The Butterfly Effect.

Please click on the following image to get a larger resolution.

Saudi Arabia allows women to drive! Made sensational headlines in many parts of the world.

The decision was called a major milestone for the country!

Women rejoiced as did many liberal men. I did too despite not being either.

Unfortunately however, neither I nor most people who welcomed this news think far enough about the matter.

In India, in one of our states, the news has sent alarm bells ringing.

Is this the butterfly effect or the doctrine of double effect?

Opportunity Cost Of Being Humans.

Young Pravin who studied Opportunity Cost just a few years ago has once again bowled a googly or for my American readers, pitched a curve ball!

I suspect that he has done that because he has read something from a spiritual book which he quite regularly reads, to throw us old bandicoots like Shackman and me off balance. It will be interesting to see what he comes up with eventually.

As far as I can see, since the alternative to being humans is being apes or angels, and the likelihood of the latter option being available, remote, the opportunity cost of being humans now is that we have lost all ability to be natural, like apes or even our own ancestors. And since we have lost that ability, we have become unnatural in our whole approach to life. We have become increasingly dependent on so called logical thinking and have been giving up or ignoring our intuition resulting in all kinds of problems that other living beings do not seem to have.

Let me illustrate with a simple example. If I give something to my dog she will sniff at it and instinctively know whether it is edible or not whereas if I give something to a human being he will now google to find out whether it is alright to eat or not. Many things that my grand mother knew as handed down knowledge is now lost because we have got educated in a system that condemns such knowledge and glorifies so called logical and scientific information gathering. Even as late is the middle of the last century, we were very different as human beings than the specimens that we have now become.

Nothing explains is better than this following meme that has been doing the social network rounds for quite some time now.

First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us.

They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn’t get tested for diabetes.

Then after that trauma, our baby cribs were covered with bright coloured lead-based paints.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention, the risks we took hitchhiking.

As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags.

Riding in the back of a pick up on a warm day was always a special treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle.

We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this.

We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank soda pop with sugar in it, but we weren’t overweight because WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING!

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.

No one was able to reach us all day. And we were O.K.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

We did not have Playstations, Nintendo’s, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 99 channels on cable, no video tape movies, no surround sound, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet or Internet chat rooms……….WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.

We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.

We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls and although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes.

We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them!

Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn’t had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!!

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!

This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever!

The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.

We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned HOW TO DEAL WITH IT ALL!

You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated our lives for our own good.

And while you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know how brave their parents were.

Kind of makes you want to run through the house with scissors, doesn’t it?!

And just to reinforce my argument that we have gone bonkers, I take my readers to this very interesting and illuminating article on the idiosyncrasies of the modern humanbeing.

Pravin has suggested this week’s topic. You can see what the other writers of the LBC have to say in their respective blogs.  Maria, Pravin, Ashok and Shackman.

Reverse Colonisation.

Looney in his comments on my post Salisbury Park, asked: “Has the policy changed? (I see a lot of resources flowing from India into my neighborhood!)”

Reverse colonisation has indeed taken place but not the way Looney has suggested.

Let me assure him that Indian resources have not gone off to the USA. The Resources that can survive tough competition and prosper to the same standard of living as that the USA has to offer, have stayed in India.

We are a nation of 1.4 billion people. If about 3 million of them decide to go to the USA, and every year more are going, that is not a drain of resources but an export of talent that brings in regular revenue in the form of remittances. In other words, American resources are being sent to India. I for one can understand the xenophobia there.

The point is however not that the reversal has taken place with focus on the USA. The impact on the UK, the original coloniser. can be seen here. Yes, the East India Company which started the process of colonising India has now changed hands and is now owned by an Indian.

That is not all. Indians own and operate many businesses in the UK now. Just take a look at this BBC report.

And take a deep breath in to see what Capitalism does now.

Between 2000 and 2015, the UK invested $22.2bn (£14.5bn) in India, accounting for around 9% of foreign direct investment in the country, according to a report by UK business group the CBI.
This makes the UK the largest foreign investor in India after Singapore and Mauritius.
The CBI study added that in total UK companies are estimated to employ 691,000 people in India. That is 5.5% of the organised private sector workforce.
Mr Heald says: “We estimate that there’s been a 300% increase in the number of British companies setting up there in the past 10 years… there’s been a huge acceleration.
“And the type of company is changing too – it’s more e-commerce, services, IT and education.”

Looney has to think about the USA’s colonial past too. If he does, he will enjoy the process of reverse colonisation as depicted by the following photoshopped photographs.

 

Marginal Utility.

It has been a couple or more decades since I had to deal with this old chestnut. It is difficult to remember constantly that Pravin is very much younger and is quite capable of challenging my memory with such ideas like coming up with this topic for this week’s LBC post.

Just to make it simple for my readers not exposed to such ideas in Economics, let me illustrate to understand the concept.  Please click on the image for a larger resolution.

Fairly simple. There is only one case where it does not work and that is in the case of addiction to alcohol, drugs etc. Which is a subject deserving a totally new blog post altogether.

While I eagerly look forward to what Pravin and the other LBC bloggers come up with, I just want to express a puzzle and leave my readers to come up with the answers.

If the concept of Marginal Utility is true, why do some societies have polygamy or polyandry? Does the theory not work there? I don’t know. I was a monogamist and now more or less a sanyasi. I am not personally acquainted with any polygamist or polyandrist and so cannot ask one.

And just as I was about to end this post, I came across this remarkable piece of news which stumps me even more on the aspect of marginal utility only for this polyamorous union.  Now, I have seen and heard enough.

You can see what the other writers of the LBC have to say in their respective blogs.  Maria, Pravin, Ashok and Shackman.

Consumerism.

1. Organised-efforts by individuals, groups, and governments to help protect consumers from policies and practices that infringe consumer rights to fair business practices.

Consumer protection in India is very strong for those who are willing to take the pains to fight for their rights. I know a number of cases where the consumers have won big settlements from large corporations here and I am sure that it must be the same overseas as well.


2. Doctrine that ever-increasing consumption of goods and services forms the basis of a sound economy.

and 3. Continual expansion of one’s wants and needs for goods and services.

This is something that has overtaken us human beings from the time of the Industrial Revolution which was speeded up from after the second world war when it was discovered that women could also come into the non agricultural workforce. Rather than expand on what has happened elsewhere in the world, let me concentrate on India where we got out of the Socialistic Pattern of Society in the 1990s of the last century and got royally involved in the rat race.

The one word mantra is Growth.  Everyone and his uncle obsesses about growth.  If the GDP growth gets below a certain percentage point, all hell breaks loose and the pundits start baying for the blood of the politicians. And such growth can only come from demand for goods and services constantly increasing to facilitate production of goods and services. So, businesses have come up with the brilliant strategy of advertising overt and covert to keep the demand pot simmering and producing goods and services highly subject to obsolescence so that replacement demand also takes place besides demand for new goods and services.

To facilitate that process, financial institutions get on the bandwagon and offer products, read loans, to make borrowing attractive so that people are perpetually in debt often just meeting interest payments without the original borrowed sum ever reducing at all. Another phenomenon that one can watch is that of the debt servicing going up for individuals as their incomes go up too! A self perpetuating cycle that leads to many of the modern ills.

I am glad to report that I do not contribute to the growth of our GDP. I am in the process of simplifying my life to the extent I can by becoming a minimalist. I refuse to be swayed by advertising for goods and services though I am sucker for advertising for movies and books. In the latter case however, I prefer buying a kindle version and buy hard copies only when I cannot get an electronic version. I however doubt that my splurging on these two items will seriously impact our GDP, the current growth of which is 7.3%, among the highest in the world!

I had suggested the topic for this week’s LBC Friday post. You can see what the other writers of the LBC have to say in their respective blogs.  Maria, Pravin and Shackman.

What Would You Do In The Long Term?

Die.

Yes, Pravin, you read me right. I would die in the long term.

I just could not resist the temptation to come up with that opening. Pravin who suggested this week’s LBC topic takes life and himself too seriously. This will shock him but eventually he will agree.

I have drawn my inspiration from the following famous quote.

“But this long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task, if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us, that when the storm is long past, the ocean is flat again.”
~ John Maynard Keynes.

It would only be fair to Pravin however, that I leave some analysis of the quote from Keynes.

You can see what the other writers of the LBC have to say in their respective blogs.  Maria, Pravin and Shackman.