The finance minister, Pranab Mukherjee, is the CONgress candidate for President - and it is he, under the "guidance" of the "eminent economist," prime minister Manmohan Singh, who has landed the "national economy" in such a huge mess. The rupee has crashed; their bonds will soon be "junk"; and there is not much good news coming from the Eurozone, either.
While none of these "politicians" ever write anything in the "para-parliament" of the Free Press, it was interesting to go through a column by Pranab's Chief Economic Advisor, Kaushik Basu of Cornell, in which he cautions us against going into a "pessimism spiral." He says we should not "overreact" to all the bad news - and he attempts to enthuse some optimism in us by pointing to "three performance factors" that show that the "national economy" is worthy of our confidence. He also suggests two important "reforms" that can make this collective economy do even better. Let us look at these:
The "three performance factors" are:
First: We are a "high investment" nation - but this cannot be if inflation is eroding private savings. Statistics are meaningless - and he does begin by rattling off lots of "GDP growth" figures, which are equally meaningless, for they are nothing but an "average" that those who "run the national economy" rely on for their "manipulations." If we were to inhabit a "private economies society," with each Individual "minding his own business," and each "rowing his own boat," then most of us would surely be much better off. The "national economy" is what these guys are "mismanaging" today. A FREE ECONOMY is one without State Interference - and all of us run our own private economies. But do note that Basu rattles of GDP growth rates - without mentioning the "rate of inflation," which is also another meaningless average, but I will discuss its meaninglessness on some other occasion.
Second: We are "exporting investment." Surely, a nation that is labour-abundant and capital-short should be "importing capital"? In a BIG WAY!
Third: Our "growing strength in exports." Like exporting iron ore and importing nothing! If the rupee is crashing, exports will surely rise - but what about imports? Why do we engage in foreign trade?
Let us now turn to the "reforms" Basu suggests:
First: Allow "FDI in multi-brand retail." Now, as I just said, we ought to be importing capital in a BIG WAY. What does any State know about "brands"? - and, as for their own brands, from IAS to IPS to Air India, they are all completely devoid of any "brand equity" today. Why not allow FREE CAPITAL INFLOWS - laissez faire? Foreign capital should be allowed into anything - railways, airways, highways, electricity... Anything! Why not "unilateral free trade" as well, so that our traders can set up good "retail outlets," too; and the most important people in the market - consumers - can be KINGS?
Second: "Cutting bureaucratic red tape" - and this suggestion of his is supported by quoting the US Defence Secretary! Now, all this bureaucratic red tape is NOT "inherited from our colonial days" as Basu alleges. Its chief cause is LEGISLATION. So, instead of "administrative reform," which is what Basu recommends, what we really need is wholesale "repeal of legislation." It is legislation that "empowers bureaucrats." Get rid of the lot - and let us be FREE in a "private law society."
Note: Basu never mentions the sweet word "liberty"; nor does he ever mention "economic freedom."
Beer bars, dance bars, ganja-charas cafes, discos, casinos....
D'ya think the ISI will even be able to "measure the growth rate" then?
It will be ASTRONOMICAL!
ISI is the Indian Statistical Institute, far more dangerous for our mental, physical and economic health than the Pakistani ISI - and the Indian one was set up by PC Mahalanobis, a "statistician" (not an "economist") who was Nehru's "chief advisor" for the "Soviet-model heavy industrialisation" Second Five Year Plan. It was to this Mahalanobis-Nehru Plan that BR Shenoy penned his "Note of Dissent." And Mahalanobis' framed portrait hangs at the LSE!
Anyway - there is another opinion piece in the ToI by Gautam Adhikari, who is also one of those "Washington-types."
Titled "Is India too big to succeed," Adhikari notes that to most foreigners, the song nowadays is "Farewell to Incredible India" - thanks entirely to our "feeble politics." What about "feeble economic advice"?
Adhikari concludes with two "thoughts for debate":
First: Giving states more powers over taxation - like a State-level "income tax" (horrors!). He offers this advice because this happens in the USSA. Actually, there was NO INCOME TAX in America during the good old days - which is why this "land of the brave and the free" prospered. Low taxes are GOOD - because people are RICHER. People can then "save and invest." Then only does the nation "grow." Adhikari simultaneously suggests EXPANSION of the central bureaucracy! More "tax parasites"? He wants more "diplomats"! The guy must be NUTS!
Second: Adhikari suggests a "re-organisation of states" - to 50 small states. But all our small states are as much of a mess - just read this recent post on tiny Pondicherry. What about MAYORS for every city and town - as in the US of old, and as all over Europe, which is where "Western civilisation" came from?
So, do we need a President of India - a largely "ceremonial post" akin to the British monarch?
This, when we have NO MAYORS at all - and each and every city and town throughout this vast sub-continent is a COMPLETE MESS.
Recommended read: My recent post titled "The headless chicken - and EXODUS! Movement of Jah People."
We Don't Need No Head Of The State Of Laputa!
We need mayors, free trading and self-governing cities and towns, and genuine REPUBLICANISM.