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]

Can you guess what Lufthansa is talking about here?

This is possibly the most weaselly statement since the coppers interviewed the Chief Weasel after the retaking of Toad Hall.

Statement of May 10, 2022 on the denied boarding of passengers on flight LH 1334

On May 4, a large number of booked passengers were denied boarding on their onward flight with LH 1334 from Frankfurt to Budapest. Lufthansa regrets the circumstances surrounding the decision to exclude the affected passengers from the flight, for which Lufthansa sincerely apologizes.

While Lufthansa is still reviewing the facts and circumstances of that day, we regret that the large group was denied boarding rather than limiting it to the non-compliant guests.

We apologize to all the passengers unable to travel on this flight, not only for the inconvenience, but also for the offense caused and personal impact.
Lufthansa and its employees stand behind the goal of connecting people and cultures worldwide. Diversity and equal opportunity are core values for our company and our corporate culture. What transpired is not consistent with Lufthansa’s policies or values.

My challenge to readers is to guess without sight of the internet what the “large group” had in common that caused them to be denied boarding – they were not flying together – and exactly what the “non compliant guests” were non-compliant about. Winners will be awarded the sought-after title of Wieselbeobachtersmeister, or something with most of the same syllables anyway.

Actually I do not find this sort of thing funny. Weasels are cute. Lufthansa’s behaviour was not cute, it was shameful, and they deserve to pay the heavy price they will pay.

But…

I also believe that the payment should come from the airline being boycotted by all decent people and/or from them being sued until they have no more Sitzfleisch left for their egregious breach of contract, not from the German or American governments. The proliferation of laws against every tiny, even unintentional, manifestation of this sort of thing has atrophied people’s own sense of its gross wrongness. They can’t see it in themselves. The Lufthansa representative on the scene was apologetic, but firm. She probably congratulated herself on a difficult job well done.

Edit: Originally I included no links in this post in order to make the guessing game more fun. But on second thoughts I ought to credit Ed Driscoll at Instapundit, where I first read about this. No peeking.

When dangerous fantasies come true

Famously, while Nigel Farage was debating Nick Clegg in April 2014, the latter said that the idea of an EU army was a “dangerous fantasy”. Ed Miliband repeated the line a year later.

Three days ago, the man who was the EU’s Brexit Guy – the EU Parliament’s former Brexit Coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt MEP – tweeted,

BREAKING — Conference on the Future of Europe approves radical overhaul of the EU: end of unanimity, abolishment of veto’s, launch of Joint Armed Forces of the Union, transnational lists and many other reforms…

Now, just because the Conference on the Future of Europe says a thing, that does not necessarily mean it will come to pass. Wikipedia describes the Conference thus:

The Conference on the Future of Europe is a proposal of the European Commission and the European Parliament, announced at the end of 2019, with the aim of looking at the medium to long term future of the EU and what reforms should be made to its policies and institutions. It is intended that the Conference should involve citizens, including a significant role for young people, civil society, and European institutions as equal partners and last for two years. It will be jointly organised by the European Parliament, the EU Council and the European Commission.

In other words, the usual cheerleaders duly led the cheers. Nonetheless the very fact that the “young people, civil society and European institutions” who took part in the Conference were pre-selected for their obedience means that when they say they want an army that means that the leaders of the EU now want an army.

Discussion point: Watching Clegg and Farage spar over Vladimir Putin’s 2014 aggression against Ukraine, does anyone feel a newfound sympathy with Clegg’s position? These are dangerous times. It is no longer a matter for us in the UK to decide, but maybe the EU does need an army.

Samizdata quote of the day

“Young men are also a production resource – a productive resource that is used to wage war, but Russia’s youth have had it with Putin’s regime and the collapse of the economy and the prospect for going to war and dying in Ukraine is causing young Russian to flee the country. It is said that more than 25,000 Russians have already left for Georgia since Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The exodus of young Russian in fact started more than a decade ago, but this process is now accelerating dramatically. Polls done even before the war on Ukraine have again and again shown that more than half of the Russian population would like to emigrate. That number is now skyrocketing – particularly among the young. The Putin’s regime can hardly accept that much longer – and therefore it is only a matter of time before a “Russian wall” is erected – and in the same way as with the Berlin Wall, it is not about keeping enemies out, but about keeping the population confined.”

Lars Christensen, economist based in Denmark.

Samizdata quote of the day

“Mr. Putin finds himself in a struggle now because of the bravery of 41 million Ukrainians, not the strength of Europe or the United States.”

Wall Street Journal

“Xi Jinping is *a***i** himself dry”

That’s Konstantin on Triggernometry’s YouTube on Ukraine. Lots of good, thoughtful stuff on Putin, Western weakness and everything in between. Well, not so much on that country in between, you know, Ukraine which is all the more remarkable when you consider that Konstantin has Russian-speaking family there. But, as he says, he doesn’t think people in the West are particularly interested in what is best for Konstantin’s family.

Update Maybe that title (see comments) should be toned down.

Turkey – circling the drain with a gold grab

Little noticed in the UK media, reports from a financial vlogger Joe Blogs (that is his handle) on Turkey tells us that the government is ‘asking’ citizens to hand over their gold and foreign currency, at a time of 50% inflation, but citizens will get Lira in return.  There are 30,000 gold shops in Turkey and five major refineries. Do not worry that Erdogan is a (not so) covert Islamist, he is first and foremost a Keynesian.

The Turkish government is not simply standing by and watching as the Lira inflates away, the government has cut tax on food from 8% to 1%, and this in the context of a currency crisis, the lira falling 44% in 2021 against foreign currencies. So they know that cutting taxes eases burdens on people. Unfortunately, Atatürk’s doctrine of ‘statism‘ lingers, with lots of Turks employed by the State.

Meanwhile, the Turkish Finance Minister has been in the UK and reported had a ‘fantastic‘ meeting with potential investors. And the goverment is determined to keep on down this path, telling the private banks to step up their efforts to help by handing over foreign currency deposits. (Doubtless this is all voluntary).

Here is a graph of recent Turkish inflation rates. Are we going to be seeing a ‘crack-up boom’ in real time any week now? Turkey is reportedly informally dollarising, with over 50% of transactions in Turkey in dollars (Why not the Euro?).

I can’t help thinking that in the UK, the government is looking at Turkey with envious eyes, dreaming of taking steps to inflate away what remains of our prosperity and to seize our assets.

And it is not all bad from the Turkish government, they have changed the name of the country in a re-branding exercise, changing it from ‘Turkey’ to ‘Türkiye’, apparently to avoid confusion with the bird of the same name.

Joe Blogs also has some interesting coverage on the Chinese property conglomerate Evergrande, and the efforts of a US Hedge Fund to take ownership of collateral in Hong Kong.

Meanwhile back in the EU

Old rules die, new ones are born.

Belarus border crisis: EU suspends asylum rules to speed up deportations

Omicron variant: EU should encourage compulsory vaccines, says Ursula von der Leyen

Both Times reports are behind a paywall, but the headlines make the point well enough.

As the late Brian Micklethwait – I still cannot quite believe that I am writing that – said in a post called “On the future of photography in public (and on what I think of the EU)”:

The way the EU works is that at any one time EU-ers propose a million laws, and the winning laws are the ones that nobody objects to. If anyone at all persuasive does object to any particular law, then the plan is dropped, with a charming smile, and put to one side for another go in a few years time. No no no, you misunderstood entirely what we were talking about. We never had any intention of doing what we previously did intend to do if nobody had complained! Fuss about nothing! Europhobic scaremongering! Why do you hate foreigners?

Berlin dreams big

“Berlin’s vote to take properties from big landlords could be a watershed moment”, writes Alexander Vasudevan in the Guardian.

Judging by the history of such schemes it could be. But not in the way he thinks.

The vote in Berlin is not legally binding, but it does show the popularity of such a measure (the popular appeal of taking their stuff and giving it to us is eternal), and as the Guardian says it will “serve as a template and inspiration for activists in Europe and elsewhere”.

Professor Vasudevan (he is an associate professor in human geography at Oxford) continues,

Smaller landlords and state-owned social housing have been aggressively targeted by large institutional players for whom housing has become a vehicle for the management of global capital funds.

I have little doubt that the large scale institutional landlords such as the property company Deutsche Wohnen that the initiative targets have transformed the Berlin housing market, and not for the better. But it is worth asking why it paid them to to go on a speculative property buying spree in the last few years when it did not pay them to do this earlier? I would guess it is because they have taken advantage of artificially low interest rates created by government.

What about compensation? For obvious historical reasons, German law frowns on confiscation without compensation. The article says,

Efforts to enact the socialisation process will undoubtedly face legal challenges, not to mention the problem of compensation of the property corporations. Campaigners are adamant that their model would balance a commitment to fair compensation with “budget-neutral” socialisation.

When fair compensation is “balanced” with something else, it means unfair compensation.

When the normal operation of law is suspended we are always told that it will apply only to people or groups that few would leap to defend. It never stops there.

An axe age, a sword age, an age when the Beeb admits rent control doesn’t work

“Why rent control isn’t working in Sweden.”

Surely Ragnarok is upon us.

“The background and motive of yesterday’s attacks were unclear”

The above is a quote from a Times article with the title

“Three dead after knifeman goes on rampage in Bavarian city of Würzburg”.

At least three people were killed and several more injured in an apparent spree of stabbings in the Bavarian city of Würzburg.

A 24 year-old man from Somalia

There is more, but I have quoted the part relevant to what I want to say in this post. Almost every comment to the Times piece (those that have not been replaced with the phrase “This comment violated our policy”) sneers at the evasion. Journalists, please stop doing this “motives unclear” thing. It dos not decrease hostility towards Muslims, it increases it.

They have been playing this stupid game for a long time. I often find it illuminating to link back to old Samizdata posts that share a common theme with whatever I am posting about now. Here is one from 2011: “Two contrasting articles by Michael Tomasky on spree killers”. It feels like yesterday. For one mass-murderer Mr Tomasky wrote,

You don’t have to believe that alleged shooter, Jared Loughner, is a card-carrying Tea Party member (he evidently is not) to see some kind of connection between that violent rhetoric and what happened in Arizona on Saturday.

For the other,

We have much more to learn about Hasan before we can jump to any conclusions.

and

We should assume until it’s proven otherwise that Hasan was an American and a loyal one, who just snapped, as Americans of all ethnicities and backgrounds and political persuasions do.

To call it “Project Cassandra” was hubris

As soon as I saw it I thought of psychohistory. I was not alone, judging from the most recommended comment to this fascinating Guardian article:

‘At first I thought, this is crazy’: the real-life plan to use novels to predict the next war

An extract:

In one of his last reports to the defence ministry, towards the end of 2019, Wertheimer had drawn attention to an interesting development in the Caucasus. The culture ministry of Azerbaijan had recently supplied libraries in Georgia with books carrying explicit anti-Armenian messages, such as the works of poet Khalil Rza Uluturk. There were signs, he warned, that Azerbaijan was ramping up propaganda efforts in the brewing territorial conflict with its neighbouring former Soviet republic.

War broke out a year later: 6,000 soldiers and civilians died in a six-week battle over Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave of Azerbaijan populated by ethnic Armenians. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan used the war to bolster his strongman image, hailing Armenia’s defeat in December as a “glorious victory”. Russia, traditionally allied with Armenia, successfully leveraged the conflict to consolidate its influence in the region. Germany and the EU, meanwhile, looked on and stayed silent: being able to predict the future is one thing, knowing what to do with the information is another.

Brexitalgia

Posted to Samizdata by me on 23rd June 2016: “Well, I dunno”. The link to an image of the Daily Mirror‘s cover for that day showing a deep dark well with the slogan “Don’t take a leap into the dark – vote REMAIN today” seems to have died, but it can be seen in this collection of front pages from that day compiled by the Atlantic. I was not despairing but definitely a little pessimistic, as were many of the commenters.

But in the wee small hours of June 24th things began to look different: “Well, well, well”.

And in the bright fullness of day: “Now is the winter of our discontent, or perhaps just two very English words”.