This is my fourth comment (very brief) on Swaraj and Prashant's urge to nationalise as many thing as he feels are not suited to the market.
Nationalisation is the EXTREME form of centralisation.
And price fixing is an EXTREME form of centralisation.
With such a model in mind (100 per cent socialist), why talk about decentralisation?
Such "sweet" words don't get past me. I see right through these strategies to gain greater and greater control over the lives of people.
There is a TOTAL CONTRADICTION between the "sweet talk" of decentralisation (Swaraj at the village level) on the one hand, and SUPER-CENTRALSIATION (nationalisation, price fixing) on the other.
Let it be known that Arvind and Prashant are promoting UNADULTERATED SOCIALISM.
Giving the example of crony capitalism (which is ALWAYS caused by socialism) is a very poor way turn down capitalism – which is totally different from crony capitalism.
Within the capitalist framework there is very significant decentralisation – subsidiarity – but that too is VERY SEVERELY constrained.
A government has no license to curtail liberty EVEN at the local level. Nowhere. Never.
The government must be kept TIGHTLY under the leash. Democracy must be tightly limited in terms of the subjects and topics it can pass judgement on. Democracy is not license to destroy liberty.
This is my third comment on Arvind Kejriwal's Swaraj, based on thoughts sparked by reviewing Prakash's comment, below.
As a person who is in favour of markets, I believe that the next step really has to be political markets. We need a hayekian discovery of the law structure that is most appropriate for India.
I have not read the swaraj proposal, but I am extrapolating this from Shailesh’s comment.
I agree with the decentralized law proposal as long as a right to exit is guaranteed to all citizens who are not criminals in the commonly agreed criminal law of the union.
As long as a right to exit is guaranteed to every citizen, for a person seeking to drink alcohol, it is relatively easy to go to the next jurisdiction that allows the same. And if the frequent movement is an issue, one can permanently move to other jurisdictions.
Obviously this will imply things like hanging for marrying within gotra cannot be decided by gram sabhas. There will have to be a common criminal code. There might also need to be goods movement laws that are relatively more central. For eg. if cows for slaughter have to move from one muslim dominated district (where slaughter is legal) to another, via a hindu dominated district where it is illegal, there may need to be passing provisions in the central law. Similar such laws may be needed for alcohol and such similar issues.
I can easily envisage an India where a thousand independent district jurisdictions eagerly publish the benefits of living in their district to every person who passes out from 12th standard. rich jurisidictions can proclaim their cosmopolitan self and high standard of life. Poor jurisidictions can promise a much higher rate of growth for investments. Dharmic jurisidictions can proclaim their adherence to their codes of life, while liberal jurisdictions can promise the ability to drink, snort, inject, smoke, gamble and fornicate.
We are all not the same and there is no reason that there has to be one law ruling all. Where the liberal policy structure does come in is in providing the agreement framework within these many possibilities.
Prakash you are offering a very severe mis-reading of Hayek.
Hayek was a NATURAL RIGHTS advocate. He wanted firmly bounded constitutions at all levels of government. He would never tolerate, even in any "market" based political model, ANY diminution of liberty for the sake of some experiments on people.
What you are saying is that it is quite OK for me to be driven OUT of my place of birth because someone imposes their ideas on me and I refuse to accept them. So you are committing two major fallacies:
a) You are accepting the reduction of my liberties. But I live not to be governed by others. I live to be free. I deny anyone ANY right to impose their will on me.
b) You are advocating Rousseau's collectivist idea of "general will" by which a particular village can have the right to form a "general" collectivist view about what can or cannot be done in that village.
Both are based on the same foundational flaw – that a MAJORITY has a right to encroach on ANYONE'S liberty.
Majorities DO NOT HAVE RIGHTS. We humans have individual natural rights.
All of us have the right to life and liberty.
So, as you can clearly see, Shailesh, you and Arvind come from the same COLLECTIVIST mould of Rousseau. You are willing to tolerate the destruction of liberty by majorities.
That, by the way, was the reason why Socrates OPPOSED democracy, for he knew that there are some who elevate democracy ("general will") to a status greater than the individual.
I deny ALL such rubbish. I refute ANY attempt or any possibility that a village assembly can have ANY right to limit ANYONE'S liberties.
That is, by the way, exactly what Hayek would say, but in far more suave and sophisticated language.
This thing about Swaraj needs to come to a head. I've been debating offline with an Arvind Kejrwal "supporter" who is surprised that I don't "get" it that Swaraj is a great idea.
Here's an extract from my response
Swaraj is a total non-starter without clarification about what precisely is allowed to be governed.
Swaraj is about independence. Self Rule. In my book, Discovery of Freedom (manuscript) I explain at great length why this is a minor and largely irrelevant part of the meaning of liberty.
Swaraj made sense in 1910s when British ruled India. It also makes a little sense even now (due to lack of full implementation of grassroots democracy), but that is such a trivial issue.
Independent decision making is a very TINY part of the classical liberal framework. It is necessary (but if you understand Hobbes, even Chanakya, it may not even be necessary if you have a perfect dictator who ensures liberty and the rule of law). But it is simply insufficient.
Defence of liberty is why we allow ANY form of state. Period. Arvind Kejriwal has NO theory of state.
In brief, if you don't know WHAT can be governed, and WHY, then "self-rule" is code for dictatorship by mobs.
It is a DANGEROUS thing to be ruled by mobs.
That is why the classical liberal insists on constitutional safeguards for liberty.
ONLY within the framework of greater liberty can Swaraj make ANY sense. But clearly IAC is full of socialists. They want to REDUCE LIBERTY DRASTICALLY.
Their Swaraj will be licence for the DESTRUCTION OF LIBERTY IN INDIA.
I quote directly from a comment just received:
You are right that prashant bhushan is a hard core socialist. I raised the question in today's meet. He answered straightly, "that they will nationalize almost all firms(like power,steel and many others), but in some sectors he said they will keep free markets." if they come to power.
I told them that socialism is the mother of corruption. And told him that there is no developed country in this world which has adopted socialism. And told him the example of hong kong and indonesia. But he said that after liberalisation and globalisation the amount of corruption has increased. He said before 1991 there were scam like bofors which are were of less amount. But after liberalisation amount of corruption has multiplied by 'n' times.
Earlier if 100 crore business was given permission 10 crore would be the bribe but now politicians are getting bribed in multi crore through 2G, coal and etc etc. He says that all the recent multi crore scams are because of liberalisation and globalisation.
He didnt give me chance to reply back. He said this is only Q&A session and not debate. He was taking question from audience and giving answers. But didnt allow us to debate on our stand. He didnt see whether he was satisfying all questions or not:(
So i guess that arvind and bhushan feel that scam amount has increased becuase of liberalisation and globalisation. I guess they have understood the problem wrongly.
They need to be explained on these lines. Or else people need to be educated on these lines. I fear that arvind has lot of chance to come to power. And this bhushan will nationalize almost everything. We will loose our job.. we will go backward then:(
A few hours ago, in a speech, Anna Hazare promoted Kejriwal's book, Swaraj, thus:
Anna Hazare says that after reading Arvind Kejriwal's book 'Swaraj', one would realise that it is the government that has lost its focus and not the anti-corruption movement. [Source]
I discussed some of the key issues arising from this book/ worldview here. Do read it. In addition, I've gone through Kejriwal's book, and although it raises many problems, its solutions are based on a belief that every socialist policy should remain the same, merely become more decentralised in implementation.
I take this one example, Education. This is what Arvind says:
In a village government school, if a teacher does not teach properly or decides to come late to school or prefers not to come at all , no action can be taken against him, even if a complaint is filed to this effect.
In the same way all schools have shortage of teachers. One teacher teaches 200 to 300 children. Sometimes only one teacher teaches children of at least three or four classes at the same time. This type of education is ineffective and wasteful for children. In the name of education a mockery is going on.
Today the schools are in bad shape. Teaching is not proper; the children do not have desks to sit, water to drink, fans and urinals are not available. Whenever complaints are sent to the government then no action is taken on those complaints.
We visited Khijuri village in West Bengal, where the Sarpanch told us that though the village had received rupees six crore from the government, they could not construct a school which was badly needed and would have cost them only rupees twenty lakhs. This was because this money was tied up under various scheme of the government, for instance, the pension fund or construction of houses under the Indra Vikas Yojana or for some other scheme.
The teachers who are employed even today they do not teach properly. Some come only at the end of the month to collect their salaries and some who come, sit under trees and pass time gossiping with each other instead of teaching and the children then play.
Every aspect of life and living is controlled by a government department.
Contracts are awarded for, example, towards repair and maintenance of electrical work in all schools directly at the state level. The contractor carries out sub standard, shoddy work and sometimes not what was required. But the payment for this work is forced upon the sarpanch who is helpless.
Under RTI (Right to information) act it was found that in many a schools, up to class ten, of Jharkhand state have not a single teacher. In Vamani higher secondary school, Kanuga, Saraikela, Kharsawa has 310 children but not a single teacher. In a school of Siroom there are 435 children in ten classes but there is only one teacher, that too for Bangla language. Currently it is the duty of the state government to provide teachers in school. Many a times people in the above mentioned places wrote to the state governments but no answer ever came.
This is not news. I was Secretary of Assam Government's education department in 1993-94, before Arvind joined the civil service. The problems with the education system are well known to EVERYONE.
But now look at Arvind's solution:
What do you think who loves a child more, his mother or the secretary of education? It is evident that it is the mother. So how do you assume that the villagers would decide that they do not want education for their children, health services for sick and the aged? They would naturally want schools for education and hospitals for the sick and want all means of development of their village.
The gram sabha should have the power to stop the salary of a teacher who is not coming to the school or not teaching properly.
If power is given to people then they would look at the problem of shortage of teachers in gram sabhas meeting and employ more teachers that are needed. They would not be required to write to state government to create more posts, fill more vacancies and employ staff. They will decide this issue in the gram Sabha meetings and employ themselves as many teachers as may be needed.
If gram sabhas are empowered then the teachers would be accountable to them and the teachers would be subjected to questioning. If need arises then the gram Sabha could punish them, too. The gram sabhas will have the power to make teachers tow their line.
If government decides to send free fund then people can, in a gram Sabha, decide what essential things are to be provided to the children in school. They will be able to take direct decisions. They would not be obliged to seek some officer’s consent or from a politician or will not be obliged to seek permission from the state government.
A law should be enacted that transfers all works related to the village along with government agencies that provide services and wealth that falls under village jurisdiction. The fund required for maintaining the wealth, to carry out works and expenses of the agencies along with government employees should be transferred to the gram panchayat.
In 2002 an amendment was brought about in the law that governed panchayati raj. A provision was made that if a government employee did not perform his duty properly then by calling gram Sabha they could vote to stop his salary. This had some positive effects. Some examples are given below.
We went to many schools of villages in Amrawati Block of Chindwara District. Earlier the teachers did not come to school. They used to come on the last day of the month to collect their salaries. When this law came into effect, the villagers called the gram Sabha where they took a joint decision that the salaries of teachers should be stopped. For two months salaries were stopped but from third month the teachers started to come regularly. It was such a simple solution. If power is given to the people directly, they will take care of their own development.
What's the problem with this solution?
Arvind Kejriwal knows that engineering takes time to learn. It is a discipline. Similarly, public policy takes time to learn. It is a discipline.
Arvind Kejriwal's book, unfortunately, does NOT display necessary policy knowledge – of (a) the principal agent problem, (b) implications of public choice theory, and (c) the availability and use of local knowledge in society through the price system.
As a result of this, his solutions do not tap the market. They do not tap self-interest. They continue with existing socialist policies.
Arvind's work does not demonstrate a clear theory of state, either, which might help Arvind (and Anna) clarify whether a government needs to directly manage education or not.
So what's the solution?
Well, the solution is multi-facted, but involves the government getting out of the supply of education. Yes, the government must ensure that each child receives the highest quality education, but that means incentivising the MARKET to do it.
How this can be done has been detailed in BFN.
About an hour ago I spoke at some length with Justice D.S.Tewatia of Team Anna who advises Arvind. He is currently reading a copy of BFN that Ram Atri provided him, and believes the book is very persuasive. I've asked him to explain it to Arvind once he finishes reading it. I don't know whether (or when) that will happen, but it is something that Team Anna needs to get its head around, rather quickly.
I'm happy to explain these basic issues at great length over the phone to any member of Team Anna.
The key point, Mr Hazare, is that good intentions DO NOT mean much in the field of public policy. It is a deep understanding of how we can maximise the benefits from properly channeling human self-interest, that will make all the difference on the ground to MILLIONS of oppressed, unfree people.
It is time for young bright people like Arvind Kejriwal to do some serious reading on public policy and discuss with those who understand how GOOD GOVERNANCE works.
I've offered to help, but Arvind needs to open his mind to the fact that he may need to change MOST of his solution.
There are excellent people available in India to assist, including key members of the Freedom Team of India, but also Gurcharan Das, Parth Shah and Barun Mitra.
Somnath Bharti, key FTI member, has been representing Team Anna in its court cases. Ask him!
I'm thinking of making comments directly in a Word version of Swaraj. Here's some initial work.