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 billion dollar man

It is a well-worn aphorism that you should avoid meeting your heroes, because up close and personal they will often disappoint you with their inevitable human foibles, as compared to their superhuman attributes as witnessed from a worshipful distance, often spilling tomato juice down the tie of your admiration. But although I have personally found this to be true, with an old Sheffield Wednesday sporting hero of mine who I once discovered sneakily chatting up a girl I was after, the cad, I still feel one must gather one’s rosebuds from life. So despite the aphorism above I always take the risk of meeting heroes, however briefly, on the rare occasions when I get the opportunity to do so.

And last night, when I met one of them, alas very briefly, it proved no risk at all. For not only was my hero just as good in the flesh as he is as a picture on the Internet, he was even better. Far better, a true heroic star, a man of penetrating intelligence with a hint of self-deprecatory humour, a man of sparkling West Coast eloquence with an ability to make uninteresting questions put to him seem vital and imaginative, and a man of such devastating rhetorical ability that in just half an hour he managed to destroy a New Left edifice, constructed out of glue and matchsticks over three decades, to leave it as a dusty pile of splinters on the floor.

He was outstanding. He was inspirational. He was magnificent.

And no, I’m not talking about David Carr. Because I met him last year. I am, of course, talking about Bjørn Lomborg, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist. Michael Jennings, below, details Mr Lomborg’s short talk for the Adam Smith Institute, last night, so I’ll break my usual habit and keep this short. First, you must buy the book, if you haven’t done so already you naughty person. Second, we’re not going to run out of Shale Oil until about the year 5000. Third, that won’t matter, because we’ll be off fossil fuels by the end of the 21st century. Fourth, I was the first one to get my book signed last night because I’m one of those sorts of people. Fifth, if you ever get the chance to hear Bjørn Lomborg speak, yourself, just stop everything. Take that opportunity!

My greatest hero of all, Ludwig von Mises, once stood alone to take on the entire world before he then beat it. Bjørn Lomborg is a man in that vein. Almost alone, and despite copious icebergs of abuse, he has dragged the gun down from our heads that Greenpeace eco-warriors were gleefully pointing at us and wiped the imminent smile of success from their faces. Think Agent Smith. Think Mr Anderson. He is the one.

The book is available on all good websites everywhere. It’s a no-brainer. Just buy it.

[BTW, for all Lomborg groupies, such as myself, there is another great review of the event here, by Andrew Medworth of the ASI]

Death to the chocolate smugglers

That’s it, I’ve had enough. I just could not believe my ears, last night, listening to some po-voiced BBC reporter agreeing with some equally pompous do-gooding UK doctor that British people simply cannot be trusted to look after their own health. They also agreed that Wanless Chinder’s HM Treasury proposal, to introduce yet more tax-funded social engineering into British health care, was a desperately needed breath of fresh air.

Jesus H. Christ. Just when will you people get it? When will you get it into your thick skulls that it is your damned social engineering policies, over the last sixty years, which have created all of your alleged problems in the first place? When you take away people’s responsibilities for their own health care, by providing them with an MRSA-infested paid-for-by-everybody-else National Health Service, the obvious response is for many of them to start abusing their own bodies, or at the very least to start taking less care of themselves. Why? Because someone else will be forced to pick up the pieces afterwards, that’s why. So what the hell, let’s eat another cream cake, let’s drink another bottle of whisky. Because the NHS will pay for any liposuction I may need, afterwards, and the NHS will always supply me with a new liver, should I need one. And if they refuse to, then I’ll sue them for a loss of human dignity. → Continue reading: Death to the chocolate smugglers

Useful idiots

It seems Gordon Brown’s favourite useful idiot, Derek Wanless, has been at it again. The much-criticised former banker, who disastrously turned the giant NatWest bank into a tiddler taken over by the Royal Bank of Scotland, has taken a second lump of taxpayer cash from HM Treasury, to produce a second report telling them, once again, what they wanted to hear in the first place.

This follows his previous report, also commissioned by HM Treasury, which told them National Insurance payroll taxes should be raised to increase government spending on the NHS. Which duly happened, straight after the last General Election.

Dilbert Derek’s latest report tells us essentially that the government should do more to look after the health of its citizens. In much the same way, of course, that pig farmers should look after the health of their pigs. Welcome to the farm, citizens.

What this will undoubtedly turn into is a righteous claim, as predicted by our very own Mr David Carr, that HM Treasury should, unwillingly, and after due consideration, raise our taxes again. For our own good. Bless them.

Who cares what the actual tax will be? A fat tax, a hat tax, a stick it up your jumper tax, don’t worry, they’ll think of something. So my hot gambling tip of the day, if you’ve got any money left after this year’s January self-assessment tax deadline, is to put your loot down on ‘More Taxes Soon’, in the five o’clock at HM Treasury. This may be your last chance to ever have any spare money, so enjoy it while it lasts. Get a McDonalds with your winnings. Don’t worry. They won’t mind. They just want your money.

Strike a light

The following point may seem obvious, and my apologies to you in advance if it is, but it did wake me this morning, at around 5am. Which is unusual for me, because at that time in the morning, before my first cup of tea, I normally have the mental capacity and memory attention span of a small flea. A particularly unintelligent flea. A flea, perhaps, in desperate need of a government initiative.

It’s because of all these strikes we’ve been having recently, within the foaming shores of these sceptred isles. We had a paralysing Firemen’s strike, in which 17,000 soldiers, with 50-year-old equipment, unflappably replaced 55,000 strikers. We’ve just had a catastrophic government Civil Service strike, in which I was unable to claim state benefits for almost two whole days. And we’re currently enduring a calamitous state-owned University strike, where a bearded lecturer called Kevin, at the Friedrich Engels College in Newhaven, is refusing to deliver his annual keynote lecture on the philosophy of Schopenhauer. It’s been hell, it really has.

In some ways you could imagine that British industrial relations are heading down the same pan they headed down in the late 1970s. But wait! None of these strikes are actually industrial. In fact I cannot remember, for the life of me, the last serious strike which occurred, at all, in the industrious wealth producing private sector. There may have been the odd Spanish practices walkout in previously nationalised industries, such as British Telecom or British Airways, but a question formed in my mind, this morning, when by all that is great and good in the world it should have been dreaming about Penelope Cruz instead.

Have British strikes, to all serious intents and purposes, become an exclusively public sector phenomenon?

Are British strikes the last refuge of incompetent non-tax-paying public sector ‘key workers’, who wish to hold Britain’s wealth-creating taxpayers to ransom via the coercive hand of their idiot socialist friends in government? And is the public sector exclusivity of these strikes yet another testament to the enduring genius of our very own Joan of Arc, political saviour, and English heroine, Margaret Hilda, the Baroness Thatcher?

Your country is plagued by strikes and you want rid of them. Solution? Get rid of the public sector. Job done. Problem solved. Another instrumental Thatcherite lesson for politicians everywhere.

Baroness Thatcher. We truly are not worthy.

Bringing down the ivory tower

Stop all the clocks. Cut off the telephone. Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone. For the UK’s University lecturers are going on strike. On Wednesday. Put it in your diary. It’s a catastrophe.

If anybody notices, of course.

“We’ve got the support of the students,” said one earnest lecturer, on the radio this morning. From what I remember of my own ear-ringed, combat-trousered, drunken oblivion, in academia, I used to just love lecturers going on strike. It was simply great for extending hangover recovery times. And with Wednesday being a traditional sports day, within British Universities, the lecturers, I presume, will only be sacrificing about three hours pay, from their 10am coffee break, which starts the morning, to the 1pm finish time, which ends their arduous half-working day.

So brave of them. Don’t ya think? → Continue reading: Bringing down the ivory tower

Dancing on the head of a pin

So what’s the difference between socialism and conservatism? Judging by the spitting and hissing of the Labour Party’s Douglas Alexander, in conversation this morning with Shadow Chancellor Oliver Letwin, it’s about £20 billion pounds. This is the vile slash-and-burn difference between the amount Mr Letwin says he can trim off the government’s future spending plans, and the amount the Labour Party are aiming to trim off the government’s own spending plans, at least according to a leaked internal government sponsored plan, from Sir Peter Gershon.

This trimming of £20 billion pounds is going to require immediate and severe cuts to skoolznozpitals, say Mr Alexander. Tish, says Mr Letwin, we’re simply going to grow public spending just ever so slightly slower than you are. Which as a British taxpayer, I found particularly reassuring this morning, while stuck on the M4 motorway trying to get onto the M25. → Continue reading: Dancing on the head of a pin

Outflanking Labour on the left

Being an ideologue of purity in the purist mould of teetotaller George Best, I’m increasingly coming to the conclusion that the once politically invincible British Conservative Party is rapidly becoming untenable even to me, yes to me, a proud member of the intellectually lightweight jellyfish club. Witness this quote from today’s Daily Telegraph:

But there is also speculation that he [Oliver Letwin] will offer to spend more on health and education than Labour to rebut claims that the Tories will starve the public services of extra cash


The British dream

You know, unlike my proprietor, I’m beginning to warm to Transylvania’s very own Michael Howard. But he just keeps failing to take his own thoughts to a natural logical conclusion.

After an ideologically mixed start, particularly with his comments about drugs, and support for his mini-me, David Blunkett, he’s still just coming out with platitudes, rather than policies, particularly with his speech yesterday entitled, The British Dream:

Too many are cheated of the decent education that is essential for people to make the best of their lives. Too many are cheated of the first class health care that they deserve. Why? Because we have a State that does too much, that interferes too much, that is too unaccountable.

No Michael, it doesn’t interfere too much. It just interferes. If more government can’t improve a situation, then surely less government is even better. And where does this logically end up? With no government at all. → Continue reading: The British dream

Krapp’s last government intervention

On a long drive, this morning, I came across an interesting piece on Andrew Marr’s Start the Week programme on BBC Radio Four, a radio station I still cannot quite give up. The thrust of the piece was that free market producers in London’s West End are creating shockingly ‘commercial’ and ‘unoriginal’ shows, and that something should be done about it to make life more interesting for London’s chattering classes. → Continue reading: Krapp’s last government intervention

Crooked Timber – An anthem to marxism

One of the many things I love about novelist Ayn Rand is her idealistic view of the human form, especially when shorn of its drag-down weight of socialist commitment. This view of humanity is best portrayed, I think, in her stunning short book, Anthem, especially when Randian hero Equality 7-2521 is described by his lover, Liberty 5-3000, as being beautiful. Equality 7-2521 then re-christens himself Prometheus, after the Greek deity who created mankind in the image of the Gods.

Anthem is a marvellous book, and I’m glad to see that Boston airport’s Terminal E shopping mall was carrying so many copies, on a recent visit to the socialist wonderland of Massachusetts. You very rarely see this lesser-known Randian masterpiece in UK bookshops.

What you also rarely see on blogs like Crooked Timber, another socialist wonderland, is an acknowledgement that mankind is of itself a wonderful thing. With a site name based directly on the Kantian principle that mankind is intrinsically flawed, its thirteen professors of economics, philosophy, politics, and sociology, work to the premise that we feeble creatures of mankind need an overarching social democratic system to live by, as a consequence of our crookedness. Oh, how Ayn Rand would have applauded this use of Kantian philosophy. → Continue reading: Crooked Timber – An anthem to marxism

Better dead than not red

Do you love red squirrels? I love red squirrels. They are very red and they are very squirrely. I love them. There are also some ecologists in England who love them too, almost as much as I do. They just love those big fluffy red tails.

They love them so much they hate anything which may come to lessen their numbers. They particularly hate grey squirrels, with a determined pathological intensity. They hate them so much, that they find great pleasure in killing them, wherever they can find them. Fine action for beardy ecologists, you may think, wiping out one species with murderous fury, to preserve another specially blessed one. But in this case, it’s OK, because the grey squirrels deserve it. Check out the Redsquirrel.org.uk home page, to find out why. Notice the lead phrase:

Sadly, thanks to the invasion of its grey cousin introduced from America, RED SQUIRRELS have been driven out from much of their territory

Invasion. America. Their territory. → Continue reading: Better dead than not red

Letter from America – Land of the Free?

Let me first of all state my basic position. I love America. There, I have said it. But I think there is a problem. I think the citizens of the United States are deluding themselves that they live in the ‘Land of the Free’.

As I write this, in the downtown financial district of Boston Massachusetts, I am a hundred and fifty yards from the site of the historic Boston Tea Party, right here on the harbour lip of Fort Point Channel. In my opinion this site rates as one of the most significant places on Earth, third in my list of inspirational locations which I have personally visited, right behind Avebury and Stonehenge, and even creeping ahead of the Great Pyramid of Khufu. Yes, I am one of those obsessive libertarians. I really am that sad.

Because in the future, when all of the current omnipotent state machines of the world have shrunk to nothing, this site in Boston harbour will be hailed as the Mohawk-dressed pinprick which first burst their bubble, the very point in space and time where the idea of the necessity of the state first started to die.


Birthplace of a libertarian revolution

But I fear we have a long road to travel before we reach that heady day, when the final Byzantine Emperor of the state is killed defending its walls of mediocrity, defending its rights to general taxation, and defending its monopoly provision of both justice and security. Because what I discovered, in Boston, admittedly in a state which ought to be renamed Taxachusetts, was a shock. → Continue reading: Letter from America – Land of the Free?