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]

Name that demographic

Apparently, the reason Senator Hillary Clinton (New York) won the recent New Hampshire Democratic party US presidential primary was as follows:

No, it appears at this early stage of analysis that the pieces were in place for this win all along, and that the “secret weapon” of the Clinton campaign was their field program to significantly boost turnout with their strongest demographic, single women and women with less than a college degree.

I wonder what we should call “single women and women with less than a college degree”? Not “Soccer Moms” obviously. I have a horrible feeling I know what Chris Rock would call them…

BTW, I note there are no Samizdata category sections for “witchcraft” or “elections”. This might be a case for either or both.

Talk of the Devil

…or should I say Ron Paul. The previous post makes the case against Ron Paul as a champion of the libertarian faction of the US Republican party.

However, I shall be speaking about the US primary system and what Congressman Paul’s campaign means at the Putney Debates tonight. I shall try to get a summary up over the weekend, either on Samizdata or here. The title of my talk is ‘Change at the Top: How the US Election Process Works and What are the Opportunities for Ron Paul?’ Details from here.

I shall also be continuing to cover the US primaries on my election blog.

Liveblogging New Hampshire

I am covering the New Hampshire primaries over on my Election Watch blog.

So far, the fun is Ron Paul 4 votes, Hillary Clinton 3. OK so Dixville Notch and Hart’s Location are not representative of the whole state.

Trying to lose

This news makes me happy that I have no hopes for ‘victory’ in Iraq, beyond having a battlefield for European Islamists to go and die on far away from European and American cities.

Banning your own side from telling your side of a war is pretty dim, especially when the MSM is effectively scouting for the other side. It does not seem beyond the competency of the US armed forces to issue its bloggers with a “Do Tell” and “Don’t Tell” list.

As for the pretext that bandwidth is the problem, it reminds me of the British grocery store in the 1960s that stopped stocking up on a certain brand of bread “because we keep running out…”

The tyrant of Baghdad is dead. His successors are dead. That’s all that can be hoped for under the existing rules of engagement.

Samizdata quote of the day

I suppose David Cameron never had much a chance with people like me, in that I hated him almost before he was born.

– Paul Marks

Live blogging the US elections

Over on Antoine Clarke’s Election Watch, I am running results and commentary on the U.S. mid-term elections tonight.

The most reliable source last time was RealClearPolitics. However, they’re admiting a huge range of possible outcomes in the Senate, from only two Republican losses, to six, which would mean a change of majority.

A little short-sighted perhaps?

The British Medical Association’s response to a proposal by the British government to allow optometrists more leeway to prescribe medication for eye problems.

“In order to safeguard patient care, the BMA’s ophthalmic committee can only envisage extremely limited opportunities for optometrists to make therapeutic interventions.”

I wonder whose interests are really being ‘safeguarded’ here.

Search for a good cause

I am now donating about $0.01 to the Mises Institute each time I do a search online. As my various writing committments require me to look things up at a rate of at least 20 a day, this means that I am raising a dollar a week (excluding weekends). Goodsearch, a Yahoo-based search engine, donates the money on the basis of the number of searches carried out. Details can be found here.

Most Samizadatistas will disagree with the Mises Insitute for being isolationist on foreign affairs, although this position is motivated more by a refusal to support collectivism (even the ‘good collectivism’ of a war of liberation) rather than the desire to see the USA lose, which is closer to the left’s position.

On the other hand, the Mises Institute is consistently against bad economics, government regulation, taxes and socialist theory as much as practice.

If the Mises Institute is too radically libertarian for your tastes, you can select another charity, you can even switch from time to time. Come to think of it, I could switch beneficiaries as I search different topics, or on different days of the week.

Chris Tame obituary in the Independent

Sean Gabb has penned an obituary of Chris Tame in the Independent.

Chris Tame R.I.P.

Chris Tame, founder and president of the Libertarian Alliance has just passed away in a London clinic.

I enclose the final email I sent him last week.

Dear Comrade,

I just wanted to tell you that I am very grateful for the help you’ve
given me and the opportunities you’ve put my way over the years,
especially as I have not always met your hopes. You put opportunities
my way when many would not have done, and I shall always remember

At FOREST, I remember you asking me to do filing for you, a task for
which I was very unsuited (especially as you are the most organized
person I’ve ever met).

At Lambeth, I really enjoyed working with you, and in particular I
recall the Monday after you’d   cleared out the stock room and all our
desks. It was refreshing to find a draw full of the supplies I needed.
I thought then that you could definitiely have been a British Julie

I also enjoyed the fun of coming up with headlines for press releases
in Lambeth: as libertarians we were of course completely unfazed by
evidence of the ineptitude of local government.

I bumped into Ivor Fishburne last week and told him about your
illness. He asked me to pass on his best wishes and concern.

Your achievements will be remembered, with the web and new
technologies your influences will I’m sure be ever greater. The
cataloguing and writings will never perish.

One of my proudest moments was in the Mozart House in Bratislava in
August 1991, in the actual room where Mozart gave a performance aged
5. I read out your “Taxation is Theft” LA pamphlet to a room full of
politicians…. and years later, the Slovak government brought in a
flat tax. Some of the people who did this heard my speech and your arguments.

Yours in the struggle for freedom.


No sense of irony

Heh. Who was that speaker again?

From an email circular promoting think-tank events around Europe:


21/02/06 Policy Exchange “Why the Agenda of the Future cannot be delivered by a person stuck in the Past” – William Hague MP, Shadow Foreign Secretary

RSVP: info@policyexchange.org.uk

The quiet march of remittances

My first posting on the Globalization Institute’s blog is about the almost hidden but massive transfers of cash by migrants workers to their families in under-developed countries. The following quote comes from Time magazine:

Mass migration has produced a giant worldwide economy all its own, which has accelerated so fast during the past few years that the figures have astounded the experts. This year, remittances – the cash that migrants send home – is set to exceed $232 billion, nearly 60% higher than the number just four years ago, according to the World Bank, which tracks the figures. Of that, about $166.9 billion goes to poor countries, nearly double the amount in 2000. In many of those countries, the money from migrants has now overshot exports, and exceeds direct foreign aid from other governments. “The way these numbers have increased is mind-boggling,” says Dilip Ratha, a senior economist for the World Bank and co-author of a new Bank report on remittances. Ratha says he was so struck by the figures that he rechecked his research several times, wondering if he might have miscalculated. Indeed, he believes the true figure for remittances this year is probably closer to $350 billion, since migrants are estimated to send one-third of their money using unofficial methods, including taking it home by hand.

There are two things I especially like about this growing trend. One is that unlike other forms of aid (including private giving by Westerners), the money tends to be better spent, because the donor is immediately related to the recipient. The second is I think unique to migrant workers. Normally there is a dependency trap: the money coming in is for a set term and will only be renewed if the recipient pleads continuing poverty. But migrant workers who leave their families behind have a strong incentive to watch out for improving economic conditions back home. As families achieve a tolerable standard of living they tend to reduce the amount of migration. The whole bureaucracy of aid is bypassed.

Thinking about it, perhaps giving a Christmas bonus of £100 to the office cleaner from Ghana or the Ukraine does more to make the world a better place than £200 given to an aid charity. We often hear about the benefits of cutting taxes, but here’s a new one. For each pound in taxes saved by low-income migrant workers, up to 40p will be transferred to a family in the developing world. That’s got to be a better return than the government makes of our money.