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

Even the use of that N word to point out how different things are today as opposed to that past is to be verboten? In a media training exercise?

Well, yes, it appears so. As with the various versions of Huckleberry Finn which excise the word – despite its centrality to the moral point that Twain was making.

Do note the point being made here. Which isn’t that there’s some problem with the resignation or firing – Schnatter was running a business using other peoples’ money, offending the mores of the time and place loses them money, bye bye. It’s to ponder whether the mores are quite what they ought to be. The use as an epithet we’re all on board with being unacceptable. The use as an historical reference perhaps less so.

Tim Worstall, pointing out the lunacy of firing someone for saying ‘nigger’ even to illustrate it’s use by someone in the past. This turns the word ‘nigger’ into a magic spell, decontextualised of meaning in a way that is very ‘Frankfurt School’.

Samizdata quote of the day

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable

John F. Kennedy

I am not exactly a fan of the late JFK but I find this quote timely.

Branding as a service

In discussions about the necessity of regulations to protect consumers, I have argued that brands can fulfill the same role. In order to maintain a good reputation they need to provide reliability of service. For small businesses, branding can be licensed or franchised. If your small business injures customers it will lose the right to use the brand. All these things can happen through voluntary interactions.

This happens all the time. Owners of burger restaurants use the McDonald’s brand. People who want to drive people around for money use the Uber brand.

So I find it perplexing that lawyers are arguing that paying for the right to use branding can turn a person into an employee.

Jolyon Maugham, a barrister, said that there was an “unresolvable tension” between Uber’s claimed status as a intermediary and the fact that it has built a brand so powerful that it has entered our lexicon. “Uber is trying to enjoy the legal benefits of being a broker on the one hand, and establish themselves as a massive customer-facing brand,” says Mr Maugham, who is taking action against Uber to establish that it should be paying VAT.

There may well be legal technicalities around this, but the idea that there is any tension between being a broker and having a customer-facing brand is bizarre. For one thing I recently bought car insurance from a well-known broker and would have to look at the paperwork to see who the insurer is; it is of little consequence to me.

The Independent has some more details about a related court case involving a company who introduce people to plumbers.

Rebecca Hilsenrath, chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, hailed the judgment as “one of the biggest decisions ever made by the courts on workers’ rights”.

“If you wear the uniform, if you drive the branded vehicle, if you only work for one business, you are employed. That means you are entitled to the appropriate protections and adjustments which go with the job, to enable you to work safely and productively. Everyone has the right to a healthy working environment, and to that end businesses need to recognise their duties to their workers.”

Alternatively, millions of people will be poorer because the state is arbitrarily limiting the types of business model and voluntary interaction it will allow; preventing innovation.

In an amusing Twitter thread, Aemilius Josephus points out to Jolyon Maugham, “self-employed barristers market under shared brands by being in chambers”.

What Paddy Ashdown said when he thought Remain would win

Given the recent Brexit-related shenanigans, it seems appropriate to post this video showing what the former leader of the Liberal Democrats, Paddy Ashdown, said as the referendum votes were being counted but before the result was known.

“I will forgive no one who does not accept the sovereign voice of the British people once it has spoken, whether it is by one percent or twenty percent.”

Update: Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray very reasonably asked what Baron Ashdown is saying now. When he was asked last December if he remembered saying the words above, this was his response:

“The UK people voted for Brexit – but not this Brexit. Their vote has been hijacked by the extreme Brexiteers to support their own prejudices. This is not respecting the vote it is abusing the vote for extremist nonsense which damages the UK.”

The ‘Baby Trump over London’ balloon is being hailed as a triumph of freedom of expression…

And I agree, it is.

And so…

Let’s make ‘Giant Sadiq Khan ‘baby balloon to fly over London’ happen.

Works for me. I gave them some money.

This is how I see it…

The future in Britain is actually quite clear: either Theresa May gets deposed and we get a meaningful Brexit of some kind, or we get Prime Minister Corbyn by a big margin in the next election. It doesn’t matter if you think Brexit is good or bad, or want it to happen or not happen, the Referendum vote was what it was, and that is where we are now.

Corbyn cannot win on his own merits, but Theresa May can hand him victory by making the Tory vote largely implode. Only May can deliver the UK to Corbyn.

The government did not have to hold a referendum, it chose to for several reasons more to do with internal Tory politics than anything else. But it did hold one, and having done so whilst being really quite unambiguous about what the issue was…

… it cannot then effectively ignore the result without delegitimizing not just the party but the British state itself, with serious long term consequences for the very stability of our culture. May must go or a great many even worse things are going to happen, and I hope that is obvious to dispassionate observers on both sides of the actual vote.

Discussion point: what do the Tory resignations portend?

Boris Johnson quits to add to pressure on May over Brexit

David Davis and Steve Baker had resigned earlier.

What will happen with Brexit? Will May hold on?

Don’t ask me, ‘cos I’m asking you.

Finally, an achievable socialist goal

Abolish profit is the proclaimed goal of The New York branch of Democratic Socialists of America (they would also like to abolish prisons, cash bail and borders, but abolishing profit comes first). Normally, I think that, this time, socialism won’t work – because it didn’t last time, and the time before that, and the time before that – but for once, that logic points in the opposite direction.

Sure, I’m for social insurance, medical care and the rest, provided it’s given to the people from the profits which the State, as owner and operator of the factories, makes on them – the profits that formerly were made by the capitalists – and not from the earnings of the workers themselves. In that was the gist of the revolution.

But where are your profits? Your industry and your whole economy work at a loss. And we, the citizens, are forced to cover those losses.

Revolutionary socialist Andrei Kravchenko said that to his son, communist official Victor Kravchenko, in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1936. Socialism’s ability to abolish profit was later confirmed by Mao, Mugabe and Chavez – and by a number of nationalised industries in the UK. So I believe socialism can do this.

Unfortunately, the DSA’s second goal – abolish prisons – is one that socialists have never achieved, since prisons are the means by which “we, the citizens, are forced to cover those losses.”

Mrs May’s ‘Brexit’ means ‘Anschluss’, if what Lawyers for Britain are saying is correct.

The good folk at Lawyers for Britain, (all donations welcome) led by Martin Howe QC, a nephew of Sir Geoffrey but we probably all have embarrassing uncles somewhere, have done a thorough preliminary analysis of Mrs May (the FFC)’s recent ‘Chequers’ Brexit proposals, the Chequers proposals are here. My summary (not Lawyers for Britain’s) is that, like Austria relegated to becoming the ‘Ostmark’ in 1938 in the Anschluss, it is more like becoming a Nazgûl in thrall to the Dark Lord than any form of independence. At least the Anschluss of 1938 was a blatant take-over, when this is meant to be independence.

Here are some key points, square brackets my addition:

the UK would be obliged to interpret these rules [for goods and agri-foods] in accordance with rulings of the ECJ under a system which would (whether directly or indirectly) bind UK courts to follow ECJ rulings. In areas where rules relating to goods are applied in a discretionary way under the control of EU regulatory bodies, it is inevitable that the application of the rules in the UK and UK regulatory bodies would continue to be bound by the decisions of EU bodies in the same way as if the UK were still a member state but without a vote or voice within those institutions. This would amount to a permanent vassal relationship in the area covered by the ‘common’ rulebook.

On changing our laws post-independence:

There is no indication in the text of the statement that the UK would have any ability to change any of the existing body of EU laws, however damaging they may be or become in the future – for example where restrictive EU laws block the development or deployment of new technology, such as in the biotech area where the UK has a huge opportunity to develop its leading industry and to sell its expertise and products around the world. In order supposedly to benefit the 12% of our economy which consists of exports to the EU, we would accept a binding obligation to freeze the laws which cover 100% of our economy consisting of domestic production and also imports from third countries

And this means of course, implementing EU law or face the consequences. “Fax Democracy” as it is called, yet so in effect independence is being transformed into loss of (pretty worthless) EU voting rights.

We also could not offer to recognise other countries’ systems for, e.g. food or drug safety, if importing from them, we’d have to apply EU rules to such products.

And of course, Mrs May commits us to maintain EU regulation, regardless of absurdity or impact, and perhaps letting the ECJ have the final say in UK law, a so-called ‘red line’.

Of even more concern is that the UK would agree “to maintain high regulatory standards for the environment, climate change, social and employment, and consumer protection – meaning we would not let standards fall below the current levels.” (Emphasis added). The problem with this is not a general requirement to maintain high standards, which we would want to do anyway, but the commitment not to let standards in these areas “fall below” current levels. Any changes to our rules in these areas which improve the competitiveness of UK industry would almost certainly be interpreted by the EU as allowing our standards to “fall below” current standards. This commitment is therefore an extremely dangerous one to undertake, particularly if it were linked to a binding enforcement mechanism and even more so if that binding mechanism ultimately becomes the ECJ

And for interpreting agreements, Mrs May puts us on a par with Moldova (but they generally have better wine).

Para 4(c): “consistent interpretation and application of UK-EU agreements” – putting the UK on a par with Moldova
12. This paragraph first states that the interpretation and application of UK- EU agreements would be done “in the UK by UK courts, and in the EU by EU courts.” This is what one would expect with any treaty arrangement.

But this comes with a grave note of caution:

13. However, it is important that this process should be mutually balanced (i.e that the ECJ and Member State courts should pay just as much attention to judgments of UK courts as vice versa), and absolutely essential that it be non-binding. Para 4(c) indicates that “due regard” will be paid to EU case law in “common rulebook” areas. This lacks mutuality – there is no suggestion that EU courts should pay “due regard” to UK courts, immediately unbalancing the relationship and placing UK courts in an inferior position.

Note that I am only summarising this piece, but it does look as if the Chequers document is either deluded or dishonest as to the extent to which the UK will have independence under this deal, which is, imposing on an independent country, a subordination to a foreign bureaucracy, without any mandate for taking such a step whatsoever. There is no mandate for any deal with the EU to make the UK subordinate to it, there is only a mandate for independence from the EU.

And finally, on the FCA ‘Facilitated Customs Arrangement’ for UK-EU trade (‘FCA’ – pronounced ‘FuCA’, rhymes with ‘Theresa’).

Para 4(d): “Facilitated Customs Arrangement”
22. This paragraph is very difficult to understand in the absence of any detail. However, the first and most obvious and indeed important point is that the attempted introduction of the “FCA” would cause significant delay before the UK can leave the EU customs union and choose to set its own tariffs, whether by unilaterally changing them or abolishing them against free trade partners. We are now already over two years after the referendum. It beggars belief that it should be contemplated that administrative issues about customs processes could be allowed to dictate the whole trading future of the UK by preventing us from implementing tariff changes even after the end of the implementation period (31 Dec 2020 – 41⁄2 years after the referendum). Yet this seems to be the message of this paragraph. This would be severely damaging to the political prospects of the government and of the Conservative Party, since it would remove the chance of giving tangible benefits of Brexit before the next general election to low income families by removing or lowering tariffs on goods, particularly those where the UK has no or limited producer interests to protect.


Culture ‘War’ – in the Lebanon – Mayor hires ‘sexy’ police officers

News reaches us, via the BBC, of a small-town Mayor in the Lebanese town of Broummana, where the Mayor has hired traffic police, who appear to be only young women in shorts. This seems to have gone down fairly well, but not all are happy, as one vox pop showed. Some of the quotes ‘It’s a free country‘, ‘Everything is allowed in Lebanon, why not?‘ do make me wonder. Closer examination suggests that this is a marketing stunt involving hiring University students. And the blatant discrimination against men would not be allowed anywhere in the EU.

As the Mayor said ‘Do you want them ugly?.

Now, we are not told if this is a Christian locality, but the Wiki page above suggests that it is predominantly Christian.The BBC found one woman who objected, but didn’t want to show her face, and she had covered her legs. I feel her pain.

Everything is allowed in the Lebanon, why not?‘. You can’t imagine a British politician saying something like that any time soon. You can almost hear the feminist cogs turning, thinking of air strikes.

Samizdata quote of the day

Every decent person who understands why America has a constitutionally protected press wants to see the press succeed. As the only unregulated private sector industry in America, the free press’s entire existence is based on afflicting the single most comforted institution throughout human history: centralized authority. Afflicting and comforting anyone else is secondary. The truth—and a genuine commitment to its pursuit—must take precedence, even when it runs contrary to the interests of whoever is deemed afflicted or comforted. Journalism humbles itself in finding truth in a complex world. Activism pursues its ends with righteous certainty. Journalism is the work of describing and understanding reality; activism is the work of refashioning it. Journalists act as impediments to the acquisition of power; activists pursue power.

Robert Showah

From the NHS to Francis Channing – an example of self deception

The National Health Service celebrations have been interesting. It has been repeatedly claimed that everyone had to pay at the point of use for medical care in Britain before 1948 – untrue as many free hospitals went back centuries, and most people had long been involved in voluntary mutual aid societies or private insurance companies. Yes many people paid mutual aid Friendly Societies or Insurance Companies, but the government scheme is also supposed to be “National Insurance”, it is paying “at the point of use” that it is against. And the government “insurance” scheme started in 1911 not 1948 – 1948 was the nationalisation of the hospitals, many of them charitable hospitals that had existed for many years. It has also been claimed (repeatedly) that it was the NHS was the first national system of government owned hospitals in the world – again untrue as, even if one ignores various government owned free hospitals in the Ancient World, the Soviet Union set up a system of government owned hospitals free-at-the-point-use in the 1920s. The idea that the NHS was something new in the world (a British invention) is untrue. Problems with the NHS, such as the hundreds of deaths at “North Staffs” hospital and at Gosport hospital, have been ignored in the celebrations – instead the idea is presented that it only saves lives, never (ever) costs lives. And lastly “Nye” Bevan, the Labour Party minister in charge of introducing the NHS in 1948, is presented as basing the NHS on the mutual aid society in his home town in Wales – in reality health care in his home town was mostly a matter of a local voluntary society, absolutely nothing in common with a national system of government owned hospitals funded by compulsory taxation. The NHS was based on the health system of the Soviet Union (it is a “Whitehall knows best” government system) – it had nothing to do with a Friendly Society Mutual Aid group in a little town in Wales.

None of this establishment deception is new or is confined to the National Health Service. Yesterday (whilst waiting for a briefing on organised crime activity in my local area – short, unclassified, version is that the situation is really bad and getting worse) I looked at the political memoires of Francis Channing – once Member of Parliament for East Northamptonshire a century ago. Much the same radical (self?) deception is present in the memoires that I have observed on the television, and so on, in relation to the NHS and so many other matters.

Francis Channing presents the liberals of the early 20th century as following the same philosophy on income tax as Gladstone in the 19th century. Gladstone radically reduced income tax and wanted to abolish it, the Liberals of Channing’s day (essentially the 1890s onwards) greatly increased income tax – but somehow this is presented as being in continuity with Gladstone. Francis Channing also claims that the 1909 budget shifted the burden of national taxation from the poor to the rich – again untrue as the poor did not pay much in national taxation before 1909 (the opposite of what Channing says), what the 1909 budget did was INCREASE taxation (not “move the burden” – INCREASE the burden). Basic honest language such as “tax increase” and “tax rise” is absent from the work of Francis Channing. Also, and perhaps most importantly, he presents increasing government intervention into life (education, old age, health care, poverty relief….) as the road to moral improvement – Gladstone’s warning that “of one thing I am certain, it is not by the state that there will be moral improvement of the people” is forgotten and “temperance” and “moral purity” is presented as the likely result of government intervention. I wish Francis Channing would return to this Earth, so I could show him the “temperance” and “moral purity” on the streets of local towns – with all the vomit, begging, prostitution, disease, and people injecting heroin into their groins.

Francis Channing, typically of a liberal of his time (or ours), presents increasing government intervention as a way of supporting voluntary mutual aid – it was, of course, the death warrant of voluntary mutual aid. The policy of ever-bigger-government (although such honest language is absent from the work of Francis Channing and other 20th century liberals) has led to an “atomised” society – of lonely individuals with no real connection to their community (essentially – what community?). This is what the waffle about government supported cooperatives (even in farming) and so on, has led to – bureaucracy, endless regulations (inevitable when government tries to “help” people), crushing taxation, and the decline (not the reinforcing) of community life. Under the fair sounding language of people like Francis Channing is ENVY – envy that some people own big factories and other people do not, envy that some people own large landed estates and other people do not, and-so-on. If the efforts at cooperatives and so on proved to be a failure – what-of-it as the real aim was to pull down the large scale property owners, and replace them with THE STATE.

Of course the disease in ‘liberalism’, the bizarre view that ever bigger government would lead to “moral improvement” and even “freedom”, goes back long before Francis Channing – one can see it in the work of Jeremy Bentham, with his 13 Departments of state and so on. But the very late 19th century and the start of the 20th century does present a break – an end of the idea, that liberalism was about smaller government not bigger government – not accursed “Social Reform”. Many liberals really had been in favour of smaller government – but in the 20th and 21st centuries this is largely absent among them. Modern liberalism uses the same language, “freedom”, “liberty”… – but it has twisted (mutated) into socialism by the instalment plan.