In Celebration of Friedrich August von Hayek

Twenty-five years ago today, on March 23 1992, Friedrich August von Hayek died. Winner of the 1974 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, Hayek was an Austrian / British liberal. I consider him to be not just one of the greatest economists of all times but one of the world’s most enlightened social thinkers.

Reading Hayek makes me marvel at the heights that human intellect is capable of. Compared to him, some of the most renowned economists appear to be pygmies. I feel sorry that most people — even those who claim to be economists — have not even heard of him, let alone read him. Here are a few excerpts, from Hayek and about Hayek.
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India Needs an Actually New Constitution

Why India Needs a New Constitution.” is the title of the chapter I contributed to a Festschrift published in November 2016 by the Center for Civil Society in Delhi.

That idea rubs Indians the wrong way because Indians generally believe that the constitution is a fine work. Not that they have examined it for themselves. They think that it must be so because politicians praise the constitution and uncritically accept their verdict.

It is like the fable of the emperors new clothes, except in this case the people have not themselves seen the emperor in his new clothes. They have only heard of reports that the emperor has a new set of clothes, and experts who have seen the new clothes have declared them to be wonderful. The belief has been implanted in the people, and they will vehemently oppose any suggestions to the contrary.

I argue that the emperor’s new clothes are in fact his old clothes, and therefore the “new” clothes do an equally bad job of hiding his unsightly nakedness as his old clothes did.

To persuade you to read the chapter in the book Liberalism in India (link at the end), here are a few excerpts below.  Continue reading

Did You Agree to be Bound by the Constitution?

Some time ago I published the draft of a “Constitution for a Free India(click to read, right-click to download pdf) which I propose should replace the current Indian constitution. In the preamble of the draft, it says —

“… The people of India as the principals agree unanimously through this constitution to empower as their agents governments at the national and state levels which shall carry out the legitimate wishes of the people as expressed by their political choices in elections. … “

What does “agree unanimously” mean and imply? When you agree to something, you give your consent, assent. Agreeing implies coming to a common understanding or arrangement. Continue reading

The Price of Econ Textbooks

I haven’t read these books that Amazon recommended to me via email today. But I hope that within the pages of these books the authors somewhere explain the economics of textbook publishing and why these books on the principles of economics cost an arm and a leg.
Thankfully in modern times, the principles of economics is accessible to many who can’t afford those prices. It’s all there on the web. Continue reading

Ask me anything: I am always amazed edition.

This ad is probably from the mid-1980s. A massive 26MB hard drive for only $5K. As the ad points out, that’s less than $200 per MB. Now that’s a deal you couldn’t have refused. We should note that $5K in those days is equivalent to $10K in today’s dollars. Imagine, paying $10K for storage just enough for a few mp3 songs! Continue reading

The Wealth of Nations — Part 4: What’s Wealth?

Wealth?   Maybe!

Most people would readily identify a heap of gold ingots as wealth. But a moment’s reflection is enough to conclude that what can be considered wealth depends on the context.

Imagine Robinson Crusoe alone on his otherwise uninhabited island coming across a pile of gold nuggets in a stream. What’s more valuable to him: the gold or the fresh water in the stream? Gold is pretty useless to him because he cannot use it for anything. Gold is a heavy, soft metal. A piece of iron would be more valuable for making a knife or a pickax. Gold is of little value to him.

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