[Get Involved By Avoiding Politics (by Don Boudreaux)
from Cafe Hayek by Don Boudreaux
Get involved! And the best way to do so is to avoid politics. I elaborate in my column appearing in today's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Here are a few paragraphs:
It's a mistake to applaud greater involvement in politics as if such involvement is by its very nature the best use of people's time and effort. A more serious delusion is that politics is the only -- or, at least, the most noble -- venue for each of us to get "involved" with our fellow humans.
In fact, though, we are involved even when we pay no attention to politics. We care for our families, support our friends, work at jobs that produce goods and services for millions of people and are active members of churches and clubs. Each of us is intensely involved, daily.
Indeed, we are involved better and more fully when we act privately (that is, outside of government) than when we act politically.]
[Adam Smith described his fourth age of man as ‘commerce’, which he didn’t ‘invent’. It operated thousands of years before the fall of Rome in the 5th century, and Adam Smith noted how commerce revived in Western Europe from the 15th century onwards from observing its effects in gradually widening social choice and promoting technological change.Smith saw the revival of commerce as contributing to the spread of opulence in Britain which would have a dramatic effect on the living standards, health and education of the labouring poor...But be clear, nobody ‘invented’ any of the ages of the four subsistence, least of all an observer like Adam Smith, talented as he was. They emerged, slowly and gradually, from the inter-actions of unknown individuals learning how to ‘better themselves’ (as Smith put it) through experimentation, the application of retained and new knowledge about the physical world, the creation of appropriate institutions and social norms, regimes of law and justice, and, additionally, by the invention of new technologies, and the emergence of markets.]
[Orissa or Kalinga as it was then called... was a formidable maritime empire with trading routes stretching up to Bali, Sumatra, Indonesia and Java. The key to international trade and immense wealth, it was coveted by many rulers. india-tourism.com]
[Home > Op-Ed > Lessons from a poor little VIP constituency
Siddharth Dube Indian Express: Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Rural India is in crisis because its needs have been grossly neglected by government after government, writes Siddharth Dube. Consider Ganjam district. Ganjam derives from the Persian for ‘granary of the world’. At independence, the district began with the advantages of the ryotwari system of land tenure, rather than the burdens of zamindari. But today, agriculture is so poor here that the majority of farmers get just one rain-fed paddy crop and a meagre second crop of dal. The failure to expand irrigation — and to preserve the abundance of existing tanks and local canals — is to blame. Equally to blame is the utter neglect of efforts to modernise agriculture through diversifying crops, boosting yields, or storage and marketing.
The tragic upshot in Ganjam is that there is virtually no work to be had locally. Agricultural labourers can find employment for just two months or so, earning only about Rs 25 for a long day. Families with unirrigated land have roughly four months of income. There are few jobs in the towns even for young people who have completed secondary school. Not surprisingly, child labour is common.
The primary means for survival for Ganjam’s people has been migration.]
[Compare and contrast the two distinct cases of colonialism in the 18th century: Bengal in India and Massachusetts in North America.
Massachusetts had land and other natural resources but had very few people. To translate the resources into wealth that you could later extract, you had to first get people to settle there. To attract people and for them to create wealth, the policies had to be development oriented. In other words, the policies gave settlers economic freedom, the freedom to create wealth.
Bengal, in contrast, already had people who were creating wealth. The policies for colonial Bengal were therefore designed to extract and exploit that already existing wealth. Therefore controlling economic activity through the denial of economic freedom was required. Command and control of the economy was a more direct route to exploitation. Doubtless, the consequence was similar to that of killing the goose that lays golden eggs. It is a short-term policy since by denying economic freedom, eventually wealth creation comes to a halt. When all the existing wealth is extracted, it is time to move out. Colonialism ended in India when the cost of extracting wealth became greater than the value extracted... Atanu Dey has a fantastic conversation with the spirit of Adam Smith 2:04 PM]
Given the fact that "independent India inherited the entire institutional, administrative, and organizational structure of colonial India" it is not easy to dismantle them nor the culture they spawn. In this circumstance, “greater involvement in politics” is an imperative, and Savitri Era Party will perform its role of a change agent. [TNM]