AMA – the Ducklings Rescue Edition

Welcome to 2018. The past year was good but this one is likely to be much better. I think in 2018 I will get a good deal of stuff done. One of the major tasks is the cleaning up of this blog. There’s too much stuff here, some of which needs to be sorted, rewritten, polished up and published.

I will write more frequently. Also, I will post interesting videos, and extended quotes, audio, etc. Here’s a quote from Frank Herbert’s “Chapterhouse: Dune.” (1985):

All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible.

Humans do bad stuff. But not all the time. Sometimes they are good. They become superheros and rescue a brood of ducklings. I wonder how did they fall into the storm drain in the first place, considering the fact that ducklings are precocial — they are born with eyes wide open and are able to fend for themselves within hours of hatching.

Anyway, this is the first ask me anything this year. What’s on your mind? 

Author: Atanu Dey


17 thoughts on “AMA – the Ducklings Rescue Edition”

  1. Hi Atanu,
    Greetings for the new year.
    I’d like your views on the latest FRDI bill in India. More generally, about the bail-in clause. Is it ethical for banks to be allowed to do this?

    I look forward for more posts this year. Keep writing.


    1. Hi Abhijeet, thanks for asking.

      I know fancy little about banking and finance. I got to know about FRDI only because you asked. Among the various pieces I read on the web, this one — Why India shouldn’t use the ordinary depositor’s money to rescue banks — from Quartz appears reasonable.

      Arguing from first principles, I would say that the government has no business rescuing commercial institutions. Bail-outs create perverse incentives. People and firms take risks when they know that they cannot lose — that is, if the risky bit works out, they gain, and if the risky bit does not work out, they will be bailed out. Meaning, they win if it’s head, and they don’t lose it it’s tail. Why do third parties have to bear the cost of failure of firms? (One party being the owners/management of the firm, the other party being the creditors of the firm. The third parties are people who have nothing to do with the firm — the general public.)

      Anyway, that’s my two bits.


  2. Which nation/system has handled medical care issue the best?
    Taxpayer-funded medical system did not work in India.
    Insurance based medical system at US seems to have its own failure where costs have gone beyond the reach of many.

    What do you think is the best system for medical services?


    1. baransam1,

      What you call “the medical problem” is a member of the class of problems that are created by often (but not always) well-meaning but ignorant people. To refer to my over-used metaphor, too many monkeys are trying to save fish from drowning by putting them up on a tree. I will write a blog post, as promised.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I think we all pro modi ones are eating dust now as he systematically tries to create an afghanistan out of india.

    But I think a analysis is important on what’s exactly growing wrong with the country and the “collective psyche” as we like to put it.

    Seems like the country is on a high dose of hindu nationalism, you see this when mediacrooks goes “i will not stop talking for hindutva, for india etc etc”.

    I think understanding why capitalism is not taking a proper root in india has to be now analyzed from the cultural angle, and the major cultural force being hinduism, I do not see how these two things aren’t related.

    At the same time there are people arguing that “prostestant work ethic” is what led to the rise of capitalism in the west.

    What are your thoughts on the matter that western christianity has been far more open to reason and capitalism than modern indian hinduism?


    1. almostaristotle,

      Thank you for raising the important points you raise. I have to write a rather detailed post on Gurumurthy’s talk with Malhotra. In it I will address many of the points you raise.


        1. almostaristotle, I am guilty as charged. I am now getting around to replying. BTW, I wonder why people use aliases even in matters where revealing your real name cannot possibly cause any harm. I find it silly corresponding with someone whose name I don’t know.


  4. Here goes the context for my earlier question on charity:

    Personally, I have seen harmful effects of charity. I am biased against charity.

    However, some people, whom I hold in high esteem (the businessmen who create wealth), are giving quite a lot away through charity. I get very angry over it. I feel these people with their enterprise-genes are wasting their effort in charity. Instead, they should have been creating more businesses. I feel that investing their wealth for profit would have created greater-good for the world.


    1. baransam1,

      I believe charity is one of the better instinctive drives among humans. I believe it epitomizes what it means to be a truly civilized human being. Charity is a impulse that directly arises from compassion and empathy, two emotions that are unique to human animals. Being able to feel the distress that is suffered by another is not given to any other species.

      I give to charity as much as I can. I put myself in the place of the person who is asking me for help and say to myself, “how would I feel if I had to beg and was turned away empty handed by a person who could have helped me?” I give not so that I feel better about myself but out of a genuine desire to be of some use to others. Certainly I am not some saint but I thank the universe for my luck that I can be the giver and not the receiver in those instances.

      I also believe that charity should not be extracted through force. That is why I think that the government shouldn’t be into charity. There’s moral hazard and therefore corruption. I have written about that in this blog. Please see this, “Charity should be voluntary, not coerced.”

      Thank you for asking.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. For quite some time I have felt for folks who suffer cold nights of north India, out in open.

        Yesterday, there was an article somewhere about how thriving businesses have come up which rent out blankets at night to homeless, to be returned by next day. The article possibly was written with an intent to malign the “profit-seeking/profiteering evil-businessmen squeezing out the lifeblood” of homeless.

        My heart, however, jumped with joy. I felt THIS IS IT. This is the sustainable solution to the problem. I also understand how harmful it will be when people donate blankets for the homeless, now that businesses have come up. Every benevolent act of donation will be a kick to the blanket entrepreneurs income.

        In other words, giving for charity is actually harmful, if a trade/business is possible to address the issue.

        There are cases where trade/business is not yet possible. In those cases, I guess, it is okay to do charity.


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