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 – parallel universes edition

To the majority of people who believe lockdowns were right and necessary, the Covid era was no doubt distressing, but it need not have been cause to re-order their perception of the world. Faced with a new and frightening disease, difficult decisions were taken by the people in charge but we came together and got through it; mistakes were made, but overall we did what we needed to do.

For the dissenting minority, the past three years have been very different. We have had to grapple with the possibility that, through panic and philosophical confusion, our governing class contrived to make a bad situation much worse. Imagine living with the sense that the manifold evils of the lockdowns that we all now know — ripping up centuries-old traditions of freedom, interrupting a generation’s education, hastening the decline into decrepitude for millions of older people, destroying businesses and our health service, dividing families, saddling our economies with debt, fostering fear and alienation, attacking all the best things in life — needn’t have happened for anything like so long, if at all?

Freddie Sayers

Samizdata quote of the day – moral hazard edition

“Deposit insurance is a cancer at the heart of the capitalist system, destroying its ethical foundations. Rich depositors should not be able to secure returns, in the good times, for investing in fundamentally riskbearing activities (which fractional reserve deposits are, by their nature) but then be bailed out by the government when times are tougher. And banks are the largest allocators of capital in the economy – so this fundamental injustice gets spread across the entire economic system.”

Andrew Lilico, The Sunday Telegraph (£)

A problem in much of the West is that the large investors who have been bailed out, such as those who did so via Silicon Valley Bank, or Credit Suisse, etc, is that they tend to be politically quite powerful. A lot of the north Californian business class, for instance. And it tends to vote Democratic.

Samizdata quote of the day – Oxfam delenda est

Oxfam has come a long way since it was founded 81 years ago. There was a time in the dim and distant past when its primary purpose was to raise money from well-meaning, relatively affluent folks and use their donations to assuage the hunger pangs of the poor and downtrodden across the globe. It was a worthy cause.

Those days are long over. For some time now it’s been more associated with Left-wing agitprop than famine relief. Indeed, you almost get the impression feeding the famished is now seen by some in Oxfam as an annoying diversion from the far more important work of political activism.

Andrew Neill, of whom I am not a great fan overall but this is certainly true.

Samizdata quote of the day – NHS religious cult update

Why does everything have to be justified on the basis that it will help the NHS? Especially when the NHS is failing its patients so badly? UK healthcare spending as a percentage of GDP now ranks fifth highest in the OECD, yet the system isn’t delivering even the most basic forms of care. Some 2.7 million people are sitting anxiously on the waiting list.

Kate Andrews

Samizdata quote of the day – “creative destruction” edition

The idea of creative destruction in capitalism is frequently bandied around, particularly among techies, but rarely is it ever allowed to work its magic in today’s world, where seemingly everyone is looking for a handout, from the biggest auto companies to the tiny little community coffee bar at the end of the street, and from the wealthiest financier to the poorest welfare claimant.

Jeremy Warner, Daily Telegraph (£). The title of his article, which is about the federal government protection of depositors in Silicon Valley Bank, is “Capitalism is dead unless institutions that take bad bets are allowed to fail, nobody ever learns the lessons”.

Gods of the Copybook Headings: Silicon Valley Bank version

But we shouldn’t be surprised by these occasional eruptions. First, banking is a confidence game. We’ve decided as a species that it’s safer to keep our money in a bank rather than say, at home, in our mattresses. Maybe it’s the confidence inspired by the marble bank façade, or the huge, 10-foot-thick steel door to the vault over in the corner. But here’s the fallacy in that logic: in our fractional banking system, one in which banks are only required to hold a fraction of their deposits as reserves, the money—our money—that we think is safe and secure is not even at the bank. And whether it is safe and secure is a matter of a myriad of factors that a depositor has nothing to do with, and no control over.

“In other words, in our fractional banking system, the mirage of safety and security is a clever and extremely persuasive narrative created to get us all to put our money in a bank thinking that a bank is the safest place to put our money. Even the banks that we perceived to be the most august—Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Bear Stearns—turned out to be elaborate and highly sophisticated houses of cards.

William D Cohan, a writer at the “Puck” collection of columnists on various financial matters. (It is behind a registration wall, and free for seven days.)

Samizdata quote of the day – well he would say that, wouldn’t he

“If we do revert to a lack of evidence, a lack of information — if we’re going back to the era where we’re just making policies up with no evidence behind them, the world is in a worse place. And we’re moving away from an era of sort of 20th, 21st-first century enlightenment to something darker,’ [Sir Jeremy Farrar] concluded with a flourish. ‘We can’t let that happen.”

Who could argue with the need for evidence-based science and the unfettered flow of information to help make the world a better place? It was no surprise, however, Farrar chose The Guardian for his valedictory interview as he heads to Geneva for a new post as chief scientist of the World Health Organization. For this ensured there would be no challenging questions over his central — and profoundly anti-science — role in stifling debate on the pandemic origins and effectively pushing his own conspiracy, cooked up with a handful of influential colleagues, including Anthony Fauci in the US, which suggested any idea that Covid might have emerged from some kind of laboratory incident in Wuhan was crackers.

Ian Birrell

Samizdata quote of the day – our right are extremely alienable

We are forever changed. The British people, along with the populations of many American states such as New York and California, have henceforth to live with the fact that civil liberties we Yanks call ‘inalienable’ can be cancelled at a moment’s notice for years on end. Our ‘rights’ are alienable as can be. We’re often warned that democracy is fragile. Lo, that turns out to be horribly true.

Lionel Shriver

Samizdata quote of the day – they made a desolation and called it Net Zero

I predict in 5-10 years corporations will scrub any reference to Net Zero from their corporate website and LinkedIn archives following widespread recognition of the damage this aim has wrought on the poorest in society. Everyone of them promoting it now will deny they ever did.

Tim Newman

Samizdata quote of the day – MSM’s involvement in lockdown hysteria edition

“What was most alarming was the alacrity with which the broadcast news media fell into line – with boundless enthusiasm – as they were given a key role in the day-to-day dissemination of government authority.”

Janet Daley, Sunday Telegraph (£). She was writing about the BBC’s conduct during the and after the lockdowns.

One of the many reasons why I regard the past few years of “Conservative” government is wasted is its failure to remove the BBC licence fee, and convert the Corporation into a privately financed operation, with some of its operations broken up. The Tories just aren’t strategically minded in removing embedded Establishment sources of opposition and building the groundwork for this. (Even Margaret Thatcher never quite pulled the trigger.)

Samizdata quote of the day – the death of history

Race becomes the supremely important phenomenon, masking every other aspect of a complex culture. Racial politics provide the framework of values by which every institution concerned with the past is to be judged. There are many important factors in the way that human societies develop. Race is only one of them and not necessarily the most important. Any serious commentator on the current state of historical studies ought to welcome attempts to present aspects of history which have previously been ignored or marginalised. That includes the story of ethnic minorities and non-European societies. But it does not mean that the whole of Britain’s modern history should be viewed through their eyes. It does not mean that the role of slavery or empire in Britain’s economic, cultural and social history should be exaggerated beyond recognition. And it does not mean that current political priorities should determine how we understand the past.

Jonathan Sumption

Samizdata quote of the day – Hard copy edition

[T]his also proves that relying on a Kindle or other tech is a folly. I have quite a library in my flat, and sometimes friends of mine poke fun at it and ask why I don’t put all this on a digital device. The naivete is clear.

Buy the actual books; learn to look after them, keep copies of really valuable ones. And give them to those whom you respect and love in your will. Beware anyone whose bookshelf is smaller than their plasma TV.

Johnathan Pearce