Wednesday, 31 March 2010
It must be easy to pass such a ruling sitting in New Delhi, where Shiela Dixit’s CONgress government monopolises the retail trade of alcohol. These judges, ensconced in their Lutyens’ bungalows, should look around this vast sub-continent.
Take Goa, for instance, where I have been residing for over five years now. The cashew season is on – and this means that most country Goans will be distilling urak, the first distillate of feni, inside their own homes. I will be buying gallons of this unbranded urak for myself. It is a great drink. Try to stop it – and there will be a revolution, Mr. Judge.
Similarly, take the Maoist-Naxal badlands, where the tribals distil mahua from a jungle flower of the same name. This is traditional knowledge – and mahua is an excellent drink that could easily rival Mexican tequila in the international market. But it is illegal. Want to placate the tribals who are up in arms? You must liberate mahua from the Total Chacha State.
My advice: Break the back of the stupid and totalitarian Supreme Court of India. Break every excise rule. Sell liquor illegally in New Delhi itself – and many do so, especially in the slums. Now do it in the restaurants. Do it in the grocery shops. Ask paanwallahs to sell pints. Ask chaiwallahs to sell whiskey. Ask the soft drink wallahs to stock chilled beer. Ask the Tibetans to sell chhung with their momos.
All this points to the huge amount of ignorance within the Total Chacha State. I have an earlier post on our “illiterate bar.” It is from this illiterate bar that illiterate judges are selected. What else can we expect? Another reason to reject the Right to Education Bill that Chacha Manmohan S Gandhi is currently trumpeting. It will only be miseducation. It will only worsen our plight. We don't need a right to miseducation. We definitely need a right to a drink.
Civil society must also call for a complete social boycott of the excise department. These extortionists should be told to fuck off. Tear up their licenses. Don’t pay them a farthing in taxes. REVOLT!
And as far as the moronic Supreme Court of India is concerned, I have outlined the solution long ago – a “private law society.”
We possess the right to make and sell alcoholic drinks. Let no Chacha State take these rights away from us.
Sunday, 28 March 2010
These rebels are all Communists in their ideology – and Communists and Socialists have always been part of the Total Chacha State.
Funny how armed rebels, considered by Chacha Manmohan S Gandhi to be the “gravest security threat to India,” essentially share the same ideology as that of their rulers. Obviously, then, the rulers’ ideology is as false as that of the rebels’.
However, what I really found exhilarating is the idea that the State Police are going to get a bloody nose in this conflict – and don’t they deserve it, the rude bully-boys of the House of Nehru? Make no mistake about it – the Maoists are a strong force, motivated and trained, and situated in dense jungles where the mercenary soldiers of the Total Chacha State can never be a match for them. There is only so much you can accomplish with mercenaries – and even Machiavelli understood that. In his own city, the good man Machiavelli raised a volunteer civil militia – which is what the Maoists are. All that is amiss is their political and economic ideology.
My conclusion: This is an illustration of the fact that not only has socialism in India failed as an economic ideology, it has also failed in Politics. Whereas Nehru and Gandhi were mass politicians in their own right, Chacha Manmohan is a backroom boy. From the backrooms, they try and remote-control politics – keep out the liberals and libertarians; maintain the BJP as the only alternative, a darker shade of black; deify casteism and reservations as appropriate policy responses; and keep on with the PSUs, including Air India; while turning all the attention on stupid issues like employment guarantees and “education.” And send the cops after all rebels – to crush them with force. This cannot work for long. And it is no longer working. Read about how Salwa Judum is headed by a CONgressman tribal. Note how "political order" is not being achieved by State Politics.
Of course, these Maoist rebels, and their sympathizer Arundhati, will have nothing to do with Capitalism – as practiced here. The story of these tribals is a story of exploitation – by forest contractors, by the Thapars, by the Essar Group, by the Tatas. This “cronyism” is not Capitalism – and mining must be governed by Property.
Thus, the only solution to the country’s immense woes is to extend liberalism to Politics itself. There must be a Politics in India that speaks the language of Private Property, of Voluntary Exchange, and of a Rule of Law under these principles. This is a Politics that can have a civilizing effect on the nation and achieve a great purpose – achieve a new moral consensus in the land. Then only can there be peace and harmony. And, that elusive goal of all politics - political order.
Speaking of politics, there is news that libertarians the world over are observing 8:30pm to 9:30pm TODAY as “Edison’s Hour” in celebration of technology and energy. Lew Rockwell writes of a friend who says:
The warmers are holding “earth hour” today. I’ll be commemorating it by turning on every non-green light-bulb (which is the only sort I have) inside and outside my house, from 8:30 to 9:30 PM CDT. In addition, I’ll run the washer, dryer, and dishwasher. Oh, and I’ll idle my SUV for good measure, with the headlights blazing.
I plan to join in the celebrations – and this anti-green politics. I hope you do so too. The Maoists should join in – for nowhere does Arundhati Roy mention in her article that they have access to electricity.
Energy is what Indians need – and the more, the merrier. Indeed, the more we use of what energy sources we have today, the more newer sources will become economical for use tomorrow.
Chew on that – and keep all your lights, fans, air-conditioners, washing machines, microwaves, SUVs, music systems, TVs ON between 8:30 and 9:30 pm tonight.
More Power for the Jungle People.
(A glass of mahua would go down well, too.)
Friday, 26 March 2010
Feliciano’s tragedy is that few come to occupy his rooms. And all this has to do with access to his property – roads.
Patnem Beach lies directly west of Feliciano’s property – but there is no direct access. The beach, which is public property, and where his potential customers are located, is barely 15 metres from his west-facing tourist rooms – but the pathway is blocked by two low walls that his neighbour has built. Few come to occupy rooms that require you to climb walls to access them.
But the situation from the east is not much better, the direction by which Feliciano must access the main Patnem-Colomb Road, the road by which he takes his children to school, his wife to The Market, the road by which he accesses all other services ranging from the doctor to the feni supplier. Feliciano does not have proper access to this road either.
Whereas his neighbour has a broad road linking the main road to his property, for poor Feliciano there is just a very narrow and winding pathway, through which a man can barely pass, and through which he squeezes in and out on his 100cc motorcycle. A bigger motorcycle might not have made it.
But why talk of a bigger motorcycle – even a coffin could not make it. Speaking to me the other day, Feliciano and his wife Janet lamented the fact that, if either of them were to die, a coffin with four pall-bearers would not be able to exit their Property. So Feliciano cannot live on his Property; he cannot die on it either.
What is the solution?
To my mind, this requires application of the “common law right to an access road” at the level of the local government. When I read Gabriel Roth’s excellent new book on roads, Street Smart, I discovered that such a right is indeed in force in New Zealand, a primarily agricultural economy, because of which over 75 per cent of their road network is owned and managed by local governments. Such a solution has to be applied in India.
I told Feliciano that my message to all the people of India is simply this:
=> We don’t need government “education,” which is mere propaganda, harmful for the mind
=> We don’t need government employment guarantees; rather we need Liberty to carry out all our trades
=> We don’t need government ration shops; we’d rather buy all our needs from shopkeepers in The Market
What We Need Are Roads
Without roads, you cannot access The Market, and neither can The Market access you.
Feliciano Dias’ case shows how important roads are. This must be the situation of millions and millions of Indians. Without roads, they will be poor forever.
They should be Top Priority.
And, at the level of each local government, there should be a district roads engineer to implement the “common law right to an access road” for all occupiers of Property. This should be the basic Law of the Land, and the First Duty of the Local Government.
Thursday, 25 March 2010
In this post I will write about two things: first, the word “Laputa” that I often use to describe out ruling establishment; and second, “secession,” a word we need to understand today.
The word “Laputa” refers to one of the adventures in Gulliver’s Travels (PDF here, go to page 93). In this kingdom, Gulliver finds that the ruling elite live on an island that floats above the population. On the floating island, the King is preoccupied by mathematics. Further, each elite has a servant called a “flapper” who uses an instrument to blow air onto his ears or mouth, without which the ruler can neither hear nor speak. The floating island deals with rebellion down below by blocking sunshine to that area, and raining rocks on the populace. All this finally comes to a grisly end. As political satire, I rate Gulliver’s travel to Laputa far higher than the more popular one about Lilliput. You are well advised to read this particular story, if only to acquaint yourself with the ugly reality of what we in India are faced with.
It is noteworthy that, in Adam Smith’s personal library, the most handsomely bound volume was a copy of Gulliver’s Travels. His biographer reveals that he read the book often, though completely in disagreement with Dean Swift’s total rebellion against the ruling establishment. I am confident that the story of Laputa must have struck Adam Smith the hardest.
Now, onwards to “secession”: this is not an ugly word in politics. Rather, it is the only way by which areas can break away from New Delhi’s nonsensical and predatory rule. I think it is essential that all of us take the word secession seriously, and study it in theory and practice. It may be our only road to Liberty.
In this connection, I am providing the link to a journal article on the subject – an award-winning journal article, if I may add – that I benefited greatly from reading. It is by Andrei Kreptul of the Seattle University School of Law, titled “The Constitutional Right of Secession in Political Theory and History.” Did you know that Singapore seceded from Malaya – by being “expelled”! Now, wouldn’t that be a great idea for Goa? To read the article, click here.
Anyway, happy reading. Read about Laputa. And think. Read about secession, and think even harder. That is what this blog urges you to do.
Wednesday, 24 March 2010
And it’s Bob Marley on my mind once again:
How many rivers do we have to cross,
Before we can talk to the boss…
First, let’s take Chacha. He has issued some loose talk today about committing $1 trillion (Rs45,60,000 crores) to infrastructure in the 12th Five Year Plan.
Hey! I’ve had just enough of central planning. We want The Market to take over where the planners have failed.
And “infrastructure” is a loose word: better to speak separately of roads, electricity, telecom, water, sewage etc. Here, roads remain the critical problem. All else can be immediately privatized. Look at the telecom revolution thanks to The Market.
It is noteworthy that, commenting on this statement from Chacha, the editors of Mint have shown him the finger.
Get real, they say.
So get real, Chacha.
Why couldn’t Chacha spend more on roads this year? Because his Budget has committed Rs40,100 crores to NREGA. There is barely Rs20,000 crores left over for roads after that.
And what does his boss, Madamji, have to say about the future of “welfare”? Well, the news has it that her big idea is the Food Security Bill that is likely to come up before Parliament this week, by which some Rs82,100 crores will be spent on feeding the poor.
Meanwhile, the poor are struggling to survive the Total Chacha State’s Predatory Bureaucracy: here is an article by Simon Harding on the license-permit raj in autorickshaws in New Delhi that makes for horrifying reading. These poor people, like all our poor people, do not need food or jobs from the government. They need Liberty – and roads. Harding is from the World Entrepreneur Society.
Yesterday, I had quoted Thomas Paine’s Common Sense (1776) on how “society” and “government” are two different things, and how some people, even in his day, had confused the two. This is what happened in India in 1947, and is continuing today.
Society has to feed itself, through production and exchange, in The Free Market.
As far as government is concerned, Paine said, it is an expense, not a source of income: every man “finds it necessary to surrender up a part of his property to furnish means for the protection of the rest” and thus, Paine concludes, “security is the true design and end of government.”
But here, even in New Delhi, the State Police (and the entire Bureaucracy) are Predatory. The people look after themselves, through private security. In the meantime, the Maoists are raising hell – and these socialist-welfarist “leaders” from Laputa are talking about giving jobs to the poor and food to the hungry.
What can I say, except repeat the advice I gave some weeks back:
Bring Chacha Down!
Phone your MP to vote against the Union Budget – say “No” to the Finance Bill.
This nonsense cannot be allowed to continue.
Tuesday, 23 March 2010
I predict that if things continue the way they are, the USSA will turn into Bihar – where they will have so many government welfare programmes eating up all the (fiat paper) money that they won’t have funds left over to even maintain existing roads, forget about constructing new ones.
There is a great lesson in this for India today – where the Maoists have just blown up the tracks and derailed the prestigious Rajdhani Express.
I am reminded of the opening lines of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense (1776):
SOME writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.
Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil, in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamities are heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer! Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built on the ruins of the bowers of paradise. For were the impulses of conscience clear, uniform, and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other lawgiver; but that not being the case, he finds it necessary to surrender up a part of his property to furnish means for the protection of the rest; and this he is induced to do by the same prudence which in every other case advises him out of two evils to choose the least. Wherefore, security being the true design and end of government, it unanswerably follows that whatever form thereof appears most likely to ensure it to us, with the least expense and greatest benefit, is preferable to all others.
This little pamphlet guided the Americans in 1776. This Common Sense is lost now in the USSA. And, in India, where this book was never read, things are going from bad to worse. Our situation is best summed up by these words of Paine:
Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil, in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamities are heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer!
Monday, 22 March 2010
Most people think of The State as something without which human society would descend into chaos and confusion. This line of thought was expressed most forcefully by the English political philosopher Thomas Hobbes, whose Leviathan (1651) is still studied seriously today. In this book that is the bible for all statists, Hobbes said that without a State, human society would degenerate into a “war of each against all.”
Living in a Third World “predatory state,” I began questioning Hobbes’ ideas long ago – and here is a column of mine from the Times of India of almost ten years ago titled “Hobbes’ Mistake: The Rational Case for Anarchy.”
I argue that there is a “natural order” in civilized society because we all follow certain unwritten and unknown rules while going about seeking survival in markets. These rules include a respect for private property, and further rules about the rightful exchange of these properties.
I now offer my readers a new book of mine to read, titled Natural Order: Essays Exploring Civil Government & The Rule of Law. As is obvious, instead of turning the discussions towards anarchism, I have used the existence of the natural order to delve into the lost science of government, and reveal how wrong our Total Chacha State is in its thinking.
To read the book, click here.
It is also permanently featured on the right hand bar, along with all the other free e-books.
Sunday, 21 March 2010
A parallel is the oft-talked about death penalty for rapists: this will give the rapist the incentive to murder his victim.
What is the best punishment for a hijack? Once again, I will take the same line: A simple hijacking should be treated as a tort and the tortfeasor made to pay compensation to all parties affected. Torts are a deadlier deterrent than any capital punishment.
The list of legal luminaries who make up the Union Cabinet is quite staggering to behold. The report says:
The issue of whether death sentence should be awarded to hijackers was sent to a Group of Ministers (GoM) after a meeting of the Union Cabinet, held two years ago, failed to arrive at a consensus on the issue. After the new government was formed last year, a new GoM was set up led by Union Home Minister P Chidambaram to take a final decision on the issue. Union Law minister Veerappa Moily, Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal and Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel were part of the ministerial panel which decided that capital punishment was necessary to send a strong message to hijackers.
Someone asked me the other day whether tort laws need to be “codified.” The answer is NO. It is a legal principle, like Property or Contract. The courts just need to judge each case separately and award suitable damages accordingly. No new legislation is required.
But do read the report about other decisions the Union Cabinet took - especially on Education. These propagandists seem to want to control our minds forever.
Saturday, 20 March 2010
=> I will respect you in the morning.
=> Your cheque is in the post (read that, Mint).
=> I am from the government and I am here to help you.
In this post I will focus on the third line. That these words are almost proverbial illustrates how wrong human society has gone in understanding the “science of government.” Government today, universally, has become a source of income; it is no longer an expense. At fault are seriously deranged ideas – welfarism, socialism, and, of course, Keynesianism, which funds all this insanity with fiat paper.
[Speaking of fiat paper, when Mayawati accepted a garland of RBI-backed fiat paper notes, she displayed her ignorance of the fact that it is these notes that suck the blood out of the poor, eroding their savings, eating into their capital. Ambedkar was well clued on “sound money”: Chandra showed me some of his writings on the subject. Mayawati should study these writings of her idol.]
There was once a “science of government.” At the East India College in Haileybury, where HEICS officers were trained, the subject of classical liberal political economy dominated their intellectual grounding. The late Professor S Ambirajan has left behind a detailed study of how classical liberal political economy was the philosophical system that guided British colonial policy in India – the idea of laissez faire in economic matters, the emphasis on Property, the clear understating of the “moral” responsibility of The State in a free society.
This science of government was very much studied in the Vienna of the Hapsburgs: Ludwig von Mises himself graduated from the department of government, and nowhere in his writings does he talk in favour of anarchism - the political ideal of modern libertarians, who clearly see that The State has lost its moral prestige.
In Vienna, as I have just discovered, the science of government was very much alive even earlier, when Carl Menger, the acknowledged founder of the Austrian School of Economics, lived and worked in this fair city. The year is 1876, exactly a hundred years since the Wealth of Nations, and just five years since Menger’s Principles of Economics (1871), which ushered in the “marginalist revolution.” With this book, Menger obtained a position in the University of Vienna, as a professor of economics.
Barely two years into his professorship, in 1876, when he was just 36 years old, Carl Menger was selected to deliver a course on classical liberal political economy to the young Crown Prince Rudolf, the only son of the Hapsburg Emperor Franz Joseph. Rudolf’s notes of those lectures, edited by Menger, have survived, and are now available in a volume, thoroughly annotated, and with a detailed foreword showing their importance, because of the worthy efforts of Professors Erich Streissler and Monika Streissler, both of the University of Vienna.
In his foreword, Streissler mentions that the selection of Menger as tutor, in an age when conservatism and liberalism were the dominant influences in court and politics, while socialism and communism were being much pandered about among the common people, reveals the hand of the Empress, who was a convinced liberal herself – in the classical sense. The selection of Menger had much to do with Menger’s own liberal leanings. But it is the course that is fantastic, for Menger speaks not a word about marginal utility or subjective value – ideas for which he is justifiably famous – but focuses entirely on the classicals who preceded him, and their teachings.
His course begins with Adam Smith, and the Wealth of Nations, then exactly a hundred years old, was the primary “textbook” used to train the mind of young Crown Prince Rudolf. The idea was to train the future Emperor in a way that he would see his essential “duties” – and, for that, what better guide is there than Adam Smith, and his “three duties of the sovereign.” For the record, I once again quote this important passage from the Wealth of Nations.
According to the system of natural liberty, the sovereign has only three duties to attend to; three duties of great importance, indeed, but plain and intelligible to common understandings: first, the duty of protecting the society from violence and invasion of other independent societies; secondly, the duty of protecting, as far as possible, every member of the society from the injustice or oppression of every other member of it, or the duty of establishing an exact administration of justice; and, thirdly, the duty of erecting and maintaining certain public works and certain public institutions which it can never be for the interest of any individual, or small number of individuals, to erect and maintain; because the profit could never repay the expense to any individual or small number of individuals, though it may frequently do much more than repay it to a great society.
How did Carl Menger, founder of the Austrian School, teach a young Crown Prince of a centuries-old dynasty the “science of government”?
Menger begins, as Adam Smith did, with the “division of labour,” going on to illustrate the benefits of the “international division of labour” through free trade. He shows how this is a natural process that should be left well alone by the government. He places, instead, a moral duty on the government – to be “economising” just as the citizenry is. The government must spend on essentials only, just as citizens do. The government must encourage industry and thrift – and practise these virtues itself. Government must never be wasteful of public money.
Further, Menger then goes on to discuss Machinery, showing how these are great improvements indeed, which enhance the division of labour, which improve productivity and quality, and which are really in the long run interests of the toiling poor - whose toil they lessen. The fatal errors of Luddism (and Gandhianism) were never allowed into the mind of the young crown prince.
Menger then goes on to explain the importance of Property – and how this legal institution underpins the division of labour society. He briefly discusses Communism and Socialism as enemies of this order, dismissing their nefarious schemes as unworthy of the Crown Prince’s attention. He instills in the future ruler the importance of Private Property and why the State must always protect it.
Thus, he instructs the future Hapsburg Emperor to use his State to oppose Communism, Socialism and Luddism.
This was the first lecture.
In the second lecture Menger goes on to discuss why men economise, why life is hard, why economic resources are scarce. He instills in the mind of his young ward the conscious realisation that life for the citizen is a daily struggle, and that the State should never make it harder. Rather, the State should lighten the burden, and make it easier on the citizen by doing only those things that the citizen cannot do himself – the “third duty of the sovereign” that Adam Smith prescribed.
In this area, Menger directly enters into a discussion of transportation, and why it is vital that there be excellent transportation links between people, their properties, and physical markets.
It was here that I paused in my reading.
I realised why everything had gone so wrong, especially in India.
It is this knowledge of the “science of government” that has to be discussed seriously in the modern world, and especially so in India. Here, forget Haileybury or Menger, the IAS Academy in Mussoorie teaches Maoist collectivism – as I recently discussed. There is little that differs between the intellectual training of an IAS recruit and the indoctrination that a young guerrilla receives at one of Kishenji's Maoist camps. The chief ideologue of the Maoists in Nepal received his PhD from Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.
My foray into Economics began around 1976, exactly a hundred years after the Rudolf Lectures and exactly 200 years after the Wealth of Nations, in Delhi University – and it was a course in craponomics.
The Lesson: Bad ideas have consequences – bad consequences.
But the good ideas are there with us. The IAS Academy can buy the Rudolf Lectures of Carl Menger. They can buy Professor Ambirajan’s study of the classical liberalism that guided British civil servants. They can imbibe the right ideas.
Ultimately, it is a moral question – that too, in two parts.
The first: How can the Individual morally survive?
And two: What are the moral responsibilities of The State?
We in India have lost sight of both.
Friday, 19 March 2010
Without gold reserves, and with a holding of a variety of national papers, all that the IMF can accomplish is lending out these papers to its client states – thereby furthering global inflation. This, while the IMF itself profits. India should not buy these notes. The matter should be discussed in Parliament and the decision revoked. Let us not forget that chhota ustad montek is an IMF man, and such moles in the government can be dangerous.
On the IMF, the president of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus, was most forthright. I was a guest at a luncheon held in his honour in New Delhi a few years ago. He spoke right through the lunch – and his political message was most inspiring. Klaus is a trained economist and a member of the Mont Pèlerin Society.
Vaclav Klaus said that when he took over as president of the Czech Republic, he received numerous requests from World Bank and IMF people seeking appointments in order to “advise” his government. He told us that his stern reply to all these requests was: “I have studied as much Economics as you have, and do not require your advice.” The IMF was kept out of the Czech Republic – and we need to do the same in India.
Of course, if the IMF sells gold, the RBI should buy – as its gold reserves are pathetically low. But it makes no sense to buy IMF “notes” – mere worthless papers issued by an insolvent institution.
On the chief economist of the IMF, Olivier Blanchard, and his economic illiteracy, here is an excellent article from the Mises Institute. Blanchard is a naked inflationist, a Keynesian, and a “macro” moron. Such men are to be laughed out of serious deliberations on economic policy. We must do to the IMF in India what Vaclav Klaus did to them in the Czech Republic:
Keep them out!
Thursday, 18 March 2010
Our journey began on the Bombay-Cochin NH17, up to Ankola, 70 km south of here. After a breakfast of idlis and coffee at a roadside eatery, we took the lesser highway to Hubli via Yellapur, through the Western Ghats. The woods were lovely, dark and deep, but the traffic was terrible – all trucks, trucks and trucks. This is because of iron ore and manganese mining – the trucks carry the ores to Karwar port for export. Instead of promoting tourism – a services industry – we are promoting mining, a primary sector activity. We export mud from Karwar and Mangalore – and import nothing. We also ruin the few roads we have – and deter tourists from driving into areas that are naturally beautiful. We are converting the Western Ghats into Jharkhand: read this about what iron ore mining has done to this beautiful area, equally forested and hilly, which can also benefit hugely from tourism. Ask me: I have travelled widely in Jharkhand.
Anyway, we reached Hubli – and this city is a total, complete mess. If you are ever transferred to Hubli, change your employer.
From Hubli, we went on to Hampi via Gadag. Poverty was openly visible – this was like UP or Bihar. Miles and miles of flat, arid land with a few pockets of cotton fields and poor women picking cotton, the only crop here. Black soil.
At about 2:30pm we reached Hospet, the city closest to Hampi. We took a room in a Karnataka State-owned hotel that looked decrepit and empty. We dumped our stuff in the room and immediately set out for Hampi.
The city of Hospet was a godalmighty mess and the road to Hampi was a disaster, passing through innumerable slums. Finally, after about half an hour, we reached Hampi bazaar, where we shelled out 40 rupees to enter and park. We walked to the nearby ancient Virupapaksha Shiva temple, climbed the nearby Hemkunta hill of white boulders dotted with dozens of beautiful stone mantapas, took a walk along the riverside, had a cup of tea at a “shack” called the Reggae Restaurant, and walked back to our car. No Noble Herb at the Reggae Restaurant outside an ancient Shiva Temple!
This part of Hampi seemed to be one big slum, with innumerable “guest houses” and shacks selling services to tourists – but obviously these entrepreneurs do not possess any property titles. There was loads of garbage just outside the Shiva Temple. The beautiful riverfront smelled bad.
We returned to our hotel late that night after a quick dinner at a “food court” in a Hospet mall that had an escalator. The restaurant was modeled after a railway dining car and the food was passable. There is money in this miserable town.
The next morning we woke up early and headed out to see the rest of Hampi, which covers 14 square miles. We saw it all, and it was funny that we had to pay entrance fees twice. Note: Foreigners have to pay 25 times more than Indians – disgraceful. Further, there was a fellow on the road who took a “vehicle tax” from us. Quite naturally, there were no pucca roads to any of the sites we visited, after paying the vehicle tax.
But we saw many truly beautiful remains of a great ancient civilization. We were glad to have seen Hampi, and the grandeur of Vijayanagara. – the City of Victory.
After that, we decided to call it quits – and drove straight back home. No lunch. Glad to be back. Tourism in India is strenuous stuff.
If this sounds like a miserable travelogue, allow me to present you with a collection of entertaining travelogues I completed in 2004, in Mangalore, in optimistic times – as the Jim Morrison motto at the head of the book shows. They cover Gangotri, where the Ganga starts her long journey to the sea from the dreadlocks of Shiva, all the way to Srinagar, Kashmir, where a hair of the Prophet is kept in the Hazratbal mosque. There are travels in foreign lands too – from Switzerland, very different from Gangotri, to Amsterdam. I visit the house where Karl Marx was born in Trier, Germany, where I also visit the Porsche Museum. I was overjoyed to see a huge photo of James Dean on the wall there, driving his Carrera. I am also to be found buying ganja a stone’s throw from the London headquarters of Scotland Yard!
There are also travels to other parts of India: Gujarat, Varanasi, Amritsar, Pune, Bangalore, Mangalore… all in all, a very wide collection of travelogues indeed. To read the e-book, titled From The Hair Of Shiva To The Hair Of The Prophet, click here. It is also featured permanently on the right-hand bar.
Monday, 15 March 2010
Also, the Bill seeks to indemnify the suppliers of equipment – from the US – while placing all liability on the State, and the State-owned operator of the nuclear facilities. This is nonsense.
Tort laws are basic to any “rule of law society” – and we do not have them. When buildings collapse, when liquor sold is poisonous, when medicines are spurious, when food is adulterated, when traffic accidents occur – in all these instances relief in torts must be obtained. Thus, a nuclear disaster should be treated like any other damage arising out of negligence and the compensation must be paid out according to the scale of the damage. There is no case made out for capping the total compensation or indemnifying foreign equipment suppliers.
Kill this Bill.
All this goes to show that democratic legislation is NOT the solution to our problems. We need a “private law society” – as I have recently argued.
Anyway, as an aside, it is interesting to note that Chacha Manmohan S Gandhi is to receive a World Statesman Award from some Jewish outfit in the USSA. Yes, he is certainly a Man of the State. He is no politician. He has always been a baboon in State employ, never having earned a farthing in his entire life from The Market. This “nuclear deal” with the US State is his biggest “achievement” in two terms. And, as the proposed Bill on civil liability suggests, it is a sellout of the Indian people to the interests of the State. Not only the Indian State but the US State as well.
We don’t need “statesmen.” We need real “politicians” who create and sustain a “body politic” – like good Mayors, who are also respected businessmen.
Chacha Manmohan S Gandhi, his Chacha State, and their Central Parliament must all go.
Say “NO” to all democratic legislation.
Private law is all we need.
PS: Off on a driving holiday tomorrow. So no posts for a few days. Read some of the e-books. Or check out posts under the label "civil government" and "subsidiarity." Wish me good roads and happy driving.
Saturday, 13 March 2010
Last Sunday was a “dry day” here, because of some local elections. I had wiped out my beer stocks on Saturday night, and couldn’t replenish them. I tried some of the retail shops, some of the wholesalers, and some bars – but no go.
However, I wasn’t going to give up on my Sunday high for any democratic despotism, so I drove over to the home of my friendly neighbourhood ganja dealer. I smoked a couple of three-paper joints with him, felt good, very good, and then we began talking – about the dry day.
Since he also lets out rooms to tourists, I inquired if he had any stocks of alcohol that could see me through the evening, and he offered me some whisky. I bought a quarter bottle. I then asked whether he had any feni – and the conversation turned very interesting indeed.
He said he had a little “medicinal” coconut feni, which he used to treat simple ailments, especially for his four kids. I requested a shot so I could try out this enchanted stuff, and he kindly obliged. It was very good indeed, and heightened the effect of the ganja I had already smoked. I then asked where this special coconut feni came from, so that I could get myself some too. The answer: Talpona.
Now, the village Talpona, with its pristine beach, lies just across a narrow river and, as the crow flies, is less than a kilometer from where we were drinking and smoking. But there is a problem getting to Talpona from here: there is no bridge.
Or, to be more accurate, there is a bridge, but it is nothing more than a foot-bridge: too narrow. Our little car barely makes it, but nothing bigger can. The bridge is also quite far upriver, so what should be a 5-minute drive takes half-an-hour. Thus, the economy of Talpona is depressed. The tourists remain on this side; they rarely cross the river. Franky’s Bar in Talpona is largely deserted, as are other establishments that have cropped up there, hoping for the occasional tourist.
Not only Talpona: there is the beautiful Galjibaga Beach beyond, which is always deserted.
This affects real estate values there too. If there had been a proper bridge, real estate activity in the area across the river would have soared.
Now, if you drive from our side of the river to Talpona and Galjibaga, you will find a HUGE BRIDGE towering 100m above you – this is the railway bridge, devoted to the Konkan Railway, the great “project” that cropped up in the minds of our Central Planners in Laputa for the development of this area, also known as the Konkan Coast. Konkani is the predominant language here. My ganja dealer speaks Konkani at home. It sounds very sweet, with many words common to Bengali.
The Konkan Railway passenger trains do not serve the “local area” – like a cheap tramway would. The only connections are to the city of Karwar, 40 km south, or the city of Margao, 40 km north. Even the station that serves this district, Canacona, is in the middle of nowhere, unconnected to either town or village. The entire project, as far as the local people are concerned, is a White Elephant.
Some weeks back, we picnicked just across the river from Talpona, watching the full moon rise above the river, amidst the surrounding hills. It was magical. We were there from 6:30pm to 9:30pm and saw only three trains pass. Two going south, one going north. One train every hour.
Now, such “local” transportation problems must be occurring throughout the length and breadth of India, and there is no way that any central planner can solve these. Solving these problems require "local knowledge."
And transportation problems are India's BIGGEST PROBLEM.
“But we have given you “local self-government’,” Chacha Manmohan S Gandhi will insist. Yeah, we know, like the district “panchayat” for whose elections the entire region was “dry.” Yeah, like the Canacona Municipality that cannot even run one small town properly.
Note that if you cross the foot-bridge and get on the other side of the river, there is a spanking new road connecting Talpona and Galjibaga. But there is no bridge connecting them to the tourists! Or to the real estate developers!
Any “local government” worth its salt would invest in such a bridge as TOP PRIORITY.
To conclude: Our government apparatus is screwed up from top to bottom. As we attempt to fix it, top priority must be given to the institutions we create at the bottom, closest to us. Let us forget about New Delhi. Let us fix The State in our own backyard.
PS: For more on the Konkan Railway, as compared to the non-existent highway, read my brief monograph, Four Wheels For All: The Case For The Rapid Automobilization Of India, available here as a free download.
Friday, 12 March 2010
As a social institution marriage is an adjustment of the individual to the social order by which a certain field of activity, with all its tasks and requirements, is assigned to him. Exceptional natures, whose abilities lift them far above the average, cannot support the coercion which such an adjustment to the way of life of the masses must involve. The man who feels within himself the urge to devise and achieve great things, who is prepared to sacrifice his life rather than be false to his mission, will not stifle his urge for the sake of a wife and children. In the life of a genius, however loving, the woman and whatever goes with her occupy a small place. We do not speak here of those great men in whom sex was completely sublimated and turned into other channels—Kant, for example—or of those whose fiery spirit, insatiable in the pursuit of love, could not acquiesce in the inevitable disappointments of married life and hurried with restless urge from one passion to another. Even the man of genius whose married life seems to take a normal course, whose attitude to sex does not differ from that of other people, cannot in the long run feel himself bound by marriage without violating his own self. Genius does not allow itself to be hindered by any consideration for the comfort of its fellows even of those closest to it. The ties of marriage become intolerable bonds which the genius tries to cast off or at least to loosen so as to be able to move freely. The married couple must walk side by side amid the rank and file of humanity. Whoever wishes to go his own way must break away from it. Rarely indeed is he granted the happiness of finding a woman willing and able to go with him on his solitary path.
I have not yet read Mises’ Socialism. I obtained this quote from Jörg Guido Hülsmann’s excellent biography of Mises (PDF here). For the context, which is Mises’ own marriage to Margit, see page 520.
Thursday, 11 March 2010
The entire focus of the Total Chacha State is now on getting the Finance Bill passed by Parliament. If this Bill fails to get through, the Budget is not passed and the government falls.
Now, as far as the Budget is concerned, you will recall my post in which I had commented that this was “the monster’s budget.” The principal features of this Budget, as I had then outlined, are:
=> The Plan and Non Plan expenditures in BE 2010-11 are estimated at Rs3,73,092 crore and Rs7,35,657 crore respectively.
=> The “labour army” idea of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme gets Rs40,100 crore.
=> Allocation for road transport increased from Rs17,520 crore to Rs19,894 crore.
=> Net market borrowing of the Government in 2010-11 would be of the order of Rs3,45,010 crore.
(1 crore is 10 million; 100 crore is 1 billion.)
I had, in that post, and a subsequent one, critiqued the massive borrowing, as entailing “capital consumption.” I had advised the citizenry against buying government bonds.
In this post I will focus on the “flagship” NREGA, on which Rs40,100 crore are to be spent, more than double that on roads. This, too, represents “capital consumption.” Indeed, all “welfare” expenditure by the State is such, for it has nothing to do with “production” or “investment” – areas where capital ought to go. But the NREGA is worse, much worse.
In truth, NREGA is nonsense raised to the level of a principle. The very idea that the State can somehow create “employment” is false, for the money spent is taken from us, and if we spent that money, we would create employment much better.
This was first demonstrated by Frédéric Bastiat in his classic essay – an essay that truly reveals his genius – titled “What Is Seen And What Is Note Seen.” This essay can, of course, be found in my The Essential Frédéric Bastiat (free download here).
This essay is also the inspiration behind Henry Hazlitt’s classic Economics In One Lesson (PDF here), which, although over 50 years old, places Bastiat’s arguments in a modern context. This great book is highly recommended to students as well as the general reader.
The core of Bastiat’s argument in “What Is Seen And What Is Not Seen” is what has come to be known as the “broken window fallacy.” The argument goes as follows:
A hoodlum smashes a shop window. The townspeople gather and discuss the unfortunate incident, but conclude happily that the shopkeeper’s loss is the glazier’s gain, for otherwise, how would glaziers survive? Bastiat says that this is “what is seen.”
Now for “what is not seen”: Bastiat points to the fact that the unfortunate shopkeeper who has to shell out $100 for repairing his window had saved the sum for a new suit, which he will now have to forego. Thus, the glazier’s gain is the tailor’s loss. The town has not gained anything at all. Rather, the town has lost, for Property has been destroyed.
The most common example of the broken window fallacy is, of course, war, for do we not so often hear learned views asserting that rebuilding shattered cities is one of the “economic benefits” of war.
In exactly the same way, with the NREGA, “what is seen” is the district collector spending money. “What is not seen” is the tax payer, and what he would have spent that same money on.
NREGA is just a Broken Window.
India needs roads. Urgently. If the NREGA is scrapped, Rs 60,000 crore could immediately be allocated for roads and highways. This is what the citizenry must demand, and call upon all their MPs to oppose the passing of this year’s Finance Bill.
Of course, then, Chacha would fall.
But that, I am confident, will be a very good thing.
Wednesday, 10 March 2010
The Women’s Reservation Bill, in its present form, has serious, indeed fatal, flaws. If enacted, this measure will send our already tottering political system into a devastating tailspin. The one-third of the total parliamentary seats to be reserved for women is to be selected through a lottery system. This implies that, at random, at least 180 male legislators will be uprooted from their constituencies every election. In their place, 180 women will be assigned those constituencies before every election. Then, at the time of the next election, when the new list of 180 reserved constituencies is declared in the same manner, these 180 women will not be able to contest from the seats they are holding at that point of time because the same constituency cannot be reserved twice in succession under the bill’s rotation system.
Thus two-thirds of our legislators will be uprooted at every election. This takes away the incentive for women representatives to nurture and be accountable to their constituencies since after each election they will be expected to either withdraw from the contest or move to a different constituency since no constituency can be reserved in succession.
Thus this brainless scheme of reservation jeopardises the possibility of sensible planning to contest a political constituency for both men and women. Since very few women politicians have an independent electoral base, this uncertainty about where they will be fielded from will make them even more dependent on male bosses of their party to win elections. In such a situation, male politicians will find it easy to bring in their wives and daughters — the biwi beti brigade — as proxies to keep the seat “safe” for them until the next election when they would be likely to be able to reclaim their seats.
On the “politics” behind the Bill, the lead editorial in Mint is worth reading, according to which this “brainless scheme” is an idea of Madamji Soniaji Gandhiji – and it is she who is cracking the “party whip” at all her MPs, including those of her allies. Little tyrant.
In other words, this Bill should be defeated in the Lok Sabha. Please phone your MP and ask him to vote against it. This Bill is aimed at subverting our representative system; indeed, subverting the very Constitution itself.
But this is just a ruse: a diversionary tactic, at which the Indian politician excels. The real fuck-up facing the Total Chacha State emerges from the second editorial in Mint, which is titled “Bond Market Turbulence.” Bond prices are falling fast, and the huge borrowing plans of the Total Chacha State are in jeopardy.
They should fix their finances.
They should tackle the Maoists.
Instead, they are trying to get women into their legislatures.
Kill this Bill.
Tuesday, 9 March 2010
It is a lucky coincidence that I have only just finished reading Niall Ferguson’s bestseller: The Ascent of Money: The Financial History of the World. I enjoyed the many interesting facts he has recounted in riveting prose but, overall, I must say that he is the typical example of an economic historian who is not equipped with the exact praxeological theories with which to “understand” – or verstehen – all the numerous facts he has accumulated.
He begins well, showing how all the silver in Potosi did not enrich the Spaniards. But then he falters, recounting the history of government bonds – perpetual irredeemable debt – as something “good.” He does not see this financial development as something horrible, and the cause of wars and capital consumption – as I had pointed out, quoting Mises, in a previous post. I further elaborated on this in another post.
Ferguson seems to be a Chicago School man – he quotes Milton Friedman often, and cities the Friedman-Schwartz history of the Great Depression as the final word on the subject: that the US Fed did not do enough. He quotes many US Fed chairmen with approval, and seems to be, like the Chicago School types, a believer in a role of the State in providing money. He quotes Keynes often. The only Austrian he cites is his fellow Harvardian, Joseph Schumpeter; that too, on the concept of “gales of creative destruction.” Yawn.
In this book, the story of the US mortgage scam is well told, as is the story of the quantitative economists who ran Long Term Capital Management into the ground. He shows how their silly formulae did not work. Yet, he seems to be blissfully unaware as to how markets actually work.
In one important chapter of the book, on housing, he is actually wrong: he discredits Hernando de Soto’s emphasis on clear property titles and favours “micro-credit” instead. The latter is just a joke; another scam. I have met innumerable street vendors who are perfectly happy with the informal credit networks that sustain them. And here is an article on an Indian champion of clear property titles, DC Wadhwa. This gent had an interesting article in my copy of the Indian Express of yesterday, but the website does not carry it as yet. So this is an area where I am in complete and total disagreement with Ferguson.
But to be fair to this Harvard historian, he seems to be “getting there.” He seems to have realized that something is terribly wrong with the Anglo-Saxon financial system which dominates the world of today. He talks well of the gold standard years, of that phase of globalization, and Gladstonian liberalism. More than that, as his article citied above shows, he seems to have arrived at the conclusion that time has run out for the Bretton Woods system, and the empire run on fiat US dollars.
I suggest some reading for Ferguson, who does not claim to be an economist. I suggest he carefully study the chapter on “Indirect Exchange” in Ludwig von Mises’ Human Action; A Treatise on Economics – PDF here. This is Chapter XVII.
I also suggest he carefully study a book that Mises wrote titled Theory and History, (pdf here) and how they must complement each other as we seek to study “human action.” In particular, he must study the central idea of verstehen in historical studies. He is young. He has much to learn. And he is getting there. All the best, Niall.
Sunday, 7 March 2010
After reading this, you might wonder why.
After all, Uncle Sam has been injecting a trillion dollar “stimulus” into the economy. To understand why such Keynesian strategies are worse than the disease, I advise you read Robert Higgs' piece in The Beacon, titled “Anatomy of the Current Recession.” He shows how the most important indicator of recovery, private investment, is falling – not despite, but because of, the great government stimulus. I quote:
If real investment spending has taken a huge hit, however, federal government spending has raced ahead in high gear. Between 2007 and 2009, federal purchases of newly produced final goods and services—the federal government’s “contribution” to GDP—increased by more than 13 percent in constant dollars. Unfortunately, whereas private investment is the engine of economic growth, government spending (despite what generations of Keynesian economists have asserted) is the brake. Although increased government purchases by definition increase the measured national product, their substantive effect on the process of sustained economic growth is decidedly detrimental.
In other words, Uncle Sam is engaged in “capital consumption” and the USSA is therefore heading towards “de-civilization.”
Who is their only hope? Of course, Ron Paul. Here is this principled politician and Austro-libertarian writing on what he would do as President if he took over. Note how much trouble he will have dismantling “welfare.” Note how he will put an end to “warfare.” Note how he will kick the shits out of the federal bureaucracy. And note how he will put an end to federal control over education. He also says he will end federal control over the police – who should always be “local.” So there’s the only good politician in America, who swears to stand by the ideals of the US Constitution.
However, the last article I recommend today is by someone who argues, quite tellingly, that the US Constitution was designed to rob the citizens of their property. The author is Tom Mullen, and this is a post from his blog. I got the link from LewRockwell.com. It is well worth a read.
Then think: What do we do about our very own Uncle Sham?
Saturday, 6 March 2010
No thanks, Geek. Been there; done that. And I have been published so widely - by Macmillan, by Liberty Institute, by Centre for Civil Society, by Friedrich Naumann Stiftung Für Die Freiheit, by International Policy Network - that I have no need for vanity publishing.
Indeed, I think of myself more like the silk-cotton tree, of which there are several in the Goan village in which I live these days. In the season, when it flowers and "broadcasts" its seeds - and the scientific word "broadcast" is pertinent - the local lanes look as thought they are covered in snow.
I am therefore perfectly happy broadcasting my message, sending the spores abroad. I expect nothing from the process except that some of them might germinate, and grow into mighty trees.
Indeed, self-publishing for free on the internet, through my blog, is the best thing that could have happened for a guy like me. I am now going to put up some more of my unpublished works for free - "broadcast" them. That is "my way."
If someone is motivated, by profit or ideology, to publish some of these works in book form, I would be happy and expect nothing in return. I have enough to survive on.
The Ludwig von Mises Institute is my role model: they broadcast for free.
And Diogenes the Cynic is also my role model:
My message to our The Total Chacha State is:
Don't Stand Between Me And The Sun.
Friday, 5 March 2010
Chandra informed me that Free Your Mind (first edition) is now out of print, so I found my copy of the IPN CD and e-mailed him the relevant file, hoping he will be able to find a publisher.
While reading review comments from eminent people at the end of the book, I was also reminded of another short book I had written then, as an accompaniment to Free Your Mind.
This was titled Free Your Life: A Citizen’s Guide to Justice & the Law. I found this too quite easily, and both these are now available as free downloads on this blog.
I have kept both editions of Free Your Mind available. The first is better suited for schoolchildren, around the age of 15. The second is for the college-going, and adults. I hope you find these useful knowledge.
Free Your Mind 2nd edition is available here.
Free Your Life, here.
Both are also permanently featured on the right-hand bar, along with all the other free downloads.
Thursday, 4 March 2010
But before all that, I think what we need most of all is an Indian edition of Human Action, in English. I have been working all these years with the third and fourth editions, but I find something wrong with them. Mises has failed to “front load” his book. It does not begin by telling the reader two important things:
1. Why the reader must study this book, and
2. What is so important about the knowledge contained in this book.
Indeed, Mises answers these questions only at the fag end of his book, so only the reader who has taken the trouble of going through all 900 pages is made aware of the importance of this treatise.
Part Seven, the concluding part of Human Action, is titled “The Place of Economics in Society” and contains three short chapters:
Chapter XXXVII on “The Nondescript Character of Economics;
Chapter XXXVIII on “The Place of Economics in Learning”; and
Chapter XXXIX, the final chapter of the book, on “Economics and the Essential Problems of Human Existence.”
I do believe that a new Indian edition should be published with a foreword containing extracts from these closing chapters, in order to motivate both the student as well as the lay reader to carefully study the entire treatise.
Let us begin with the words with which Mises ends his book:
The body of economic knowledge is an essential element in the structure of human civilization; it is the foundation upon which modern industrialism and all the moral, intellectual, technological, and therapeutical achievements of the last centuries have been built. It rests with men whether they will make the proper use of the rich treasure with which this knowledge provides them or whether they will leave it unused. But if they fail to take the best advantage of it and disregard its teachings and warnings, they will not annul economics; they will stamp out society and the human race.
I do believe that we need a foreword in which these words appear right on top, thereby “front loading” the book. But there is more, both for students and well as lay persons, and I offer these quotes from the chapter on the “place of Economics in learning.”
First, for the students. Writing of what happens to students in the universities of today, Mises says:
The students are bewildered. In the courses of the mathematical economists they are fed formulas describing hypothetical states of equilibrium in which there is no longer any action. They easily conclude that these equations are of no use whatever for the comprehension of economic activities. In the lectures of the specialists they hear a mass of detail concerning interventionist measures. They must infer that conditions are paradoxical indeed, because there is never equilibrium, and wage rates and prices of farm products are not so high as the unions or the farmers want them to be. It is obvious, they conclude, that a radical reform is indispensable. But what kind of reform?
The majority of the students espouse without any inhibitions the interventionist panaceas recommended by their professors. Social conditions will be perfectly satisfactory when the government enforces minimum wage rates and provides everybody with adequate food and housing, or when the sale of margarine and the importation of foreign sugar are prohibited. They do not see the contradictions in the words of their teachers, who one day lament the madness of competition and the next day the evils of monopoly, who one day complain about falling prices and the next day about rising living costs. They take their degrees and try as soon as possible to get a job with the government or a powerful pressure group.
But there are many young men who are keen enough to see through the fallacies of interventionism. They accept their teachers’ rejection of the unhampered market economy. But they do not believe that the isolated measures of interventionism could succeed in attaining the ends sought. They consistently carry their preceptors’ thoughts to their ultimate logical consequence. They turn toward socialism. They hail the Soviet system as the dawn of a new and better civilization.
I think that if students read this right at the outset of the proposed Indian edition, they will be strongly motivated to carefully study this rich treasure of essential knowledge. They will study it themselves, at home, just as they study for the CAT, JEE, GRE, GMAT, UPSC exams at home today. Who knows, maybe coaching classes will emerge.
Let us now move on to citizens. In this same chapter, Mises has an entire section titled “Economics and the citizen.” It is brief, so I will reproduce the entire section below. I do believe that this too should be “front loaded” so that lay citizens take the necessary trouble to study this vital book, just as they study so many things on their own today, from ayurveda and homeopathy to what not. The book shops are full of teach-yourself books that ordinary citizens buy and use. Human Action deserves to be one such book. Here is what Mises says on “Economics and the Citizen.”
Economics must not be relegated to classrooms and statistical offices and must not be left to esoteric circles. It is the philosophy of human life and action and concerns everybody and everything. It is the pith of civilization and of man’s human existence.
To mention this fact is not to indulge in the often derided weakness of specialists who overate the importance of their own branch of knowledge. Not the economists, but all the people today assign this eminent place to economics.
All present-day political issues concern problems commonly called economic. All arguments advanced in contemporary discussion of social and public affairs deal with fundamental matters of praxeology and economics. Everybody’s mind is preoccupied with economic doctrines. Philosophers and theologians seem to be more interested in economic problems than in those problems which earlier generations considered the subject matter of philosophy and theology. Novels and plays today treat all things human—including sex relations—from the angle of economic doctrines. Everybody thinks of economics whether he is aware of it or not. In joining a political party and in casting his ballot, the citizen implicitly takes a stand upon essential economic theories.
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries religion was the main issue in European political controversies. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in Europe as well as in America the paramount question was representative government versus royal absolutism. Today it is the market economy versus socialism. This is, of course, a problem the solution of which depends entirely on economic analysis. Recourse to empty slogans or to the mysticism of dialectical materialism is of no avail.
There is no means by which anyone can evade his personal responsibility. Whoever neglects to examine to the best of his abilities all the problems involved voluntarily surrenders his birthright to a self-appointed elite of supermen. In such vital matters blind reliance upon “experts” and uncritical acceptance of popular catchwords and prejudices is tantamount to the abandonment of self-determination and to yielding to other people’s domination. As conditions are today, nothing can be more important to every intelligent man than economics. His own fate and that of his progeny is at stake.
Very few are capable of contributing any consequential idea to the body of economic thought. But all reasonable men are called upon to familiarize themselves with the teachings of economics.
This is, in our age, the primary civic duty.
Whether we like it or not, it is a fact that economics cannot remain an esoteric branch of knowledge accessible only to small groups of scholars and specialists. Economics deals with society’s fundamental problems; it concerns everyone and belongs to all. It is the main and proper study of every citizen.
I hope this post will prompt some of our think-tankers and their publisher friends to consider rushing through an Indian edition of Ludwig von Mises’ masterpiece Human Action: A Treatise on Economics. If they do so, I would be honoured to write a foreword in which I will “front load” direct quotations from the closing chapters that will motivate the reader to treat this as a private study of great importance indeed.
PS: For a free download of Human Action, click here. I suggest you read chapters 37, 38 and 39 first.
Wednesday, 3 March 2010
Still I Rise
by Maya Angelou
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.
Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own backyard.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.
Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
Out of the huts of history's shame
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
Tuesday, 2 March 2010
Some of you may already be familiar with my old friend and soul-brother, my alter-ego, so to speak, Baba Pagal Nath Charsi, whose fiery political speech in the crude, street Hindi of barbarous Delhi was podcast on this blog many months ago, and saw record downloads.
Well, here is the good Baba again, this time in a more urbane avatar, in English, with a long song, a lyrical essay that is hilarious, risqué, and political dynamite. The F-word is sprinkled through it like confetti, so Eminem fans will love this long song.
The background to this composition must also be told. This was written in 2004, when the Baba was on the run from the Karnataka State Police, their goon squads, and their hired assassins who disapproved of his peaceful political activism: spreading the Gospel of Freedom.
Afraid for his life, and wanting to send out his final message to his faithful followers, he holed up in a small hotel in a remote mountain village and hammered in out on his laptop. He then jeeped it to a nearby small town, into a cyber café there, and e-mailed it to the faithful few. It is from these records, carefully preserved, that this long song has now been unearthed and is being aired. The Antidote Blog is proud to host Baba Pagal Nath once more: “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.”
Good Morning, America is an “immigrant song”: it challenges the visa-passport regime. But it challenges many other forms of tyranny, including, of course, that great tyranny against the Noble Herb.
To enjoy this long song of freedom, click here. It is also permanently featured on the right hand bar, along with all the other free downloads.