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

“It has become something of a cliche, but it also happens to be true. If you want to do your bit for the planet, forget Tesla and other super-expensive electric vehicles: just carry on driving the same old gas-guzzling banger you’ve always had. As much, if not more, carbon tends to be expended producing a new car as actually driving one.”

Jeremy Warner, Daily Telegraph (£).

I own an S-Type Jaguar (V6, 3-litre) – one of the last ones to be built – and it drives as smooth as you like, and what makes it all the sweeter is knowing that every time I turn that big black cat’s engine on, a little bit of Greta Thunberg’s cult hopefully dies.

Samizdata quote of the day

“It is no surprise that a liberalism that embraced the “1619 Project’s” rewriting of the U.S.’s founding history would not stop there and try now, despite its almost invisible congressional majority, to displace the country’s originating idea of individual opportunity with a broad birth-to-death entitlement state.”

Daniel Henniger, Wall Street Journal (paywall).

Remember, for some of the hyenas of the Left, the plot of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged isn’t a warning, but an inspiration.

Samizdata quote of the day

“It is one thing to compete with China. I firmly believe we need to do that in every domain, from artificial intelligence to Covid vaccines. But the minute we start copying China, we are on the path to perdition.”

Niall Ferguson, in the Spectator. He also writes about Prof. Neil Ferguson, the character whose modelling of pandemics has had such a baleful impact on our existence.

Samizdata quote of the day

“America innovates, China duplicates and Europe regulates.”

Jeremy Warner, Daily Telegraph, (behind paywall). (He is writing about the EU’s Precautionary Principle and generally silly approach to new technologies. These are differences of degree, of course: it is not as if the US is quite the swinging-from-the-chandeliers classical liberal place of yore.)

Covid – some don’t want this crisis to end

“It is said that politicians, when they see light at the end of the tunnel, go out and buy some more tunnel.”

Sarah Napton, Daily Telegraph, writing about how the UK Government appears reluctant to accept that now that vaccines have been offered to all over-50-year-olds in the UK (a group covering 99 per cent of Covid deaths) that the threat has been massively reduced.

It gets harder by the day to resist the view that too many in government, and indeed among the public, rather enjoy the covid pandemic. It gives them the same buzz of imagining what it might have been like to live through a war, and an episode they look forward to boring their relations and descendants about for years to come. Call it also a form of pandemic Stockholm Syndrome.

Samizdata quote of the day

“Konrad Adenauer, the first post-war West German chancellor, reportedly once said that people who own a detached house rarely become revolutionaries. Whether he actually said that or not, his government certainly acted upon it, facilitating large-scale housebuilding as a means to promote political and social stability (as well as, presumably, for the more self-interested motive of winning votes). The dictum also holds in reverse: if you deliberately wanted to alienate an entire generation and turn them against the market economy, creating a severely supply-constrained housing market like the British one is exactly the way you would do it.”

Kristian Niemietz

In case anyone brings this up, central bank money printing is a factor behind the inflation in residential prices (rents, mortgages) relative to post-tax income, but probably not the only factor. There’s also a rising population as birthrates are a touch above replacement level, immigration (although that might have changed a bit since the Brexit vote of 2016) and changed household composition (divorce, more people living in single-person units, etc).

Samizdata quote of the day

“Totalitarianism depends on the enforcement of false beliefs. Postmodernism admittedly and purposively leaves us no way to adjudicate beliefs. Likewise, postmodernism lends itself to totalitarianism.”

Michael Rectenwald

Samizdata quote of the day

I saw this via Instapundit and have to share:

“Tweedy party-at-the-Verso-loft n+1 leftists aren’t making money. 33 year olds who follow Tik Tok trends for a living and communicate in slang that’s fifteen years too young for them aren’t making money. Arrogant white nerdoliberals with Warby Parkers and Moleskine collections aren’t making money. Sports bloggers who provide sports news and commentary but with attitude aren’t making money. Softening khaki dads struggling to understand Bitcoin and intersectionality in an effort to survive their next inevitable layoff aren’t making money. Talented and unfulfilled women writers who have learned too late that women’s media is a ghetto they will struggle to escape for the rest of their careers aren’t making money. Aspiring young data scientists who labor over their spreadsheets for hours only to see others copy and past[e] their R graphs without attribution and receive 40x the pageviews aren’t making money. And you won’t either.”

Freddie deBoer (who has a Substack account; thanks also to Anne Althouse for putting this up.)

Amazon must be doing a lot right to be hated by Elizabeth Warren

“Elizabeth Warren — the ridiculous hustling flatbilly grifter from Massachusetts from Oklahoma who snookered the academic establishment by pretending to be a Native American while writing dopey self-help books that are so sloppy and intellectually dishonest that it’s a surprise skeezy old Joe Biden hasn’t plagiarized them yet, a political grotesque who prides herself on being in the first generation of her family to attend college but rage-tweets as though she were in the first generation in her family with opposable thumbs, as ghastly and deceitful and god-awful a sniveling and self-serving a creature as the United States Congress has to offer — is, in spite of the genuine facts of her sorry case, getting a little full of herself, and believes that as a senator, she should be above the petty “heckling” of the little people. You know, peons. Like you.”

Kevin D Williamson. He does invective so well: “flatbilly grifter”. I am stealing that.

Dr Yaron Brook also gives the Massachusetts senator a hammering for her attack on Amazon. There needs to be more of this. And well done Amazon for not backing down.

Warren has called for Amazon to be broken up for some time. It bemuses me when I read even supposed pro-market folk calling for these firms to be “broken up”. Into what: floor paving?

Europe’s vaccine mental breakdown

“On the surface, it is hard to understand why the EU is resorting to such extreme measures. According to the consultancy firm Airfinity, even if the EU does ban exports, it will gain only an extra week of supply, while the British will lose two months. The political and economic price will be high. The EU will trash its reputation as a place in which to do business. Why base a plant in somewhere such as Leiden if the authorities will seize control of production lines whenever it is convenient? If these contracts get overridden by bureaucratic fiat, then so can any other agreement. (After all, if the AstraZeneca deal with the EU was legally binding, the company would have been hauled before a judge in Brussels by now.) The EU risks turning itself into a pirate state, for very little gain, which helps explain why smaller countries that depend on multinational investment, such as Ireland, have become nervous. Blind panic is the only explanation that makes sense.”

Matthew Lynn.

In the past, some classical free market types preferred that the UK stay in the EU as the lesser of two evils, and although I think they were misguided, I understood that basis of such a concern (loss of free movement, etc). Given the behaviour of the EU over vaccines, including an obvious contempt for private property, contracts and so forth, the classical liberal case for EU membership looks very ragged now. At the very least, the risk-reward trade-off of being in such a bloc must have shifted. I wonder whether one or more of the smaller nations might bug out if this sort of shit continues. And I am sure some Scottish voters, tempted by independence but concerned about what it means to stay in the EU and be under its single currency, are now thinking.

A label suggestion

These days, government laws mandate that food produce sold in stores must contain lots of information in the label, such as trans-fats, sugar, salt, etc. There are warning labels on certain products, such as cigarettes, all the way through to household detergents, home DIY equipment, paints, plastic bags, you name it. It isn’t clear to me how much of this ever is read closely by consumers, but presumably policymakers hope people do study the label. And when it comes to food allergies, those who suffer from them (nuts, gluten, dairy, etc) will look at them.

I have been listening to this Reason podcast about Phil Harvey and Lisa Conyers, authors of a book who go into the gazillions paid out in subsidies to various business sectors in the US. Their book covers everything from Elon Musk’s Telsa through to the sugar farmer lobby. And during the podcast a suggestion was made – perhaps tongue-in-cheek – that goods and services that have received a subsidy/tariff or other privilege from the State should have that fact posted on the label. Imagine buying a car and having a label in the contract stating “this car has been produced with taxpayers’ money”, or, to take a different example, “This sugar has been made more expensive because of public policy”, etc.

Samizdata quote of the day

“The precautionary principle is a gigantic paternalistic arm around humanity to keep all risk at bay.”

Philip Johnston, Daily Telegraph. (Item behind paywall.)

I have friends and relations in the EU (Italy, Malta, Germany, Belgium) so I cannot take pleasure from the Biblical-level clusterfuck of the EU’s approach to vaccines, and I am certainly angry at the bullying of Brussels vis a vis the UK as the EU top brass attempts to save face. But leaving my obvious personal reasons aside, it is hard not to also enjoy watching the European political classes make such tits of themselves, and in bright lights.