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]

Coming to America

It would seem for the third time in my life I am to be granted the pleasure of visiting Benjamin Franklin’s sceptred continental homeland. If there are any bloggers in the Boston MA area willing to show a certain tight-assed Brit where the tea was thrown overboard in the harbour, I am more than willing to buy them a drink, as we discuss the consequences of this immortal event.

Alternatively we can talk about the far more important merits of American beer versus British beer, if you can think of a bar suitable for such a debate!

If the US immigration service let me in, I should be at home in Massachusetts between the 26th and 29th of January.

Ofcom: The office of communists

On a long taxi ride through London this afternoon, I spotted an excellent article by Stephen Glover, of the Spectator, on the increasing government control of the UK press via its new ‘watchdog’ regulator (read: Censor). This is a splendiferous bureaucrat body bearing the relatively innocuous and seemingly inexpensive title of Ofcom:

Well worth a read. Let me supply you with a flavour:

Ofcom is the brainchild of an interfering and overbearing government. We have never been closer to state control of the press.

Hey, I could have written that, even in a really bad mood! I like it!

Say what you like about my MP, Boris Johnson, he does still occasionally knock out a magazine with the odd great article. What does surprise me about Mr Glover’s article is not the increasing control of the press from this New Labour Luvvie watchdog, but the parasitic salaries that these busy-bodies have awarded themselves. They are simply incredible:

The first thing we learnt was that the regulator had awarded more than 70 of its staff contracts worth more than £100,000 a year in pay and perks. This was significantly in excess of Ofcom’s earlier estimates. Evidently this new arm of the state will be quite a little gravy train. Lord Currie, the chairman, and, it so happens, a good friend of Gordon Brown’s, will be paid £133,000 a year for a four-day week. Stephen Carter, the regulator&’s chief executive, receives £250,000 a year.

Blimey O’Reilly!

Seventy apparatchiks on more than 100k a year, who do not actually produce anything except government censorship diktats. Incredible. Even Julius Caesar’s Romans would’ve blanched at this proto-imperial excess.

Well done Stephen Glover and Boris ‘The Blonde One’ Johnson for publicising this New Labour larceny and blatant attack on the UK free press. The Speccie will probably get their publication license revoked, as a result. But, heck. It will be worth it. Keep sticking it to them, Boris!

The point of socialism

After asking this question a while ago, I think I now have the answer as to the point of socialism. For despite Britain’s crumbling police system, where seemingly every day unprotected bystanders are punched, knifed, and shot, by lowlife scum, in a pursuit to spend grubby stolen fivers on narcotics, the purpose of socialism has become clear. For where lumpen prole John Prescott could be fighting in the British Cabinet for innocent individuals to have the right to defend themselves, a right he personally cherishes, he’s pursuing far more worthy aims instead, ones really worth getting out of bed for, in one of those four houses he currently occupies.

For have you ever burned yourself or your children, in the bathroom, with red hot scalding water? Have you ever then thought immediately afterwards that I wish the state would intervene here, because I’m obviously far too stupid to either look after myself or my children? If you have had these thoughts, then help is now at hand. For Captain John Prescott, Champion of Children, is going to step in and rescue you. He’s going to make it compulsory for all new installed hot taps, in British bathrooms up and down the land, to have heat regulators fitted to them, to prevent you pitiful serfs from hurting yourselves and depriving the state of its rightful income taxes if you take a day off work to recover.

You’ll have to pay extra for these tap fittings, of course, skewing the economy, but generating extra sales tax income for HMG. And naturally the state will need extra bureaucratic regulators to regulate all of these compulsory thermostatic regulators. No News Corporation link, I’m afraid, but here’s what I read in ‘The Sun’ Newspaper, this lunchtime, over my black pudding, sausage, bacon, and eggs (which came to you today, from the excellent ‘Piggies’, on St James Road, in Surbiton, Surrey):

JOHN Prescott has landed himself in hot water — over trying to control our hot water. The Deputy Prime Minister says taps in new and refurbished homes must have a thermostatic control to stop people scalding themselves. But Prescott has been accused of Big Brother tactics. Tory housing supremo David Curry said: “This regulation-obsessed Government is now trying to regulate the elements.”

And so the ratchet tightens another click.

Gorge yourself stupid

With a rapidity which defies belief, Mr Bezos, of Amazon.com, has delivered to my grasping hand Professor Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s The Myth of National Defense, and a copy of Ludwig von Mises’ Bureaucracy, direct from Amazon’s Seattle headquarters, via standard shipping, in less than a week. Remarkable.

I thought I’d warm myself up for the big one, from Herr Hoppe, with the 1944 classic from Herr Von Mises. And what a true classic it is. I’m only on page 19, of its one hundred and thirty four pages, but already it has staggered me with its guillotine-sharp language, its brutal power, and its Germanic eloquence. Magnificent.

We simply are unworthy of this greatest of the twentieth century’s bearers of the flame of liberty.

One quote has already caught my eye, after a recent David Carr article:

It [modern socialism] is totalitarian in the strict sense of the term. It holds the individual in tight rein from the womb to the tomb. At every instant of his life the ‘comrade’ is bound to obey implicitly the orders issued by the supreme authority. The State is both his guardian and his employer. The State determines his work, his diet, and his pleasures. The State tells him what to think and what to believe in.

→ Continue reading: Gorge yourself stupid

A Welshman protests

There’s been lots of talk here in the UK, over the past few days, about the core beliefs of the Conservative Party leader, Michael Howard. This fragrant Man of Wales published these core beliefs in the Times Newspaper, last week, basing them heavily upon the spirit of the American Constitution.

About a year ago, I would have signed up to them. But since then many good men and women have directed my thinking towards an entirely different direction. So I wondered this evening, after trying to avoid the issue for several days, if I could still support the Tory party, especially after their former Chairman, Norman Tebbit, recently declared on the BBC that he greatly admired public service broadcasting.

So, right up to the minute here on Samizdata.net, what would your beliefs be? Here are Michael’s: → Continue reading: A Welshman protests

Happy New Year, from HM Inland Revenue

Of all the tax payments I make in a year, either direct or indirect, the largest cheque I’m compelled to write has to be registered in Her Majesty’s Treasury by January the 1st, each year. This is so Gordon Brown can then burn it, of course, on even more government regulation, on even more government corruption, and on even more government waste. And today was the last day free for me to get the ink onto the paper.

Ho ho ho, Gordon. I hope you choke on it.

Having just returned from the Post Office, where I schlepped the loot over, I wondered whether the British state has ever had it so easy. The Sheriff of Nottingham, in Robin Hood’s day, had to go round digging up peasants’ gardens, to see if they’d buried any taxable wheat. Here, in modern Britain, even one of Professor Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s (slightly critical) Austro-libertarian extremist disciples will calmly walk into a government controlled bank, and just hand the loot over, knowing full well that every penny of this hard-earned moolah will be wasted on Guardian Reader parasites.

No, not every penny. Most of it will be wasted on Guardian Reader parasites. The rest of it will be spent on making the life of this humble Austro-libertarian even worse, with an even greater intrusion into his life, and an even greater government commitment to increase the regulation over his already over-regulated life. Don’t ya just love state socialism! → Continue reading: Happy New Year, from HM Inland Revenue

One film to rule them all

I staggered blearily back to an Internet connection this morning and looked for the Samizdata Lord of the Rings review so I could add my comment of a single word, ‘Triumph’, before staggering even more blearily through to the New Year.

But though I looked high and low in the Gladden Fields of Micklethwaitian cultural commentary, this review appeared to have rolled down the Anduin bit pipe and down into the sea of review history long ago. Or had it even appeared at all? A bit more searching and still nothing appeared. So it seemed the task had fallen to a simple Oxfordshire resident, rather than one more worthy.

I must apologise in advance if this review starts falling apart in its latter stages. I watched most of the last twenty minutes through a tearful blur of homoerotic emotion just glad the lights were down so nobody could see the big blubbing bloke in the corner. → Continue reading: One film to rule them all

What is the point of socialism?

Ok, socialists, answer me this! What exactly is the point of your stupid idiot religion? I thought it was all about stealing money off the rich to give to the poor, you know, the old Robbing Hood theme. That’s why I used to support it.

But under ‘New’ Labour, it seems the spirit of the that filthy old capitalist miser, Scrooge, is alive and well and inhabiting the numskull mind of Dawn Primarolo, that overpaid chauffeur-driven socialist bigwig, who never misses a five-star cooked meal, or a round of Christmas drinks, down in the oak-panelled warmth of Her Majesty’s Treasury.

Just in time for Christmas, it seems Red Dawn is going to claw back some welfare benefits from the poorest in society, in order to get Gordon’s borrowing down a bit, so he can continue subsidising wealthy Guardian Readers with tax credits, to fund their post-Christmas skiing holidays in France.

Not quite why I was prepared to man the barricades with a copy of ‘Militant’ and a pair of unnecessary NHS spectacles to make me look more credible.

You socialists, and anyone else who votes for ‘New’ Labour, ought to be ashamed of yourselves. You and your party are beyond the pale, ‘stealing’ off the very poorest in society, particularly at this time of year. Shame on you. All of you. You disgust me.

That it demonstrates the total corrupt hypocrisy of welfare state socialism is of course obvious, perhaps even to those of you wearing pink-tinted NHS spectacles. But how can you continue living with yourselves and supporting these sleek self-pampered crooks in the New Labour executive when you hear news like this? Or maybe you’d prefer to bury your heads in the sand when hearing news like this? I know I would if I was still with you. I succeeded in this cowardly behaviour for years, much as you’re probably doing right now.

Consider this, though. Maybe this kind of rank hypocrisy is inevitable because socialism doesn’t work. I know, it’s a real mind-bender isn’t it? Maybe it’s even time you woke up and came over to join us on the light side? Consider it as a New Year’s resolution.

You’re all welcome, anytime, by the way. You just have to drop hypocrisy off at the door.

Cigarettes overpriced, says UK government

It is not enough for some bureaucrats just to loaf about, coming in late, going home early, taking long lunches, and generally living the life of medieval lords and ladies. No, a few of them actually try to find work to do, usually to please their political masters, to make it look as if politicians and civil servants are in some way useful. So, in a bid to justify their taxpayer-funded index-linked pensions, the boys and girls in Britain’s Office of Fair Trading (OFT) have decided to launch an investigation into an alleged price-fixing scam amongst Britain’s three largest cigarette companies. Is there any evidence? If there is, it’s probably been written on the back of a fag packet, after some boozy Friday in Whitehall.

Did somebody forget to tell the OFT that of every £4 pounds spent on cigarettes, in the UK, £3 pounds and twenty pence goes to big fat Gordon, in the Treasury, to waste on Cabinet Office taxi fares, in the biggest monopolistic price-fixing scam of all? So the cigarette companies, those unacceptable faces of capitalism, whose golden goose profits prop up Her Majesty’s Government with billions in tax every year, are apparently manufacturing the cigarettes, getting them to the consumer, providing the retailers with a decent handling fee, and still conniving with the few pennies left to ‘rip off’ the consumer? No doubt they are also threatening rival cigarette manufacturers with menaces, if they try to ‘butt’ into their market. Maybe they have hired a few ex-Inland Revenue bottom inspectors, for the task?

However, have I got news for you, oh wondrous denizens of the OFT. Do not dig too hard and kill your golden goose. If you do, it might become a bit too obvious why it is we do live in ‘rip off’ Britain. The people ripping everyone else off are the government, and all of its agents, including the over-salaried nose-pokers in the OFT. Take another flexi-day off, for pity’s sake. Just let the rest of us get on with our lives.

One book to rule them all

I often make predictions, and with a kiss of Mafia-like death, virtually all of them fail to come true. I have a gift.

However, it gives me great pleasure to announce that at least one of them has come true. Lord of the Rings has been voted, against all the muttered displeasures of the socialist London-based diners of the BBC cognoscenti, and the great and the good, as the United Kingdom’s favourite ever book.

Which reminds me of the following quote:

Well, here at last, dear friends, on the shores of the Sea comes the end of our fellowship in Middle-Earth. Go in peace! I will not say: do not weep; for not all spurious BBC competitions to fill up the airwaves with cheap programming, so the money saved can be used to prop up the useless lives of BBC socialist parasites, are an evil.

If this book can win, against all the railings of the government worshippers who rule this country, then I have hope. One day we will destroy their ring of power and free ourselves from their tyranny. In the meantime, let’s just hope Mr Jackson gets the film rights for ‘The Hobbit’, to give us something to watch next Christmas.

Medieval: Total War

Running short of last minute Christmas ideas? Want to understand what it’s like to be a ruthless statist? Look no further than Medieval: Total War. I was at a loose end last week, alone with a laptop, a CD drive, a hotel bedroom, fifteen quid burning a hole in my pocket, and a nearby South London branch of WH Smiths. There are many terrible things such a situation can tempt a man into, so I leapt into one of them regardless. Finding a bargain-basement copy of Medieval: Total War, for £14:99, I loaded up the sucker and got going. I started as the English, on the easy level, from 1087 onwards, my mission to conquer the whole of Europe by 1487. Three hundred and fifty years later, virtually the whole of Europe is now dominated by England, I’ve destroyed the French and the Germans, almost as good as beating Australia at Rugby, and I’m about to conquer Constantinople. Unfortunately, I remained unable to do any of this without keeping the provincial tax levels at ‘Normal’, i.e. 50%, rather than ‘Very Low’. Though as an Austrian, I did resist going for ‘Very High’ taxes, at 70%, to pay for my insatiable desire for more troops, better weapons, Royal Knights, and Welsh Longbow men.

If you do get the game, try to get up to the Halberdier and Swiss Pike men level of building technology. Both soldier types are lethal, especially at cutting up enemy cavalry.

In a two-way split game, you first of all play a game of strategy, sort of like a complex form of chess, on an Olde Worlde map of Europe, with the construction of buildings, fleets, the training of soldiers, assassins, princesses, and various alliances. You have to build up certain levels of technology, based on your provincial castles building program, before you can train up certain types of more professional soldiers. You then press an ‘end of year’ button, a bell tolls, and you move into the second stage of the game where your campaigning soldiers go into full 3-D battles, with opposing armies, with the same battle engine currently being used in the Time Commanders television series.

What I really liked about the game was its insistence that you look after trade, and keeping your provincial populations happy. Yes, only in order to keep your tax levels up, and to avoid expensive rebellions from the serfs, but Professor Hoppe’s analysis that monarchy is better than democracy, though still much worse than proper liberty, becomes more persuasive by the day.

Is the game addictive? I’ll say. I’ve had to ask my wife to hide the disks when I got home. But have no fear. I have a sneaking feeling I’m getting Railroad Tycoon for Christmas, so I can pretend to be Dagny Taggart. I wonder if it has a John Galt extension pack? Should a man my age be doing such things? I have absolutely no idea. But it certainly beats watching television, especially the vacuous rubbish on the BBC. I wish I could give up the BBC completely. Has anyone in the UK tried it? I’d miss Top Gear, of course, but virtually all of the rest of it you can keep. Except for John Humphries on the radio, this morning, when he literally laughed in Chancellor Gordon Brown’s face, as El Gordo tried to persuade the Welsh Rottweiler that his new open-ended National Insurance tax is in some way different from income tax. It was almost worth the licence fee. Almost, of course, but not quite.

Having the last Laffer curve

It seems Arthur Laffer’s famous curve is finally starting to bite into Gordon Brown’s economic plans, you know, the ones based on hope, pie in the sky, and getting one solitary day past the next general election date. Apparently Gordon is puzzled by Britain’s steady economic growth, of approximately 2%, but its fall in tax revenues, last year, of around £8 billion pounds.

Well, Gordon, it’s like this. If you borrow £37 billion pounds, plus a few other hidden tens of billions on public-private ‘partnerships’, you’ll get apparent economic growth, because all of the paperclip suppliers in the country have been working flat out to feed all of those nice new shiny government bureaucrats with nice new shiny stationery equipment. But one day all of those paperclips are going to have to be paid for, Gordon. I know, it’s just terrible, isn’t it?

And having hit the wealth-generating sector of the economy with a cornucopia of new taxes and regulations, since 1997, Gordon, the latest being an extension of IR35, and then having thrown the proceeds at your friends in the wealth-spending sector of the economy, you’re about to hit what we credit-card junkies call ‘economic reality’. That’s when the credit card company finally stops letting you borrow any more money from this month to pay off next month’s minimum card payment. Bummer.

If I were you, Gordon, I would get that Tony Blair out of office, right now, or at the end of January at the very least, to take his job. Then land poor old Alistair Darling in at the Treasury, so he can carry the can when it all goes bang. Does that sound like a plan, Gordon? Good. Glad we’ve got it sorted.

I’d send you a bill for fifty quid, for this consultancy advice. However, I sense that although you possess the economics of a half-wit, possessing political cunning to your fingertips you’ll already have the Tony Blair Hutton/Top-up fees assassination plan well in hand. Nice job on preparing his ejector seat excuse, by the way, “for reasons of my health”. Top quality.