The Silver Lining to the Chinese Virus – 2

Apollo 1

The US Apollo space program got started in May 1961 was a spectacular success in landing 12 astronauts on the moon. But it had a very rocky start when Apollo 1, which was scheduled to launch in Feb 1967 as a low Earth orbit test, never launched. A disastrous cabin fire during a ground test killed all three astronauts on the launch pad on 27th Jan 1967.

That set the program back by about 10 months but during that time, processes and procedures were put in place that ultimately resulted in the Apollo program being much more robust than it would otherwise have been. That is a prime example of how sometimes problems are portals to a better trajectory, provided that the right lessons are learned and changes made. Shocks to systems force systemic redesign and the system improves. Continue reading “The Silver Lining to the Chinese Virus – 2”

The Silver Lining to the Chinese Virus

The Chinese Virus

The cost of the latest Chinese virus, aka SARS-CoV-2, is now going to be tallied in trillions of dollars and perhaps hundreds of thousand, maybe millions, of deaths. All that seems to be pretty horrific, to be sure. But here I am going to argue that that cost is worth the benefit that is sure to arise. That is the conclusion of my argument that this Wuhan coronavirus is going to be a blessing in disguise. It will make the world a far, far better place than it would have been otherwise.

What is the appropriate response to the disease now called Covid-19? That depends on the time and place, and other contextual particulars. In early Dec 2019 when the first cases were detected, the appropriate measure (seen in hindsight) would have been total containment. Continue reading “The Silver Lining to the Chinese Virus”

Ask me Anything — the Dolly Parton Edition

I love music

It’s hard for me to convey precisely how much I enjoy music. I’d rather go without food for a few days than go without music for a day. Fortunately for me, that would never have to happen. I have music on my phone, my computer, laptop — and of course on Youtube.

Over the decades, I have curated a very large and eclectic collection that includes all kinds of music — Indian classical, Indian popular, Western pop, country, rock and roll, Western classical, world music, electronic and trance, acoustic, heavy metal, and so on. Continue reading “Ask me Anything — the Dolly Parton Edition”

The Joy of Counter-intuitive Truths

I think one of the main reasons why I find economics so fascinating is that I am a contrarian (adj. taking an opposing view, especially a view opposite to that taken by the majority; n. a person who habitually takes a view opposite to that held by the majority.)

Many of the findings of economics are counter-intuitive. When I come across those results, the delightful “Aha!” moment follows. I realize that I was wrong about something and enjoy being less wrong than I was previously. Continue reading “The Joy of Counter-intuitive Truths”

Covid-19: What Should the Government Do?

The Covid-19 pandemic is caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2. It’s highly contagious with an R0 around 2 — an infected person passes the virus on to two others on average. Exponential growths always end up in large numbers pretty rapidly, contrary to our basic intuition. They are explosive, like in uncontrolled nuclear reactions. Once a few people in a population get the virus, nearly everyone gets it without proper containment.

Communicable diseases can be controlled and stopped, as has been demonstrated by the eradication of smallpox viruses (certified in 1980.) Smallpox eradication was mainly done by governmental and multinational health organizations. It could not have been otherwise since the non-governmental sectors (markets and civil society) were not up to the task. Continue reading “Covid-19: What Should the Government Do?”

Rationality in a World of Suicidally Deluded People

I take the non-aggression principle to be a “relatively-absolute absolute”

I believe that societies that follow the non-aggression principle (NAP) are better than those that don’t. To me, the NAP is a “relatively-absolute absolute”. I learned the concept of relatively-absolute absolutes from James Buchanan. These are persistent truths about the world of humans; they are not necessary in some absolute sense like, say, the conservation laws but are generally true and fundamentally important for human flourishing. Continue reading “Rationality in a World of Suicidally Deluded People”

Human Rights are Property Rights

The phrase “property rights” appears to refer to the rights of property. That of course is meaningless because property aren’t people, and therefore property cannot have rights. Property rights refers to the notion that humans have the right to their private property. Therefore to place property rights in some form of opposition to human rights — as I did in the previous post — is silly. The two essentially mean and amount to the same basic idea. Human rights are property rights, and vice versa.

It all begins with the axiom of self-ownership. To quote Murray Rothbard, the brilliant libertarian economist, from an April 1959 article:

. . . each individual, according to our understanding of the natural order of things, is the owner of himself, the ruler of his own person. Preservation of this self-ownership is essential for the proper development and well-being of man. The human rights of the person are, in effect, a recognition of each man’s inalienable property right over his own being; and from this property right stems his right to the material goods that he has produced. A man’s right to personal freedom, then, is his property right in himself. Continue reading “Human Rights are Property Rights”