Thoughts on economics and liberty

Please don’t presume that you’ll be a good leader just because you are “good”

Extracts from internal correspondence on FTI:

It is highly presumptuous of someone to suggest that his/her path is "practical" and others are "idealistic". It is from DIRECT EXPERIENCE that theory is created, then tested. From that come different systems: one that works, one that fails.

Chanakya understood this. The typical Indian imagines that policy is something one can wake up one fine day and start proposing. Understanding 100s of pieces of literature including empirical analysis are necessary before someone starts discussing public policy.

If you have come to FTI assuming that your prior assumptions are going to remain unchallenged, you are deeply mistaken. You must learn. Without systemic thinking, all attempts to change India will turn to RUBBISH. You MUST study hard if you want to do serious work for India.

Just like working in the "field" will not give someone the SLIGHTEST clue about, say, nuclear science, so also working in the field without DEEP study of the underlying incentives of people (which can then be readily observed on a daily basis in the field) will yield zero knowledge.

Policy is a science. Liberalism is a science. It is based on observation, proposing theories, and then testing them.

Public choice theory is not just a "theory". It is like the theory of evolution: fully tested.

So also the concepts of utilitarianism that underpin marginal social-cost benefit analysis.

Without understanding these theories, you will be merely a "good" person. Not a person suited for leading India.

This statement applies to everyone on FTI.

This is a call for SERIOUS policy reading/thinking. Don't just expect that just because you are on FTI you will somehow be a good leader for India. No. You won't.

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Sanjeev Sabhlok

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