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Archive for October, 2008|Monthly archive page

Job Reservations and Incompetence

In Uncategorized on October 28, 2008 at 3:28 am

A result of a society following bad ideas is that these ideas do not stay inside a box.  Sooner or later they escape like miseries from Pandora’s box and show their influence on all aspects of society.  A result of the policy of reservations followed by the Indian society is that slowly voices are being raised against the hiring policies of private companies – an effect that was never intended when the reservation laws were passed.

The hiring of American pilots by Jet Airways has Indian pilots crying that the jobs should not go to foreigners.  The Indians do not claim that they have the expertise to fly the specific planes for which the new pilots have been hired but rather that they are Indians and therefore thay ought to be hired.

It has often been noted that all reservations create is a sense of entitlement among the so called “lower castes.”  This case proves that other people too are willing to define new castes (castes are primarily based on profession) and expect entitlements in new professions that did not even exist when the caste system was created.

The virus of demanding what one cannot claim on the basis on competence is wider spread in Indian society than commonly thought.

A Moment of Courage

In Uncategorized on October 26, 2008 at 9:03 pm

While the hooligans intellectually descended from Shivaji show their sub-humanity by beating and killing non Maharastrians, the people of a town in Mexico offer an example of courage.

An Interview with Lee Kuan Yew

In Uncategorized on October 24, 2008 at 1:18 am

This is a an interview with Lee Kuan Yew from 2005:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/0,1518,druck-369128,00.html

Reasons To Abandon Capitalism

In Uncategorized on October 23, 2008 at 3:13 pm

It is not surprising to watch Sitaram Yechuri trot out the old tired strawman method of making a point.  In this method, you take something that is not representative of an idea, treat it as it it is and then proceed with a demolition job.  In the case of Mr. Yechuri, he takes Wall Street and The Economist as representatives of Capitalism and then proceeds to say that Capitalism has failed.

This is false because Wall Street and The Economist are not representatives of Capitalism.  They are the products of a mixed economy in which freedom exists side-by-side government controls and regulation.

And this is just one of the mistakes that Mr. Yechuri makes, for even granting his premise that “Capitalism” has flaws, it should be remembered that Communism, the ideology he espouses has been a complete failure.  China and India have been able to make progress only by freeing their markets to some degree.  The Soviet Union, the posterboy of Communism, is only a memory printed on old maps.

What then is better, the system that lead the Soviet Union to extinction or the system of free markets which even if it undergoes problems is capable of rising to live another day?

For more on the nature of Capitalism and the financial crisis please read the blogs of Aristotle the Geek and Applying Philosophy To Life.  You might find your time to be well spent.

Why India Should Not Become A Superpower

In Uncategorized on October 23, 2008 at 12:38 am

Many Indians foster the dream that one day soon India will become a superpower.  Here is why this dream should not become a reality.

Superpowers and even minor powers influence other countries with their actions, laws and values.  They have the ability to strengthen the followers of their values around the world.  The result of England achieving greatness was the growth of individual freedom and a reduction in the power of the state in many parts of the world.  The result of the United States achieving greatness was a continuation in widening circles of the same phonomenon.  The result of the USSR becoming powerful was a total loss of freedom for Eastern Europe and violence and mayhem everywhere else the Soviets acquired a foothold.

India so far has escaped becoming as evil as the U.S.S.R. but for all it’s liberalisation is still a country which does not believe that a society in which people are free to exchange ideas and trade is desirable.  The proof can be found in any newspaper.  Here are a few examples from this week:

  • We are all familiar with the recent happenings in Singur where the government acquired land for an industrial project only to find itself in a mire.  The obvious solution is to respect property rights and let people trade land freely.

Indian politicians, on the other hand, have decided that rather than take even a small step towards respecting the rights to property and trade they would rather increase their own powers.  Rather than treating people as intelligent, the leaders of this country think of it’s citizens as hapless fools who cannot handle their own affairs – “The committee said it did not think the rural poor would be able to transact in shares or debentures.”

The possibility that the rural poor could perhaps learn given the opportunity seems not to be thought worth the trying.

Now womens groups too are getting into the act of restricting freedom by demanding censorship ironically in the name of defending a woman.

Remember both examples are from this week.  This week, which is only half over, is only an average week – the stars are still in their courses and did not predict extraordinarily bad events in the Sunday papers.

Reading about such events every day, year after year, it should be obvious to the reasonably rational observer that India does not have good values to export.  India in it’s present form can export only moral cowardice and all it’s attendant evils such as random violence, censorship and the power of overreaching government.  That is why the India of today should not become a superpower capable of exporting these “values” to the rest of the world.

And I? I do not care if India never becomes a superpower or remains a minor power.  It would be far better for India to become a civilized, moral country with a productive populace who are able to enjoy the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Bailing Thin Air (India)

In The Bad on October 19, 2008 at 2:46 pm

The Government of India has announced that it might help Air India with Rs. 2,500 crores in “soft” loans.  The argument given by the Government is that as the owner it has the right to transfer the money.  This argument is false for a number of reasons:

Government as owner is a very different proposition than a private owner.  Private owners have three major sources of funding – borrowing from banks and other private individuals, selling equity on the market and selling assets.  The government has a fourth source – taxation.

This is where the problem arises because governments collect taxes on the basis of providing the rule of law and protection of individual rights to their citizens.  It is patently immoral for a government to use money raised on this basis to help companies that is owns.

It is also unfair to other private companies that they should have to make the money which the government then taxes and distributes to the state owned companies.

Next, the claimed ownership of Air India must itself be question.  Air India was started as a private organization which was later appropriated by the government.  As such, the government acted like a thief and any claimed ownership is only that of the de facto possession that a thief has.  It is an immoral and corrupt ownership with the aviation minister as the current receiver of stolen property.

The bottonline is that India is run by mendacious thieves who steal the money the people of India work hard to create and spend it on incompetent, loss making companies owned by the government.

To The Able

In The Good on October 6, 2008 at 3:13 am

Living in India the past two years I’ve made it a point to read Swaminathan Aiyar’s column in The Times of India every Sunday.  In the same period I’ve also discovered a blog called “Aristotle the Geek.”  Today I have a nit to pick with both.

In his blog ATG writes that capitalism works on trickle-up, not trickle down.  In precise terms, capitalism sees neither “trickle up” nor “trickle up” but trickle to ability and efficiency.

Considering again the case Mr. Aiyar presented in his column, it is possible to see without much ado that profit flowed to people in proportion to the value they added to the raw cotton.  The person who makes the cotton most useful to the person who will use the cotton (i.e. the one who uses the most complex ideas) gains the most.

Consider also what happens to the money once it is in the hands of the mill owners.  They do not keep the money sitting like a stone on the ground.  This money finds itself in the market to be lent to the borrower who can make the most productive use of it.  Once again, it goes to the most able, productive and intelligent.

In the thinking of this blogger, both trickle-up and trickle-down are incorrect theories because they miss the essential, the ethical, part of Capitalism – capital flows to those who most deserve it.  All of Socialism is merely a misguided attempt to deny that Capitalism is a based ultimately on justice.

Would Sheila Dixit Have Stopped Apollo 11?

In Uncategorized on October 5, 2008 at 4:48 pm

On the 16th of July in 1969, Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin and Michael Collins set off on the first manned mission that landed on the Moon and returned safely to Earth.  If Sheila Dixit,  Chief Minister of Delhi, had her way, the Apollo 11 mission would have been deemed too adventurous and the astronauts would have been told to stay home.

At least that’s what Sheila Dixit thinks the citizens of Delhi should do at night.  Commenting on the murder of journalist Soumya Viswanathan, Dixit is reported to have said:

“All by herself till 3 am at night in a city where people believe…you know…you should not be so adventurous.”

This remark closely follows another government minister, Oscar Fernandes, justifying murder.

The Only Way Out Of Singur Is To Restore the Right To Property

In Uncategorized on October 4, 2008 at 9:37 am

Today’s newspaper headlines proclaim that the Tata’s have finally pulled the Nano factory out of West Bengal ending several months of conflict pitting the state government (which acquired land for the factory under eminent domain) against a populist politician who lead an agitation on behalf of  farmers deprived of their land.

Much has been written in the popular media and blow-by-blow events are too well known to need recounting.  It needs “unpopular”, scarcely read media such as this blog to write about the reason behind this situation in which either outcome could only represent a loss for India.

Eminent domain is a doctrine that allows governments to appropriate private property on the claim that they can better decide the purpose to which the property can be put.  The nominal reason given has always been that the property is acquired for the public good.  However, in practice, the reason has often been to hand the land over to some private party on whom the State wishes to bestow a favour – of course, for the common good.  In reality, the State (or it’s current rulers) hope to gain in the form of increased taxes being generated from the new uses of the property or direct monetary gains by the rulersin the form of bribes.  Add to this the absence of constitutionally guaranteed property rights and you have the India of the 21st century.

The original Constitution of India recognized property rights under Article 19 (subclause f) which guaranteed to all citizens the right to acquire, hold and dispose of property.  The evil twin of Article 19 was Article 31.  Article 31 abrogated to the state the right to deprive citizens of their property by authority of the law.  Meaning the government could take over your land and that was your private tragedy.

Like always in a socialist system, Article 31, won and the right to property ceased to be a fundamental right in 1978 opening the way to eminent domain in some cases without citizens having recourse to the courts (Article 300-A which replaced Article 31.)

Add to this situation, more socialism in the form of land use acts and land reform acts and zoning and it becomes nearly impossible for a private party to acquire enough land to create a large industrial complex.  Leading to further land appropriations and deadlocks such as Singur.

The only way out of this imbrolio is to drop entirely the doctrine of Eminent Domain and reinstate the Right to Property as a Fundamental Right which cannot be violated even by the State.  The Right to Property needs to be realized as an absolute right leading to the removal of all laws pertaining to land use or zoning.  This time around, Article 19 must be restored without it’s evil twins, Article 31 and 300-A.

This is the only basis on which conflicts such as those which have embroiled Singur can be avoided in the future.

In the meantime, India will continue to burn in the conflict between agriculture and industry.