This Week in Mad Land – Opting Out



Mass hysteria abounds when COVID-19 cases go up, aided and abetted by an unquestioning and credulous news media, despite there being obvious subtleties. Clearly if there is more widespread testing, there will be more cases. The thing we really need to look at is excess deaths. See the (now deleted, but available through archive) posting by students of John’s Hopkins’ University for an alternative narrative on how deadly COVID-19 is compared with previous seasonal trends.

Just as interesting though is the flawed nature of PCR testing which brings about misleading results, even if you know the chances of bringing up a false positive. Mass testing those who are asymptomatic will bring up more false positives. The problems with the current method of testing is explained in full in this post at Lockdown Sceptics.

There is no extra risk for the elderly who cohabitate with school-age children, a recent study claims. Cross-generational passing of corona has long been cited as one of the biggest transmission dangers, and policy leaders are warning against it in the justification for the current virus mitigation methods in Britain.

Margaret Thatcher was no libertarian

Much props to Spiked, usually quite populist on these sorts of things, who argues with straight facts that the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher, was not a libertarian. Contrary to her reputation as a proponent of individual liberty, at least opposed to Soviet socialism, Maggie was more than happy to use the strong arm of the state to get what she wanted, coercively. 

And we’re not just talking about being a bit harsh with unions, we’re talking about Soviet spy state stuff – in violation of basic human liberties, and probably breaking the law as well. The practical political alternative may indeed have been worse, but this is not to mean this woman ought to be held up as a libertarian hero.

Do we really support capitalism?

I’m a complete pragmatist with definitions. Depending on who I’m talking to, “socialism” may well be what I’m defending. Just define the term before using it. 

I don’t mind the word “capitalism” to define what we believe, for a few reasons. One, because of its distinction to “socialism” if you define that broadly as heavy state interventionism, as is the popular understanding these days. And two, because the accumulation of capital would be a key feature of a free market.

The word has big problems though. It brings about negative connotations because of the popular reflexive opposition to unearned wealth, the elites, corporatism, cronyism etc. We are also not in favour of capital accumulation per se, but a system of free exchange – of which capital accumulation may be a result, but it has to be earned through voluntary means. It’s not what you have, but how you got it.

So your choice of word completely depends on context, your ability to elaborate, your audience. If we get married to terms we just spend 80% of our time in arguments about semantics which is boring and a waste of energy.

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James Smith

Writer and film-maker from the United Kingdom. Digital nomad. Author of 'The Shy Guy's Guide to Travelling'.