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

Any statutory regulations/provisions against the press in the UK will most gleefully be lapped up here for use against the local media. The one argument we have had; that the modern liberal democracies around the world have self-regulation rather than statutory laws for the media will fall down should the UK opt to embrace statutory legislation as well to police the press. Such moves will only strengthen the hand of oppressive, regressive governments around the English-speaking world.

Sinha Ratnatunga, Editor, Sunday Times, Sri Lanka

The propagation of libertarian ideas gets on-board the Tube

Fifty of these posters materialised this morning on the London Underground. Channel Four’s political correspondent, Michael Crick, noted their appearance, tweeting that: “Biteback [the publisher] are advertising Madsen Pirie’s book Think Tank, on ASI, with big underground posters. Amazing for such a limited interest topic”.

Funnily enough, I think the book will sell quite well, but, more importantly, there is an important message put out by the posters. It is that free-marketeers hold their views, not because they are being paid by Big Business, but because… they believe in them.

‘That’s the mistake that Karl Marx made’

Is this video the 21st century version of a photocopied 1980s Libertarian Alliance pamphlet? It contains Madsen Pirie explaining an economics concept in under three minutes. He tells me that he is going to do 20 videos, one a week.

Strangely, outside of lectures held by the ASI and IEA, there isn’t much video coming out of the UK libertarian scene. Over in the States, all sorts of organisations, especially Reason.tv, have done sterling work with online video. My instinct is that the returns on time for British libertarians doing video could be significant – and that Madsen’s videos will have quite an effect among young people exploring economics.

Samizdata quote of the day

“My vision is of a new form of Dynamic Equilibrium economics (DEe) which will, while being steady in scale, still be thoroughly dynamic and require business to be as enterprising, creative and innovative as ever. As growth at a macro-scale is dethroned, so too will the focus of business innovation shift to a Flourishing Enterprise model of business in which companies and markets focus on objectives based on maximising societal flourishing and units of wellbeing delivered per unit planet input.”

Jules Peck, a trustee of the New Economics Foundation and a fellow of ResPublica

Samizdata quote of the day

I often wonder how different individual lives in Britain would be if alcohol had never been invented. Just imagine all the couples who would never have got together without a little encouragement. All those unsent text messages and undeclared intentions. Can you imagine dancing, let alone pulling, in a sober club?

Iain Hollingshead, Twenty Something: the quarter-life crisis of Jack Lancaster

Samizdata quote of the day

Thousands are dying every year thanks to Britain’s health service not delivering the standards people expect and receive in other European countries. Billions of pounds have been thrown at the NHS but the additional spending has made no discernable difference to the long-term pattern of falling mortality. This is a colossal waste of lives and money. We need to learn lessons from European countries with healthcare systems that don’t suffer from political management, monopolistic provision and centralisation.

– Matthew Sinclair, TaxPayers’ Alliance (via Helen Evans)

Samzidata quote of the day

So that’s it. The argument is over… Low tax-low spend economics is finally threatening to become not just irresistible in terms of rational debate and empirical evidence – which, in fact, it is has been since at least the 1980s – but something far more devastating in electoral terms: it is poised to become cool. It will now be unthinkably unfashionable at dinner parties to defend the notion of the state as the monopoly supplier of virtue and fairness.

– Janet Daley in a Telegraph blog

The state fines businesses for recycling

Shane Greer reports on his attempt to get Westminster City Council to recycle business waste. It turns out that the council, while willing to collect his office’s waste, will not recycle any of that waste – and will fine him if he puts his waste in recycling facilities aimed at domestic users. That sounds awfully like punishing businesses that try to be green.

The problem with councils running recycling services is that they are inefficient and fail to innovate. They use outdated methods that are expensive, and end up recycling in the same way as British Leyland used to make Austin Minis (at a loss).

In large parts of Ireland, a recent report by Gordon Hector points out, the state has let the free market deal with refuse collection: individual customers choose from private companies and pay directly, rather than through council tax. Competition has meant that technologies and methods unknown in the UK have been deployed. Greyhound, one of Ireland’s larger waste companies, recycles 87% of the rubbish it receives (because recycling is good for its profits). The best-performing council in the UK only recycles 55% of waste; the lowest 11%.

This might not compute with environmental activists, but yet again we see that the free market is greener than state control.

– Update: On another brain-dead environmental issue, have a look what the council at Basingstoke is doing to destroy the local environment and harm taxpayers simultaneously, by pushing development into the beautiful Lodden Valley, instead of on the bod-standard land it already owns in Manydown.

Samizdata quote of the day

Politicians are like parents who tell you what time to go to bed but can’t put dinner on the table.

– Matthew Taylor, now Chief Executive of the Royal Society for the Arts, quoted in a 2002 article by Janan Ganesh

The rise of bloggers on Sky News

Shane Greer – a sound centre-right blogging celeb – keeps popping up on Sky News. The news channel’s blog posting about his appearance yesterday bills him simply as “top blogger Shane Greer”. He was on the channel to discuss the stories moving across the web, although the last time I saw him, he was reviewing the papers.

Shane has got an important political media job too (he is executive editor of the forthcoming magazine Total Politics). The presenter did mention that (it is just before the clip below starts), but while Shane was speaking the caption was www.shanegreer.com, his personal blog. I noticed, similarly, Jeff Jarvis being introduced on the channel either today or yesterday as being the author of the BuzzMachine blog.

This is yet more evidence that blogging really is fully mainstream. Additionally, Shane’s blogging-print media combination highlights for me that the traditional media and the best of the blogosphere are now increasingly one in the same.

Ideology before pupils in Britain’s schools

Tony Blair’s support for City Academies – schools with some private sector funding and management – was a move in the right direction, albeit a small one. Now it seems that the Brown government is trying to water that down. Mick Fealty has a perceptive blog posting talking about the war of ideas being fought between Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, and Lord Adonis, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools and Learners.

The glue behind Mr Blair’s school reforms is weak, and those trying to pull them apart deserve a detention.

It turns out that Mr Balls is not just unworried about Britain’s tax burden, he is also blinded to the problem of centralised, top-down state control of education. Apparently, one of Mr Ball’s colleagues says that the man is “entirely ideological. He has a strong belief in the role of local authorities in the delivery of services. He is a big state man.”

Lord Adonis on the other hand is a believer in school freedom and wants sponsors to keep having their say on how City Academies run.

City AM’s new editor is a libertarian

I was pleased to read that Allister Heath has been appointed as Editor of City AM, the free daily newspaper distributed in the City of London. The City is generally quite sound, but somehow I think the addition of a noted Hayekian libertarian as editor of this popular freesheet will help the City get even sounder.

Allister came on the scene in the 1990s when he co-founded the LSE Hayek Society. During the heyday of The European Journal, a Eurosceptic magazine, it was Allister who was editor. He says that when someone gave him a copy of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, he found it full of things that resonated with him. For the past few years, he’s been working on The Business, firstly as Economics Editor, then Deputy Editor and finally as Editor, where he has been a consistent and effective critic of Gordon Brown’s economic policy.

Allister Heath