May 3, 2016
Fred Foldvary questioned my criticism of the “libertarians”. I had said: “‘Libertarians’ are the most confused bunch of people I’ve come across.”
Fred wrote: “An assertion and personal opinion without warrants.”
Fred, I do have reasons. In brief:
1) The term is ill-defined. It seems amenable to self-definition, and all sorts of people call themselves libertarian. This makes it impossible to know what it is. There was a standard term, “liberal”, which had its own history and meaning. For some reason, American liberals lost the use of their own term to socialist/progressives, and have invented a new term which can mean anything and everything.
2) There are good bunch of “libertarians” who oppose the state from first principles. To them, all tax is theft, and anarchy is the only way out.
3) Then there are many “libertarians” who have no interest in democratic system and changing the laws or governance systems. They are content with breaking the laws (on the sly), aka the “hero” praised today on Marginal Revolution (http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2016/05/guru.html). It appears Ayn Rand was an active promoter of such corruption. I’m going to examine this further in the coming days.
4) We have “libertarians” who – as part of their proclivity towards anarchy – believe in open migration. In contrast, the classical liberal Gary Becker would charge migrants a fee that would compensate the country into which the migration is taking place, for rule of law and other (e.g. infrastructure) costs.
5) And we have “libertarians” who promote basic income – an entirely communist idea, which has no regard to who produced the money that is being forcibly transferred to everyone. It destroys all work incentives – but that’s a minor effect: the main issue is the violence that underpins the concept.
When I started this group I was in two minds about using the word “libertarian” in the title. I used it because there are some libertarians who are actually classical liberal.
The classical liberal promotes freedom at every stage, without forgetting the important role of government in ensuring the rule of law. And since the government requires direction, the classical liberal is always a keen participant in the democratic process – his focus is on changing laws to make them consistent with liberty; not to break the laws on the sly.
I would prefer that people assert clearly whether they are liberal (in the classical, i.e. negative liberty) sense and not call themselves “libertarian”, which seems to mean anything and everything, and has no foundations that go back hundreds of years.
Hopefully this demonstrates that this personal opinion is fully warranted. There’s a lot more I can say, but this sketches out key issues with the term.
Even the Mises Institute is flummoxed at what libertarianism means:
“I recently was invited to speak at the annual convention of the Texas Libertarian Party, and was struck by how libertarians cling to an outdated and counterproductive conception of the political landscape. In particular, many libertarians remain wedded to a misguided understanding of what the threat to liberty really is, where it comes from, and thus how we ought to fight against it.” [Source]
April 29, 2016
Friend Rakesh Agarwal sought my comments on an article entitled, “Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems” by George Monbiot.
I’d never waste time with articles that use ill-defined words and then blame ALL “our problems” on ill-defined words, but given Rakesh is a good liberal friend and I’ve got a few minutes today, let me put down a few thoughts. I’m only extracting a very few lines from Montbiot (italicised), given it only takes a few lines to demolish this piece of trash. My comments are in blue.
[Btw, I had a quick look at what Monbiot stands for, and here are some examples:
Monbiot’s prediction – 1 year to go – The man is a comprehensive duffer in the tradition of Paul Ehrlich and the likes: and has been PROVEN comprehensively wrong. But such people never give up lying.
Anyway, let me move to my own analysis.]
Neoliberalism: do you know what it is? Its anonymity is both a symptom and cause of its power. It has played a major role in a remarkable variety of crises: the financial meltdown of 2007‑8, the offshoring of wealth and power, of which the Panama Papers offer us merely a glimpse, the slow collapse of public health and education, resurgent child poverty, the epidemic of loneliness, the collapse of ecosystems, the rise of Donald Trump.
[Sanjeev: The deceptive man can’t even throw a red herring properly. The key cause behind all these is GOVERNMENT FAILURE.
- financial meltdown: I’ve analysed its causes in my 2009 article, here. 90 per cent attributable directly to government failure.
- offshoring of wealth and power, of which the Panama Papers offer us merely a glimpse. This is largely attributable to corrupt government policies and crony capitalism.
- the slow collapse of public health and education – well, this is more clear than almost all other issues: government directly manages much of these; its failure is rampant and comprehensive. And breakdown of regulatory systems.
- resurgent child poverty. This is a direct consequence of the destruction of family by the bloated welfare system in the West.
- epidemic of loneliness. What is this? What epidemic?
- collapse of ecosystems. This is found almost solely in societies that have acute government failure. Protection of environment requires both regulation and allocation of property rights. Where these are properly organised, there’s no such collapse.]
Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that “the market” delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning.
[Sanjeev: Given that Monbiot later in the article cites Hayek and Mises as the key “neoliberals” – Among the delegates were two men who came to define the ideology, Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek – I assume by “neoliberalism” he means liberalism. Both Hayek and Mises were vigorously liberal: defenders of liberty.
Now, if that is the case, then it is the purest form of nonsense to suggest that “Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations“. Indeed, the greatest defining characteristic of the human species is collaboration and cooperation. It takes the most wonderful feats of collaboration even to deliver a simple thing like a pencil. The human orchestra is coordinated by the price system, by the persuasions of which all people spend their entire life serving others’ needs. How can serving others’ needs FIRST, in order to achieve one’s own, be classified as purely competition?
Then: Attempts to limit competition are treated as inimical to liberty.
It is nonsense to suggest that Hayek and Mises were stupid enough to advocate a single-point agenda: blind competition. Both saw a clear role for government. Indeed, liberalism sees the role for a very strong government. Government can, and should, regulate competition where it can’t work properly because of externalities or other adverse impacts. Many examples abound: urban planning, grazing in the commons, supply of roads. Many monopolies are given directly to government, e.g. defence, internal security of the nation, justice system. Hayek wrote at great length on the need for anti-trust legislation, although Mises cautioned us to not make any unwarranted assumptions about monopolies.
But apart from these and similar cases, what does Monbiot want to do: to step into markets where the competition for our custom has led to enormous innovation, productivity and prosperity for all? Monbiot neither understands Hayek or Mises, nor has a theory of competition and prices.
Tax and regulation should be minimised, public services should be privatised.
What does Monbiot want? To increase taxes blindly? To maximise regulation blindly, without regard to the costs and benefits?
And since when did Hayek or Mises ask for all public services to be privatised?
What is wrong with privatisation, anyway? Privatisation is about letting the PEOPLE do things, for themselves? Why should government produce shirts, scooters and radios?
What are public services, anyway? We can readily demonstrate that there is no reason for a government to run hospitals or schools. There is a role for government in funding the poorest of the poor; no role in running these “services” directly.
The organisation of labour and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions that impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers.
This is pure nonsense. Liberalism insists on the freedom of workers to organise themselves. It was liberal countries which promoted unions. China doesn’t allow unions. The only issue is when unions cheat their members – as has been commonly the case. Is it wrong to criticise corruption in unions?
Inequality is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone.
This is a most insidious comment. Does Monbiot want total economic equality? Clearly a Marxist, intent on destroying entire societies.
The goal of a free society must be equal opportunity. And that means removal of poverty. There is no role for a government in considerations about economic inequality.
But is inequality a “virtue” in itself? Not at all. Wealth (or the absence of it) is neither here nor there. Virtue is in the actions of individuals, not in their wealth (or absence thereof).
We internalise and reproduce its creeds. The rich persuade themselves that they acquired their wealth through merit, ignoring the advantages – such as education, inheritance and class – that may have helped to secure it. The poor begin to blame themselves for their failures, even when they can do little to change their circumstances.
I don’t know where these wild generalisations are coming from. Just one absurd assertion after another.
Anyway, I’ve spent 40 minutes on this fellow’s useless and confused ideas.
I don’t have patience to write more against this piece of tripe.
Sorry, Rakesh, I think I’m done. I trust you see the point.
April 21, 2016
I’ve made a few comments on FB recently, I thought I should link them here. One fine day, when I have time, I may write a comprehensive post on the topic.
April 20, 2016
Many Indians seem to have dropped their head on the ground.
Not even the REMOTEST sense of rationality seems to be in evidence.
My FB comment:
This is the kind of pseudo-nationalistic nonsense that I don’t like.
History is OVER. The idea of dipping into history for present political gain is obnoxious. Hindutvas taking India into the medieval era – and will leave no stone unturned to destroy the future of India.
So how long ago can you go in time? 400 years? 4000 year? 4 millions years – when ALL that was there were some monkeys on this planet.
This is monkey business. THESE HINDUTVAS NEED TO STOP BEING MONKEYS.
A nation is not determined by silly pieces of stone, but by its HUMANS. And of that, we have only crooks and duffers to show at the top, in India.
Let India grow into the FUTURE, as the Heaven of Freedom. Not a nation fighting bygone battles that have no relevance to its future.
April 19, 2016
64 crores Bofors scam looks like a drop in the ocean when Modi’s mega-corrupt exploits are considered.
First, my previous posts in which I touch upon Modi’s corruption:
This, new information from Jairam Ramesh is even more explosive – and confirms the trend.
I’ve also compiled below 25 tweets by Srivatsa (@srivatsayb) on this topic:
What is #KGScam? In this thread, I will put forth the details behind why @narendramodi needs to be probed in this Rs. 19,700 cr scam
In 2003, JV led by Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation(GSPC) was awarded an exploration contract by NDA in the Krishna-Godavari basin
Modi Govt’s GSPC had a JV with GeoGlobal Resources & Jubilant Group. GSPC held 80% & the remaining two held 10% each
Both GeoGlobal & Jubilant had no prior experience in oil exploration, yet Modi gave away 20% of the JV(without procedure or tenders)
GeoGlobal was incorporated 6 days before the JV & had a paid up capital of just $64. The JV was formed on 27 March 2002
GeoGlobal was given a “carried interest agreement” which ensured it made ZERO financial investment in lieu for its 10% stake
GeoGlobal’s only contribution for it’s 10% stake was said to be it’s “Technical expertise”.
Within days of being awarded the exploration contract, GeoGlobal transfers 50% of it’s 10% stake in KG block to a Mauritius company
On June 26, 2005, @narendramodi announced that 20 Trillion CFT worth Rs. 220,000 Cr found in that block. “Biggest ever gas discovery”
Modi also announces that the GSPC-GeoGlobal-Jubilant JV will start commercial production of gas by Dec 2007
Nominal value of a share of GeoGlobal in 2002 was $0.001. After Modi’s announcement, it hits 13$ in Dec 2005 – a phenomenal increase
The increase in GeoGlobal’s share price though it’s only asset was it’s 10% stake in KG block can only be bcos of Modi’s announcement
By 2009, nothing moved. GSPC hired another “technical consultant”(same job as what GeoGlobal was supposed to do) & paid them crores
Modi also scaled down expectations in 2009 & said that the gas block was worth just 22,000 cr. A 90% fall from his 2005 claims.
By 2010, GeoGlobal’s share was below 1$. So between Modi’s 2 statements in 2005 & 09, someone made a lot of money trading its stock.
By his own 2005 estimates, Modi had given away nearly Rs. 20,000 crores to GeoGlobal & Jubilant for nothing in return!!!
In 2009, estimated cost of recovering gas was above selling price. Yet Modi awards contracts for Platform Rigs to “Tuft Drilling”
Tuft Drilling which received these contracts worth thousands of crores from Modi Govt had ZERO experience in supplying rigs.
GSPC which had ZERO loans on 31 March 2007 ended up having Rs. 19,270 Crores loans from Public Sector Banks by Nov 2015
And yet, as of today, there has been ZERO Commercially Produced Gas from this block after 20,000+ crores are already down the drain
So who made the killing by trading GeoGlobal stocks? Why were 2 unknown companies given stakes potentially worth thousands of crores?
Jubilant’s Shyam Bhartia is the husband of Shobhana Bhartia of Hindustan Times. Their son is married to Dhirubhai’s grand daughter.
Jubilant brought nothing to the table and yet got 10%. GeoGlobal is also a shell company with Mauritius links. All dubious!!
Why was the drilling rig contracts given to “Tuff” which had no prior experience? The entire GSPC case is classic crony capitalism
Rs. 20,000 crores lost due to corrupt & opaque deals.
@narendramodi must be probed in the #KGScam by a Supreme Court Judge
#KGScam, krishna godavari scam