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 evangelists for WFH and flexi-working keep telling us that it will create a happier, more productive workforce. But if that were true, then output per person should have soared over the last two years. Of course, it hasn’t. Instead, it has stagnated – and in many cases gone down. The UK’s miserable record on productivity is a long and complex story, but one certainty is that flexi-working won’t fix it.”

Matthew Lynn, taking aim at the whole “working from home” demands from certain quarters. (In many cases, the WFH phenomenon is a preoccupation of those in white-collar areas. One suspects that industrial welders, lorry drivers, supermarket inventory managers, farmers, lab technicians, car mechanics and power station maintenance workers don’t work from home. Mind you, my father, a farmer, likes to joke that he worked “from home”. It was a field.)

Samizdata quote of the day

“What I am observing is that, contrary to common reputation, the UK political system is turning out to be more gridlocked than the American system. One problem is that governments can very easily lose their majorities and fall, as witnessed by the quick succession of three British prime ministers, Boris Johnson, Liz Truss, and now Rishi Sunak. To provide a simple example, it has been difficult for any of those governments to legalize fracking (Johnson did not, Truss made gestures in that direction, Sunak has claimed he will not). If nothing else, fracking would disrupt the rural and suburban environments of Tory voters, and endanger the stability of a Conservative government. The end result is that Britain is less energy-independent, more budget constrained and as a result more constrained in what it can do politically.”

Tyler Cowen.

Samizdata quote of the day

COVID is only a problem for people with some form of compromised immunity and/or comorbidity.

It has always been thus.

As Dr McCullough would say – “it is amenable to risk stratification and effective early treatment” (whatever “it” is, which you will understand is not actually that important if you read on).

The “hammer” approach is actually a great analogy. It’s just like this other one: “A sledgehammer to crack a nut.”

My favourite way of expressing it at the time was taking a homogenous approach to tackling a heterogeneous problem.

Absurd, illogical, inefficient, doomed to inevitably fail even absolutely let alone in terms of relative cost/benefit.

Several months later, the best epidemiologists in the world articulated it in The Great Barrington Declaration.

What’s truly incredible is that any of this needs saying. I can still clearly recollect Covidians arguing that it was not easier to protect the vulnerable (who were already mainly corralled in hospitals and care homes anyway) who numbered no more than 2% of the population, than it was to shut down the other 98%.

Joel Smalley

Samizdata quote of the day

Most mainstream journalists cannot be relied upon to critically uncover and impartially convey the facts surrounding a complex and unfolding crisis. If you watched RTE, BBC during the unfolding pandemic, you were fed naively one-sided stories laced with fear-mongering, misleading use of statistics, etc. PCR results, for example, were reported uncritically as though they corresponded to serious cases of disease, when we knew that many PCR positives did not actually correspond to active infections or connoted very mild cases that would not even require medical attention.

David Thunder

Samizdata quote of the day – state mandated recession edition

To see the folly of the UK’s approach, you just have to look at Sweden, which had no lockdown and far lighter restrictions. As a cancer surgeon pointed out in the Spectator last year, the difference in access to cancer services was astonishing. Taking prostate cancer as an example, during the first wave in 2020, the number of patients undergoing prostatectomies fell by 43 per cent in Britain, but by just three per cent in Sweden. Such a stark gap cannot simply be blamed on the virus. Lockdown is the difference here.

Perhaps the most obvious impact of lockdown has been on the economy, where a new grim milestone is surpassed every month. Shops, restaurants, offices and factories were shuttered for months on end in 2020 and 2021. Vast swathes of the economy were either mothballed or severely disrupted – far more by state-enforced restrictions than by the pandemic itself. The lockdowns of 2020 resulted in the UK’s worst recession in the history of industrial capitalism – a fall in economic output not seen since the Great Frost of 1709.

Fraser Myers

Samizdata quote of the day – Tory doom spiral edition

The Autumn Statement was a tragic miscalculation, the final failure of a project to undo the gravest mistakes of the New Labour era and shift the UK in a more dynamic, more conservative direction. Lacking any meaningful plan for economic growth, and postponing many of the most difficult decisions on spending until after the next election, the Statement passed the costs of a ballooning state onto the productive parts of the economy when disposable incomes are collapsing. It was a victory for the Treasury technocrats who have resisted every attempt to move the UK away from Brownite orthodoxy.

Telegraph editorial

Samizdata quote of the day – heavier taxes edition

“Today’s Autumn Statement was the latest confirmation that at some point British politicians replaced the idea that ‘people should be able to live well’ with ‘pensioners should be able to live well, and damn the rest’. You are expected to scrimp, save, forgo the pleasures of youth, postpone having a family, and possibly never have one, in order that your money and earnings can be directed to the most noble cause there is: propping up the value of rental properties, and paying for the healthcare and pensions of Boomers.”

Sam Ashworth-Hayes.

As I noted earlier this week, there is a problem with a lot of people not bothering to get a job, and there are issues there. Some of you have argued that young people, weighed by debt and alarmed by where things are going, are giving up on work and ambition. I think this is a bit glib – gaining work skills and character is still important, for all economic and political weathers. There’s no doubt though that the sort of message coming out of today’s autumn statement by Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, is that if you are ambitious and fortunate enough to be earning a lot of money, even more of that is going to the State, and in many cases, to support the older generation. We are seeing, I think, the politics of ageing right in front of our eyes.

Samizdata quote of the day – US political dumpster fire edition

As he announces his candidacy once again, Trump can boast of the impressive feat of being just as unpopular as the dreadful Joe Biden. A recent poll suggests that 65 per cent of Americans do not want Trump to run again; the exact same number do not want Biden to run again.

Tom Slater

Samizdata quote of the day – hypocrisy edition

This is climate imperialism. Rich nations are only agreeing to help poor nations so long as they use energy sources that cannot lift themselves out of poverty.

Consider the case of Norway, Europe’s second-largest gas supplier after Russia. Last year it agreed to increase natural gas exports by 2 billion cubic meters, in order to alleviate energy shortages. At the same time, Norway is working to prevent the world’s poorest nations from producing their own natural gas by lobbying the World Bank to end its financing of natural gas projects in Africa.

Michael Shellenberger

Samizdata quote of the day – Albanian edition

Why leave Albania – parts of which are beautiful – for an unprepossessing bedsit in a dispiriting London borough? The experts I sounded out, friends and a friend of a friend, interestingly don’t focus primarily on the economy to explain the exodus – because it really is an exodus of the younger generation. Rather, it’s to do with Albania being a failed state: the absence of the rule of law, the sense that the place is being run by a corrupt coterie for its own benefit, the hopelessness about the prospects for change, the narco-economy. One recent paper put the number who’ve left the country since the advent of Edi Rama, the socialist prime minister, in 2013, at 700,000. If Rama wants to know what’s really behind the exodus of Albanians, he could do worse than look in the mirror.

Melanie McDonagh

Samizdata quote of the day

A hundred years since its founding, the Beeb is now a preachy HR department with some TV channels attached.

Gareth Roberts

If grandma had balls, she’d be grandpa

Dear Noah, thank you for your last contribution to this discussion. I particularly appreciate the title of your last piece given how neatly it maps onto a similar phrase about how “Real Communism hasn’t been tried”.

The thrust of your position, which is shared by a surprising number of people I respect and hold in high regard in Western heterodox circles, is that “if we could negotiate with Putin, wouldn’t that be better than war?” And I agree: if we could negotiate with Putin, that would be better than than war. But I’m afraid it brings to mind a rather “transphobic” saying we have in Russia:

“If grandma had balls, she’d be grandpa.”

Forgive me, but I’m afraid you’ve forgotten who we are talking about.

In 2008, shortly after Russia’s invasion of South Ossetia, Vladimir Putin explained that “Crimea is Ukrainian. It is not disputed territory. Russia has long recognised and accepted the borders of today’s Ukraine”. When pushed, he further explained that [the suggestion that Russia would invade Crimea] “reeks of provocation”.

Three months before the annexation of Crimea, in December 2013, Vladimir Putin told journalists that the idea of Russia sending troops into any part of Ukraine, including Crimea, was “complete nonsense that cannot and will not happen”.

Konstantin Kisin observing that anyone arguing for good faith negotiations with Putin is in the grips of delusional wishful thinking.