because I feel a natural affinity towards the academic; I’m the sort of person that could thrive in such environs. The fact that I loathe them with all my heart? Well, that’s another issue. Raw fact is, however, I have to be “that guy”, and point out to all my fellow autistic types who “do well on the tests” that the tests are merely imperfect proxies, games we play for the training value. The actual “test” is out there in the real world, and that test regimen is heartlessly cruel: You either function well in the real world, or you don’t. There’s no appeal to authority; the real world doesn’t care that you weren’t given the proper material, or that you weren’t told to study that bit of esoterica for the test. It is what it is, and on that basis, the majority of our putative lords and masters of the testing regime are utterly failing.

    School is a simulation, a game meant to prepare the subject undergoing it for the real world, in a safe environment. The critical point that you have got to have for any of this to work is that you have to have as close as you can get to 100% fidelity with the real world that the subject will face, once outside the hothouse environment of training and education. We’ve been slipping away from having that fidelity for a long, long time. The bills are coming due, and ain’t nobody going to like paying them.

  • SCC

    The problem in the west in terms of leadership selection has a long history in western canon.

    “If you can discover a better way of life than office-holding for your future rulers, a well-governed city becomes a possibility. For only in such a state will those rule who are truly rich, not in gold, but in the wealth that makes happiness — a good and wise life.” – Plato, “The Republic”

  • Paul Marks

    mikesixes – Milton Friedman supported (rather than opposed) bailing out the banks and so on, to him the problem was not the Credit Money “boom” of the late 1920s (the Benjamin Strong “boom” – he admired Benjamin Strong of the New York Federal Reserve), the problem, to Milton Friedman, what that there was a crash after 1929 – that the boom caused the bust he never seemed able to grasp. Like Keynes, Milton Friedman would have thrown even more money out of the Federal Reserve.

    Would have Milton Friedman have abandoned this view had he lived to see the utter insanity of policy after 2008? I like to think he would have changed his position – but I cannot PROVE that he would have.

    As for Joseph Biden – his print more money and we will all be better off world view, is so crude it reminds me of the Weimar Republic.

    It is much like the theology of Mr Biden (and Mrs Pelosi) – they reduce all of theology to the statement “the government must help the people”, “help” with yet more government spending and yet more regulations.

    This nonsense is their religion – it really is. It is the only religion they really have – and the only philosophy they have as well.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes Kirk – the rule of officials and “experts” has failed.

    “The Science” is often not science at all – and the schools and universities are intellectually (institutionally) corrupted.

    The “lockdown” was utter madness – for example first eating out was banned, and then it was subsidised. In the mind of the former Head Boy of Winchester (first class Oxford degree and MBA from Stamford) the two interventions somehow cancelled out – in reality they compounded the damage to the financial and economic position. Sadly, this is just one small example of the madness of the last few years – I need not remind British readers of such things as the many billions of Pounds thrown away on such schemes as “Track and Trace”.

    To be fair to both officials and politicians – the “money” was not gold or silver, the “money” was just lights on the computer screens of the government and the banks, so throwing away hundreds-of-billions-of Pounds (400 billon Pounds on the lockdown madness alone) did not seem to matter to the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and others – even though they knew well that it was just a publicity stunt and most certainly did NOT “save lives”. Early Treatment of Covid 19 would have saved lives – but Early Treatment was systematically smeared.

    If the system is in-its-self insane (money and banking having no connection to anything real) why not just play about? The system is going to collapse whatever one does.

    Their pushing of the often ineffective and dangerous injections is another matter.

    To be fair – almost every other government in the Western world behaved in the same horrible way.

  • Paul Marks

    It is now increasingly clear that the elite of the “public health” bureaucracy in the United States (that “public-private” partnership of government agencies and corporations – and British agencies are also part funded by drug companies and other such), knew (yes knew) that Early Treatment medications were effective – and smeared them because they were effective (not ineffective – effective). They may not have deliberately created a pandemic – but they certainly found it useful for their agenda, and they did not want people cured by relatively inexpensive medications.

    If no one in the public-private system is punished for this, then it will be obvious what sort of society we now live in, here in the West – as we hurtle towards digital currency and the control of every aspect of life by the public-private partnership of “Stakeholder Capitalism” (the Corporate State).

  • Paul Marks

    The lockdowns were obviously useful – not for reducing deaths (the countries that did NOT lockdown had a lower, lower not higher, death rate than Britain and the United States), but for getting people used to obeying orders and depending on the state, and for getting rid of independent small business enterprises – for example in California (the most populated American State) one third of the small business enterprises that closed did not reopen.

    To use modern language “this was not a bug – it was a feature”, this is what the lockdown in California was intended to do.

    Soon it will be unlawful, in much of the West, to type what I have just typed – just as it is becoming unlawful to question obviously rigged elections, at least in countries where elections still make a difference.

  • J

    Re: Kirk. Where is the source of ‘credentials’? The higher education industry. The singularly least productive facet of the economy. A vast enterprise where no one is required to produce ANYTHING. And that tolerance becomes the expectation. And the current state where mere non-production is no longer acceptable. The expectation is to destroy.