Happy 100th Birthday, Uncle Milton

A 100 years ago on this day, July 31st, Milton Friedman was born. The one passion that motivated his entire life was the quest for freedom for every individual, freedom from coercion and violence from others. He spent his life arguing and persuading people about the value of being free and why they should be free to choose and that they should choose to be free. He cared about India and wanted India to succeed. I believe that India’s success is ultimately tied to India’s freedom — and the fact that India is not a successful economy supports my claim that India is not really a free country. Here are a few selections from Uncle Milton’s voluminous writings.
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May Shri Modi Live Long and Prosper

An impartial observer, a Vulcan perhaps with some contextual background information on India, would surely note one striking fact about the Indian political scene from what gets generally reported in the main stream media. That fact is the near universal fear and loathing that one man evokes in a particular group of people. Upon closer inspection, the Vulcan will further notice that although the said group is heterogeneous in many respects, they all have one thing in common. Reflecting further on an easily observable set of other facts, the Vulcan will be forced to a conclusion which forms the subject of this brief piece.
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The distinction between Rights and Freedoms.

Now for the important matter of the distinction between rights and freedoms. Of late, there has been a proliferation of rights. There’s the right to information, right to employment, right to food, right to education, and so on. Somehow people start thinking that the expansion of rights enhances freedom but in fact it is the opposite: the expansion of rights actually reduces our freedom.
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Comments on this blog and the Freedom of Expression

Recently someone posted a few comments to a post on this blog which were held in moderation. I decide which comments get approved as this my blog and I reserve the right to do so. The person was unhappy that his comments did not get approved and took his quarrel with me to another site which posted his comments. This matter touches on an issue that is broader than the trivial matter of comments on a blog. It’s the distinction between rights and freedoms, a distinction that appears to be lost on too many people, and indeed tragically on some people who make policies that affect millions of people. I address the trivial matter in this post and the important matter in the next post.
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Learning from the web: The Sagan Series

I can never stop marveling at the wonder that the great big classroom in the skies, the WWW, is. Take a bunch of computers, link them up with high speed communications link, create standards and protocols, and let people do what they feel like doing with it — then watch as magic happens. Sure a lot of serious stuff happens on the web — from commerce to scientific research — but I think that the more interesting thing is that it allows people to play. It is the world’s biggest playground.
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What about that Higgs boson?

The last time I had mentioned the Higgs boson in connection with the naming of the particle. But what is the Higgs boson? Particle physics is hard to comprehend because it deals with the extremely small. We, middle-sized creatures, are not equipped to comprehend the infinitesimally small or the infinitely large. Moreover, them itty-bitty things lie in the domain of quantum mechanics — which according to Feynman, if you believe you understand QM then it means that you actually don’t. QM is useful but incomprehensible. Thus, human comprehension is not a precondition for human utility. Also, although there’s little utility in it, attempting to comprehend advances in high energy physics can be fun. So here’s something just for fun.
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Keith Hudson: On a smarter keyboard

This is a guest post by my friend Keith Hudson. It is not really related to India’s economic development. Below the fold is a simple idea that Apple or any other computer hardware manufacturer may find useful. This post is to help put the idea in the public domain, for the record.
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Government Censorship

Frederick Douglass (d. 1895), the renowned American abolitionist wrote, “Find out just what people will submit to, and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them . . . The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.” I used that quote in my book, Transforming India, (click for a free download). Indians will submit to a lot, and have done so for centuries. The current oppressors are “democratically” elected. Allow me to quote from the book:
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Hitchens on the Catholic Church

This is an excerpt from a debate on the proposition “The Catholic Church is a force for good in the world”. The debate sponsor is The Intelligence2 Debate. (For the full version, go to Youtube.) Below the fold is the excerpt which is a must watch.
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