World without Economics

Guess where

The world can get along fine without economics and economists.

Imagine being shipwrecked on an uninhabited island with a bunch of your companions. Unfortunately there’s no chance of being rescued but fortunately the island has lush vegetation and is nicely wooded. To flourish, or even just to survive, you need skills and technology.

To survive and thrive, you would need people in your group who could farm, build shelters, make cloth, mine and refine ores, make tools, provide medical services, and do a whole variety of things. One profession, however, you wouldn’t need are economists. A society can get along perfectly well without economics and economists.

Or can it? Continue reading “World without Economics”

All Songs Considered

Do you like music? I do. Intensely and passionately. All sorts of music. The range is unlimited. From Hindustani classical vocals to modern composers to Western classical. From old Hindi film songs to rock ‘n roll and heavy metal. I am so glad that I live in an age that I can have access to a virtually unlimited amount of music at my command. It’s magical and amazing.

I realized that music is not everyone’s cup of tea. My sincere sympathies. For the rest, I’d like to point to some music I like. This is prompted by a suggestion by my friend Anup who recently asked me to share movies and documentaries that I like. Why not, say I. Why not share music, too. So here beings a regular series. Continue reading “All Songs Considered”

Blockchain, NFTs, Bitcoin

If something looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. I am not a fan of bitcoin because it looks like a ponzi scheme, works like a ponzi scheme and sounds like a ponzi scheme.

Most people don’t see bitcoin as a ponzi scheme because most people don’t understand the basics of the underlying technologies and how they operate. Fortunately, there are good guides on the internet. Unfortunately, they don’t come cheap. The cost is in the time you invest.

So if you are really interested, pay the cost in terms of time. I think the return on investment is worth it. Here’s a video that is really excellent. Enjoy. Continue reading “Blockchain, NFTs, Bitcoin”

We Are Good

We are good. And only we, not the others, are good. The others are bad. Goodness is exclusively ours. That’s so evidently clear that it cannot but be perverse to deny that.

We are also uniquely qualified to point to our obvious goodness in contrast with the clear evilness of others. And when we do so, we use the inclusive “we” although we clearly want to exempt ourselves from the collective “we” we so eagerly employ to point to the faults of others. We say “we” but we don’t want to be associated with those we  accuse of being bad. The “we” we refer to when we point our finger at the collective we is directed away from us. Continue reading “We Are Good”

Democracy – Part 3

Namdhari store at the Orion Mall in Bengaluru

In part one of this series, I baldly stated that I think democracy is a bad idea. I do not think it is totally worthless but it does not scale.

Here I explore democracy in terms of scope. I hope to argue that if you wish to have democracy scaled up, then you have to severely limit its scope; thus only to the extent that its scope is limited can it be scaled up.

The TL;DR version: scale up democracy to your heart’s content to the extent that you are willing to limit its scope; and increase democracy’s scope as much as you wish if you limit its scale. Scale and scope are opposed. The more of one you wish to have, the less of the other you may have. Continue reading “Democracy – Part 3”

Markets

Lotte grocery store in Fairfax VA, a favorite market. Click to embiggen

The economy is too important for it to be left to the impersonal machinery of markets. Economics only cares about money and profits, and totally neglects to consider that people matter.

The problem with capitalism is that it neglects the human being and instead deifies profits, productivity and efficiency, and it completely ignores humanity. Socialism, by contrast, cares about people. It’s there in the very word — socialism has social in it. Therefore, it must be good.

Markets are by construction amoral, if not immoral. Therefore, markets must be regulated by the government, and whenever markets fail to work out the socially optimal outcome –which is perennially and everywhere because markets are heartlessly driven by pure greed — the government must intervene and set things straight. Continue reading “Markets”

AMA – the Personal Library edition

The reading room in one of UC Berkeley’s libraries.

Libraries are one of the best inventions by humanity. They go back a long way but the modern libraries found in all the advanced industrialized nations are incredibly large. For example, the University of California has 100 libraries.[1]

Now of course, thanks to the digital revolution, we can not only have a very large personal library, we can in fact carry thousands of books in our pocket. My personal collection is not as large as the Library of Congress (established in 1800 and which has 171 million items) but it is still impressive by pre-digital age standards. My grandfather owned perhaps 20 books; my digital collection has around 20,000 books. Continue reading “AMA – the Personal Library edition”

Fixed Costs

The adage “no pain,  no gain” is broadly true with two main exceptions. One is that some people put in the pain but because of misguided effort (which is only evident ex post, not ex ante) or being simply unlucky, end up with no gain. The other being that some people put in little effort but with sheer good luck or cunning criminality end up with big gains. Unsuccessful entrepreneurs who are uncountably many belong in the first category, and politicians and gangsters (but I repeat myself) belong to the second.

A different formulation of the adage is perhaps more in accord with reality: no expectations of gain, no investment in pain. If people cannot be confident that they’d be secure in their property rights — that they would not be dispossessed of what they have worked hard for — they’d have little incentive to put in the effort to create wealth. Continue reading “Fixed Costs”

Bitcoin

I am not against cryptocurrencies. In fact, I am all in favor of alternative currencies, private currencies, LETS, etc. I believe that people should have the freedom to choose what assets they want to hold, and what to use as a medium of exchange for their market transactions. But I have never been in favor of Bitcoin. I think it is a stupid ponzi scheme.

I am broadly ignorant of what’s happening around the world since I don’t follow news. Thus it was that I learned from my friend Veer that cryptocurrencies were crashing today. That was interesting news to me. I looked up some sites to see what was happening. Here’s a graph of bitcoin prices over the last few months: Continue reading “Bitcoin”

Twitter and Musk

Liftoff of the 4th Falcon 1 which did not crash and burn (click on image for credit.)

A non sequitur in a recent comment[1] caught my attention: “And then there’s Elon Musk, who has earned much more than all deeshaa readers combined, whose respect for his “hard-earned” money is demonstrated by buying … Twitter!”

Elon Musk earned much more than the all the readers of deeshaa combined!? That surely wins the understatement of the year award hands down. Try “Musk earned more than all the readers of all blogs ever combined.” That’d be closer to the truth.

Let’s reflect on the fact of Musk buying Twitter. It’s his money. He earned it. He gets to do whatever he wants to do with his money. Smoke ’em if you got ’em, is the principle. Continue reading “Twitter and Musk”

%d bloggers like this: