Quote of the week...please share your favourite line from Ayn Rand's writings

“Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values.”

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Divide And Rule

The Indian Government has decided to include caste in the next census. The Yadav leaders Mulayam Singh, Lalu Prasad and Sharad were pushing for it for some time by now. The finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said last day that the decision was made to include caste information in the next census. "Yes, we will include it (caste) in this census.” he said. A column on OBC’s will be included in the census. There are already columns for SCs and STs. The Government argument is that such data is required for welfare policies for OBCs- “to make proportional financial allocations”. “Caste is still a reality”, says the proponents of such policies. Welfare measures, hence, are required to correct past inequities. There are several problems with this mode of reasoning. Firstly, statistical data is irrelevant for sound economic policies. A priori reasoning would do. Secondly, what happened in the past is completely irrelevant for public policy decisions.

This is the classic trick of collectivists to create an “us versus them” feeling. This is “racism”. Ayn Rand wrote decades back in “The Virtue of Selfishness, that “Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism. It is the notion of ascribing moral, social or political significance to a man’s genetic lineage—the notion that a man’s intellectual and characterological traits are produced and transmitted by his internal body chemistry. Which means, in practice, that a man is to be judged, not by his own character and actions, but by the characters and actions of a collective of ancestors.” This is true of “casteism” too.

What the backward castes need is not reservations or ‘welfare”. What they need is capitalism-the free market. Racial (and caste) discrimination is inversely proportional to the degree of freedom of a country. For instance, in North America, as of higher economic freedom, blacks are much better off in comparison to their Southern counterparts. Racism was more prevalent in the feudal South America than in the more capitalist North.

Such decisions and policies by the Government is a product of the hampered market economy. Under a hampered market economy, each group tries to grab special privileges at the expense of others, and the decision to include caste in the census is a move towards it. To quote Rand again: “The growth of racism in a “mixed economy” keeps step with the growth of government controls. A “mixed economy” disintegrates a country into an institutionalized civil war of pressure groups, each fighting for legislative favors and special privileges at the expense of one another.”

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Earth Day II

John Tierney, writing in the New York Times has some lessons for “Turqs” on “Earth day”- environmentalist guided by science, not nostalgia or technophobia. He writes that on the first earth day, orators were creating scary predictions on “overpopulation, famine, exhaustion of fossil fuels, global shortages of vital minerals, pollution, pesticides, cancer epidemics, nuclear-reactor meltdowns, and assorted technological disasters.” Nothing came true. The problem of climate change is relatively new. He quotes Michael Specter: “Total reliance on organic farming would force African countries to devote twice as much land per crop as we do in the United States. An organic universe sounds delightful, but it could consign millions of people in Africa and throughout much of Asia to malnutrition and death.” And Mr. Brand on frankenfood: “I daresay the environmental movement has done more harm with its opposition to genetic engineering than with any other thing we’ve been wrong about. We’ve starved people, hindered science, hurt the natural environment, and denied our own practitioners a crucial tool.” He also points out that less than 1% of the earth is dependent on green energy as it is costly.

Richard Tren and Donald Roberts have another column on “How Bad Science Opened Door for Malaria” in USA Today. “Back in the 1940s, scientists realized that the chemical dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, or DDT, could stop epidemics of insect-borne diseases such as typhus. Its lifesaving potential was considered such a boon to mankind that the scientist who discovered it, Paul Mueller, won the Nobel Prize. The chemical would soon surpass all expectations in controlling malaria around the world and go on to save millions of lives.” “Early environmentalists made pesticides one of their chief bugaboos. Rachel Carson, who helped launch the modern environmental movement, was among them. In her now-famous 1962 book Silent Spring, she argued that DDT, when sprayed on a Michigan campus to halt the spread of Dutch elm disease, would spread far and wide and harm robins' ability to reproduce. Carson's anti-pesticide stance was taken up by many ecologists and led to the decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ban DDT. By then, malaria had been eradicated in the USA, but it was still a scourge across much of the world.”