Happy 4th of July

My favorite American holiday is 4th of July, also known as Independence Day. It dates back to 1776 with the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Aside from the fact that this date was symbolically the birth of the greatest nation on earth, and what it means for the philosophical and political ideas that provided its foundation, there’s the fun, food and drinks with friends and of course the public fireworks. Continue reading “Happy 4th of July”

A Simple Puzzle

Here’s a list of how many of something that the following countries have:

      • India 154
      • China 95
      • Japan 129
      • Russia 188
      • United Kingdom 171
      • Germany 456
      • France 433
      • Greece 54
      • Mexico 81
      • Pakistan 33
      • Mystery country 20,242
  1. What is that something which China has 95, and India has 154?
  2. Which is the Mystery country which has 20,242 of that something?

Fabulous prizes for the right answers.

Stephen Fry

I confess that I have strong likes and dislikes in almost everything — concrete or abstract. That goes for people as well. Of course, I have my economist heroes — Hayek, Buchanan, Friedman, et al — and anti-heroes (who shall remain unnamed.) Among politicians, my greatest hero was Lee Kuan Yew and the greatest villain Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.

I began to think about this today because a friend told me that Nassim  Nicolas Taleb considers Edward Snowden to be a fraud. I liked NNT’s book Antifragile. He’s obviously very intelligent and highly opinionated (which is a good thing, in my opinion), has enough “f u money”, and is widely celebrated as an intellectual. But he’s often needlessly mean and vicious to people. Continue reading “Stephen Fry”

The Netherlands Welcomes DJT

This is totally off-the-wall irrelevant since this has nothing to do with any contemporary event. But we do need a break from all the doom and gloom. What gloom, you ask!

Moments ago a Silicon Valley friend of mine sent me a picture which I couldn’t figure out. That’s the picture on the left. What’s that, I asked. He said that that was my neighbor (well, these days he lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave in Washington DC) falling off his bicycle.

Imagine if that guy dies or become incapacitated. God forbid but that would mean Ms Kamala Harris becomes the POTUS. So let’s all pray that to the Lord of the Universe and ask him to keep the senile old man alive till Jan 2025. Please. Continue reading “The Netherlands Welcomes DJT”

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”

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”

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”

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