Friday, April 30, 2010


I don't know what Americans and Europeans think "samizdat" means, but in Russian, it's a compressed form of "sam", by yourself, and "izdatelstvo", which I would translate as some form of creative output. I'm not a linguist, but relying purely on feel, "izdatelstvo" is related to "delat", to make or do something, with the "iz", from, prefix pushing it out, externally. At least that's my feel for it. In any case, "samizdat" universally refers to a private, unlicensed printing press or publication, usually underground, as such things have tended to be in pre-Soviet, Soviet, and with the Putin era possibly post-Soviet times.

Anyway, there's a website by this name, of British origin with a small globalist component, and with the absolute best "About Us" I think I've encountered, anywhere on the web.

The Samizdata people are a bunch of sinister and heavily armed globalist illuminati who seek to infect the entire world with the values of personal liberty and several property. Amongst our many crimes is a sense of humour and the intermittent use of British spelling.

We are also a varied group made up of social individualists, classical liberals, whigs, libertarians, extropians, futurists, 'Porcupines', Karl Popper fetishists, recovering neo-conservatives, crazed Ayn Rand worshipers, over-caffeinated Virginia Postrel devotees, witty Frédéric Bastiat wannabes, cypherpunks, minarchists, kritarchists and wild-eyed anarcho-capitalists from Britain, North America, Australia and Europe.

Extropians. Frédéric Bastiat. Kritarchists. Clever.

A recent post at samizdata concerned with the upcoming British elections caught my attention and reminded me why the next round of elections in the US are so crucial to America remaining the economic engine of the world. To put it bluntly, I don't want us to turn into Britain, or France, or Portugal or Greece - unsustainable welfare states with soaring public debts, held together with ever increasing rings of taxation, bureaucracy and government regulation throttling innovation and upward mobility.


  1. Victor
    maybe you are right in your view of Europe, maybe you are wrong but when last year I spent a considerable amount of time reading up on economy and how daily life money things are done in the US I found that all the journalists and let alone the politician I had kind of believed on such matters had always coloured the stories the way they wanted them. There are lots and lots of things in the US which leave me scratching my head and ask why you put up with them just as it is the other way around. But before one judges or believes the oh so fast with the pen pundits one should look for oneself, at least that is what I have learned from the experience of doing just a bit of reading up on it.

    Let me paraphrase a story which one journalist told and which maybe describes a basic difference between an old worlder like myself and the new worlders. This journalist reported that the Dutch didn't want to give to charities for the poor in their own country but preferred to be taxed for it so they'd recive their upkeep from the state. So do I and that is so for such a vast number of reasons that once you start to have a close look at it a huge cultural difference unfolds and I wouldn't want to have it any different even if it were to save me money.

  2. Silke, I respect the European welfare state. It's supported by the population and has withstood decades of electoral politics. It's unsustainable, as we can see, but that's something for you Germans to solve. Apparently, you're the only ones with any cash left in Europe. Apparently you are now expected to bail out Greece, Portugal, Spain (20% unemployment!!!)... How the continent will handle that, I can't fathom, but that's for you to decide.

    What I object to is the increasing cloud of entitlement spending hanging over my society, which we didn't vote for! It's not like in Europe, where the difference between a conservative and liberal is only the percentage growth in spending. We in the US elect conservatives to hold the line and cut spending. The Bush years were a golden opportunity, squandered, because the Republicans insisted on being "responsible stewards of government", and were terrified of Democrats calling them names.

    Now the Democrats are in power - not because they had any new ideas, but because people wanted to punish Republicans for, among other things, NOT cutting spending(!) and plunging the economy into a tailspin. But why is the economy in a tailspin? It's because Federal financing for sub-prime mortgages (low income individuals) incentivized taking on bad loans that would never be repaid, and then creating financial instruments to obscure the risk. And what happened? The people who created the rules that nearly destroyed the economy are in power! It's just twisted beyond comprehension!

    We've never seen deficits like this! 1.9 Trillion?! 1.2 Trillion?! The biggest deficit Bush had was $400 Billion, and that was considered near criminal at the time. We're spending TRILLIONS on NEW entitlements, even while the old stalwarts Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are facing shortfalls of tens of TRILLIONS over the next few decades. There's no plan for dealing with any of that, and we haven't even gotten to carbon taxes, which will just throttle the remaining industry we have and send everyone to China.

    I'm going into medicine, facing several hundred thousand dollars in student loans, and a new healthcare system Obama just passed that will pay me 20-40cents on the dollar. How can you add 50 million new patients to a system when there is already an anticipated shortage of 100,000 primary care physicians?! We're going to have rationing of healthcare in this country in very short order.

    But all that is just the beginning. What upsets me most is the corruption and collusion we are seeing between government and industry, working hand in hand to rape taxpayers and dole the money out to politically connected contractors and ethnic groups. It is a rare public works project that is not overbudget by millions, or whose management did not make a political contribution here and there.

    We used to have clean politics, a respect for the public will, professionalism and ethics. All that is melting away into "I'm gonna get mine". You've seen, no doubt, videos of that black woman in Georgia (?) before the election, thinking that Obama was going to pay off her mortgage.

    It's revolting. This can't go on.

  3. Victor
    to up the ante a bit - google Roger Lowenstein and have him tell you the pension commitments of the US - what's brewing there in things becoming due for all kinds of civil servants doesn't sound much better than what we have coming - or listen to him here - the thing is from May 2008 and I don't read anything about it - so either the guy is a nut which doesn't seem likely to me or there really is a monster buried so big that nobody wants to mention it

    btw after having sent off my last comment it cme to me that maybe we object so much to taking from private charity is because we used to be an aristocratic society where the noble men would throw out their food leftovers for the peasants to fight over ... some quirks have deep roots ...
    and as to universal health care as we enjoy it never forget that ours, which is the oldest of the world, was invented by Bismarck to disempower the socialists so maybe yours will dimm the lures of socialism also ;-)))

  4. Victor
    I'm right now trying to learn something about the history of money - the book is lousy but I plow on (the author NIall Ferguson was an advisor to John McCain and does TV so I thought he might be good at explaining)
    anyway - here is something beyond, before or behind that subprime mortgage scam to keep in mind

    1924 John Maynard Keynes said something to the effect that the gold standard was terrible, 1944 Bretton Woods happened and everybody cheered, 1971 the US broke the last tie between money and gold - if someone had exchanged 1000 $ for gold in 1970 and sold the same gold in about 2007/2008 (when the book was written) he would have gotten more than 26.600 $ for it

    - I don't know what all of that signifies but to me it suggests that there is something much more basic wrong than hordes of crooks selling mortgages or helping Greece cooking her books.


  5. Victor as things happen here is something on "upward mobility" - I find it hard to believe, having found Americans always so much more democratic (on a personal level) than my tending to be snobbish co-Europeans - on the other hand the Baseline blog is highly regarded.


    "For the most part, our government does little to level the playing field, we have low levels of social mobility as as result,* and our elected politicians are fine with that."
    * For example: “By international standards, the United States has an unusually low level of intergenerational mobility: our parents’ income is highly predictive of our incomes as adults. Intergenerational mobility in the United States is lower than in France, Germany, Sweden, Canada, Finland, Norway and Denmark. Among high-income countries for which comparable estimates are available, only the United Kingdom had a lower rate of mobility than the United States.”

  6. Joe in AustraliaMay 3, 2010 at 4:50 AM

    Silke: that looks very impressive, but it's actually a return of around 9.3% per annum. Which is high, but no higher than many other investments - imagine if you'd bought into Microsoft at the start, or been one of the original investors in Google. But more importantly, the return is a result of "cherrypicking". 1970 was just before a massive surge in the gold price that took place during the 1970s. Suppose you had invested in gold in 1980, when gold was around $750. Your return in 2007-2008 would have been around zero or perhaps even negative! And that's ignoring inflation! Even if you sold your investment today, with gold at a remarkably high level, your annual return on investment would have been around 1.5%. Ignoring inflation, of course.

    Incidentally, Keynes didn't mean that gold was a bad investment, although in his time it was a terrible one - if you use gold as a standard then keeping your money in gold is like an American investing in US dollars. It gives you no return on investment at all. Keynes opposed the gold standard because it artificially restricted the money supply and prevented the government from using monetary measures to control the economy.

    In summary: Keynes was right.

  7. Joe
    couldn't one also say that it is an inflation rate of 9,3 % per annum?
    (there is a piece by Theodore Dalrymple how his fathers savings for old age dissolved so much that instead of being a well-to-do carefree elder citizen he had to be supported by his son - for an Englishman with a German born wife who must hve known inflation firsthand that must have been quite an experience)
    I am not judging (I have not even the most basic knowledge to do so) but I feel at my age it is vital to try to differentiate between what is business as usual (in history) and what is new, new in the sense that the printing press was new.
    To separate money from any connection to any precious metal (again after more than 2000 years) seems to qualify as new to me (Yes, Keynes didn't mean gold as an investment) - another related or not related occurrence which may qualify as new seems to me the standardization of the shipping container during the Vietnam War.
    i.e. I am asking questions, not trying to have answers


    PS: I know that an anecdotal arguing style tends to annoy people who know theory but that's the best I can do.


1) Save us the melodrama.
2) Use HTML for links. Learn how.
3) I *heart* trolls... for lunch.

On My Bookshelf