Money

David Deutsch tweeted the following:

David is right. The exchange of money for a painting is just a trade that does not alter the total amount of goods and services (resources) available in an economy. Person buying the painting acquires property rights over the painting, and the seller has the money–which represents claims on resources. The seller of the painting can do whatever he wants, including giving it to charity. The buyer could have given the money to charity instead of acquiring the rights to the painting. Continue reading “Money”

Lessons from Economics

Too ignorant to know that planning fails
The Road to Hell

The fundamentals of economics is fun to learn. They are also somewhat counter-intuitive, until you internalize them and then it becomes part of your intuition.

Friedrich von Hayek held that “The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.”

Social engineering and economic planning fails precisely when social scientists, instead of being students, presume to be able to intervene into things that are not amenable to design. The worst offenders in this regard are ignorant politicians. They push the country into needless poverty. Continue reading “Lessons from Economics”

The Imminent Energy Shock

The biological world presented a mystery to people for millennia. The variety of life forms on earth was clearly immense. It was also clear to some observers of the biological world of life on land and in water that they were the result of evolution that led to the formation of new species of plants and animals. It was well understood that the various life forms evolved from earlier life forms, and that all life was related to all others. The difficulty lay in explaining the mechanism for evolution.

Some other observers held a different view. They argued that the variety of life forms on earth were created by an act of creation. That implied that there was a creator who designed and seeded earth with the all kinds of life we see on earth. They are called “creationists” and are distinct from “evolutionists” who believed in evolution. Continue reading “The Imminent Energy Shock”

The Queen is Dead

Well, you might say “who cares that the empress of an already past empire is dead,” and you’d be justified. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is not the global hegemon it used to be. I grant you that.

But Elizabeth II must have been a remarkable person for having reigned so long during often extremely turbulent times. For 70 years. She appears to have been a permanent fixture of the world — something like the Dalai Lama. Continue reading “The Queen is Dead”

Dhan Vapasi — Credit Constraint

How can the poor be helped is the most insistent question that the bleeding-hearted ask but only the hard-headed can answer. The fact that one has to understand is that the state of being poor is the background, default, standard state of every one of us.

No one is born wealthy. Everyone is born naked, helpless and poor. Sure, some are born to sweet delight but most us reading this were not born to an endless night.[1] We were born to parents who were not poor, and could afford to give more us than what was needed for basic survival. And that makes all the difference. Non-poor parents are able to provide “credit” to their children. That credit helped us, their children, to become capable of producing wealth. We, in turn, can then provide credit to our own children — and the cycle continues. Continue reading “Dhan Vapasi — Credit Constraint”

Dhan Vapasi – not a Batshit Crazy idea

In the previous piece on Dhan Vapasi, I declared that the government must not own any property. The government’s job is to provide a service to the community. Provision of a service does not require ownership of property or even the tools. One could have tools one uses to provide a service — a vacuum cleaner if you are in the house-cleaning business, for example — but you if you don’t own one, you rent one. The government provides governance services and that does not in any way require those in government to own anything at all, let alone owning private property and least of all people. This is not that hard to understand. Continue reading “Dhan Vapasi – not a Batshit Crazy idea”

Dhan Vapasi – Public Property

In a previous post, Restitution of Stolen Property, I had offered to answer questions on “Dhan Vapasi.” Anirudh asked a set of questions, which I answer here.

To understand the concept of Dhan Vapasi (that’s Hindi for “wealth return”), I recommend a visit to the DhanVapasi.com site. I recommend reading the Dhan Vapasi booklet (pdf) for a getting a good understanding of the idea. Rajesh Jain and I had proposed the idea about five years ago. Continue reading “Dhan Vapasi – Public Property”

Airports

SFO

The answer to the post A Simple Puzzle is “the number of airports.” The US has the largest number of airpots in the world: around 20,000 — give or take a few dozens.

It’s not hard to explain why this is so. The US is vast, is rich, and has been the pioneer in aviation since the beginning of powered flight in 1903.

Continue reading “Airports”

August 15th — National Relaxation Day

This day is one of the most important days of my life. But not because it’s National Relaxation Day in the US. Everyday is a relaxation day for me, anyway.

I know that Aug 15th is publicly celebrated across India as “Independence Day” but that, to my mind, is totally idiotic because Indians are not independent even 75 years after India became “independent” of colonial rule. Indians are still under colonial rule — the difference is that instead of foreign colonial rule, now the rule is by domestic colonial rulers. This is actually worse than what it was before 1947. At least the Britishers were foreigners. But now Indians oppress their own. They enslave their own. Pitiable. Continue reading “August 15th — National Relaxation Day”

Restitution Revisited

In a previous post, I laid out a method for the restitution of properties that have been taken by invaders. In it I argued among other things that “all property that have been acquired through plunder should be methodically auctioned, and the proceeds from them be distributed to every citizen, regardless of whether they are the descendants of the plundered or the plunderers.”

That principle of restitution is simple enough to provide guidance in matters that relate to compensation for harm caused by historical events. One commentator to that piece raised a question. His comment outlines a scenario I paraphrase as: Continue reading “Restitution Revisited”

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