Ides of March

Today, the 15th of March, is the ides of March.

All sorts of bad things happen on the ides of March. In 1876 on the ides of March, test cricket was born with a match between England and Australia.

Julius Caesar was warned by a soothsayer to “beware the ides of March.”  Julius disregarded the warning and on this fateful day in 44 BCE he fell dead, assassinated by his friend Marcus Brutus.

Shakespeare wrote that it was the “most unkindest cut of all.” (Unkindest, or most unkind — choose one, Bill, not both). Mark Anthony at the funeral orated:

Oh what a fall there was my countrymen.
Then you and I and all of us fell down,
whilst bloody treason flourished over us

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Notes from Charlie Munger’s 2007 Commencement Speech at USC Law

Charlie Munger said, “Safest way to get what you want is to deserve what you want. Deliver to the world what you would buy if you were on the other end” in a commencement address to the USC Law School in 2007. A copy of full transcript is here. The “Cliff notes” of that speech was posted by some kind soul and I am reproducing them with gratitude (but without permission.) Continue reading “Notes from Charlie Munger’s 2007 Commencement Speech at USC Law”

Advani’s Address to FICCI

Mr L K Advani, the leader of the opposition in the lower house of the parliament (Lok Sabha), addressed the 80th Annual General Meeting of the Federation of the Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in New Delhi on 15 February 2008.

Here are some excerpts:

I can, in all humility, claim that ours is one party that has consistently followed a policy of supporting private enterprise and voicing our opposition to the license-quota-control regime even in those years when there was hardly any debate on economic reforms. Indeed, the Soviet model of government control was the dominant political fashion and intellectual obsession at the time.

He says that the BJP has had a consistent pro-enterprise economic philosophy.
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Fake PM’s Speech – Part Punch

Of Economic Freedom and Bondage

This is the concluding part of my re-write of PM Dr Manmohan Singh’s speech to the CII. (Previous part on Social Contracts here.) The PM in his speech had quoted from Tagore’s Gitanjali. I suppose the irony of quoting Tagore in the context of the government’s sustained effort to divide the country along caste and religious lines is lost on him. Severe cognitive dissonance perhaps. I have critically examined the PM’s speech for what it was, an attempt to browbeat the Indian industrialists into further crippling the Indian economy. It is all very sad.
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Fake PM’s Speech – Part Chor

Social Contracts

I have a strong aversion to sanctimonious hypocritical idiotic talk (just to spell it out) but it happens, as they say. Perhaps it doesn’t just happen, it is demanded. A sort of reverse Says’ law, “demand creating supply.” If not actually demanding it, sufficient people are not disgusted by it that the supply is maintained. Lack of aversion, or at least a publicly stated aversion to the peddling of it.

With that, here is part four of my re-write of PM Dr Manmohan Singh’s speech to the Confederation of Indian Industries.
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Fake PM’s Speech – Part Teen

Fair and Just Profit

Why has profit become such a profane word in India? I believe that it is due to a failure to fully comprehend the nature of what humans do when they engage in economically productive activities and what results from that action. If you believe that the world is static in the sense that there is only a limited amount of stuff to go around irrespective of what one does, then naturally you would believe that it is a zero-sum game, a game in which Ramesh gains only at the expense of Suresh. But perhaps the world is dynamic and when economic activity takes place, the available amount of stuff goes up and Ramesh’s profit is not necessarily Suresh’s loss. True, the question remains about the distribution of the total gain from the activity: perhaps Ramesh gains disproportionately more than Suresh. But even in that case, it can be argued that it is better for society to allow that activity than to prohibit it merely because of the unequal division of the gain.

Anyway, on with our continuing series (earlier bit here) on what the PM should have said at the CII address.
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Fake PM’s Speech — Part Duh


Yesterday I posted the first part of the fake speech that I wish the real PM of India had delivered. The message in the first bit was simply that there are things that the government is supposed to do and there are things that individuals and the private sector is supposed to do. There is a natural division of labor arising from comparative advantages of the competing parties. The government has a comparative advantage in governance, not in producing stuff. The government must stick to governance. Here’s why.
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Fake PM’s Speech – Part Yuck

Division of Labor

The “fake”qualifies the “speech” and not the PM, I hasten to add lest there be any misunderstanding. You must have come across the much celebrated speech that appointed Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh gave the other day at a CII conference. I read it with rising disappointment and dismay. Smeared with high-sounding socialistic rhetoric, the message was clear: take care of the mess or else dire consequences will follow. Never mind that the mess was not the creation of the Indian industries, that it is not their responsibility, and most importantly that they are not equipped to clean up the mess.

It appeared that the PM’s speech writers are ill-educated socialists. You can’t get good speech writers for the money the government is willing to pay, I suppose. (Even the PM is paid Rs 30K a month.) Now if they had hired me to write the PM’s speeches, that would be a different matter. But then, I suppose they can’t afford me. So as a public service, I present in five easy-to-read parts the speech as I would have written it. This is the fake speech.
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Charlie Munger’s Address: Deserved Trust

Charlie Munger delivered the 2007 Law School Commencement address at the University of Southern California on May 13th. Munger is a guru in the original sense of the Sanskrit word, a person who conveys wisdom. He begins the talk with “Safest way to get what you want is to deserve what you want.” The transcript of the talk is worth reading very very slowly. Take this line near the end, “The highest form a civilization can reach is a seamless web of deserved trust.”

There are too many lines that need highlighting. So I will just post the entire transcript below.
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The Monk and the Philosopher

All the successful techniques for manipulating matter originated mainly in the West but the greater achievement of manipulating the mind – I am justifiably proud to claim – originated in India. In my opinion, the mind has precedence over matter. For the moment I will sidestep the other matter that it is a mistake to make a distinction between mind and matter – there isn’t in my opinion. But for the moment, I will treat them as being different as most people do.
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