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

Not that I’d want to make this a hard diagnosis but much of the vague lefty wibble that used to infest economics has moved over into anthropology. I assume because economists have had to actually accept the real world evidence of the world out there getting richer, of lives getting better. You know, all those pretensions to being a science and thus testing hypotheses.

That one’s difficult to explain by the idea that socialism makes the people rich for example.

So, the woo is relegated to anthropology, where actual facts aren’t quite so important.

Tim Worstall

Samizdata quote of the day

It feels weird to be explaining the perils of censorship to Americans. It was they who taught me about the absolute value of free speech. It was their readiness—so cool, so confident—to entertain the most heterodox ideas that had made me understand why the Soviet Union never stood a chance against their country. Do I really need to be telling Americans that censorship makes us dumb? That it limits our ability to assess reality and to make the decisions that are best for us, both as individuals and as a society? Do I really need to be telling progressives that progress is impossible without the freedom to think, speak and argue? And do I really need to be telling social justice warriors that social justice is a mere pipe dream in any society that hews to a single, rigid ideological narrative—or that unfreedom of expression oppresses the oppressed and empowers the powerful?

Of course, America is not the Soviet Union, and American governmental bodies aren’t the ones doing the censoring. Nor have the clampdowns on dissent been all-encompassing. But they are still enormously effective, partly because so many groups and individuals now depend heavily on privately owned internet platforms to reach their audiences. The conservative social media platform Parler was effectively silenced when Big Tech wiped it off the internet. The New York Post’s audience was massively curtailed when Twitter froze its account in response to its publication of a damaging story about Hunter Biden on the eve of the US presidential election. (Twitter then tagged the story as “harmful” and joined Facebook in preventing people from sharing it.) For a year and a half, people were ridiculed and kicked out of polite company for suggesting that Covid-19 may have originated in a lab in Wuhan as social media muzzled debate on this crucial subject. Today we are learning that this is a highly realistic hypothesis.

Izabella Tabarovksy

Samizdata quote of the day

It has been a well-known fact for the past hundred years that masks are useless against viral transmission. All one has to do is contrast the moon-suits used in virology labs with the “bandana across the face” to understand how actual protection works. I’ve designed military NBC (nuclear/biological/chemical) filtration systems (that I still cannot discuss) and the difference between those and the relatively simple gas turbine filter systems is enormous.

And yet the discussions in the lame-stream media all center on “when can we take our masks off”, rather than the central question of, “do masks perform any positive function in preventing or slowing the spread of viral diseases”. The Danish study alone (more than 6,000 people) of the ‘rona puts the lie to the latter. Every single study done has shown that non-rated cloth and paper masks have no positive effect, and have many negative effects. Hypoxia is only one of them; the negative effects also include higher rates of other infections, including bacterial and fungal. Major dental issues are also now arising from chronic mask use. Despite that, many of the government-funded studies conclude that, “masks should be worn anyway, mostly for the psychological benefit”. I guess that’s now considered “sciencey”.

This despite the fact that places that underwent lockdowns and mask mandates suffered higher infection rates and death rates than those without mandates.

– Commenter Blackwing1

Samizdata quote of the day

Unless someone invents a way to store energy in massive bulk, Net Zero will mean quivering under duvets in the dark on windless winter nights. We are on the path to poverty, misery and a failure to inspire the world to decarbonise.

With costs not yet apparent in people’s lives, MPs have been content to rub along with consensus, dealing with more immediate existential crises, like the political fiascos over Brexit and the pandemic. Only now, with Brexit behind us and as the economy and life open up after the pandemic, a few commentators are starting to question whether families, businesses and the UK economy as a whole can really afford the astronomical costs of renewables. Ministers urgently need to respond candidly in full to those questions.

If ministers don’t obtain and maintain the consent of the public for Net Zero now with full and frank explanations of the costs and changes ahead — as they relentlessly have not during the panic of the pandemic — eventually there will be a terrible revolt. Fear will not be enough. Even the “nudging” government scientists currently engaging in it confess that, “using fear as a means of control is not ethical” and it “smacks of totalitarianism”. Is this really who we want to be?

Steve Baker discussing the Net Zero insanity.

Unfortunately, if the last year and a half have shown anything, yes, that is indeed “who we want to be”, or at least a great many people do. But until the Tories not just abandon Net Zero but actively repudiate it, there is no way in hell I will even consider voting for them at any level of government.

Samizdata quote of the day

While Dr Fauci’s wisdom is questioned openly, Britain is haunted by the presence of Prof Neil Ferguson, who repeatedly returns to our screens like a bad horror movie. Rarely has any expert in British life been more wrong about so many major things, and yet still he crops up, where he is given a respectful audience at government level and by most of the media. His latest appearance has seen him warning — with the Prime Minister following suit — that the Indian variant of Covid might necessitate delaying the end of lockdown. But what is striking is not just that Ferguson gets away with repeatedly being wrong, but that his constant urges for greater caution are not balanced by any force urging the opposite.

Douglas Murray

Samizdata quote of the day

Conservatives? What conservatives? The Conservative Party of 2021 is Blairite ideologically, not conservative. If I wanted ruinous NetZero policies and even more state control over civil society needed to impose them, I’d vote for the Green Party. But if I’m going to get those policies even if I vote Tory, then why on earth would I vote Tory?

The educational & media establishment are now utterly dominated by the far left, with the Tories asleep at the wheel the whole time. Woke culture backed by regulation is now rapidly spreading into Big Business, with the Tories equally lackadaisical. And is there a single aspect of civil society not now regulated by the state? If the Conservatives have no interest in conserving civil society, rather than nationalising it, then you people are utterly pointless. If you were a company, you’d be prosecuted under the Trade Descriptions Act for calling yourselves conservatives.

After having only ever voted Tory all my life, the spell was broken in the final Euro elections when I voted BXP. I will not be voting for you people again.

Perry de Havilland, replying to “Now is a great time to be a Conservative.”

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

The logistics chain that is Amazon, or Walmart, or even a Ralph’s, is one of the grand capitalist achievements in history. It used to be, in those heady days before the capitalists inserted themselves into the food supply system, that the working man spent 80% of income on food and rent. Sure, rent is a bit of a problem in certain places still. But food bills have fallen to perhaps 10% of household income.

We can check this too. Back in 1962 or so Mollie Orshansky noted that a poor family was spending about 30% or so of income on food. So, if we take a reasonable diet and triple it – roughly – then we’ve got a reasonable estimation of the poverty line. Sure, it was a back of the fag packet estimation and was meant to be used for a year or two while they all figured out something more sensible. But that is what the Official Poverty Line in the US is today, merely upgraded for inflation. And as general inflation has been significantly higher than food price inflation over those decades that average poor family, on the same inflation adjusted budget, is now spending 12 to 15%, not 30%, of their budget on food.

Supermarkets are the reason why. The people who own supermarkets charge a 1 or 2% margin on their activities. They get 2%, we get a 50% reduction in costs. It’s one of the great bargains of all time.

And this is what Guardian columnists complain about…

Tim Worstall

DuckDuckGo going the way of Google?

Yes, ditch Google. By all means. Just be aware that:

* Stopping your use of the Google search engine is just the start. A small, very modest start. You will have a lot more work to do to “deGoogle” from the Borg—and that’s not mentioning the rest: Facebook, Twitter, etc—though that is a vast subject, way beyond the scope of this post.

* Switching to DuckDuckGo is, if not worse, at the very least not better in the context of this culture war.

And when I say “if not worse”, it’s more rhetorical mannerism than anything else.

In your quest to reject Google and the rest of the hostiles, you will have to do your homework. If you’re looking at DuckDuckGo, start with the FEC site. You will see, for instance, that for 2019-2020, all the donations from DuckDuckGo employees have gone Left.

Let that sink in. While not all of DuckDuckGo’s 124 employees have donated, not one has donated outside of the Party line.

The Dissident Frogman

Samizdata quote of the day

When University of Edinburgh students recently censured the anthropology lecturer Neil Thin, they saw the aim of studying as “to learn how to decolonise our thinking and create an inclusive society and environment”. It’s a view that more closely resembles the medieval fusion of intellectual study and religious faith than it does the critical Enlightenment stance that supplanted it.

Mary Harrington

Samizdata quote of the day

Because of course adapting the transport system to how many people want to use it isn’t the right way to go about things. Instead, the hunt is on for the money to keep the system as it is and oversupply the transport that people aren’t going to use.

Which is why politics and government is a really shitty way to run things. It’s also a lovely example of why capitalism and markets work so well. Because the one saving grace of that slightly weird system is that it kills off things no longer desired.

We have that evidence here too. The pandemic induced shock has killed a certain portion of the retail trade. So, what’s happening there? People are thrashing around trying to shrink the retail estate to fit the desire for it. Great gaping chunks of formerly retail space are being converted to other uses. John Lewis is turning retail into office space for example – that might well not be a solution that works but they are at least trying.

The demand from politics is that all must stay the same even as all changes. Nothing so conservative as a socialist, eh?

Tim Worstall

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.