20th August 2010
Here are extracts from BFN about the dangerous aspiration for equality. This is a quick cut and paste without footnotes and referencing. The actual text can be readily accessed. But first a short (one and half minute) video from Youtube by Milton Friedman:
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The real choice before us today is between the two western models of governance – socialism or capitalism; between the life-denying concept of equality and the life-sustaining concept of freedom. Even if we don’t care about the philosophy of freedom, pragmatism would lead us to the more successful model. Capitalism is dramatically successful, just as socialism is dramatically unsuccessful.
But there are far more important and compelling reasons to follow the path of freedom. Of these, delivering a society based on ethics and morality ranks the highest. Despite the noble intentions of its practitioners, socialism is immoral and destroys the moral fabric of entire societies. Freedom, on the other hand, delivers the highest ethical values and creates for each individual a level playing field by providing equality of opportunity through which the individual is enabled to discover his or her talents and achieve his or her highest potential. While the individual is the moral centre of a free society, the society is the immoral centre of a socialist one. Freedom is about far more important things than economic success, although a poor country like India should welcome its merits on that ground alone.
The Problem with Equality
- We note that the very process of generation of inequality through ethical trades is beneficial. We, the consumers, benefit through the products made by hard working innovative people. Most of us will find purposeful employment through jobs that such people create.
- Second, if left to their own devices, many wealthy people promote the arts and sciences as well as other forms of philanthropy. They don’t have to do so, though, since they have contributed enough if their wealth was acquired through ethical trades.
19th August 2010
Harsh has, today, introduced me to a book by Dr. K.C. Mahendru entitled, Baba Ramdev – Resurgence of New India (Freedom Movement-2). Apparently it talks about the political philosophy of Swami Ramdev, known as Vedic Socialism. This phrase was totally new to me, so I spent a few minutes of my spare time to find more. Here are my initial findings and comments.
Origin of this term
It appears that this term was first introduced by Swami Agnivesh, although Balak Brhamachary of Santan Dal is also associated with this idea. Possibly both of them got it from someone else. There is also a book entitled Vedic socialism by Nitya Narayan Banerjee. And there is a Vedic Socialism Party on Facebook!
18th August 2010
The abysmal collapse of governance in India has a silver lining. It is making Indians self-reliant. In many ways India is fast becoming a libertarian anarchy. After being an experimental laboratory to prove unambiguously the intellectual poverty of socialism, India is now a laboratory in libertarian anarchy!
The government simply does not work in India, or works so badly that citizens scrupulously avoid it. But in a convoluted and unexpected way, India's misgovernance is becoming a blessing in disguise – forcing Indians to rely on themselves and their own ingenuity.
Government schools don't work (they can't work in any system, anyway). So parents in India send their children to private schools. Even those who can't afford private schools (which are really cheap, and all of them "English medium") at least try to send their children to a private 'refresher' school after school hours, a place which teaches some kind of English and IT skills. A variety of "polishing" and "finishing" schools are sprouting everywhere and flourishing – so huge is the demand for education of children.
Not only are Indians forced to buy your own education but they have to buy their own health care. Except for a few most government hospitals are defunct. You are more likely to catch disease if you go to one of them than to get cured. So private hospitals of international standard have sprung up everywhere and even private clinics are relatively cheap. Self-insurance is the only way people can survive in India. There is no better lesson in free markets than that.
Nozick speculated that private protection associations will arise in the libertarian anarchy. That is quite implausible (as I show in DOF), but what is happening in India is that people are paying for their own security. Private security guard businesses are flourishing. For those who can't afford private security, payments are made to the local goonda and police constable. Far from ideal (security, I believe firmly, is the job of the state), but at least people are coping.
Municipalities in India are centralised behemoths that simply can't work the way they are designed. They are dead as a dodo. They can't clean up their own backyard, leave alone the streets. Hence Indians have organised private garbage removal services. That these garbage removal services dump the garbage into the nearest river or pond is a separate matter (where the state should come in), but at least their garbage gets cleared from their house.
True, Indians can't buy infrastructure (like roads) through the private sector, nor can they get clean drinking water. But that is the price Indians are paying for themselves voting – repeatedly – the most corrupt governments of the world into power. A country always gets the government it deserves.
The lessons Indians are drawing from this anarchy
The lessons that Indians are learning now will hold them in good stead in the future. These lessons include:
a) Don't rely on the government!
b) Look after yourself for there is no one else who will look after you!
c) Stand up on your own feet for there is no welfare state to pamper you!
As these lessons are internalised, the results will be very good. India is already showing signs of becoming one of the world's most competitive societies: cut-throat competitive, not merely competitive. Super-competitive. Agile. Fighting fit.
Anyone who can provide even the remotest semblance of quality at a decent price in India can now become a multi-millionaire in just two to three years. That's all it takes now, in this vast market – which is continuously looking for better quality at a lower price – to become super-wealthy. This MASSIVE competitiveness will one day redeem India, and also, indirectly help to demolish the fat welfare states of the West that are now simply too complacent because countries like India and China have not yet got their acts together. But one day they will. And the signs for India are excellent.
Examples abound today everywhere in India of the astonishing advances Indians are making. From manufacturing to services, the country is a bubbling cauldron of energy. Things are changing rapidly through intense competition. The telecom revolution is an indicator, but there are hundreds others examples well documented in books like Gurcharan's outstanding books, and those by Khanna (Billions of Indians) and Kamdar's Planet India. Tens of other books discuss this phenomenon in detail. Most importantly, management books have drawn valuable lessons from this energy.
From this great experiment in libertarian anarchy, hundreds of brilliant lessons can now be easily drawn by economists worldwide. Many books have already been written, as I noted above, exploring the market-based revolutions of India. But much more has to be done to study the lessons from these experiments. The people are too busy to document their fantastic energy.
Role for a liberal political party: to provide good governance
This huge surge towards wealth in India can be dramatically speeded up if good governance can be made available to Indians. Unfortunately, NONE of India's existing political parties is capable of providing anything close to good governance. There are systemic reasons why that can't be done. It can only be done if a strong liberal political party is voted to power but there is none at the moment! That gap is what FTI aims to address (some initial work has started on the Freedom Party of India website).
The task of reform has unfortunately been hamstrung because Indians have been so smitten with either socialism or Hindutva that they are no longer able to straight and logically (no matter how intelligent they may be!).
The day when just 1500 outstanding leaders assemble on a liberal platform, India will be well on the way to becoming the world leader in EVERYTHING. I have no doubt about that.
17th August 2010
Over the past few weeks I've steadily become more aware of Baba Ramdev's work. His avid fans write to me, asking me to watch this video or that.
I don't have time to watch videos, but did watch one – where Rajiv Dixit and Baba Ramdev spoke – and found it amazing in terms of the ignorance about world history displayed by Dixit, and his praise for Mao Tse Tung and other communists! I haven't watched more videos but I do hope that Mr Dixit is not advocating communism!
Next I discovered that Baba Ramdev wants to ban cow slaughter. I found it to be a misguided viewpoint and tantamount to religious interference in the affairs of the state.
Following a link sent to me today by one of his fans I came across http://bharat-swabhiman.com/en/about/ (do read this page).
Now I'm beginning to become concerned! I'm not yet alarmed but concerned that Baba Ramdev might be biting off more than he can chew. It is not necessary for an outstanding yogi to also be an outstanding engineer. So also Baba Ramdev is excellent in yoga but VERY weak in policy. He also has no one within his group that can advise him on policy.
Take two examples:
1) 100% boycott of foreign companies, adoption of ‘swadeshi’
This a seriously misguided. If swadeshi means what it should mean in Hindi, then the website of Baba Ramdev should be shut down, for NONE of it was invented in India. Everything underpinning the website including electricity, the transistors, the integrated chips, the internet infrastructure, the software was developed OUTSIDE India. The atomic theory, the entire physics behind it, was developed outside India.
If he is serious about swadeshi, Baba will also need to ensure that all Indians shut off their electricity and stop using bicycles, cars, buses, trains, and planes. And he should immediately stop using his mobile phone. And so on…
Is the Baba aware of how badly misguided this policy is! He needs to read about how wealth is created. He can start with Adam Smith, or at least chapters 2 and 3 of BFN.
2) We will adopt nationalist thought 100%, and while in our personal lives we observe Hindu, Islam, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, etc. religious traditions, in our public lives we will live like a true Bharatiya.
I have no objection in principle with this but this statement is DEEPLY contradicted by the Baba's other statements. What is a Bharatiya? To find an answer to this question we can seek guidance from two other statements: (a) 100% yoga-oriented nation; and (b) ban on cow slaughter (i.e. no one to eat beef).
With re: to (a) I'm a great fan of yoga since it helped me immensely as part my cure of RSI (see my RSI cure website here). I attend at least one yoga class each week even now (apart from a Pilates class, and many other things I do at the gym/pool). But what if someone doesn't want to practice yoga? Is that person not Bharatiya? Isn't such an objective by a political front a blatant encroachment of religious views on the affairs of society?
Second, (b) – i.e. ban on cow slaughter – contradicts the religious freedom of Muslims and Christians (and many Hindus as well) to eat beef. How can people live their personal life as Muslims or Christians but be forbidden by the state to eat beef?
Note that statement (2) is good in principle, but because Baba Ramdev is not an advocate of freedom, he is mixing up good things with bad. Yes, people must not, as statement (2) states, mix their religion in the affairs of the nation. But therefore also, Baba Ramdev can't ask people to take up yoga or forbid their eating beef if they want to – just because he is a Hindu. What if Baba Ramdev was born a Muslim? Would he then say such things? How can our policy positions be based on the beliefs of the family to which we were born?
He is advocating religious interference in the affairs of state, and he doesn't understand policy. India can never become a free nation or a successful nation with such policies.
Nothing from what I have read, watched (on video) or understood about Baba Ramdev so far convinces me that he is capable of delivering even remotely on his fundamental promise of honest good governance. He will fail since he doesn't understand policy and doesn't understand the causes of India's corruption and misgovernance. His team, e.g. people like Dixit do not seem capable of achieving anything either (from what I have gathered so far, given that they also presumably agree to such policies).
True, Baba Ramdev is very popular, and he WILL influence Indian politics. But the results won't be what his followers want. From what he seems to be advocating I can now safely predict the following:
a) His party will take half of BJP's vote but barely a single Congress vote. Both BJP and his party will fare badly in the elections as a result, making it VERY EASY for Congress to win.
b) Even if his party and BJP undertake seat adjustments, and manage to win a majority together and form a coalition, the coalition will fail to provide good governance because neither BJP nor his party understand policy.
In either scenario, India is doomed to further misgovernance. Congress – the totally corrupt socialist organisation will rule, or BJP/Baba Ramdev coalition will rule – which is totally confused about policy.
Solution: The solution for India is very simple. We need a clearly liberal group that understands how to govern and create excellent outcomes for all Indians. That group is FTI. Its policies will ENSURE the abolition of corruption and illiteracy, among other things. No one else can provide Indians what they desperately want: peace, good education, honest governance, health, and wealth. NO OTHER GROUP IN INDIA CAN ENSURE THAT. ZERO CHANCE. IMPOSSIBLE! Sawaal hi paida nahin hota.
Unless – of course, Baba Ramdev's ideas change, and he takes a crash course on policy. He can take a crash course in policy by reading BFN. That should be the first book on policy for anyone who wants to reform India. Just like people need to read a book by an expert physicist in order to understand gravity, so also they can start with BFN to understand policy. I can take yoga classes from him. He can take policy classes from me. Let the best that India can offer be made available to the people of India. Let us not get our Policy from a Yogi, nor Yoga from me!