He Who Makes Money Must Be Punished

In India on December 12, 2008 at 2:07 am

India is a poor country where decades of socialism and centuries of bad philosophy have conspired to keep people poor.  A large percentage of the population has no work and millions more have only seasonal or partial employment.  Millions live without housing, sanitation, health care or even enough food.

Against such a backdrop, some show a self-driven initiative and become street vendors. Every town in India is full of them.  They sell all varieties of things from fruits and vegetables to cheap clothes, plastic goods and food.  In a country where supermarkets are only starting to come up these vendors provide invaluable services to people in residential areas who are able to get much of the stuff of daily life outside their doorsteps.

In a rational society people such as these vendors would deserve to be considered valuable members of society both for the goods they provide and for having the courage to challenge poverty.  In India, alas, they have no such luck.  For in India lurks the Municipal Corporation…

A Municipal Corporation is composed of small time tyrants who love the exercise of power and display it by from time to time swooping down and confiscating the goods of these street vendors.

I have been familiar with this story from the time I was as small child of three or four.  We used to burn energy by madly running around shouting “The Committee is coming, the Committee is coming.”  As an adult it doesn’t seem funny, especially not when it happens in my part of town – as it did today.  Despair and worry on the faces of honest people I deal with everyday is not easy to see.  It is even more difficult and a little surreal to think that in the same town there are men who will sleep well tonight in the smug assuredness of their power.

My questions are these:-

  • Can a country hope to progress if it acts to destroy enterpreneurs rather than leaving them alone to prosper?
  • Can a country hope to win against violence and terrorism when the people of that country are willing to arbitrarily initiate the use of force against their fellows by confiscating their goods?
  • What is the relevance of concepts such as social justice when  justice for the individual does not exist?
  • Can the government of a country which prevents it’s own people from rising above poverty be considered moral and legitimate?

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