People all across the world are just the same. Granted there are cultural, geographical, climatic, water and mineral endowment differences among various nations but those differences are not as stark as the differences in economic performance and the level of prosperity. A Somali (2021 annual per capita income of $130) is not by mere nature and nurture alone 645 times less capable of producing wealth compared to a Swiss (2021 annual per capita income of $83,832).
What factor determines the relative differences in the wealth of nations? Much of it is explained by the quality of the institutions that nations have. The most critical institution is the government. If the government is incompetent, meaning if the quality of the people in government is poor, then it is unlikely that the people would flourish. There’s no escaping that dismal conclusion. Incompetence in government is fatal for a nation. Continue reading
I’m not going to sugarcoat it. I think people who have facebook accounts are super losers. Let’s face it, the overwhelmingly vast majority of the people (including yours truly) are losers in some way or the other. But what sets super losers apart from garden variety losers is that the former have facebook accounts.
The only positive thing that facebook has inadvertently done is to create a simple test for determining whether one is a super loser or not. It would have been very difficult to estimate the number of super losers in the world but thanks to facebook, you can get an accurate count — the number of facebook accounts. Bill Maher should have pointed that out in his “New Rule” segment about facebook. Here’s that bit:
As commercial airlines go, Air India is nothing to write home about. Air India ranked third-worst performing airline in the world, reported Economic Times in Jan 2017. Air India’s all-round dismal performance–customer service, timeliness, cabin service, heavy commercial losses, etc., etc.–is not surprising considering that it is a Government of India enterprise. Nothing that the GOI does is ever done competently and well. The bureaucrats and politicians are perhaps the least competent in the world, barring a few African banana republics. Continue reading
Government bureaucrats can hardly be accused of being the sharpest knives in the drawer. I have met many of them and have been uniformly underwhelmed by their understanding of the subject that they are charged with governing. Here’s an example. Most of us get by with using the words “power” and “energy” interchangeably in everyday speech. But I have met poorly educated engineers (around 80 percent of Indian engineers) who couldn’t precisely distinguish the two. They are anything but interchangeable. Although I cannot be sure, I am willing to bet that the bureaucrats and politicians in the ministry that deals with energy — one of the most critically important inputs in any economy — don’t know the distinction between energy and power.
The year’s in the Spring. And the clocks spring forward an hour. It’s daylight saving time from today to Nov 1st. The persistence of generalized collective idiocy can be explained by some kind of social inertia. Daylight saving time is a prime example. It was meant to reduce energy use. A little bit of thought should be enough for one to realize that there cannot be — in this present day and age — any energy savings by futzing around with clocks. Continue reading
It’s all karma, neh?
I usually use that line as a sign off to some of my posts. But this time I lead with it because — well, let me come to that. Karma is a Sanskrit word whose meaning is difficult to convey precisely but the two (of the many) important facets of the word are salient in this context. First is karma as action, and the second the consequence of action. This bears repetition: the same word refers to action as well as the consequences of action. This is by no means accidental.
I have mentioned the basic laws of human stupidity enunciated by Prof Cipolla before on this blog. For your convenience, I repeat the basic laws here:
Those who refuse to do arithmetic are doomed to speak nonsense. That one is a favorite quote from a computer science guru John McCarthy. To it I would add that those who are incapable of reasoning are doomed to being innumerate. The ability to reason is a prerequisite for knowing how to do arithmetic. Let me give you a shining example of innumeracy arising from an inability to reason.
I gather from Kanchan Gupta’s piece — “In Rome, Durga is not welcome” — the officials in Rome are jerking around Hindus who want to celebrate puja. But for the efforts of the Indian Ambassador, Mr Arif Shahid Khan, this year’s Durga puja celebrations in Rome would have been a disaster. A deep bow for Mr Khan in appreciation of his help to the Hindus in Rome.
Too often I see this quoted.
“Per laws of aerodynamics, the “bumble bee” cannot fly. Its body weight is not the right proportion to its wingspan. Ignoring these laws of science, the bee flies anyway.”
It is one of those seemingly profound statements that is actually devoid of the slightest shred of sense or meaning.