Taxes or Debt?

Economists define ‘the wealth of a society’ as its total stock of useful assets – homes, cars, buildings, roads, factories, cattle, money, gold … et cetera. Let us call this definition D1.

A definition serves merely as a starting point for a logical exploration of related ideas. However – and necessarily – the direction which the exploration takes depends on the definition. In any discussion of ideas, a  conscious effort is needed to understand how it is influenced by the definitions of its basic terms.

Continue reading Taxes or Debt?

Response to the Bank Chairman

The Chairman of a large global bank recently gave a TV interview about the state of the world economy [1]. Not surprisingly, the Chairman gave what was intended to be a sound and learned justification for a world order characterized by barrier-less trade.

However, the justification came out as being utterly sophomoric in its quality. That is to say, it was not too different from how a privileged undergraduate might argue in a college debate. Only the mannerisms were different – the uncle spoke, not the nephew or the niece. Continue reading Response to the Bank Chairman

From Barter to Debt: A Brief History

[In which the brilliant deductive techniques of Sherlock Holmes are applied to the origins of debt, currency and the debt-linked economy.]

  1. BACKGROUND

Imagine the simple human economic life of about five thousand years ago, based on the production and exchange of the necessities of life. If one family has a surplus goat, say, and another family has surplus wheat, then both would benefit by making an exchange — so much wheat for a goat. Economically, the exchange would make excellent sense, because it would leave everyone better off. Continue reading From Barter to Debt: A Brief History

A FALSE DUALITY

Our species today has a total headcount of some 7.6 billion, spread all over the unique and beautiful planet Earth. The species originated a few hundred thousand years ago in a region of the great continent of Africa. In this evolutionary ‘blink of an eye’, heroic individuals and groups of our species have migrated to the remotest parts of the planet − overcoming in the process innumerable and enormous challenges and adversities. Continue reading A FALSE DUALITY

Gutless Wonders

The English word ‘gut’ is rich in its range of meanings. In Biology, ‘gut’ means ‘intestine’ – as in ‘gut bacteria’ or ‘gutting a fish’; this meaning extends to the racquet strings used in sports such as tennis and badminton. In common usage, ‘guts’ refers to ‘courage’, as in ‘having the guts to take on the huge challenge of _______’ (fill in your favourite). Continue reading Gutless Wonders

Homo Implacatus

People often wrongly interpret the process of natural selection – which drives the evolution of living species – by the phrase ‘survival of the fittest’. However, the latter phrase can be highly misleading – for two reasons. One reason is that ‘survival’ may be wrongly understood as ‘survival of an individual’, whereas the correct understanding should be ‘survival and continuation of a species’. The second reason is that a criterion of ‘fitness’ is left unspecified in the second phrase. If these two potential errors are avoided, ‘survival of the fittest’ can be brought into agreement with ‘natural selection’. Continue reading Homo Implacatus

FLY ON THE WALL

‘Wish I could be a fly on the wall when X and Y meet one-on-one’. This is an ardent – and not very uncommon – wish among those who must know ‘what is really going on in the world’. X and Y are of course two global power-mongers – of the greater or the lesser kind – who imagine that they hold the future of mankind in their hands.

In the absence of the wish coming true, ardent knowledge-seekers are left with no ‘raw material’ except ill-informed and uninformed speculation, to be garnished liberally with flights of fancy and hints of the mysterious. This is how common folk are led to think ‘they know what is going on’ – by those who think ‘they know more of what is going on’. Continue reading FLY ON THE WALL

Life at the Top

Full disclosure: While the author has at times felt being “on top of the world”, he cannot claim any personal experience of “life at the top”. However, being a keen witness and a dogged student, the common idea of “top” fascinates him. After all, a crazed race to “the top” inevitably leads to injustice, crime and war. But anyone obsessed with “reaching the top” can provide only a self-serving report of his or her life. Therefore an objective if light-hearted study is attempted here. Continue reading Life at the Top

It’s the Rapacity, Stupid!

Case 1: Imagine, in a picturesque suburban neighborhood, two pet dogs of immediate neighbors quarreling over a bone – growling, barking, snarling, lunging; that is, a typical instance of canine conflict over a prized object.

Imagine that the two owners come out and notice the conflict. How might they resolve the conflict? Surely this would be a simple matter, with several decent solutions. For example, the “bone of contention” may be tossed into a covered garbage bin. Or one of the neighbors may come up with a second bone so that each dog has one. Or each neighbor may simply drag his or her dog – growling and snarling – away from the conflict.

This would be civilized behavior. The neighbors would smile at each other, exchange a civility or two, and go happily back home. We can conclude rightly that a “higher intelligence” at work resolved the conflict. Continue reading It’s the Rapacity, Stupid!

Identity & Peace

The human child needs protective nurture which stretches from birth to at least teenage. The earliest part of this nurture – that is, the first few years after birth – provides to the child the innermost core of ‘identity’, including core values. A child’s eager young mind takes in whatever is offered by parents, teachers and other trusted adults. This is the ‘ABC’ of healthy childhood nurture. Continue reading Identity & Peace

Personal insights into modern life