Visiting India for even a short while reminds me of a favorite quote from Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784). In his 1775 work Taxation No Tyranny he pointed out the terrible hypocrisy of the American leaders who were fighting for their freedom from the British. Johnson asked, “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?”
I ask, how is it that we hear the loudest yelps of concern for the poor from those who engineer the very poverty that the poor endlessly suffer?
Every politician of whatever political party, every bureaucrat of whatever department, and every official of every government agency ostensibly has only one concern — the poor. And yet everything they do is guaranteed to deepen poverty. The sad truth is that they all are, to use the words the late Christopher Hitchens used to describe Teresa (the Merciless), the friends of poverty and not of the poor. They thrive while the poor endure poverty and deprivation.
New laws and regulations are being passed and implemented at a furious pace. Draconian measures are being taken for the benefit of the public, especially the poor. The poor have to be protected from the rapacious greed of the rich, the story goes. The government is working tirelessly to ensure that the poor have access to quality education, adequate nutrition, affordable health care and housing, etc etc. The most reasonable mechanisms for all of which are both necessary and sufficient: increased taxes, price controls and strict enforcement of a mountain of regulations by an army of government regulators.
Take the case of education. The “Right to Education” regulations bar free entry into the provision of education by imposing input requirements that make it impossible for low-cost private schools to function. The RTE law has closed down thousands of schools that the poor depended on. So now instead of the meagre offerings that they had to make do with, they have nothing. Meanwhile, we all rich and poor alike, have to pay an “education cess” which does nothing to help the poor get educated.
The best, most efficient, expedient, fastest, effective, inescapable means to create and perpetuate poverty ever discovered by human ingenuity is socialism. Indian governments have pursued socialism with a vengeance since the dictatorial Indira Gandhi but they were generally inefficient in the execution of the insane regulations.
The present government is efficient and effective in implementing socialism. India is staring at the abyss.