19th May 2018
हम आज़ाद क्यों होना चाहते थे? निश्चित रूप से हमें ब्रिटिश राज से छुटकारा पाना ज़रूरी था. जलियांवाला बाग जैसे जुल्मों ने ब्रिटिश राज का असली रूप दिखा दिया था.
पर खुद का राज करना एक बात है, जनता की आजादी एक दूसरी ही बात है. आज हम खुद पर राज ज़रूर करते हैं, पर हम आज़ाद नहीं हैं.
आज़ादी की आजादी पर दो किस्मत के नियंत्रण होते हैं: समाज की तरफ से, और सरकार की तरफ से.
भारत की समाज ने हमें जंजीरो से बांध रखा है. पर ये जंजीरे खुद की होती हैं, और आदमी चाहे तो इन जंजीरो को उतार कर फेंके सकता है.
पर सरकारी हस्तक्षेप और ही कुछ चीज़ होती है. समाजवाद होने के कारण हमने सब कुछ सरकार को सौंप दिया और सरकार ने बहुत सारे नए नियम बनाकर लोगों को ज़ंजीरों में बांध दिया.
एक ज़माने में लाइसेंस राज चलता था. 1991 के पश्चात कुछ कम हुआ है, परंतु अब भी बहुत किस्मों की रोक है. स्वराज्य का फायदा तभी होगा जब जनता को आज़ादी मिलेगी.
रविंद्रनाथ टैगोर ने एक कविता लिखी थी: “हैवान ऑफ फ्रीडम”:
Heaven of Freedom (by Rabindranath Tagore: Gitanjali)
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action—
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
इस कविता में उन्होंने कहा कि आजादी सबसे महत्वपूर्ण होती है. उन्होंने एक ऐसे भारत का सपना देखा जिसमे हम आपस की दीवारें तोड़ दें, जिसमें सत्य का बोलबाला हो, जिसमे पुरानी आदतें हमारी विचार-शक्ति को नष्ट न कर पाएं.
पर स्वाधीनता पाने के बाद हमें आज़ादी का रास्ता दिखने वाला कोई नहीं था. नेहरू का समाजवाद आज़दी के विरुद्ध था और ब्रिटिश राज का सरकारी ढांचा (जैसे कि IAS वगैरह) वैसा का वैसा चलता रहा, जिसमे जनता को जवाबदेही बिलकुल नहीं मिल सकती.
टैगोर केवल स्वराज नहीं चाहते थे क्योंकि स्वराज एक छोटी सी बात होती है. उसमें सिर्फ गोरे साहब को हटाकर भूरे साहब राज करना शुरु करते हैं. पर असलियत में स्वराज तब मिलेगा जब हर आदमी अपने पर खुद का राज कर पाये, यानी वह आजाद हो, अपनी क्षमता से जो काम करना चाहे वह करें – जब तक कि वह किसी और का पदार्थिक नुकसान नहीं करता.
स्वर्ण भारत पार्टी भारत की पहले पार्टी है जो भारत को आजाद होने का रास्ता दिखा रही है, जिसमे जनता मालिक होती है, जिसमे सरकार जवाबदेह होती है. जब सरकार सुरक्षा और न्याय देने का काम अच्छी तरह करेगी, तो जनता बाकि काम खुद ही कर लेगी.
17th May 2018
This came in attached to one of the online purchases I had recently made (a remote control from Alibaba Express for an old TV).
Says it all. And yet we keep running after “regulators” and “licensing”.
Let’s strengthen the market’s reputational mechanisms. That will allow us to disband most regulators. Some of you might recall that I wrote about it here.
17th May 2018
EXTRACTS FROM Lawrence W. C. Lai’s Hayek and town planning: A note on Hayek’s views towards town planning in The Constitution of Liberty, Environment and Planning A31(9):1567-1582 · September 1999.
In The Constitution of Liberty Hayek made a distinction between (a) ‘town planning’ as practical measures to correct an imperfect land market, and (b) ‘town planning’ aimed at displacing the market mechanism altogether. Hayek rejected the latter but accepted the former.
In chapter 21, “Housing and planning”, of The Constitution of Liberty … Hayek acknowledged the validity of the Pigovian concept of neighbourhood effects:
“The general formulas of private property or freedom of contract do not … provide an immediate answer to the complex problems (neighbourhood effects) which city life raises- … Some division of the right of control between the holders of a superior right to determine the character of a large district to be developed and the owners of inferior right to the use of smaller units …” (italics in the original).
Hayek’s “holders of a superior right” obviously refers to town planners, “owners of inferior right” indicates land users, and the determination of the “character of a large district to be developed” suggests zoning intervention. Hayek was therefore subscribing to the market-failure thesis ‘externalities’ in the land market, an example of which (in the parable of a ‘land-use conflict’ between wheat farming and cattle raising) was demonstrated by Coase in his 1960 paper. In that paper Coase argued that the concept of externalities is highly suspect as the basis for definitive government regulation.
Hayek’s concept was not that different from Pigou’s concept of social cost:
“A different set of problems is raised by the fact that in the close contiguity of city living the price mechanism reflects only imperfectly the benefit or harm to others that a property owner may cause by his actions” (italics added).
Hayek did distinguish the mode of town planning which was ‘pro-market’ and acceptable to him from another mode, which was not. … In The Constitution of Liberty Hayek made a distinction between (a) ‘town planning’ as practical measures to correct an imperfect land market, and (b) ‘town planning’ aimed at displacing the market mechanism altogether. Hayek rejected the latter but accepted the former.
But though the price mechanism is an imperfect guide for the use of urban land, it is still an indispensable guide if development is to be left to private initiative and if all knowledge and foresight dispersed among many men is to be used. There is a strong case for taking whatever practical measures can be found to cause the (price) mechanism to operate more efficiently by making owners take into consideration all possible effects of their decisions. The framework of rules within which the decisions of the private owner are likely to agree with the public interest will therefore in this case have to be more detailed and more adjusted to particular local circumstances than is necessary with other kinds of property. Such ‘town planning’, which operated largely through its effects on the market and through the establishing of general conditions to which all developments of a district or neighbourhood must conform but which, within these conditions, leaves the decisions to individual owner, is part of the effort to make the market mechanism more effective”.
Unacceptable town planning
“There is a very different type of control, however, which is also practised under the name of ‘town planning’. Unlike the other [mentioned above], this is motivated by the desire to dispense ith the price mechanism and to replace it by central direction. Much of the town planning that is in fact carried out, particularly by architects and engineers who have never understood the role that prices play in coordinating individual activities, is of this kind”.
This says it all, really.
Hayek was alluding to MECHANISM DESIGN to incorporate the preferences of markets more effectively (including any adverse social costs/externalities).
For quite some time now, I have been advocating Coasean bargains or at least auction of development rights as the only market-compatible solution.
Sadly, the planning system across the world is controlled by control freaks and there is no hope of getting market-based mechanisms into the system.
Town planning has become a primary source of inefficiency in the West.
17th May 2018
In one word: PRIVATISATION
How do you privatise trains? That sounds implausible. Well, Japan did it in 1987.
in 1987, the government privatized the Japanese National Railways (JNR), which operated every type of transit except trams and inner-city metros. JR East, JR Central, and JR West, the three spin-offs operating around Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka, respectively, emerged healthy and profitable. They were able to pay back their construction debt and make capital improvements to their networks, reversing the stagnation and decline that JNR had seen over the previous decade. [Source]
While this experiment has been a resounding success in dense areas of Japan, it is floundering in remote regions:
The turnaround of Japan Railways group firms servicing Honshu and Kyushu over the past 30 years paints the 1987 privatization and breakup of the Japanese National Railways as a successful reform of the state-run train operator that was incurring more than ¥1 trillion in losses each year and piling up mountains of debt. However, the success of JR companies that benefit from the popular shinkansen superexpress services, profitable local train operations for urban commuters as well as diversification of their business comes in sharp contrast to the problems confronting group firms in rural regions where many train services remain in the red — a problem that threatens to get worse across the country as Japan’s population continues to shrink. [Source]
This article is a pretty good summary of the situation.
KEY EXTRACTS FROM AN ACADEMIC PAPER
The paper – below – explains some more details (MIZUTANI, F., & NAKAMURA, K. (1997). PRIVATIZATION OF THE JAPAN NATIONAL RAILWAY: OVERVIEW OF PERFORMANCE CHANGES. International Journal of Transport Economics / Rivista Internazionale Di Economia Dei Trasporti,24(1), 75-99)
JUST LIKE INDIA: Skewed incentives and dirty toilets
The public corporation system, too, led to the untenable financial position JNR found itself in by the 1980s. This system ensures that the government completely backs the corporation, no matter how inefficiently it is run. At JNR, there was almost no concern with the possibility of bankruptcy. Public ownership hindered structural adjustment, damaged work incentives, and invited political involvement. The sharp decline in efficiency over the years can be attributed mainly to the inherent characteristics of a public corporation: lack of a reward system, limited interest in restructuring, and conflict between economic and social objectives. JNR tended to be slow to innovate and to respond to changes in customer preferences, thus rapidly losing its competitive edge.
The predominant thought at JNR was that the government would make up the deficits even if JNR were not profitable. Lack of cost consciousness was evident in, for example, the number of JNR employees. The total number of employees peaked at a staggering 400,000, clearly excessive. JNR was almost powerless to reduce the number, however, due to the strained relations between management and the labor unions. Productivity problems were a constant source of conflict, with workers balking at the periodic large-scale productivity improvement drives imposed by their managers. Embittered relations hampered any efforts at reform.
Government interference also contributed to the inefficiency that worsened JNR’s financial situation. Details of fares, investment plans, employee wages, and personnel matters were highly controlled by both the government and the Diet. Price adjustment, in particular, which was subject to government approval, incited fierce controversy. The nationwide uniform fare system for universal service was also responsible for widening unequal cost burdens, as it did not take into account differences in costs according to region. Furthermore, even though some unprofitable rail lines were converted to bus routes based upon reconstruction plans, this restructuring process was often interrupted by conflicts among vested interests.
Rail users themselves were too demanding. Because JNR was a government-owned entity, citizens took it for granted that the company was there to serve their every need. They pressured Diet members to provide rail services where there was clearly insufficient need, without consideration of the poor financial state of JNR. Rails were constructed in rural areas where there was no possible justification in economic terms for such an undertaking.
After privatisation, dirty toilets were cleaned up
A typical case was the campaign to clean up dirty, malodorous station toilets which had typified JNR’s lax attitude toward satisfying rail users. What might seem a minor detail — clean toilets — clearly left users with a more positive image of the privatized JRs.
MASSIVE INCREASES IN PRODUCTIVITY AFTER PRIVATISATION
The productivity level in the before-privatization was 510 thousands passenger kilometres per employee and 1,114 thousands ton kilometres per employee, but these increased to 1,443 thousands passenger kilometres per employee and 2,385 thousands ton kilometres per employee. Although the annual growth rate of labor productivity was highest in the during-privatization at about 21 per cent for passenger and 15 per cent for freight transportation, it continued to increase, though less dramatically, in the after-privatization period.