November 28, 2013
I set this article aside in 2009 (!!) meaning to blog it, and I just found it now. It is as timely now as it was then. Maybe a little more now to me, because although I'm very impressed with Papa Frank's new document, Evangelii Gaudium, I think his economic thoughts are defective.
As the world approaches the 20th anniversary of the fall of communism, it is worth investigating the costs borne by countries like India that did not become communist but drew heavily on the Soviet model. For three decades after its independence in 1947, India strove for self-sufficiency instead of the gains of international trade, and gave the state an ever-increasing role in controlling the means of production. These policies yielded economic growth of 3.5 percent per year, which was half that of export-oriented Asian countries, and yielded slow progress in social indicators, too. Growth per capita in India was even slower, at 1.49 percent per year. It accelerated after reforms started tentatively in 1981, and shot up to 6.78 percent per year after reforms deepened in the current decade.
What would the impact on social indicators have been had India commenced economic reform one decade earlier, and enjoyed correspondingly faster economic growth and improvements in human development indicators? This paper seeks to estimate the number of "missing children," "missing literates," and "missing non-poor" resulting from delayed reform, slower economic growth, and hence, slower improvement of social indicators. It finds that with earlier reform, 14.5 million more children would have survived, 261 million more Indians would have become literate, and 109 million more people would have risen above the poverty line. The delay in economic reform represents an enormous social tragedy. It drives home the point that India's socialist era, which claimed it would deliver growth with social justice, delivered neither....
November 15, 2013
James Madison on, well, a lot of things government does these days...
Steven Hayward posted this perfect quote at Power Line:
...For now, here's how James Madison sized things up in Federalist #62:The internal effects of a mutable policy are still more calamitous. It poisons the blessing of liberty itself. It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood; if they be repealed or revised before they are promulgated, or undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is to-day, can guess what it will be tomorrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?
Another effect of public instability is the unreasonable advantage it gives to the sagacious, the enterprising, and the moneyed few over the industrious and uniformed mass of the people. Every new regulation concerning commerce or revenue, or in any way affecting the value of the different species of property, presents a new harvest to those who watch the change, and can trace its consequences; a harvest, reared not by themselves, but by the toils and cares of the great body of their fellow-citizens. This is a state of things in which it may be said with some truth that laws are made for the few, not for the many.
November 12, 2013
I abominate Apple's new headquarters...
Leftists always try to make people fit their ideas, rather than adjust their ideas to human nature. A lefty dreamer like Jobs has a vision of austere purity and clarity, and imposes it on others with no regard to what they actually want or need. He was, in essence, like a Lenin or Mao, but without the power to send people to the Gulag.
I have a suspicion that the best working spaces for creative people would be funky and simple, with walls you can pound nails into or staple posters onto. With simple sturdy furniture that people can select and move around themselves. With small quiet offices that introvert-types can retreat into. Plus more open group spaces where people can mingle around the coffee pot, or spread paperwork out on big work-tables. Plus nearby cafes and snack-shops that one could walk to for a bit of exercise and fresh air.
And the flavor of "work" in the Information Age is increasingly like creative teamwork. Teams are put together to think and solve problems, without the tyranny of org charts and formal management structures. In my imaginary buildings for today's work-world, people who are trying to accomplish something could commandeer some rooms, could roll their preferred desks and chairs and tables in themselves, and just set themselves up.