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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Blaise Pascal on Cleopatra’s Nose

Bust of Cleopatra at Altes Museum, Berlin
“Cleopatra’s nose, had it been shorter, the whole face of the world would have been changed,” says Blaise Pascal in his famous work Pensees (Thoughts) which was published posthumously in 1669.

Pascal was of the view that the nose is an indicator of a person’s character, and if Cleopatra’s nose had been smaller she would have lacked the strength of character and she could not have mustered the will to dominate the world.

She could have not have held the powerful men of the Roman empire, Julius Caesar and Marc Antony, under her spell if her nose had been longer or smaller by a few millimetres, and then the great wars of that era would not have been fought.

Pascal's Pensees is a defense of Christian religion, but in it he has included several random ideas and jottings.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Labour of Zarathustra

Friedrich Nietzsche
In my view, “The Labour of Zarathustra”  is the most interesting chapter in Daniel Halevy’s The Life of Frederich Nietzsche.

Halevy has described how Nietzsche got the inspiration for his book Thus Spake Zarathustra. Here’s an excerpt from The Life of Frederich Nietzsche:
Friedrich Nietzsche never ceased to hear and gather the words of Zarathustra. In three distiches of a soft and almost tender seduction he tells how this companion entered into his life :  
I sat there waiting—waiting for nothing,
Enjoying, beyond good and evil, now
The light, now the shade; there was only
The day, the lake, the noon, time without end.
Then, my friend, suddenly one became two—
And Zarathustra passed by me.
But Nietzsche could not find a publisher for Thus Spake Zarathustra. Eventually he agreed to pay for the book’s publication. Less than 50 copies of the first-edition got sold, and no one praised it. The sad fate of his book further actuated Nietzsche’s feeling of loneliness.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Marx is in the scrapyard, but there is no respite from Marxism


Marx is in the scrapyard, but there is no respite from Marxism. The Marxists continue to wreak havoc with their irrational political, economic, and cultural ideas.

Fashion changes. Weather Changes. People change. But a socialist society never changes—it is always one government-made catastrophe away from utopia.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

100-years Of Socialism Has Taught Us Nothing

Forced Labor in Soviet Union
The Russian Revolution of 1917 which brought the Soviet regime to power in Russia was a pair of revolutions.

The first revolution in February 1917 resulted in the old regime being replaced by a Provisional Government. In the second revolution of October 1917, the Provisional Government was removed and replaced with a Communist State.

According to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the author of several harrowing books on the Soviet gulag system, the Soviet State murdered more than 60 million people during the reign of Josef Stalin.

The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression reveals that the communist regimes in the world have been responsible for close to 100 million deaths.

100-years of large-scale destruction and bloodshed in the name of socialism has taught us nothing. We still have idiots pitching atrocious socialist lies.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Will Durant On The Rediscovery Of Aristotle

Will Durant’s The Story of Philosophy has a good concise account of Aristotle’s life and ideas. It is true that Aristotle is such a vast subject and Durant has barely skimmed the surface, but in my opinion Durant has provided a good overview.

Here’s an excerpt from The Story of Philosophy where Durant is talking about the rediscovery of Aristotle in Europe:
It may be doubted if any other thinker has contributed so much to the enlightenment of the world. Every later age has drawn upon Aristotle, and stood upon his shoulders to see the truth. The varied and magnificent culture of Alexandria found its scientific inspiration in him. His Organon played a central role in shaping the minds of the medieval barbarians into disciplined and consistent thought. The other works, translated by Nestorian Christians into Syriac in the fifth century A.D., and thence into Arabic and Hebrew in the tenth century, and thence into Latin towards 1225, turned scholasticism from its eloquent beginnings in Abelard to encyclopaedic completion in Thomas Aquinas. The Crusaders brought back more accurate Greek copies of the philosopher’s text; and the Greek scholars of Constantinople brought further Aristotelian treasures with them when, after 1453, they fled from the besieging Turks. The works of Aristotle came to be for European philosophy what the Bible was for theology—an almost infallible text, with solutions for every problem. In 1215 the Papal legate at Paris forbade teachers to lecture on his works; in 1213 Gregory IX appointed a commission to expurgate him; by 1260 he was de rigueur in every Christian school, and ecclesiastical assemblies penalized deviations from his views. Chaucer describes his student as happy by having 
At his bedded hed
Twenty books clothed in blake or red,
Of Aristotle and his philosophie; 
and in the first circles of Hell, says Dante, 
I saw the Master there of those who know,
Amid the philosophic family,
By all admired, and by all reverenced;
There Plato too I saw, and Socrates,
Who stood beside him closer than the rest.
  
Such lines give us some inkling of the honor which a thousand years offered to the Stagirite. 

Yes Prime Minister - Humphrey Explains How Polls Are Rigged

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Critical Political Lesson of 2016

A Cash-Cow in Every ATM
Who could have realized—the economic ideas of the Nationalists are as catastrophic as that of the Marxists! Nationalism and Marxism are two sides of the same counterfeit coin. This is the critical political lesson of 2016.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Is The Big Government Rational Or Irrational?

The big government’s actions are not necessarily irrational.

Irrational actions are those in which the entity in some way defeats its own purpose, doing what is calculated to frustrate its ends. But if the big government’s policies enable it to usurp several new powers and eviscerate the political opposition then it is not frustrating its own ends.

There is, in most cases, a carefully designed strategy behind what may seem like irrational and destructive policies of the big government. There is a method behind what may seem like madness.

A big government is a government that has metamorphosed into a powerful mafia organization. It is no longer concerned with protecting the rights and liberties of the people. The fate of the citizens is not the priority. The fate of the regime is the most important of all considerations for the big government.

The big governments planners intentionally develop policies that will create a major crisis in the lives of millions of citizens because their plan is to use the crisis as an excuse for increasing manifold the powers and the size of the government. The consistency in never letting a major crisis go waste cannot be termed irrational.

A big government that rocks the country with one crisis after another can be fully rational. It can be accused of villainy of the most venal kind, but not necessarily of irrationality.

On Categorical And Hypothetical Imperatives

Virtues and Vices and other Essays in Moral Philosophy
Philippa Foot

In Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals Immanuel Kant has said that moral judgements are categorical, not hypothetical, imperatives. Was Kant right?

In her essay “Morality as a system of Hypothetical imperatives” (Virtues and Vices and other Essays in Moral Philosophy), Philippa Foot looks at Kant’s theory of categorical and hypothetical imperatives. She points out that moral judgements have no better claim to be categorical imperatives than do hypothetical imperatives such as the statements about matters of etiquette. It is possible for people to follow either morality or etiquette without asking why they should do so, but equally well they may not. They may ask for reasons and may reasonably refuse to follow either if reasons are not to be found.

Here’s an excerpt from the essay:
Kant, in fact, was a psychological hedonist in respect of all actions except those done for the sake of the moral law, and this faulty theory of human nature was one of the things preventing him from seeing that moral virtue might be compatible with the rejection of the categorical imperative.  
If we put this theory of human action aside, and allow as ends the things that seem to be ends, the picture changes. It will surely be allowed that quite apart from thoughts of duty a man may care about the suffering of others, having a sense of identification with them, and wanting to help if he can. Of course he must want not the reputation of charity, nor even a gratifying rĂ´le helping others, but, quite simply, their good. If this is what he does care about, then he will be attached to the end proper to the virtue of charity and a comparison with someone acting from an ulterior motive (even a respectable ulterior motive) is out of place. Nor will the conformity of his action to the rule of charity be merely contingent. Honest action may happen to further a man's career; charitable actions do not happen to further the good of others. 
Can a man accepting only hypothetical imperatives possess other virtues besides that of charity? Could he be just or honest? This problem is more complex because there is no end related to such virtues as the good of others is related to charity. But what reason could there be for refusing to call a man a just man if he acted justly because he loved truth and liberty, and wanted every man to be treated with a certain respect? And why should the truly honest man not follow honesty for the sake of the good that honest dealing brings to men? Of course, the usual difficulties can be raised about the rare case in which no good is foreseen from an individual act of honesty. But it is not evident that a man's desires could not give him reason to act honestly even here. 
The essay is concluded with these lines:
This conclusion may, as I said, appear dangerous and subversive of morality. We are apt to panic at the thought that we ourselves, or other people, might stop caring about the things we do care about, and we feel that the categorical imperative gives us some control over the situation. But it is interesting that the people of Leningrad were not struck by the thought that only the contingent fact that other citizens shared their loyalty and devotion to the city stood between them and the Germans during the terrible years of the siege. Perhaps we should be less troubled than we are by fear of defection from the moral cause; perhaps we should even have less reason to fear it if people thought of themselves as volunteers banded together to fight for liberty and justice and against inhumanity and oppression. It is often felt, even if obscurely, that there is an element of deception in the official line about morality. And while some have been persuaded by talk about the authority of the moral law, others have turned away with a sense of distrust.
Virtues and Vices and other Essays in Moral Philosophy is a collection of 14 essays that Philippa Foot wrote between 1957 and 1977 on different issues in philosophy. "Two themes run through many of the essays: opposition to emotivism and prescriptivism, and the thought that a sound moral philosophy should start from a theory of the virtues and vices."

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Random Thoughts on Big Government

The government claims that it wants to reduce the suffering, but its policies seem to increase it.

Big government means big problems for the little people.

The size of the people is inversely proportional to the size of their government—bigger the government, smaller the people.

The moral principles of a socialist government are in no way different from that of a mafia organization.

If there is no crisis in the country the government must act to create one otherwise the little people will start wondering why they are being taxed to support a bloated government that has nothing to do.

The little people who believe that in order to ensure long-term gain, their government must inflict short-term pain don't realize that the short-term can last until hell freezes over.

Little people, when you hear the government say that it intends to inflict on YOU some short-term pain in order to ensure YOUR long-term gain run for your life. Run as you would run from a pack of hungry wolves.

Benefitting the common man is the excuse of a power hungry scoundrel.

A government manipulates the nation’s currency to steal people’s wealth and crush their independence. All this talk about the government wanting to create a good nation is drivel of the worst kind.

100-years of large-scale destruction and bloodshed in the name of socialism has taught us nothing. We still have idiots pitching atrocious socialist lies.

Nothing works in a socialist system except the concentration camps and the firing squads.

Monday, November 28, 2016

On the Correlation Between Lack of Freedom and Nihilistic Violence

There exists a correlation between people’s sense of morality and reason, and the freedom that they enjoy in the country.

When the government usurps the power to dictate what is moral, what is good economics, what is good culture, what is social justice, and how the nation’s wealth must be redistributed, then most people develop the mindset that it is not their job to think about such issues. As they begin to depend too much on the government, they loose the capability of applying their minds for taking a rational stand on social, political, economic, and moral problems.

People with smothered minds are ineffective and dangerous because they are not guided by any sense of morality or reason. They are nihilists who think that all values are unfounded—they will blindly believe the propaganda from the government and the intellectuals. When the country faces economic and political problems, they won’t blame themselves or the out of control government. They actively seek scapegoats onto whom they can displace their aggression.

The private sector is an easy target for such nihilists. They hate the private sector because they are jealous of anyone who has achieved some kind of creative and financial success. Prosecuted by the government and hounded by the citizens, the private sector fails. But there are not enough government jobs and most people see a dramatic fall in the quality of their life.

The government is too arrogant to accept that its policies are responsible for the failure of the economy, and the people are too ignorant to recognize that they are responsible for the mess because they blindly supported the government’s encroachments into all spheres of life. As unemployment rises in the country, the confused people spill into the streets and there is unrest in the cities and towns.

The massive hordes of unthinking people that the ruling class had indoctrinated and groomed hoping that they will be the regime's strongest supporters for all times start turning against the government. The law and order machinery responds by launching a severe crackdown on the protestors. Normal life is thrown out of gear as thousands are arrested and locked up in jails.

The police action inevitably results in further disintegration of freedom, and this in turn generates even more immorality and irrationalism in the minds of the people. The situation continues to escalate and brainless-destructive-mobs start sprouting in different parts of the country. The mobs comprise of people who don't have any sense of morality, reason, or politics; the common bond that binds them consists of their blind hatred for every symbol of the regime.

There is a civil war between the statist government and the irrational mobs. They are nihilists on both sides; they don’t have any ideas for creating a better society; they fight with the sole purpose of causing maximum destruction to the other side. Even if the dictatorship gets overthrown, there is no chance for a saner system of governance to emerge. The cycle of cruel dictatorships and violent anarchy is likely to continue for years, perhaps decades.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Lenin’s Golden Head Parked Alongside Bourgeoisie Vehicles


Just a giant golden Lenin head parked somewhere in the fields of Belarus alongside vehicles manufactured by the “bourgeoisie class.”

Friday, November 25, 2016

A Confederacy of Nationalist Dunces

Mussolini Being Cheered by The “Nationalist Italians”
When the politicians run out of arguments for defending the policies that they have foisted on the country, they start ranting about the virtues of nationalism.

They rant about nationalism hoping to bamboozle everyone into believing that the government will maintain order, restore the nation’s pride, inculcate moral ideas, and bring social justice.

Nationalism is tribalism on a national scale. The nationalists look at the government as the leader of the tribe and expect every citizen to conform to the traditional ways of the tribe. Any instance of individualism is frowned upon and discouraged.

A citizenry brainwashed by nationalist propaganda will overlook the disastrous outcomes of the government’s economic decisions. They will stoically bear the pain caused by the illogical decisions because their faith in the government is unshakable. They are filled with the belief that the government works for the greater good of the nation.

If you question the government’s actions, the nationalist citizens will promptly brand you as a traitor. They are inclined to see a conspiracy in every criticism of the government. They are not ready to accept that the government can make any mistake.

This kind of attitude puts and end to all political debate in the country and leaves the government free to drag the entire population into a new kind of socialist and fascist hell.

A nationalist political farce of the worst kind is now unfolding in India. Ever since the government banned the Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 currency notes, which comprised 87% of the monetary value of the cash in circulation, there has been economic chaos in the country. But the nationalist supporters of the government are not ready to accept that anything is wrong.

In the days to come the situation is bound to get much worse, more desperate.

Related: 

The Immorality of Currency Demonetization

By Banning Cash The Government Wants To End Privacy

The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum

“Committing Suicide is Also Radical.” ~ Arun Shourie on Currency Demonetization 

It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad World Of Currency Demonetization

The Bizarre Consequences of Messing With The Financial System

The Nightmare of Going to The Bank 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Illogical Economic Ideas Lead To Political Disaster

The more the politicians rant on patriotism and nationalism, the higher becomes the disgust and anxiety of the few rational people.

Is Fascism round the corner, or is it already here?

How far will the insanity go before people realize that they are supporting illogical economic ideas which can only lead to a major social-political crisis?

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A Comparison of Objectivist and Aristotelian Ethics

Ayn Rand saw Aristotle as the greatest of all philosophers. In "Review of Randall’s Aristotle," she says that Aristotle is the philosophical Atlas who carries the Western civilization on his shoulders.

Yet she is critical of Aristotle’s ethics.

In Aristotle, John Herman Randall has claimed that “Aristotle’s ethics and politics are actually his supreme achievement.” Rand rejects Randall’s assertion. She is of the view that ethics and politics are not Aristotle’s greatest achievement “even in their original form—let alone in Professor Randall’s version, which transforms them into the ethics of pragmatism.”

In her lecture “The Objectivist Ethics,” Rand has made another negative observation on Aristotelian ethics: “Aristotle did not regard ethics as an exact science; he based his ethical system on observations of what the noble and wise men of his time chose to do, leaving unanswered the questions of: why they chose to do it and why he evaluated them as noble and wise.”

The Philosophic Thought of Ayn Rand has an essay by Jack Wheeler in which an attempt has been made to draw a comparison between Rand’s Objectivist ethics and Aristotelian ethics (Chapter: “Rand and Aristotle: A Comparison of Objectivist and Aristotelian Ethics”).

Wheeler finds Rand’s view on Aristotle's ethics troubling. He says that “Rand’s criticism that Aristotle did not regard ethics as an 'exact science' is equally odd, for this has nothing to do with 'observing wise men,' but rather, as Aristotle notes: 'It is the mark of an educated mind to except that amount of exactness in each kind which the nature of the particular subject admits.' Or does Rand really wish to claim that one can have mathematic precision for ethics on a par with physics.”

According to Wheeler, there are several similarities between the Aristotelian and Objectivist positions on ethics:

“Both Rand and Aristotle propose… a metaethics that is nonrelativist and nonsubjectivist but, rather, objectivist—naturalistically objectivist and not religiously or supernaturally so. There are no appeals to God or a cosmic supernatural power in either theory to give ethics its binding legitimacy, but rather an appeal to the very objective nature of things. The good is what is good for: goal-directed, purposefully acting entities for Aristotle; living, organic entities for Rand.”

Wheeler goes on to say that “it should come as little surprise that Aristotle, whom Rand lauds for advocating an objectivist metaphysics paralleling her own, should advocate an objectivist metaethics (paralleling her own).”

There is considerable difference among philosophers regarding the meaning of Aristotelian eudaimonia. But Wheeler posits that the Aristotelian eudaimonia corresponds to Rand’s happiness. He points out that Rand has described happiness as “that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one’s values,” and “a state of non-contradictory joy.”

Both Rand and Aristotle have expressed the view that rationality is man’s distinctive capacity and “basic means of survival.” And it is through the active and continuous exercise of reason that man achieves happiness and moral virtue.

Wheeler ends his essay with this observation: “Ayn Rand stands higher and sees farther than any other thinker of our day. She does so because she stands, not just metaphysically and epistemologically (as she would admit), but ethically (as she would not admit), on the shoulders of Aristotle.”

Edited by Douglas J. Den Uyl and Douglas B. Rasmussen, The Philosophic Thought of Ayn Rand has nine essays on Ayn Rand's philosophy by ten academicians.

Related:

The Philosophic Thought of Ayn Rand

Can Socrates Flourish Without Philosophizing?

Rational Man by Henry B. Veatch

Ludwig von Mises on The Religion of Socialism

A socialist advocates socialism because he is fully convinced that the supreme dictator of the socialist commonwealth will be reasonable from his--the individual socialist's--point of view, that he will aim at those ends of which he--the individual socialist--fully approves, and that he will try to attain these ends by choosing means which he--the individual socialist--would [p. 693] also choose. Every socialist calls only that system a genuinely socialist system in which these conditions are completely fulfilled; all other brands claiming the name of socialism are counterfeit systems entirely different from true socialism. Every socialist is a disguised dictator. Woe to all dissenters! They have forfeited their right to live and must be "liquidated."

The market economy makes peaceful cooperation among people possible in spite of the fact that they disagree with regard to their value judgments. In the plans of the socialists there is no room left for dissenting views. Their principle is Gleichschaltung, perfect uniformity enforced by the police.

People frequently call socialism a religion. It is indeed the religion of self-deification. The State and Government of which the planners speak, the People of the nationalists, the Society of the Marxians and the Humanity of Comte's positivism are name for the God of the new religions. But all these idols are merely aliases for the individual reformer's own will. In ascribing to his idol all those attributes which the theologians ascribe to God. the inflated Ego glorifies itself. It is infinitely good, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, eternal. It is the only perfect being in this imperfect world.

Economics is not called to examine blind faith and bigotry. The faithful are proof against every criticism. In their eyes criticism is scandalous, a blasphemous revolt of wicked men against the imperishable splendor of their idol. Economics deals merely with the socialist plans, not with the psychological factors that impel people to espouse the religion of statolatry.

~ Ludwig von Mises in Human Action (Chapter: "The Imaginary Construction Of A Socialist Society")

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Is Trump Intent On Continuing His Media War?

During the election campaign Donald Trump challenged the legitimacy of the mainstream media and called them “dishonest” and “failing.” On a couple of occasions he called journalists who cover him “scum.”

He said at a rally in August: "I’m not running against Crooked Hillary. I’m running against the crooked media. That’s what I’m running against."

In the eyes of his supporters he discredited the media houses;  he dubbed their negative stories about him false and barred popular reporters from covering his campaign.

It seems his confrontation with the press will carry over to his administration. Of late, he has again started tweeting against the New York Times.

Here’s a look at some of his tweets:




Perhaps Trump believes that the "leftist press" is the biggest threat to the success of his presidency. But if he continues to blame the media for his troubles, he may start seeming desperate, undisciplined, and peevish. Ignoring the media can be a better strategy for him.

He is expected to fight the leftist politicians and the bureaucrats who wield too much power over peoples lives—he should not be wasting his ammo (Tweets) on the media.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Is India Moving Towards Implementation of 5-point ArthaKranti Proposal?

Anil Bokil, the leader of a Pune based economic think-tank called ArthaKranti, claims to have advised Prime Minister Narendra Modi to demonetize Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes.

According to media reports, in 2013 Bokil and few other members of the ArthaKranti had a two-hour long meeting with Modi, who was then serving as the Chief Minister of Gujarat. The ArthaKranti team gave a detailed presentation to Modi on how the country’s financial system could be cleaned up, and made more transparent and corruption-free.

Bokil also met Modi in 2014, 2015, and even this year when Modi is reported to have met Bokil with the financial services secretary Hasmukh Adhia.

The demonetizing of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes is one of the key proposals of ArthaKranti. The organization also wants the government to abolish income tax and 56 other taxes and replace it with a Banking Transaction Tax (BTT) of 2% on earnings.

ArthaKranti’s five-point agenda includes the following:

1. Withdrawal of all taxes and duties of central, state, and local body government except customs or import duties.

2. Every transaction will be routed through the bank and will attract deduction in appropriate percentage as “Transaction Tax” of around 2%. 

3. Withdrawal of high denomination currency notes. 

4. Cash transactions will not attract any transaction tax. 

5. Government should make legal provisions to restrict cash transactions up to a limit of Rs. 2000. 

Anil Bokil
The ArthaKranti website lists the following direct benefits of their economic proposal:

1. Savings in amount of taxes paid

2. No tax returns & No tax compliance cost

3. Adequate tax revenue for each level of Government (Center, State and Local)

4. Transparency in the Economy

5. Significant drop in commodity prices (Approx 15% to 20% )

6. Loans from banks at lower rates (Approx 4% to 5% annual rate of interest)

7. Substantial Reduction in construction cost (Approx by 15% to 20%)

8. Terrorist and anti-national activities can be controlled

Anil Bokil is trained as a mechanical engineer. He started working on his economics ideas in 1999, but ArthaKranti was registered in 2004.

Valid Question


The Immorality of Currency Demonetization

The BJP government claims that its policy of demonetizing the Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 notes will cleanse the financial system of counterfeit currency and the so-called black money. They proclaim that demonetization is a “surgical strike” against the finances of the terrorists and criminals.

If you believe that you can clean up the monetary system by suddenly demonetizing 86% of the currency then you ought to have no problem in believing that you can cure headache by hitting yourself on the head with a hammer.

The government’s demonetization policy has been challenged in the courts. Now it is up to the judges to decide if the policy is legal.

But it is certain that the government’s decision is immoral.

How can the government arrogate to itself the moral right to bring chaos and misery into the lives of hundreds of millions of citizens in the name of destroying the finances of a few black-marketeers, counterfeiters, and terrorists?

In his seminal work Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765), the English jurist William Blackstone has formulated the moral principle of the law: “All presumptive evidence of felony should be admitted cautiously; for the law holds it better that ten guilty persons escape, than that one innocent party suffer.”

All law abiding democracies, including India, accept the Blackstone formulation. But the BJP government does not seem to believe in the moral principle that one innocent person must not be penalized even if 10-guilty go free.

The top leaders of the BJP are filled with some kind of messianic zeal—they think that it is moral to sacrifice the interests of hundreds of millions of innocent and law-abiding people in the name of some greater good. But they forget that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

They claim that they have launched this policy of demonetization

Look at the disruption that this government has caused due to its messianic zeal:

1. More than 100 million people are standing in queues outside the ATMs and banks everyday to exchange cash, or deposit the old currency.

2. In retail markets the sales are down by 30% to 90%. People are only spending money on basic necessities. The wholesale markets are shut down in many places.

3. The industrial hubs have ground to a halt. The construction activity has come to a standstill. Tens of millions of laborers who work on daily wages are out of work.

4. Many families are finding it impossible to withdraw cash for marriages and hospital expenses.

5. As the cooperative banks are not allowed to exchange the old currency notes, millions of farmers cannot deposit or withdraw money.

6. As majority of the bank branches and ATMs are located in urban areas, the people villages and small towns people have to leave their work and travel for miles to get their currency changed.

7. There are several media reports about people falling prey to touts who promise to get their currency exchanged for a hefty fee.

The entire economy of the country is on the verge of collapse, and hundreds of millions of law abiding citizens are suffering. With its hasty decision to demonetize the currency, the BJP government has committed immorality of the most venal kind.

Related: 

By Banning Cash The Government Wants To End Privacy

The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum

“Committing Suicide is Also Radical.” ~ Arun Shourie on Currency Demonetization 

It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad World Of Currency Demonetization

The Bizarre Consequences of Messing With The Financial System
The Nightmare of Going to The Bank 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

By Banning Cash The Government Wants To End Privacy

The intellectuals and the politicians hate cash because they assume that any transaction where cash is involved is illegal. You already have a system which restricts you from using cash for high-value transactions unless you can produce identification papers.

If you are travelling with significant amount of cash you can be pulled up by the law enforcement and your money can be confiscated. You may have to go through a cumbersome and costly legal process to get your hard-earned money back.

According to the government, cash is a barbarous relic which allows terrorists and criminals to carry out malicious transactions in secrecy. But what is the guarantee that the such groups will not find some other way of financing their operations?

The idea that banning cash will end the activities of terrorists and criminals is as foolish as the idea that a government funded education and healthcare will improve the quality of peoples lives.

When people switch to digital payment systems, every transaction, big or small, is recorded and can be tracked.  The government agencies will have the ability to keep track of peoples most private financial dealings. This can mean an end to the privacy of not just the political opponents of the regime but also of the ordinary citizens.

In 1984 George Orwell has described a dystopian world where a totalitarian government tracks people’s movements and habits through a system of giant TV screens.

By coercing the businesses and the individuals to make payments through digital financial systems which can be “supervised” by the bureaucrats, the government is getting closer to creating an Orwellian dystopia where the citizens are being constantly watched.

In her article “The Soul of an Individualist,” Ayn Rand nails it: “Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage’s whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.”

It is unfortunate that now we are now on verge of moving away from a society of privacy.

Liberty can’t exist in a world where there is no privacy. A cashless society, where our entire existence is public, will be a savage society ruled by a totalitarian regime. When the politicians have more information on our spending habits, they will be able to impose more control and levy more taxes.

The switch from gold based currency to paper currency gave the government huge control over our money. The move towards cashless society is designed to complete the process and give the government absolute control over our money and thereby on all aspects of our lives.

A cashless society is an easy-to-monitor-and-tax society. It is a recipe for disaster.

Related: 

The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum

“Committing Suicide is Also Radical.” ~ Arun Shourie on Currency Demonetization 

It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad World Of Currency Demonetization

The Bizarre Consequences of Messing With The Financial System

The Nightmare of Going to The Bank 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum

In India, it seems, the lunatics have taken over the asylum.

The banking mayhem is unimaginable. I have been to my bank branch 3-times in last one week. There is such crowd outside the bank that you can’t enter the bank-building unless you are ready to stand in queue for 2 to 6 hours.

The worse thing is that the bank officials who stand at the gates to regulate entry don’t have the complete information. They are unable to tell you when you will be allowed to enter to get your work done.

According to some media reports, more than 10 crore (100 million) people are now spending much of their day outside the banks and the ATMs. How can the country function in such atrocious state of affairs!

I think, this is an important “political lesson” for people who think that the Conservatives are a better political option. We had been under the impression that now that the Conservatives (the BJP) are in power there will be economic and political reforms. But instead of improving the quality of our lives through reforms, the government has created immense chaos and misery.

These Conservatives have zero knowledge of economics and politics. They are totally incapable of providing good governance.

Related: 

“Committing Suicide is Also Radical.” ~ Arun Shourie on Currency Demonetization 

It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad World Of Currency Demonetization

The Bizarre Consequences of Messing With The Financial System

The Nightmare of Going to The Bank 

Friday, November 18, 2016

“Committing Suicide is Also Radical.” ~ Arun Shourie on Currency Demonetization

Yesterday I saw on NDTV an interesting interview by Arun Shourie. He said the government had not anticipated the distress that would be caused by doing "away with 85% of Indian currency."

The government’s sudden decision on 8th November to ban Rs. 500 and Rs. 1000 currency notes has led to chaos in the country. Tens of millions of people are spending hours in queues outside banks and ATMs everyday. The transport industry, according to media reports, has come to a standstill. Farmers are suffering. The markets are shutting down as people are not willing to spend on anything except essential items. Online retail is seeing severe decline. The small businesses are having cash flow problems.

However, the government spokespersons maintain that currency demonetization is a “bold and radical move.”

When asked if he thought it was a bold and radical move, Shourie said, "jumping in the well is also very radical, committing suicide is also radical...if you want to make a beginning, make a beginning on reforming the tax administration.”

It is not at all clear why the government has taken the sudden decision of draining the country of 85% of the total currency. Some spokespersons of the government have claimed that the aim behind the move is to destroy black money.

According to Arun Shourie, "people who hold this black money or black assets don't hold it in cash...they are not going to put their money under the mattress...they are holding it abroad, and there also they are not dollars, in gunnybags. It is property, jewelry, maybe other assets which we don't know about, maybe stock markets.”

He slammed the government for lacking a strict and fair security enforcement:

“Then you will be acting against the bribe taker and bribe giver. But if you let disproportionate assets cases fall through because you don’t present evidence... for instance, you are doing nothing on the Vyapam scam, nothing on the Sarada scam, the Narada scam, you let Hasan Ali go, Moin Qureshi goes away, Vijay Mallya is saying bye bye, Lalit Modi keeps sitting outside...then what will the officer think?”

Quoting some eminent economists, Shourie said that unlike the 50 days that Modi has promised, it will take the economy at least 12-15 months to readjust itself. He warned that even after that “many uncertainties will have to be reckoned with.”

Related: 

It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad World Of Currency Demonetization

The Bizarre Consequences of Messing With The Financial System

The Nightmare of Going to The Bank 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

All Democracies Are Marching Like The Fascists

As We Go Marching
John T. Flynn

In As We Go Marching, John T. Flynn defines fascism as “a system of social organization in which the political state is a dictatorship supported by a political elite and in which the economic society is an autarchial capitalism, enclosed and planned, in which the government assumes responsibility for creating adequate purchasing power through the instrumentality of national debt and in which militarism is adopted as a great economic project for creating work as well as a great romantic project in the service of the imperialist state.”

Flynn goes on to break down the definition of fascism into 8-elements which he says are present in every fascist regime. But it is clear these 8-elements are part of the political culture of every democracy in the world. Therefore we must accept that every democracy in the world is a fascist regime.

Here’s Flynn’s list of the 8-elements of fascism:
1. A government whose powers are unrestrained.

2. A leader who is a dictator, absolute in power but responsible to the party which is a preferred elite.

3. An economic system in which production and distribution are carried on by private owners but in accordance with plans made by the state directly or under its immediate supervision. 
4. These plans involve control of all the instruments of production and distribution through great government bureaus which have the power to make regulations or directives with the force of law.  
5. They involve also the comprehensive integration of government and private finances, under which investment is directed and regimented by the government, so that while ownership is private and production is carried on by private owners there is a type of socialization of investment, of the financial aspects of production. By this means the state, which by law and by regulation can exercise a powerful control over industry, can enormously expand and complete that control by assuming the role of banker and partner. 
6. They involve also the device of creating streams of purchasing power by federal government borrowing and spending as a permanent institution. 
7. As a necessary consequence of all this, militarism becomes an inevitable part of the system since it provides the easiest means of draining great numbers annually from the labor market and of creating a tremendous industry for the production of arms for defense, which industry is supported wholly by government borrowing and spending.  
8. Imperialism becomes an essential element of such a system where that is possible—particularly in the strong states, since the whole fascist system, despite its promises of abundance, necessitates great financial and personal sacrifices, which people cannot be induced to make in the interest of the ordinary objectives of civil life and which they will submit to only when they are presented with some national crusade or adventure on the heroic model touching deeply the springs of chauvinistic pride, interest, and feeling.  
You may call your country a democracy but the truth is that it’s a venal fascist regime.

The Nightmare of Going to The Bank

Wait all day in bank line to get $60 max
I have avoided going to the bank ever since this currency demonetization mess unfolded on the country 9-days ago.

But I think today or tomorrow I will be forced to make a trip for withdrawing the new currency. I am horrified by the idea of being forced to stand in a queue for 2 to 6 hours (as per the media reports) to withdraw a very small amount of cash.

I really don’t have the patience stand in the queue for more than 30-minutes, so I think I will be coming back empty handed. This is a total mess.

When the Narendra Modi government came to power in 2014 many people believed that India would finally see some economic and political reforms. Most people in my circle expected Modi to dismantle the corrupt socialist establishment which has wrecked the lives of the people during the last 80 years. Modi was expected to let people have more control over their life and wealth.

But the Modi government has made things much worse. Most of his policies have increased the powers of the bureaucracy and emasculated the ordinary citizens. It seems that this government is the most socialist government ever.

By unleashing the policy of demonetizing the 87% of the country’s currency, this government has struck the final nail in the coffin of India’s middle class. All the businesses are suffering as the traders, suppliers, customers don't have the currency to carry forward their trade. Majority of India’s workers are daily wage earners—they can’t be paid due to the currency crunch.

I am now convinced that Modi is not going to bring good times to this unfortunate country. I hope some other political option will emerge in the next few years.

Related:

It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad World Of Currency Demonetization

The Bizarre Consequences of Messing With The Financial System 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Did Churchill Admire Mussolini?

Winston Churchill; Benito Mussolini
Winston Churchill is regarded as the conservative leader who rallied the British people during the Second World War, led the fight against nazism and fascism, and won.

But was he always against the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini?

In As We Go Marching, John T. Flynn provides an interesting perspective on the way Churchill viewed Mussolini’s strong-arm political methods. The few quotes from Churchill’s letters and articles that Flynn has cited create the impression that Churchill was an admirer of Mussolini.

In  January 1927, Churchill wrote to Mussolini: “If I had been an Italian I am sure I would have been entirely with you from the beginning to the end of your victorious struggle against the bestial appetites and passions of Leninism.”

“If I were an Italian I would don the Fascist black shirt,” Churchill asserted in his correspondence to Mussolini. In 1928, Churchill wrote an article in Collier’s magazine extolling Mussolini above Washington and Cromwell.

Churchill was not the only one to see Washington and Cromwell in Mussolini. Several liberal and conservative politicians, intellectuals, journalists, and businessmen in England and USA used to look at the fascist dictator with admiration.

But this does not mean that they approved the suppression of liberty and democracy by Mussolini. It only shows that decent people have the capacity to tolerate and even defend bad political ideas in the name of some cherished public good.

Even after the Second World War had commenced, Churchill continued to propagate the idea of Mussolini being a great man. In December 1940, in a speech to the House, Churchill said, “I do not deny that he is a very great man. But he became a criminal when he attacked England.”

Like most conservatives, Churchill was a pragmatist. He did not wage war against Hitler and Mussolini because he was ideologically opposed to totalitarian political ideas. His only concern was to defend Englands’s geopolitical interests.

It did not matter to Churchill that Hitler and Mussolini were enemies of liberty; in his eyes their only crime was that they had attacked England.