McCloskey on Economics, Economists and Physicists

When Nobel laureate physicist Ernest Rutherford (1871 – 1937) claimed that “Physics is the only real science. The rest are just stamp collecting” he was perhaps displaying the arrogance that comes with the territory of knowing certain fundamental truths that are denied to non-physicists.

Economists too can be arrogant for similar reasons. They know something about human society that others are generally not aware of — and what’s more — are unaware of their ignorance.

It’s not a sin to be arrogant but displaying it is definitely impolite and predictably makes a person unpopular. I speak from experience. What am I going on about, you may ask. I was reading Deirdre McCloskey today.  Continue reading

Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata

J.R.D. Tata was born in Paris, France in 1904 and died in Geneva, Switzerland in 1993. You’d think that he was as Indian as one gets but he was only half Indian. His father was Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata and his mother Suzanne “Sooni” Brière. His mother tongue was French. As a French citizen, on turning 20, he had to serve in the French army for a year.

J.R.D. was the founder of many Tata companies, including Tata Airlines in 1932 (which became Air India in 1946 — which was nationalized in 1953)  for which he is known as the “Father of Indian Civil Aviation.” He was chairman of Air India until Prime Minister Morarji Desai fired him in 1977.[1]  Continue reading

The Peter Principle in Action

Almost half a century ago, in 1969, Laurence Peter published what’s known as the Peter Principle. The principle, originally formulated to explain the dynamics of hierarchical organizations such as firms, is applicable broadly across many domains, including governance.

The principle notes that people tend to get promoted till they reach a level which they are not qualified for and at which they are incompetent. “In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence, … and in time every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out its duties.”  Continue reading

Mamata Banerjee is a Retard

Sorry that I have to disturb the serene silence of this blog with a rant against the Islamist chief minister of West Bengal, Mamata Begum (or whatever her Arabic name is.) As this is a family-friendly blog, let me put it as politely as I can: she’s a f**king retard. And what’s more, the people of Bengal who support her are bigger effing retards than she is. What provoked me? Here’s her tweet:

Air India is the jewel of our nation? Are you effing kidding me? Is it just ignorance or stupidity (perhaps both) that the average Indian who is not ever likely to set foot in an airplane has been forced (at the point of a gun) to pay for the incompetency of those who run Air India? Is she that abysmally stupid and/or heartless that she wants Air India to continue bleeding the poor of India, while the politicians and bureaucrats and their hanger-ons use Air India as their private FREE airline?
Continue reading

India’s Enemy, the State

I have consistently argued for years that the greatest enemy of the Indian people is the government of India.

India doesn’t have to be pathetically poor. But the government makes sure that Indians remain poor by preventing them from creating wealth. It’s a toxic mixture of idiocy, greed, and stupidity of the politicians and their bureaucratic minions. Why is this so? I believe the stage was set by the British.

The Anti-prosperity Machine

The British imposed an extractive and exploitative government on India. They created the original “anti-prosperity machine”. That is natural, expected and entirely reasonable since the British were colonizers. Colonizers don’t colonize out of altruism. They do it to — let me repeat that — to exploit and extract. The Indian government is a British creation, designed with the specific purpose of keeping the Indian people under its control. After the British left, those who took over realized that as the new masters, the system suited them perfectly well. All the talk about Indians gaining freedom from an oppressive government is a lot of hogwash that only the stupidly deluded can believe. Indians are still enslaved. They are still not free to create wealth. Here’s an example I came across in a hard-hitting piece by Raghav Bahl. Continue reading

Victor Davis Hanson — Why World War 2 Matters

I had not known that Americans call it “World War 2” while the British call it the “Second World War.” That I learned from a public lecture Victor Davis Hanson gave at the Hillsdale College History Department. He is a Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno.

It is hard to overestimate the valuable education one can get from the world wide web, in particular from YouTube. The interwebs, as I like to call it, is a great resource and also the greatest impediment to doing my work. Easily distracted as I am, I find learning stuff delightful. And at times I despair at how little I know of the subjects that interest me.

Anyhow, I have my favorites among the great teachers on the web. Dr Hanson is a marvelous teacher. This is the first time I mention him on this blog (it won’t be the last) but I have been learning from the master for a few years. Here’s a treat for you. Continue reading

Prospects for Indian Development Models – Part 2

Vocabulary

All revolutions begin in dictionaries.[1] I think that all confused thinking begins with an improper understanding of words — and often ends in needless man-made misery. To think and discourse effectively, we must define precisely the words we use. In the context of economics, words like “capitalism” have been misused and the concepts abused to the point that all related discussions are pointless. Douglass North said, “I don’t know what the word capitalism means and therefore I have never used the term.” [2]

If North, a Nobel laureate economist, hesitated using that word, who are we to use the word without at least attempting a definition? Dictionary definitions don’t quite serve the purpose. Every shorthand definition is inadequate for complex concepts. Understanding comes prior to the formulation of a concise statement of the idea, not after. It’s like the mathematical equation E=mc² — you have to understand a truckload of basic physics ideas before you can come anywhere close to understanding what the equation implies. Continue reading