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  • There are three types of people in the world, those who don't know what's happening, those who wonder what's happening and those on the streets that make things happen.

Posts Tagged ‘economy’

Joke of the Day: Of Nobel Peace Prize

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on October 14, 2012

In 2009 I thought that the Nobel Committee was on the verge of insanity when it awarded Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize. I was not a member of the blogging world then, hence I have no recorded remnants of my reasoning at that time. Now I am, and with no hesitation do I say that the Nobel Committee has completely and absolutely lost it!

Which brings me to the joke of the day.

“This year’s Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the EU.”

Justification:

European Commission President Manuel Barroso said on Friday it is a “tremendous honour” for the European Union to be awarded with the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize. It is the “strongest possible recognition of the deep political motives behind our union: the unique effort by ever more European States to overcome war and divisions and to jointly shape a continent of peace and prosperity,” he said in a statement in Brussels.

My Response:

Are they nuts! Did they really think that nuclear powered countries like France and Germany would go to battle again! Please kill me, if they truly believe that the EU was formed only to avoid military conflicts and give peace a chance. So the selfish economic motives of Germany and France had nothing to do with forming a bloc that would allow free trade, expand the market for German and French manufactured goods, create an illusory sense of prosperity for the smaller countries, pump money into Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy so that they could buy German and French goods and services and in turn, pile on a heavy debt!

What did the EU countries do when right in their neighborhood, the Balkans were burning? Ask the common Greeks how much love they have for their EU counterparts. Remove all the weapons from the EU and open the borders allowing a free for all, hand to hand brawl. Then lets see how much peace remains between the EU citizens.

The Euro zone too was a result of France feeling jittery over the German Mark’s rising influence. The only way to counter it was to push for a common currency. Its funny how the German constitution did not require a referendum to shun the Deutsche Mark and adopt the Euro. Soon enough, we had a zone that had a common monetary policy, but no common economic and fiscal policy. This was a disaster and yet no one did anything about it. Why? Because it was in France and Germany’s interest to keep it like this. It allowed them to exploit the smaller countries in the EU to fill their own coffers. Had they formulated a strict fiscal policy, countries like Greece, Italy and Spain would not have been able to borrow as heavily as they did. This would have reduced their ability to buy German and French products and in turn reduce the latter’s revenues. While Greece is being blamed for its fiscal indiscipline, the truth is that Germany and France wanted it to be like that.

People of Europe have always been for peace with each other. All wars and conflicts have been results of political and economic greed and opportunism. Similarly, peace too is slave to political and economic opportunism. The minute peace ceases to be politically or economically beneficial, EU leaders will show no hesitation in resorting to violence. If the Nobel Peace Prize is deserved by the citizens of the EU, then every citizen of the world has an equal claim to it.

As always, comments welcomed.

Posted in News, Political Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments »

Dear Americans, Please take your jobs back!

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 8, 2012

Free Market is a wonderful thing. If its “free” it has to be! But when the boundaries of the market disappear, the concept of freedom becomes a curse for many. A specter is haunting the world, the specter of globalization.

Profit maximization drives ambition which is a core ingredient of enterprise. But enterprise can only prosper when it is facilitated by  a free market. The gains resulting from a capitalist economy, however, display a cyclic progression. When labor is in shortage in a particular industry, the salaries increase. Soon, attracted by higher salaries, more people  equip themselves with necessary abilities to be part of that sector. Eventually, the supply-demand ratio rationalize the salary growth. In most case, salaries begin to see a reverse movement.

On the consumer end, since there is a limit to what consumers would pay for a product or service, the revenues a capitalist earns are bound to stabilize with time. The only way left to maximize profits is improving the bottom line and that inevitably leads to lower salaries.

Good Salaries….Bad Salaries….Good Salaries….Bad Salaries….and the cycle goes on. And this cycle does not hurt people, because in the utopian world of capitalism, the phase of bad salaries will be accompanied with lower prices. So everything looks normal.

So what ruins this system? Why are people complaining?

Answer: Globalization!

Pure capitalism within a pre-defined limited border works, because even though salaries decrease, people still have their jobs! Working people are happier people!

Globalization gives the capitalist the opportunity to move his capital beyond the shores of his land, to places he can find cheap labor to replace the one in his own country. With jobs lost, there is less money in people’s hand and hence you would expect prices to fall too. But no, that would not go down too well with the capitalists who want to steal a high price from you for things they now make in third world countries for a pittance. So what do they do? Get the government to put more money in your hands. Get the banks to lend you more, so you can spend more. All the while trapping you in a web of debt that you cannot come out of.

So why do I want an end to globalization when my third world country is “benefiting” from it?

1) Because I want to see Americans happy. Because when you are not happy, your government goes around invading other countries and messing them up. Please take your jobs back, be happy and let the world be at peace.

2) India removed its trade barriers in 1990 and espoused globalization. Here is what a typical rural family looked and lived like before and how it lives like now:

Before 1990: Two parents raised 2 sons and 2 daughters. When the children grew up, one brother would head to the cities to find work or join the military. The other brother would stay back in the village to take care of their parents and also continue  farming their land. The two sisters would be married to men from neighboring villages. Every festival, and there are many in India, the family would get together and celebrate the occasions. The brother who worked in the city would send his love at most festivals and would make it to the village at least twice a year to celebrate the main festivals with the extended family. He would also share his savings with the parents for them to sustain a good life in the village.

After 1990: Two parents raise 2 sons and 2 daughters. When the children grow up, both brothers head to the cities to find work, leaving their old parents behind.  The price of their arable village land is so high that the four children decide to sell it and share the spoils. It is a miracle if the division of the wealth takes place amicably. Odds are that one of the four is going to feel bitter and betrayed and gradually cut all ties with the family. The remaining three, who have never had so much money in their hands naturally do not know how to manage it. Soon, all the money is lost in unintelligent investments and the resultant tensions split the family forever.

The sudden injection of wealth into a culture that always espoused minimal living led to a collapse of our moral fabric. This collapse works well for Capitalists because it is the only way that Indian labor can be exploited for hours on end. Make the people fall in love with money and thus enslave them.

3) Spirit of Innovation has been done away with in India. The IT boom in India brought in work that involved bug fixing, maintenance and support. None of this required anything more than a 6-month crash course in computing language. The IT revolution and the US dollars it brought resulted in millions of young Indians blindly seeking admissions into Engineering colleges. Not once did they think whether they enjoyed doing what they did. They didn’t have to. The money was too good to be true.

It was easy. Learn a few coding languages, a few scripting languages, master a couple of the databases and you are ready to tackle any mundane back-end stuff that the U.S companies expect you to do. This approach didn’t encourage the students to delve into the vast possibilities of the computing world they were studying. The innovative mind had been killed by the glow of money!

4) Millions of Indians are suffering from lifestyle disabilities from working as your “Customer Service” or “IT Helpdesk”. The Call Center business employs over a million young Indians, 75% of who work the graveyard shift so that they can attend to your calls when you wake up. Needless to say, working night shifts has had a major physiological impact on their lives and some of the damage in irreparable.

5) Call Centers have created a generation of college drop-outs. When the call center business took off in India, the demand for call operators was so high that the only eligibility to work in these companies was completion of 12th grade. Young students saw the opportunity to earn good money without having to go to college and were quick to join the bandwagon. This created an entire lot of young Indians who either dropped out of college or decided not to go to one.

6) I am fine with Asians having an English name when they travel abroad. Asian names can get very difficult to pronounce and it is understandable that they have pseudo names. But isn’t it blatant cheating that call center operators in India have to use pseudo names when talking to an American caller? And I just find it demeaning that we Indians have to use a pseudo name in an attempt to veil our identity.Its plain stupid and hurts national pride!

7) Since we have become your back end employees, everything in India is about cost cutting. Every plant that you visit, every company that you study, the emphasis is only and only on cost cutting. Every new idea is suppressed because we are not allowed by our Global masters to spend anything. We are a raw material and we should only focus on making ourselves cheaper and cheaper. Leave the innovation to the developed world.

So please, take your jobs back. Someday, people will wake up and realize that it is not we who need you, but it is the greed of your capitalists that needs us. And don’t worry about our economy collapsing if you leave. My guess is, we’ll do just fine.

 

 

 

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

What She Said. What I Thought.

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 5, 2012

“Over the past few years as first lady, I have had the extraordinary privilege of traveling all across this country. And everywhere I have gone and the people I’ve met and the stories I’ve heard, I have seen the very best of the American spirit.”

Oh no! Another fairytale recital. Please, please don’t lead me to where I think you are going!

“I’ve seen it in teachers in a near bankrupt school district to vowed to keep teaching without pay.  I — I have seen it in people become heroes at a moment’s notice, diving into harm’s way to save others, flying across the country to put out a fire, diving for hours to bail out a town. And, I’ve seen it in our men and women in uniform and our proud military families. In — in wounded warriors who tell me they are not just going to walk again, they are going to run and they are going to run marathons. In the young men blinded by a bomb in Afghanistan who said simply, “I’d give my eyes and 100 times again to have the chance to do what I have done, and what I can still do.”

Really! So now the government is praising people for fighting difficult situations. Aren’t they in that situation because of the government? You can’t finance the school district, so you appease the teachers by praising their will power. You hail the spirit of the young soldiers, and so easily forget the fact that you had promised to get them out of there before they were blinded. Empathizing with people is a good way to escape one’s own guilt in contributing to their sorry state. But its a temporary escape.

“Every day they remind me how blessed we are to live in the greatest nation on earth.”

There are more than a few billion people in this world that will contest that claim. Stop trying to hypnotize people into believing they live in paradise.

” I loved Barack just the way he was.  You see, even back then, when Barack was a Senator and presidential candidate, to me, he was still the guy who picked me up for our dates in a car that was so rusted out, I could actually see the pavement going by in a hole in the passenger side door. He was the guy whose proudest possession was a coffee table he’d found in a dumpster.”

Another attempt at celebrating struggles and minimal living. I support minimal living but only when it is out of choice. I do not like this strategy of trying to make people feel wonderful about their struggles by recounting your own. The truth is that while you have left your struggles way behind, the common man has been living far too long with them. Do not try to allay their frustrations and anger by pretending to be one of them. You are not!

“And for years, men no more qualified than she was, men she actually trained, were promoted up the ladder ahead of her, earning more and more money while Barack’s family continue to scrap by. But day after day, she kept on waking up at dawn to catch the bus, arriving at work before anyone else, giving her best without complaint or regret.  And she would often tell Barack, “So long as you kids do well Bar, that is all that really matters.”

Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock….I have still not heard anything that makes Barack electable. By this very example, every Tom Dick and Harry in my neighborhood is electable.Please First Lady, tell me something that is relevant. How will he create jobs, reduce debt, bring soldiers back etc. etc. Please!

“We learned about dignity and decency.  That how hard you work matters more than how much you make.  That helping others means more than just getting ahead yourself.”

That does it. I’m feeling sick now. Another attempt to belittle wealth. Do not celebrate poverty. Beware!This statement reeks of extreme socialism. Did they write this speech in a Seance session with Marx’s ghost?

“That’s how he brought our economy and the brink of collapse to creating jobs again.  Jobs you can raise a family on, good jobs. Right here in the United States of America.”

Of course, in socialist lingo “good jobs” do not mean “decently paying” jobs. And since she has already set the scene for minimal living, a pittance of a salary seems mighty good now, doesn’t it?

“Because for Barack, success isn’t about how much money you make.  It is about the difference you make in people’s lives.”

Again! I thought only spiritual gurus talked like this. So obviously, Americans have to get used to lower and continuously decreasing  salaries.

“the story of unwavering hope grounded in unyielding struggle.  That is what has made my story and Barack’s story and — and so many American stories possible. And let me tell you something, I say all of this tonight, not just as a first lady, no, not just as a wife.  You see, at the end of the day, my most important title is still mom-in-chief.”

Another blatant attempt to play with Herd Mentality. Hope!Hope! Hope! But how long can one keep the public hypnotized under the pretext of Hope!

Conclusion: Everybody get ready to come face to face with cyclic nature of global business. Economic balance has shifted to the East. Jobs have gone and it will take some time for them to come back. What most politicians can do is only condition your minds into accepting struggles, lower salaries and minimal living. Once U.S labor is cheaper than Chinese and Indian labor,companies will bring manufacturing and service jobs back to U.S. The next time someone from India calls IT Helpdesk, it will be Richard answering the phone and saying, “Hello my name is Raj. How can I help you today?”

Disclaimer: I am a student of philosophy and politics. My analysis is only an attempt to share my thoughts and soliciting both conforming and opposing views from readers.

 

 

Posted in Political Marketing, Political Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments »

Why I Don’t Keep My Money With My Government

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on September 4, 2012

Image courtesy: Conor Ogle

A few years back, I started investing in a Government Savings Plan. The deal was that for 15 years, I would have to put a minimum amount into the fund annually, and after the completion of the maturity period I would get the principal amount back along with the accumulated interest. The real incentive was that my investment every year would be tax exempt.

Yesterday, I withdrew the money I had invested so far. I was penalized a small amount, but it didn’t change my decision. I had decided that I was not going to keep my money locked in with my government for a long period. The Government is not only injudicious in its spending, it is also taking me for a ride with its unfair tax policies. Let me elaborate,

1) Our President until 2 months back spent more than US$ 50 Million of taxpayer’s money and sovereign debt on foreign travels. Why is that a problem? Because in India, the president is only a nominal head with no powers at all in decision making. It is a post which is a legacy of the British Raj and contributes mere pittance to the running of our affairs.

2) In 2009, our government allocated Coal mines to randomly selected business entities at prices only fraction of the market price. The Auditing Agency in a recent study reported that by not auctioning the national resources, the government has cost the exchequer of our country close to US$ 33 Billion. The Coal blocks were allotted as per the whims and fancies of those in power.

3) Similarly, in another recent finding of the Auditing Agency, it has been alleged that another national resource, the 2G Mobile telecom spectrum was allotted to the private telecom operators on a first come first served basis instead of an auction. The loss to the country from this unpardonable act was close to US $ 32 Billion.

4) Recently, a group of District level politicians traveled to China on a state sponsored trip. The objective of the trip was to study the best Dairy practices and replicate the same back home. The group returned saying that they learned nothing that was better than what we were already practicing in India. Duh! Who said that China has the best Dairy practices in the world! That trip should have been to New Zealand, Denmark, US or the EU.

5) In India, only close to 3% of the population pays income tax. No, its not a typo. 3% it is and I am one of them. This figure is unpardonable after 65 years of self rule. This figure is low NOT because our laws are slack. It is low because our government mechanism is not efficient and honest enough to get more people to pay income taxes. Since India taxes both income and consumption, it is only these 3% people that get taxed from all directions. In no court of law can that be called fair treatment.

6) I fall in the income tax slab that ends up paying close to 30% as tax. I was taught in school that we must pay taxes for the development of the country, our infrastructure, education, health services, military etc. etc. But I don’t see any of that happening.

a) Most of the National Road Highways are developed as Public Private Partnership (PPP). So I end up paying a heavy toll fee whenever I use a highway. This means I am paying for that infrastructure out of the income I have left after paying income tax!

b) India did not win a single Gold Medal in the recently concluded London Olympics. A country of 1.2 Billion and not a single Gold. Clearly the government in not using my tax money to facilitate sports either.

c) Government hospitals are either non-existent or lie in ruins with the most unhygienic services. Not to mention the grave shortage of competent doctors in them. Not surprisingly, most of us have to visit private hospitals for treatments and spend more money from the money I had left after paying my taxes! So evidently, my tax money is not being utilized in providing me good healthcare either.

7) Apparently a lot of my tax money is going to pay salaries of government employees who’s efficiency and work ethics are a crying shame. The rest of my tax money is spent in giving subsidized food and other incentives to poor people to win their votes and come back to power. And all the while, sovereign debt keeps increasing while my currency keeps declining.

And this is why I do not want a big government. I do not question its intent. Socialism is a benevolent concept, but impractical. It works in small communities but not at a Federal level. Big governments cannot put a mechanism in place which will deliver services effectively. With time they will only accumulate so much debt that you can kiss your country goodbye. Do you think the Greeks own Greece, or that the Italians are the true masters of their country? NO! Leftist policies and attitudes have pawned these countries to others….and there is no getting them back!

Sadly, above stated facts have raised doubts in my mind about long term fiscal health of my country. I do not want to keep my money locked in with a government that doesn’t know how to manage its finances.

I have better odds at a roulette table.

Posted in Political Philosophy | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

 
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