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Showing posts from December, 2011

The only 'requisite' is Liberty!

'They are now paying for having built such an unrepresentative upper-crust leadership, deluded perhaps by the belief that this battle was theirs to win on Twitter, Facebook and television channels where their interlocutors were trumpeters or fellow travellers. They forgot that the battle for power and ideas is fought in a democracy’s parliament and within its institutions. They started to believe their own mythology of being apolitical. They did not realise that politics, in a democracy as diverse as ours, needs two essential pre-requisites: ideology and inclusiveness. Abhorrence of corruption is a universal virtue but not an ideology.'

Now that's the problem with a being a journalist in India (in this particular case it is Shekhar Gupta), more so if you belong to the gaggle of yesteryear journos who've been raised on what was socialist staple then, that government will engineer equitable prosperity. Tell you what, nothing of that sort happened for the last sixty years…

Deconstructing the State

'The State is not a god. It is not a supreme or “higher” or wiser or beatific or somehow omniscient authority. It is not a hypostatic substance. It is not a thing. Indeed, it is nothing. It is, in fact, a figment of iconolatric homage, a subtle and insinuating illusion which derives its power from a combination of its coercive function and the mystique of psychological projection on the part of those it controls. It is what the Greeks called an eidolon, a phantom or apparition, an image like Euripides’ Helen who was fashioned from cloud-stuff while the real Helen spent the Trojan War in Egypt. A moment’s reflection makes this species of necromancy glaringly obvious. Yet we are ruled by specters and chimeras, of which the State is a paramount instance.

There is, indeed, something ludicrous in the elevation of the State, as if it were not only an Idol of the Theater, but a production in the Theater of the Absurd behind which a stubborn and prosaic — and occasionally tumultuous — real…

The Proper Role of Government

A Government of Laws, not of Men

If physical force is to be barred from social relationships, men need an institution charged with the task of protecting their rights under an objective code of rules.

This is the task of a government—of a proper government—its basic task, its only moral justification and the reason why men do need a government.

A government is the means of placing the retaliatory use of physical force under objective control—i.e., under objectively defined laws.

The fundamental difference between private action and governmental action—a difference thoroughly ignored and evaded today—lies in the fact that a government holds a monopoly on the legal use of physical force. It has to hold such a monopoly, since it is the agent of restraining and combating the use of force; and for that very same reason, its actions have to be rigidly defined, delimited and circumscribed; no touch of whim or caprice should be permitted in its performance; it should be an impersonal robot, with the laws as its only motive powe…

The limits of Government

'In mankind’s history, the understanding of the government’s proper function is a very recent achievement: it is only two hundred years old and it dates from the Founding Fathers of the American Revolution. Not only did they identify the nature and the needs of a free society, but they devised the means to translate it into practice. A free society—like any other human product—cannot be achieved by random means, by mere wishing or by the leaders’ “good intentions.” A complex legal system, based on objectively valid principles, is required to make a society free and to keep it free-a system that does not depend on the motives, the moral character or the intentions of any given official, a system that leaves no opportunity, no legal loophole for the development of tyranny.

The American system of checks and balances was just such an achievement. And although certain contradictions in the Constitution did leave a loophole for the growth of statism, the incomparable achievement was the …

Beware, its the lull!

The talking heads on TV think the Anna movement is fizzling out. I'd recommend they be smarter than that.

The passing of the Lokpal bill in the Indian Parliament means zilch to people in India. It surely provided frenzied talking moments for TV heads yesterday, as it did for parliamentarians to put in a show on the floor. But when it comes to the tax paying citizens of this country, the bill means nada. What is bound to continue and frustrate people will be an entrenched bureaucracy and political class that can't, and won't do anything to better people's lives!

Guess what happens then?

The movement will be back. It will ride on the frustrations of taxpaying citizens to take center stage again. And all it will take for that to happen is time. Its the 'timing' that will be the key. The 'time' needed for now, is for the weather to change, the holiday season to get over, and of course for corruption to rear up again!

All of the above will happen. The talking he…

Is Anna a media creation? Is Coca Cola about advertising?

Asking if Anna is a media creation is like asking if Coca Cola owes everything to advertising. Of course, no point thrashing this out with media fat cats of yore running down Anna on TV in the name of parliamentary supremacy, because they are products of a system thus far that's ensured their place in the sun. So these TV commentators won't be the first ones complaining about the 'system'. Plus they don't have a clue on what marketing is, and how it plays out.

Media and messages on it can only engineer for a brand, recognition and recall. Anything beyond mustn't be attributed to the either the media or messages running on it. Instead the 'blame' should squarely be put at the doorstep of the consumer, who if he buys the brand, indicates he's bought into the marketer's value proposition (read, brand) at least the first time around.

Ditto for Anna.

The 'buy-in' into Anna is a result of people identifying with a cause they believe can probably …

The Right to Rise

'Think about it. We talk about the right to free speech, the right to bear arms, the right to assembly. The right to rise doesn't seem like something we should have to protect.

But we do. We have to make it easier for people to do the things that allow them to rise. We have to let them compete. We need to let people fight for business. We need to let people take risks. We need to let people fail. We need to let people suffer the consequences of bad decisions. And we need to let people enjoy the fruits of good decisions, even good luck.

That is what economic freedom looks like. Freedom to succeed as well as to fail, freedom to do something or nothing. People understand this. Freedom of speech, for example, means that we put up with a lot of verbal and visual garbage in order to make sure that individuals have the right to say what needs to be said, even when it is inconvenient or unpopular. We forgive the sacrifices of free speech because we value its blessings.

But when it comes …

The Moral Man & Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens is dead.

RIP.

But wait a minute. That means dwindling opportunities to demonstrate the work of grace, the handiwork of God. Hitchens was a celebrity who through his vitriol put God on center stage. Such Hitchenesque hatred allowed the likes of DineshD'Souza (among others) to comprehensively prove the existence of a loving God (video above), whilst demonstrating how we've benefitted as a race via the Judeo-Christian principles.

Hitchens and his ilk need to be around for us to be reminded and proven to, of the grace of god. Its much like needing liberal socialists, so we never take the goodness of liberty and free markets for granted.

The work of grace and of free markets is pretty much the same. They liberate us. As people, and as consumers.

CH, you'll be missed. Now you know why.

Curtailing Consumer Liberty

I have always bemoaned the lack of free market thought in India. Let me continue on that road. Its a pity that socialist ramblings guide policy decisions in India. Its one sure way of ensuring we remain a 'third world' country.

The latest in the line of lousy policy decisoins comes from a Planning Commission working group that's seeks to impose what could be a green cess of 3% of the annual insured value of all private vehicles and a steep urban transport tax to be collected at the time of purchase of private vehicles.

Welcome to what is the socialist liberal nightmare. One of the two key players to a country's prosperity, namely consumers (the other being producers) get penalised in such nightmares. Consumers are asked to pay more and more, so government can continue on with its hair brained schemes. Consider this. Should somebody like Mr. Sreedharan, the metro man who built a public transportation service be at the helm of a group that tries to curtail my use of my pri…

Hail the People, Hail Consumers!

Make no mistake about it. The constant reference to parliamentary sovereignty by the political class in India isn't so we prevent a descent into anarchy, its so we stay the way we are, subject as people to the whims and fancies of parliamentarians.

Its important at this time to take a few lessons from the principles of freedom enshrined in the Constitution of the United States of America.

(Quoting from'The 5000 Year Leap: Principles of Freedom 101')

10th Principle: The God-given right to Govern is Vested in the Sovereign Authority of the Whole People

... (Madison) declared: The adversaries of the Constitution seem to have lost sight of the PEOPLE altogether in their reasonings on this subject; and ton have viewed these different establishments not only as mutual rivals and enemies, but as uncontrolled by any common superior in their efforts to usurp the authorities of each other. These gentlemen must here be reminded of their error. The must be told that the ULTIMATE AUTHORITY…

Why consumers will suffer in India

As Calcutta and the rest of India grieves, TV channels tom-tom the same question all over again. Times Now asks, 'Is India a zero public safety nation?'

Now isn't that easily answered? But then it really doesn't matter because as a nation we still won't the take the road that leads to better products and services. When I say better, I also mean safer. For the moment, Mamtadi, anti-FDI crusader has gotten the hospital in question's license cancelled. I wonder what good is it to those who have lost loved ones?

The truth is, its the license raj that ensures consumers get the rotten end of the barrel. Licenses that are supposed to protect us consumers from unscrupulous service providers are the real reason why the latter thrive. Fixing a system that depends on regulations ensuring quality is easy. Bribe the regulator and you can get away with near murder. Which is why for ages past, and for ages to come, the Indian system was, and will be 'fixed'.

And guess wh…

Hooray to the nation of shopkeepers!

I am thrilled at the Finance Minister's assurance on our economy. He says the economy may be facing difficulties, “but that does not mean that we shall have to start eating lizard!”.

You bet.

I think it would do us Indians a world of good if we make the right comparisons, akin to the kind Pranab da is referring to. Thank god we have Bangladesh for a neighbour. As Mathew once said, 'A trip to Bangladesh is highly recommended. It will make you more appreciative of India.'

India remains a nation of shopkeepers. Three cheers to that!

The socialist nightmare plods on. Hooray! Let's stay poor!

Why do you wanna be someone else?

Managing peer pressure isn't easy. But I bet you'll survive if you've cultivated a strong sense of self-worth much before you are subject to the pressures of a peer circle. And I bet again, this would have happened the right way if your parents built in you an understanding and acceptance of worth based on character, not pretenses.

Let me explain. If you probably are trying to match up to what the world wants you to be, that's because you don't value yourself on character. Instead you are in a mad rush to conform to the the 'shallow' ways of the world. And pray, what does the 'world' want of you? If you are college goer for example, and then 'cool' is what they're hammering you into becoming. Which probably explains why you've changed so much from who you were. Now your clothes are different, your hair's done differently, you talk funny, the list goes on.

Pity.

You're forcing change on yourself so you are accepted by your peers.…

Show me the way

A boy and a girl

I always thought Jaden was the cool customer. No overt displays of affection, no happy yells at seeing me back from work. Brooklyn, all of a year old seems markedly different. She's the one who runs up, and gets picked. She doesn't hold back on resting on my shoulder or sitting on my knee.

Tell you what, I was cautioned on this marked difference in behaviour. Its been fascinating to see it unfold. As a father I am called to alter the way I respond to Jaden and Brooklyn. As the years go by, I guess it'll get tougher, but I'd like to believe I will be up to it.

Fluid changes in response depending on who the consumer is, or what he's turned into, is what marketers are called to do. Simply because consumers aren't alike. Also because they're going to evolve and so won't be like the way they were earlier. Segmenting to a certain extent helps marketers fashion customised responses. But the future will belong to those than can micro-market. That is, customise to…

Liberty & Free Society

I am why businesses exist!

As a consumer I need to be worried about the Kirana store down the road that would go out of business if FDI is allowed in multi-branded retail?

As a consumer I need to be worried about the trader who will be squeezed out of the retail chain if Wal- Mart came in ?

Why?

The way I see it, every trade and traders within exist because I decide to spend my money on products and services! By that count, shouldn't I be the one who's protected? Shouldn't I be given the freedom to buy from whoever and wherever? If Wal-Mart's where I wanna buy from, who should have a problem? After all, the last I heard, its my hard-earned money I am spending, am I not?

The Caveman & The Vampire

Show me a girl who doesn't want to be swept off her feet, and I'll get you a mutt who can wink. Kinda explains why romancing vampires can be such a hit. Its the fantasy that's working. For all those women currently swooning over Edward, its their heads playing tricks on them. Its them living the fantasy romance in their heads.
Why?
Isn't that simple? How many women do you know who are being swept off their feet by their better halves? I know girls, its such a pity romance is dead and buried. That all you get is cavemen lookin' for meat.
Our fantasies are our escape from drudgery. And the only way we can live that fantasy is by turning consumers. Which is why we watch romancing vampires goggle-eyed on screen. Why we down good money on flashy gizmos that do nothing other than make us go yakety yak.
Thank heavens we live bored lives. Else marketers would be scraping the barrel. But for the moment its the marketers who are laughing their way to the bank. And women getting…