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]

Should I contribute to the Guardian?

In this time of echo chambers and knee jerk slogans, shall I donate money to the Guardian to understand alternative views. The press is dying and alternatives still remain vulnerable to pressure and corruption. We have no online Private Eye, such an important component if we relax planning laws.

Investigative journalism is still required!

Time to leave the IMF

Zerohedge has noted that the IMF is reactivating its New Arrangements to Borrow facility. This is a backdoor channel for bailing out an insolvent Eurozone. It is time for Great Britain to leave the IMF as it injects money into failure.

As the whole of the international architecture for finance is becoming a byword for bailouts, why stop at the IMF?

Speer’s battle with freedom

Gitta Sereny, the dark chronicler of Nazi Germany, spent many hours in conversation and correspondence with Albert Speer, the organisational genius of that regime. From this sprang her study of immorality, dishonour and ambiguous redemption, “Albert Speer: His battle with truth“. Gitta Sereny’s mother was also the wife of Von Mises from 1938. This connection sprang to life when Abert Speer sent her a clipping in 1977. The clipping was an article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on the theories of Von Mises.

Manfred von Poser recalled that Speer had two strong beliefs: a maximum of individual initiative at the expense of state power and a European Community. Whilst the latter may have been expressed in some dark, racialist principle, the former was stillborn within Speer’s thoughts and actions. It is pointless to ask if Speer was a libertarian: since these are principles arrived at through understanding freedom in all its forms, not the inchoate grasping of a malformed mind that understands the damage caused by the state he supported and the evil that it perpetrated.

Yet, Speer understood the failures of the state in some shape and form. He understood its inability to meet its requirements, its responsibilities and the monstrous outcomes of state planning. Not at the beginning of his career within the National Socialist movement, but a gradual awareness as his own responsibilities grew. Speer’s experiences show that a comprehension of state failure is insufficient without a moral framework. It is observing freedom through the wrong end of the telescope. Speer’s alternative did not champion individual liberty at the beginning. It was an instrument for achieving better outcomes and efficiencies. Perhaps during his process of coming to terms with what he did, Speer finally knew that freedom is a moral value. We will never know.

Hit me hard and hit me quick

The subject hierarchy in mainstream media is a clear tool for editorial mischief. No doubt the website designers will argue that their pathways are efficient and designed to assist readers to the most appropriate subject. Inbuilt bias does not exist, and you tag the BBC especially for this. Sometimes irony can ensue, such as the Grauniad pairing “environmental” and “nuclear”.

Only this newspaper could render the sour grapes of subsidy junkies newsworthy. Let’s hear the renewable energy mewl and whine because they do not get enough money:

The developments are likely to fuel concerns among the many environmental campaigners who oppose nuclear power that the industry has unfair access to the government, as well as benefiting from hidden subsidies.

“They [government] have to come clean about all the money spent on assisting nuclear – and this would be part of that,” said Mike Childs, head of climate campaigns for Friends of the Earth. “It’s important ministers come clean about who they are meeting, when they are meeting, and the issues they are discussing.”

After all, green lobbyists derive all of their financing from voluntary donations, so they would have us believe. In reality, the renewable energy industry and its lobbyists require subsidies to survive. So does nuclear energy.

Itis particularly telling when they weep because their quango constituency is whittled down to one. The Chicken Littles wail that the sky has fallen because they have to compete on a level playing field of one quango each:

Concern about the preferential treatment given to the nuclear industry by successive governments is likely to be heightened by the decision last month to abolish the parallel Renewables Energy Board, which met every quarter at the department and once a year outside, as part of spending cuts. The work of the renewables board will be taken on by the Office for Renewable Energy Deployment, for which there is a parallel Office for Nuclear Development.

There would have been a time when the Guardian, in its liberal days, could have stepped back from a story of quango competition and included the question: is this a good use of public money? The prevailing philosophy of the newspaper still recognised a link between tax and accountability. Not an argument that we could agree with but one that we could recognise.

What has changed over the last few years is the sense of entitlement from public sector professionals and their media sympathisers. State expenditure is unquestioned and arguments arise over the disposal of the spoils. The immoral, debauched class of New Labour becomes more visible at a time of illusionary restraint on the part of the Coalition.

The Pickles Terror

The Audit Commission became a politicised, bloated parody of itself. After thirteen years of Labour rule, and marinated in the arrogance of the mission, they decided to employ lobbyists to combat the Pickles Terror.

If you are part of the problem, you are part of the dissolution.

One less public sector vacancy to fill

The UK Film Council has been scrapped. I am not sure why it was needed. According to a Guardian article, its inclusion in the quango scrappage scheme is a catastrophe. Presumably that is luvvie hyperbole for a bad outcome. Yet, who has come to this conclusion. Tony Hayward, Chief Executive of the UK Film Council. Not an impartial view then. More a biased testament of UK Film Council puffery helped by the Quango Support Group at the Guardian.

One must remember that any industry will gladly accept other people’s money if it is doled out to them. It seems that the UK Film Council was indispensable, as a middleman, broking films to ministers:

History tells us that governments do not understand cultural industries: they are too complex, with too many moving parts and too many competing factions. When there was trouble in the film world, the UK Film Council acted as a translator to government and a critical friend to the industry: that function saved the film sector’s bacon more than once. But no more – so in that respect, too, it’s back to the dark ages.

Words missing from this epitaph include audience, profit, success, blockbuster, and popular. Another example of redistributing taxes to fund elite culture (unwatchable films) under cover of some utilitarian rationale for supporting an ‘industry’. One less public sector vacancy to fill.

Waste 101 from the BBC

The Controller’s Monthly Note from Radio 3 informed me of a new role that may fail a test of utility. They have appointed the artistic director of Music and the Deaf to sign a prom.

This Prom will be the first ever ‘signed Prom’. Dr Paul Whittaker, artistic director of Music and the Deaf will guide the audience in the hall through the music of Stephen Sondheim in the company of the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by David Charles Abell (above).

Music and the Deaf is a worthwhile charity that aids deaf pupils who wish to learn how to read music and play instruments. Supporting this minority endeavour through private philanthropy and voluntary contribution is admirable for those who are interested in this cause.

One must ask if private encouragement requires public support: and if it does, whether a ‘signed prom’ meets that requirement. Music is enjoyed by people who can hear, not by the deaf. This is a fact. Allowing the Orchestra of the Deaf to play gives public evidence that the deaf do not need tobe prevented from studying music.

A ‘signed prom’ is a sop to the irrational and a waste of public money.

Humanity + UK 2010

The United Kingdom Transhumanist Association has organised a small shindig at Conway Hall, the Mecca for freethinkers, to present and discuss issues that become less radical every year. This takes place next Saturday, April 24th.

The UK chapter of Humanity+, an organisation dedicated to promoting understanding, interest and participation in fields of emerging innovation that can radically benefit the human condition, announced today that registrations are on track for record attendance at the Humanity+ UK2010 conference taking place in Conway Hall, Holborn, London, on April 24th.

Always worth making the case that emerging innovation requires the precondition of liberty.

I note that there may be some absences if Iceland continues its revenge.

Some things facebook do, michigan can do better

A good example of not getting it. Some Michigan agency, surprised and aroused by the success of social networks, thought that it would be a bright idea to replicate this for students undertaking the transition from school to university.

The state of Michigan is currently building a custom social network called the Michigan College Access Portal, at a cost of $1.5 million, to help students looking to transition from high school to college and beyond.

One point five million dollars of public funds. To build a Facebook knock-off.

This needs no further comment.

Brown went wilde in government

Gordon Brown must have read Oscar Wilde when he was studying as he has spent his entire career implementng one of his aphorisms in government:

It is only by not paying one’s bills that one can hope to live in the memory of the commercial classes

For this reason, he will be remembered for a very long time

Tetley Superheroes

Captain America did not dis the teabaggers. Only his writers and artists. It is time for some new superheroes: The Entrepreneur, Atlas Shrugs, The Tax Return (only in taxes paid…), Death Duty and so on

Why name superheroes after animals when you can dispel you favourite tax. I am designing the uniforms for the supervillains: VAT Package, Solvency 2, KPMG and IFRS…

The new enemy is salt

The new enemy is salt. Here is an interesting example at an early stage of how calls for legislation leap from study to implementation. A survey has looked at salt.

In the paper, Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo and colleagues, from the University of California, San Francisco, USA, undertook a computer simulation showing the effects of population wide reductions of dietary salt intakes in all adults aged 35 to 85 years in the USA. Reducing dietary salt intake by 3 g per day (1200mg less sodium per day) could result in 60,000 to 120,000 fewer cases of heart disease , 32,000 to 66,000 fewer strokes and 54,000 to 100,000 fewer heart attacks.

Just one study and even then, dietary recommendations are notorious for lack of reliability. But the recommendation follows like day after night:

A reduction in dietary salt of 3g per day, the authors went on to say, would have approximately the same effect on reducing cardiac events as a 50 % reduction in tobacco use, a 5% reduction in body mass index among obese adults or the use of statins to treat people at low or intermediate risk for CHD events. Furthermore, reducing dietary salt intakes by 3g per day would save $10 billion to $ 24 billion in annual health care costs

Precise, costed benefits that bear little resemblance to reality, but a comparison with the other devils of public health is utilised to define a ‘collective benefit’. Thus the call for legislation by the European Society of Cardiology:

While individuals may use salt sparingly at home, around 75 % of the salt we eat is already in the food we buy. This, says the ESC, underlines the need for legislation to lay down guidelines. “The reality of international food production in Europe means that such public health initiatives need to be tackled on a European wide basis, rather than an individual country basis,” said [Professor Frank] Ruschitzka.

Throw in a publicity week and the NGO for good measure:

Salt will again be on the agenda with World Salt Awareness Week 2010 , which runs from February 1- 7 (3). The week is being run by World Action on Salt and Health (WASH), a global group that works with governments to highlight the need for widespread introduction of population based salt reduction strategies

Add salt!