Vigilante Justice in India

One of the markers of an uncivilized society is that mobs resort to vigilantism which are acts of summary justice without legal authority or due process. When the police engage in vigilantism, it signals a failed society. That’s what happened last week in Hyderabad in India.

Four people were killed murdered by the police (led by one Mr Sajjanar) in what is referred to as an “encounter.” The four were accused of a singularly horrific crime — the gang rape and murder of a young woman –and were in police custody. Note the word accused. Continue reading “Vigilante Justice in India”

Cheers

Like many an evening, today I raise a glass to the end of a disastrous social policy in the United States on this day in 1933. The wiki informs us thusly:

The Twenty-first Amendment (Amendment XXI) to the United States Constitution repealed the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which had mandated nationwide Prohibition on alcohol. The Twenty-first Amendment was proposed by Congress on February 20, 1933, and was ratified by the requisite number of states on December 5, 1933. It is unique among the 27 amendments of the U.S. Constitution for being the only one to repeal a prior amendment, as well as being the only amendment to have been ratified by state ratifying conventions.

The lesson is simply this: human nature is not perfectible. People are people. Retards will retard. And impose suffering on others because they’re convinced that their will overrides individual freedom.

Here’s a piece on 6 Things We Learned from Prohibition — except that the policy makers  did not really learn that prohibition does not actually work. The baptists and bootleggers win, and everyone loses.

Modi wins and India loses. I raise a glass of alcohol in opposition to Gandhi and Modi today. Cheers.

Happy Thanksgiving

Greetings, all. Today is Thanksgiving Day in the US. Among all the American holidays, this one is my favorite. Never mind the genesis and history of this tradition — some of it is not very pretty. What matters to me is the idea of thanksgiving.

Gratitude is one of the most healthy emotions we have. Life is not always nice but every now and then it is good for our mental health to pause and say, “I am thankful that I have so much to be thankful about.”

Here’s the Sanskrit mantra that expresses my core desire

      • लोकाः समस्ताः सुखिनो भवन्तु
      • Lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu.
      • May all beings be happy.

Happy Thanksgiving Day.

Like Albert J Nock, I’m an Anarchist

As a liberal — in the classical sense of the word meaning one who believes in liberty — I have special respect for Albert Jay Nock (1870 – 1945), the American libertarian who was a radical anti-statist.

It’s astonishing to me how much our views match. Perhaps I am one of Nock’s reincarnations. (I should write about reincarnation one of these days.) Like him, I am a philosophical anarchist: I hold the state in contempt and believe that it lacks moral legitimacy but I am also against the use of violence to overthrow the state. Like him, I am opposed to centralization, regulation, the income tax, state welfare, majoritarian democracy and state mandated education. Continue reading “Like Albert J Nock, I’m an Anarchist”

Billionaires are Different — Part 3

James Buchanan proposed a simple test to distinguish economists from non-economists. It was that economists would not agree with the old adage that “whatever is worth doing, is worth doing well.” If you’re confused by that, you aren’t an economist.

Economists know that everything has costs and benefits. Not just this or that thing but everything. That includes good things and bad things. Even good things have costs, and bad things have benefits. Furthermore, economists “think at the margin.” And finally, there’s such a thing as “sunk costs.”

To keep this brief, let’s just say that an economist would stop before reaching that nebulous “well done” stage. He would stop when the marginal cost exceeds the marginal benefit. If something is worth doing, it is worth doing as long as the net benefit is positive. And then stop.

Back to our topic at hand on billionaires (the previous bits are part 1 and part 2.) Continue reading “Billionaires are Different — Part 3”

Billionaires are Different — Part 2

I concluded the previous part of this piece with the claim that “it is not possible to create wealth without also creating inequality. Inequality in a modern free society is a healthy sign, just as inequality in an un-free society signals disease.”

There are different ways of amassing wealth. In the past, most of what was produced was consumed. That’s because nearly everyone was almost uniformly poor in the past. There wasn’t much left over, and therefore there was not much accumulated wealth.

Still over hundreds of years, wealth in the form of precious metals and gems accumulated in certain parts of the world, which tempted barbarian invaders to do their killing and plundering. That’s the old way to acquire wealth: don’t bother producing any wealth, just take it from others by force.

Then around 250 years ago, some people figured out how to use energy sources (fossil fuels like coal) effectively and wealth production took off. That’s the first Industrial Revolution. That made it possible to produce a lot more wealth and gradually people started climbing out of extreme poverty. Continue reading “Billionaires are Different — Part 2”