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

The logistics chain that is Amazon, or Walmart, or even a Ralph’s, is one of the grand capitalist achievements in history. It used to be, in those heady days before the capitalists inserted themselves into the food supply system, that the working man spent 80% of income on food and rent. Sure, rent is a bit of a problem in certain places still. But food bills have fallen to perhaps 10% of household income.

We can check this too. Back in 1962 or so Mollie Orshansky noted that a poor family was spending about 30% or so of income on food. So, if we take a reasonable diet and triple it – roughly – then we’ve got a reasonable estimation of the poverty line. Sure, it was a back of the fag packet estimation and was meant to be used for a year or two while they all figured out something more sensible. But that is what the Official Poverty Line in the US is today, merely upgraded for inflation. And as general inflation has been significantly higher than food price inflation over those decades that average poor family, on the same inflation adjusted budget, is now spending 12 to 15%, not 30%, of their budget on food.

Supermarkets are the reason why. The people who own supermarkets charge a 1 or 2% margin on their activities. They get 2%, we get a 50% reduction in costs. It’s one of the great bargains of all time.

And this is what Guardian columnists complain about…

Tim Worstall

DuckDuckGo going the way of Google?

Yes, ditch Google. By all means. Just be aware that:

* Stopping your use of the Google search engine is just the start. A small, very modest start. You will have a lot more work to do to “deGoogle” from the Borg—and that’s not mentioning the rest: Facebook, Twitter, etc—though that is a vast subject, way beyond the scope of this post.

* Switching to DuckDuckGo is, if not worse, at the very least not better in the context of this culture war.

And when I say “if not worse”, it’s more rhetorical mannerism than anything else.

In your quest to reject Google and the rest of the hostiles, you will have to do your homework. If you’re looking at DuckDuckGo, start with the FEC site. You will see, for instance, that for 2019-2020, all the donations from DuckDuckGo employees have gone Left.

Let that sink in. While not all of DuckDuckGo’s 124 employees have donated, not one has donated outside of the Party line.

The Dissident Frogman

Samizdata quote of the day

When University of Edinburgh students recently censured the anthropology lecturer Neil Thin, they saw the aim of studying as “to learn how to decolonise our thinking and create an inclusive society and environment”. It’s a view that more closely resembles the medieval fusion of intellectual study and religious faith than it does the critical Enlightenment stance that supplanted it.

Mary Harrington

Samizdata quote of the day

Because of course adapting the transport system to how many people want to use it isn’t the right way to go about things. Instead, the hunt is on for the money to keep the system as it is and oversupply the transport that people aren’t going to use.

Which is why politics and government is a really shitty way to run things. It’s also a lovely example of why capitalism and markets work so well. Because the one saving grace of that slightly weird system is that it kills off things no longer desired.

We have that evidence here too. The pandemic induced shock has killed a certain portion of the retail trade. So, what’s happening there? People are thrashing around trying to shrink the retail estate to fit the desire for it. Great gaping chunks of formerly retail space are being converted to other uses. John Lewis is turning retail into office space for example – that might well not be a solution that works but they are at least trying.

The demand from politics is that all must stay the same even as all changes. Nothing so conservative as a socialist, eh?

Tim Worstall

Samizdata quote of the day

Wokeness is literally passive aggressive narcissism as state ideology. Abusers pretending to be victims. Powerful people pretending to be vulnerable. It’s 100% resistant to duty, responsibility, obligation of any kind, to anyone else whatsoever. Totalising bourgeois narcissism.

Aimee Terese

Samizdata quote of the day

When people see those anti-lockdown memes being spread, it forces them to recognize that the world isn’t quite as monolithic as their approved media lulls them into thinking it is. The more they encounter, the more often they must recognize that their paradigms aren’t universal.

In a healthy society, it would be apparent that there were dissenting views. In a society that quashes “disinformation”, you need illicit memes to remind people that there are other views.

Bobby B

Samizdata quote of the day

We should have a 401 (k) plan because 401 (k) plans are a proven failure.

– Tim Worstall writing No, Really, These People Are Insane 🤣

Samizdata quote of the day

I fear that, like the High Septon, they’re missing something. Cersei wasn’t there because there wasn’t going to be a trial. I think the Republicans aren’t going to win back the House and Senate (or the Presidency in 2024) because there aren’t going to be honest elections. The Democrats are pushing hard on numerous fronts to make sure that they can’t lose on the national stage

Esteban making a parallel between Cersei Lannister and the Democrats

Government response to Covid-19 explained in a single video

Addendum: Suitable narrative courtesy of “Bell Curve”:

Government: We must lockdown due to this terrible disease!

Data literate people: Hey, good news, this is a nasty disease if you fit certain profiles but for most people, this is not that big a deal.

Government: We must lockdown again due to this terrible disease!

Data literate people: Guys! Please! Listen, not only is this not that big a deal, we now know early treatment means this is REALLY not a big deal.

Government: We must lockdown yet again due to this terrible disease!

Data literate people: Oh for fuck sake…

Samizdata quote of the day

I have believed, for some time now, that Lockdown will in due course be retro-damned as a cure worse than the disease, that at the very least went on for far too long. A generation of “experts”, all gripped by the fallacy of the risk free alternative, are going to be proved as having been very inexpert indeed. What is ending Covid is herd immunity. And what does Lockdown do? Lockdown slows down the arrival of herd immunity and prolongs the agony, in a feedback loop of yet more Lockdown. Will it ever end? I’ll believe the end of Lockdown when I see it and when the idea of re-imposing Lockdown is no longer talked about. Such are my prejudices just now.

Brian Micklethwait

Samizdata quote of the day

By punishing both the speaker and the person who remained silent, the dean of Georgetown’s law school sent a chilling message: if you are to participate in any discussion regarding grades and race, you must express the politically correct view of the matter. Silence is not an option.

But what the politically correct view actually is remains unclear. Must you say that African-American students in fact do as well in law school as their white counterparts? What if that is not, in fact, true? Can you say that African-American students don’t do as well, but that the cause for this disparity is racial prejudice? What if you don’t believe that? What is your obligation if a colleague expresses her honestly felt angst? Must you quickly interject your disagreement with her views? The message sent by Dean William Treanor is that it is best not to participate in any such conversation, and if a colleague’s comment catches you by surprise, you should walk away or turn off the Zoom call, thereby not expressing agreement or disagreement with the content.

In my view, neither professor said or did anything wrong. But even if they did, they had the academic freedom to express their heartfelt views or to remain silent in the face of a colleague expressing them.

Alan Dershowitz, referring to this incident. Dershowitz describes this as un-American, but sadly the very worst ideas spreading across the globe these days are largely American ones, being injected into other societies by large American companies and institutions that have wholly embraced them. Personally I would like to see a resurgence of older foundational American notions, but that is not the direction things are currently going.

Samizdata quote of the day

By running their ship aground in the Suez Canal, the owners of the Ever Given, Japanese firm Shoei Kisen KK, unilaterally realized the dream of Peter Navarro and other radical protectionists. For seven glorious days over $9 billion dollars worth of goods per day were stopped from flowing through the Suez Canal. Much of that was headed to the United States and would have added to the “trade deficit,” thus (allegedly) wrecking havoc on the United States. Many hundreds of ships loaded with hundreds of thousands of containers full of all kinds of exports are still backed up. The impact on supply chains will continue to be felt long after the forces of free trade got the ship back on its way. According to Lars Jensen, chief executive of Denmark-based SeaIntelligence Consulting, “The effect is not only going to be the simple, immediate one with cargo being delayed over the next few weeks, but will actually have repercussions several months down the line for the supply chain.”

The doctrine of the balance of trade has been around for centuries. It has also been refuted for centuries.

The protectionists should award the captain of the Ever Given a medal for – literally – blocking trade. Protectionists seek to block trade. And that’s what the Ever Given has done. (Free traders argue that protectionism isn’t a useful descriptive term, because blocking trade doesn’t protect a country, although it does protect special interests from competition.)

Of course, no serious person would propose an award to the captain of the Ever Given, but there’s really no economic difference between the bulk of a gigantic ship physically blocking trade and the armed police of the Customs and Border Patrol coercively blocking trade.

Tom Palmer