Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Tyler Cowan on Modi

This is what Tyler Cowan thinks we should think of Modi nowadays. Notice, Cowan isn't saying we should view the world according to our rational self-interest nor that we should check the truth value of claims made about Modi. Rather, he thinks we should have an opinion on Modi based of how he is perceived by people with no skin in the game who write for non-Indians.
Ian Bremmer offers one account of all the wrongdoing, which I will not summarize here.  In any case, many of you have asked me what I think of these recent events.
Bremmer's narrative is basically 'I was for Modi when he was good for the economy. Then the economy slowed down and he turned ultra- Hindu Nationalist to bolster his poll numbers'. This is very silly. If fucking up Muslims is what gets you elected, that's all you'll do. Why bother with economic growth? Give the people what the want- kill Muslims and you'll have a lock on power.

This is what Bremmer says-
Modi opted to turn to Hindu nationalism to bolster his poll numbers, a decision that helped him perform better than expected in national elections in spring 2019.
This is horseshit. Modi decided to retaliate against Pakistan, with an air strike, after a terrorist incident in the Kashmir Valley. That wasn't 'Hindu Nationalism', it was Indian Nationalism. Killing the enemy after he kills some of your people is considered a good thing. Modi was rewarded for taking a successful risk.
And after securing reelection, Modi continued leaning his shoulder into Hindu nationalism, while neglecting issues like land reform or reducing trade barriers.
After securing reelection, Modi was forced to try to implement the BJPs long standing promises re. citizenship for refugees and the enforcement of the Assam accord which was first promised by the Congress party back in the Eighties. That's the problem with having a majority in both Houses of Parliament. You have to fulfill your manifesto or admit your party has been lying to the public all along. By contrast, Modi has no mandate for 'land reform' (presumably Bremmer means Corporations should be allowed to grab land from all and sundry) or 'reducing trade barriers' (i.e. bankrupting the kirana shops so as to please Costco or Walmart). He must not do things his party promised not to do- viz. sell the country out to greedy Multi Nationals. By contrast, he must try to do the things his party promised to do even if this proves difficult and becomes the focus of black propaganda and stupid agitations.
As that nationalism has taken a more prominent role in government policy, it has begun directly threatening the country’s constitutionally mandated secular democracy. (Secularism in India means the equal treatment of all religions by the state.)
Rubbish! The Opposition may claim this is happening- but it is always claiming this is happening. Why take their word for it?
In August, Modi’s decision to end the special status of Jammu and Kashmir—the country’s lone majority Muslim state—and arrest regional leaders while shutting off the Internet (which recently became the longest internet shutdownin a democracy) grabbed international headlines.
The Kashmir Valley is Muslim majority- it ethnically cleansed Hindus in the Nineties- but Jammu and Ladhakh aren't. Quite properly the latter has been split off and Jammu too may follow suit. The Valley has a terrorist and an insurgency problem which local politicians don't want to see quelled. So the police have their hands tied behind their back. Pakistan is pumping in money to keep stone-pelting and arson on the boil. Thus, to end the bloodshed, the valley needs to be a Union territory where the Police are under the control of the Center. Of course, the same result is achieved just by keeping it under President's rule or putting in a puppet administration- New Delhi's usual tactic in the region.

Modi's action in Kashmir wasn't political- elections are too far away for the thing to be an issue. But it was timely. Pakistan was taken off guard. Its economic woes meant its range of action was limited. So far, Delhi's clampdown seems to be working. Imran Khan may dream of a blood drenched Valley- but casualties have been minimal so far. The question Indians are asking is why was this not done sooner? Why did Delhi waste so much money and time in the Valley? The answer is that corruption was a two way street. It wasn't just the Kashmiri leaders who were lining their pockets.
Then came the decision to implement a National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the state of Assam to identify any residents who arrived in India after Bangladesh’s civil war commenced in 1971.
This is mad. Look at the Wikipedia article. It says 

' In 1983, the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act was passed by the Parliament creating a separate tribunal process for identifying illegal migrants in Assam. 

This was under a Congress Government.
The Supreme Court of India struck it down as unconstitutional in 2005, after which the Government of India agreed to update the Assam NRC.
This too was under a Congress led Government.
Following unsatisfactory progress on the update process over a decade, the Supreme Court started directing and monitoring the process in 2013.
Still under a Congress led Government.
[4] The final updated NRC for Assam, published 31 August 2019, contained 31 million names out of 33 million population, leaving out 1.9 million applicants.[5] The 1.9 million residents who were not on the list, and were in danger of losing their citizenship.[6] Many of those affected were Bengali Hindus, who constitute a major voter base for the BJP. After the completion of the Assam NRC exercise, BJP did not find the results, meeting its expectations. BJP believed that several legitimate citizens were excluded while illegal migrants were included.[7][8] The register was created because "illegal migration from Bangladesh has long been a concern" in Assam. The Amendment of the 1955 Citizenship Act, in part, helps protect non-Muslims who are not in the register and face arrest or deportation.[9]
Unlike Bangladeshi Muslims, non Muslims from that country faced persecution. They are prima facie refugees though they may have to be accommodated in some other state where there is no threat of 'demographic replacement' of indigenous or tribal people. By contrast Bangladeshi Muslims living in India are economic migrants and not entitled to citizenship or domicile.
Nearly 2 million people have lost their citizenship as a result of this new register;
illegal migrants don't have citizenship. You can't lose what you don't have.
of them, 1.2 million were found to be Hindus, which helped prompt the BJP’s efforts to push forward this week’s passage of a law providing a fast-track lane to citizenship to immigrants from neighboring countries—as long as they are not Muslims.
For the excellent reason that only non Muslims are fucked over, purely on religious grounds, in Islamic Republics. It may be that some 'Muslims' e.g Ahmediyas too are persecuted. But they aren't asking to migrate to India. They are asking to be recognized as Muslims and equal citizens of Islamic countries where non-Muslims get short shrift.
For the Muslims who lost citizenship thanks to the NRC, the government is building detention centers to house these newly stateless people. (While the BJP has insisted illegal Muslim immigrants will be deported, Bangladesh is unlikely to accept them.)
Why is it doing so? The answer is that the Indian Government, under Indira Gandhi, promised the Assamese that infiltrators would be repatriated. In exchange, the local people gave up ethnic cleansing of these helpless people. But, Congress dragged its feet on implementing its promise. I don't know whether the BJP will make good on this issue. It too may quietly resile from its stated position when things quieten down. However, the fact is that the demand for this measure comes from the indigenous people of the North East. The rest of India does not greatly care about the issue. We have more in common with a Bengali Muslim than a Christian Naga. Not that the Nagas are in any danger of being swamped by immigrants. They are quite capable of looking after themselves.

Bremmer is not Indian and he does not understand Indian politics. He has got it into his head that there is a 'good' Modi who basically wants the West to rape India, but that there is a 'bad' Modi who wants to fuck over Muslims to get re-elected because the slogan 'Make America Great Again by letting it fuck you in the backside' does not sound to good when translated into Hindi.
Modi seems to figure that once he solidifies his political hold on the country with his emphasis on Hindu nationalism, he will then be able to spur the Indian economy by striking one-on-one free trade deals with countries who don’t find his methods objectionable, the U.S. chief among them.
What a crock of shit! All that matters to Modi is 'solidifying his political hold'. Trade deals are meaningless to him. Perhaps Bremmer is thinking of Bo Jo or Nigel Farage. Its easy to confuse Modi with either of those two Public School educated toffs.
And while a mini-trade deal with a U.S. president desperate for international wins headed into an election year is possible, there’s little chance that a fully-formed free trade agreement (FTA) will be struck between the two sides given India’s well-established history of trade protectionism.
So, Bremmer is telling us that he is talking bollocks. Indians don't want free trade deals. Never have and never will. It is not the case that Modi thinks he needs to fuck up Muslims in order to get an FTA with Trump which will allow American dicks access to Indian assholes. Why not say 'Modi wants the White Man to return to rule over India. That is why he is cracking down on the Muslims- coz Whitey gets all skittish when he see's a burqa. He thinks every elderly Muslim lady is actually a suicide bomber. And if Whitey gets nervous he will lose his hard-on and not be able to fuck poor Indians in the ass. That would be a terrible shame coz True Liberal Democracy- at least, for poor countries populated by Darkies- consists in spreading your cheeks for Wall Street.'
Striking an FTA with Europe was always a long shot; even more so now given these recent developments.
This is lunacy. Everybody knows the Europeans want lower tariffs on cars and car parts. That's not doable for India where the car industry is reeling. 'Recent developments' don't matter at all. This story has been unfolding since 2007. There isn't any great appetite for it in India and the EU, thankfully, is too divided to push harder for it.
And for international investors who had been hoping for a stable investment environment, the waves of unrest caused by this nationalist turn make them even more wary of taking the plunge into India’s market.
International investors have got their fingers burned. So have smart people from India. There has to be a great shake-out before any further 'plunges' into a market where there is little transparency.
While the economy was responsive to Modi’s moves, the Prime Minister was not so drawn to Hindu nationalism.
Modi did not have a majority in the Upper House. However, he was elected, at least partly, because the other parties depicted him as the Hindu Hitler. Modi, a staunch RSS man, has never wavered in his allegiance to Hindu Nationalism. What has changed is his ability to deliver on its core manifesto.
Now that this is no longer the case, he is falling back on identity politics to capture political momentum.
But why do so now when national elections are still far off? It was already obvious that people voted differently in regional elections. Why not sleep peacefully for a couple of years and do all this stuff just before the next general election? The answer is that Modi genuinely wants to improve governance and last mile delivery. Why? When voters get something from the State, they start voting more rationally. They give up on identity politics- i.e. voting your caste and putting some corrupt dynast or criminal in power just coz he has the same last name as you.
The problem is that while this strategy has obvious dividends for him and his BJP party, it is dooming an Indian economy that is already falling behind China’s.
Already falling behind China? That happened decades ago. Is Bremmer related to Rip Van Winkle? Fuck has he been doing all this time?
Investors have long-known China is repressive, but still do business with it given its size, efficiency and predictability (much of that a result of its centralized system of governance). India has the size, but nowhere near the efficiency or predictability. For the last half decade, the hope was India’s move towards openness and inclusivity would provide some of that productivity and reliability.
Openness and accountability means decision processes become lengthier and are subject to multiple types of judicial and administrative review. Whoever was hoping this would not be the case was also hoping they could figure out a way to keep their thumb from repeatedly getting jammed up their own asshole.
With recent anti-Muslim developments over the last few months, that’s a much less realistic bet. India, and Modi in particular, had a window of opportunity to take the bold decisions needed to remake India’s economy competitive for the 21st century. They’re now closing that window, and India is poised to fall even further.
Bremmer had a window of opportunity to say something sensible. It closed and he didn't. Meanwhile India has not been affected at all by what he writes or by the opinions of the shitheads who think he knows about India.

This is equally true of Tyler Cowan who believes Bremmer is an unimpeachable oracle and proceeds to tell us what we ought to think about India coz we're really special little snowflakes and need special education in Economics to take account of our very special needs.
I do not at all favor replacing India’s secular democracy with “Hindu nation” as a ruling principle. 
I do not at all favor replacing Tyler Cowan's mouth with his asshole. Sadly, like Cowan with respect to the Indian Constitution, I have no say in the matter.
For one thing, I believe in strong libertarian protections for minority rights against state power, including for Muslims.
Cowan believes no such thing. Muslims in America, like Mormons, are banned from polygamous marriage both by State and Federal Law. Even female circumcision was banned by law. An Indian, Bohra Muslim, female Doctor was charged under the 1996 FGM act. It appears she will get off after a Judge found the law to be unconstitutional. Does Cowan approve of this 'strong libertarian protection for minority rights against state power, including for Muslims'? Perhaps. The fellow is an economist- i.e. a shithead.
  I also believe these moves will be bad for India’s economy.  Nonetheless I find most of the extant commentary on Modi fairly misleading and/or naive.
As this outsider sees it, India’s secular democracy was never liberal. 
Nor was American or British or any other democracy- secular or otherwise.
It had certain de facto liberal elements, but largely out of low levels of state capacity, necessitating a kind of tolerance but of course also leading to a very sub-par infrastructure. 
There are no 'de facto' liberal elements. There is merely neglect. Tolerance does not mean the same thing as turning a blind eye to stuff you accept you have to put up with.
Furthermore, it has been commonly described by political scientists as a “democracy without accountability.”
But such political scientists are commonly described as cretins. Fuck they'd know about accountability? The fact is India's judiciary is more activist than either the US or the UK- the latter has only had a Supreme Court for the last 10 years. It is only know that a 'doctrine of political question' is making some progress in India. Otherwise, accountability was absolute. Indeed, the Lok Pal agitation was about making it multi-dimensional.
  National voting has so much to do with religion, caste, and other particularistic principles that Indian democracy never enforced superior practical performance as it should have.
Coz Americans disregard color and gender and vote for proclaimed Atheists with great gusto. Why doesn't Cowan simply say 'India is a shithole. They do things differently there coz everything is covered with shit.'
Then enter several forces at more or less the same time, including Modi, ongoing Indian economic growth, higher expectations and thus greater demands for state capacity, a rise in what is called “populism,” and also an increase in the focality of Islam and also terrorism around the world.
But all this existed twenty years ago. No new forces have entered the equation.
In essence that state capacity starts to be built and part of it is turned to wrong ends, in an attempt to appeal to the roughly 80 percent Hindu majority.  Here is the NYT:
State capacity was built long ago by people like Sardar Patel. During the Emergency, people could see with their own eyes that India was not what Myrdal called a 'soft state'. It was a hard state which could crush your nut sack. The Opposition disappeared into jail. The Press 'crawled when it was asked to bend'. Civil Servants showed up punctually at their offices and at least pretended to look busy. The trains ran on time.

State capacity has always existed in India. But it was generally counter-productive. As Gurcharan Das put it, 'India grew by night'.
The Modi administration has also done a better job than previous governments in pushing big anti-poverty initiatives, such as building 100 million toilets to help stop open defecation and the spread of deadly disease.
In other words, the positive and negative sides of the story here may be more closely related than is comfortable to contemplate.
Bullshit! The last mile delivery is true enough. But the allegation that Modi is targeting Muslims is fake news. That's it. That's the whole story.
  The picture reminds me a bit of how parts of Renaissance Europe were often more anti-Semitic or racist than medieval Europe, in part because persecuting states had more resources and it was easier to mobilize intolerant sentiment, partly due to the printing press. 
Parts of something are often different from parts of something else. There is no causal relationship here. People don't kill Jews because they read stuff. Illiterates are just as good at doing it- if they think it a fun way to pass the time or else it is remunerative in some way. Look at Rwanda. The massacre of the Tutsis was low tech. You don't need gas chambers and cattle trucks. Just put the word out and let the majority crack open the skulls of the minority with agricultural implements.
I don’t however idolize medieval times as being so libertarian, rather the earlier ideology contained the seeds of the Renaissance oppressions, which in time turned into foreign imperialism as well.
Why not say 'I don't idolize the stone age for being libertarian though it contained the seeds of Robert Heinlein's libertarian Lunar Republic. '
Similarly, oppression and religious conflict is hardly news in India, for instance you may recall the Partition which in the 1940s killed at least one million people and displaced at least 10 million more.
Why not recall the Bangladesh genocide which gave rise to a massive exodus, mainly Hindu, to India in 1971? It is estimated that 3 million were killed or were unaccounted for. Over 10 million- perhaps even 30 million- were internally displaced. Guess which side the USA was on back then. Yup. They backed the good guys- the Pakistani Army which was heroically trying to rape and kill millions of Bengali people.
None of this is to excuse any of these oppressions, whether in India or elsewhere.  The libertarian rights still ought to apply, and should be written into the Indian constitution and laws more firmly.
Fuck would this cretin know about the Indian constitution and Indian laws?
(It is an interesting and much under-discussed result that the greatest violations of libertarian rights tend to come in periods of high delta in state capacity, not high absolute levels of state capacity per se. 
This is not a 'result'. It is shitting higher than your arsehole. State capacity does not have a 'delta' value. For any given technology, the absolute level of state capacity can be at the boundary of the production possibility frontier. That frontier can shrink or it can expand. This depends on exogenous factors subject to Knightian uncertainty. Contingency markets in this connection would quickly crash because Muth rationality predicts this outcome. Otherwise a 'money pump' exists.
The Nazi government was not that large as a percentage of gdp, but it was growing rapidly in terms of its efficacy along certain dimensions.)
Cowen is being silly. Everyone knows that even if an enterprise was privately owned it was still controlled by the State. Because Germans were stupider than British people, Britain outperformed Germany, in relative terms, when it came to things like aircraft development and production.
The moral and resonant message here is “libertarian rights for minorities truly are important and beware state power!” 
This is nonsense. Minorities can fuck themselves up very badly. State power can prevent this happening- e.g. by forcing daddies not to rape all their little girls or sacrifice all their sons to the great God Ba'al.

Equality before the law is important- but that means obligations grow more rapidly than entitlements. It turns out that once minorities give up some irrational and inhumane practices, they can do well.

This does not have to be the outcome of 'state power'. Being beaten regularly by your neighbors can have the same salutary effect.
And somehow we need to think strategically, at a deep level, how that message can be combined with the inevitable and indeed desirable growth in Indian state capacity.
Why does Cowen need to, for the first time in his life, 'think strategically, at a deep level' about a country he knows nothing about? His thoughts on America are worthless. What good have they achieved?
  The libertarians only make this their issue by eliding the need for growth in state capacity.  So they moralize correctly about the situation, but they don’t see the underlying dilemma so clearly either.
Consider this NYT passage:
“Modi is not a normal politician who measures his success only by votes,” said Kanchan Chandra, a political scientist at New York University. “He sees himself as the architect of a new India, built on a foundation of technological, cultural, economic and military prowess, and backed by an ideology of Hindu nationalism.”
Kanchan Chandra is an ABCD credentialized cretin. She didn't get why Modi chose Adityanath to be CM of UP. The answer was blindingly obvious. U.P voters had shown a preference for youth- Akhilesh, not his Daddy, had been C.M. Adityanath happened to be in-between the ages of Rahul and Akhiliesh. Of course, he'd been in Parliament for a lot longer and had more experience. Still, it was his age that was the clinching factor.

How does Modi see himself? The answer is as the second Vajpayee. If he starts thinking of himself as the architect of a new 'India Shining', he will meet the fate of his predecessor. By contrast, by sticking with last mile delivery of 'mamuli' things like toilets and cooking gas cylinders, he can slowly be part of the change that Indians want to see in their country.
The real question here is — still mostly unanswered — “what else is the new ideology of state capacity supposed to be?” 
Ideology is shite. Values may be good- and Modi has good values- but all that matters is governance. 'For forms of government, let fools contest/ Whatever is best administered is best.'
I am happy to put in my vote for Anglo-American liberalism, but still I recognize that probably will not command either a majority or even a plurality.
But India had affirmative action and so forth before 'Anglo-America'.
Here is one proffered alternative to Modi:
“Rahul Gandhi felt people would support the Congress on issues of farmers, youth, employment, inflation. But, the core issues were left behind and surgical strikes and nationalism were highlighted. The Congress was dubbed a Muslim party. Aren’t we nationalists?” Gehlot asked.
No, Gehlot Sahib, you are a flunky of a dynasty. You take orders from a lady born in Italy to a father who was an enthusiastic Fascist. The words of your Rahul Baba are quoted by Imran Khan. You are an anti-nationalist.
I am not so impressed.  Or try this discussion “What is alternative to ‘Modi cult'”.  Again, on the ideas front underwhelming, at least for this classical liberal.  Maybe something good can come out of the current protest movement (NYT).
The current protest movement is about telling Muslims they will be deported. But this is a lie. Muslims know it. They can see for themselves that anti-social elements and crazy students are using this as an excuse to run amok.
It may be that Modi and Shah hope that the sight of crazy students in burqas and stone pelting youth wearing skull caps will 'consolidate' the Hindu vote. But elections are far away. What is really happening is that the BJP is giving the dynasts and their sycophantic elites enough rope to hang themselves. They are going to double down on anti-nationalism as they previously doubled down on anti-Hinduism. This will cause a backlash.
Consider the text of the opinion piece Cowan links to above- every line of it is false-
 As India’s new citizenship law seeks to create a stratified citizenship based on religion, 
India does not have 'stratified citizenship'. It doesn't even have dual nationality. By contrast, the U.K and the USA do have stratified citizenship (e.g. Overseas citizens with limited rights of domicile)  yet the two Indian origin academics who wrote this dreck have welcomed the opportunity to move to one or other of those countries.
What India is doing is recognizing that Hindus who have fled Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan are genuine refugees and should be granted citizenship. Economic migrants from Islamic Republics have absolutely no right of domicile or citizenship.
a large number of Indians opposing it are emerging as a people of one book, the country’s Constitution, which came into force on Jan. 26, 1950.
But the Constitution itself says that only the Supreme Court can interpret it. When the Bench upholds what Modi has done, these 'people of one book' will discover that they are people who are shit at understanding what they read.
In the past two weeks, diverse crowds across the country have responded to the discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act, referred to as the C.A.A., passed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government by chanting the preamble to the Constitution of India, with its promises of social, political and economic justice, freedom of thought, expression and belief, equality and fraternity.
Nothing wrong with chanting. But that's not all these guys are doing is it?

Student protesters being herded into police vans, opposition leaders standing outside the Indian Parliament and ebullient crowds of tens of thousands in Hyderabad, Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai have read aloud the preamble and held aloft copies of the Constitution and portraits of B.R. Ambedkar, its chief draftsman.
While creating a public nuisance and breaking the law.

The C.A.A. offers an accelerated pathway to citizenship for Hindu, Sikh, Zoroastrian, Buddhist and Christian migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan but excludes Muslims. 
For the excellent reason that Muslims don't come to India because they are persecuted for being Muslims in Islamic Republics.
It effectively creates a hierarchical system of citizenship determined by an individual’s religion, reminiscent of Myanmar’s 1982 Citizenship Law, which privileged citizenship for “indigenous races,” excluded the Rohingya and paved the ground for the genocidal violence against them.
Myanmar had already gotten rid of a large portion of its Indian origin population. It is crazy to suggest that the military Junta cared about Laws. They waged war against large sections of their own population.

The Indian government’s justification that the C.A.A. offers protection to people facing religious persecution in neighboring countries is specious.
Really? Then how come the non-Muslim population of Islamic States has fallen so much over the decades?
 The new citizenship law does not require proof of religious persecution, and it is applied arbitrarily to non-Muslim minorities from three Muslim-majority neighbors.
It is not arbitrary, but a matter of common sense, to grant refuge for non-Muslims fleeing murderous Islamic mobs in Islamic Republics.
The law ignores the claims of Muslim minorities facing religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan 
But no Muslim minority in any of these countries has asked for asylum in India. The Pakistani Ahmediyas are arguably the worst affected. Has their leader asked for India to take them in? Nope. On the other hand, Indian Muslims have expressed hostility to letting them in. Currently, it is mainly female spouses of Pakistani origin living in Qadian who are affected. It would be an easy matter to regularize their position. But this should be done quietly for fear of upsetting the Muslim Personal Law Board.
and excludes persecuted minorities of all faiths from Sri Lanka, China and Myanmar, which have non-Muslim governments.
Coz the Chinese are queuing up to come to India! Sri Lanka has a higher standard of living- anyway, India has bilateral treaties with Myanmar and Sri Lanka on these matters.
Why don't these two cretins condemn India for refusing to grant citizenship to thousands of American Jews facing ghastly anti-semitic persecution in Trump's America? Will they spare no tears for the plight of the British Quakers under Bo Jo's militaristic regime? Why is India's citizenship law discriminating so blatantly against wealthy White people?

The new citizenship law must be seen in conjunction with the drive to create a National Register of Citizens, ostensibly aimed at identifying and removing illegal immigrants. 
As opposed to what? The suggestio falsi here is that legal citizens will be targeted in some sinister manner. But, in India, a person's religion is immediately revealed by her name. The Voters lists are good enough for any purpose of ethnic cleansing.
As seen in the state of Assam where the N.R.C. has already been implemented, its requirement of documents to prove citizenship will effectively disqualify millions from that very status.
Because they are illegal migrants whom successive Congress Governments promised to remove. Finally, the Supreme Court took over direction of this operation.

Amit Shah, the home minister of India, has repeatedly said that the C.A.A. will help everyone except Muslims to reclaim their citizenship if they fail the N.R.C. test.
Why? Because Muslims face no danger of forced conversion or religious persecution if returned to their Islamic country of origin.
The citizenship act breaks from the conscious decision of India’s founders not to link citizenship to religion, language or ethnicity. Sardar Patel, India’s first home minister, asserted that a citizenship predicated solely on connection to territory was “enlightened, modern and civilized,” and the mark of all progressive nations.
But neither Patel, nor Nehru, nor Gandhi, ever said non Muslims fleeing Pakistan should be forced back. India also agreed to take back Indian origin people from Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

Following the partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947, India resisted a total exchange of populations with Pakistan and encouraged Muslims to remain. Millions did. India also enabled those who had left for Pakistan in 1947 to return home.
This is not true as a matter of law. There may be compassionate exceptions but there is no general 'right to return'. Once one has a father or grandfather who was a Pakistani citizen, no right to Indian citizenship arises save for those fleeing religious persecution who are genuine refugees. It is this last which is being expedited.

What is taking place in India is a clash between two different political visions. 
What has been taking place in India for the last three decades is a clash between the lie that the BJP is actually a Fascist party and the truth that the Gandhi dynasty is corrupt, incompetent and propped up by a brain-dead Leftist class.
The Indian state is enacting an authoritarian vision in which political rights are conditioned on the privileges of religion and class and on being obedient subjects.
This is not true. Giving citizenship to genuine refugees is not an 'authoritarian' vision. Why mention 'class' and 'obedient subjects'? Religion I can understand- it is a fact that Islamic Republics make it hot for kaffirs- but how did 'class' enter the equation? But why stop there? Why do these two cretin refer to gender and sexuality? How dare they forget disability? What they should say is 'the Indian state is enacting an authoritarian vision in which political rights are conditioned on the privileges of religion, class, heteronormativity, having a big dick, not being a disabled transgender person of at least two different colors, and obediently shouting Zeig Heil! and invading Poland every time the Fuhrer tells you to.'
Mr. Modi’s government makes this clear in choosing to celebrate the upcoming 70th anniversary of the Constitution of India by focusing on “fundamental duties” of Indian citizens, which include protecting private property, abjuring from violence and striving toward excellence.
What a bastard! Indians have a fundamental duty to destroy private property, indulge in violence and shit upon excellence.

An idea borrowed from the Soviet Union, fundamental duties were inserted into the Constitution of India in 1976 by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who suspended constitutional rights, jailed opposition leaders and silenced the press between June 1975 and March 1977 — a period known in India as the Emergency.

Indira Gandhi is Rahul baba's granny. She was supported by the Communist Party of India. Currently, in Maharashtra, Congress is allied with the Shiv Sena. Still, it owed its return to power to the Left- which it pumped and dumped.

Indians have responded with a robust declaration of Constitutional rights and values.
But the Supreme Court will find that Modi has acted constitutionally. Indeed, he can change the Constitution- just as Indira did- if it suits him.
 The numbers on the streets are swelling with the recognition that the government is repurposing colonial-era tactics to repress protests.
After Independence, India beefed up repressive laws. Screw 're-purposing', we had a bigger, shinier, more effective security apparatus. No Indian regime has been as shaky as Viceroy Wavell's.

An archaic law prohibiting the public assembly of more than four people has been used in several places and the internet has been shut down in five states.
A law which has been used continuously in every decade in some part of the country is not 'archaic'. As for the internet, no doubt there were laws about it back when the Brits were still running things.
 The police have killed 25 people, used tear gas and water cannons, caused injuries leading to amputation and blinding, detained minors and attacked hospitals and libraries.
The Yellow Vest agitation in France has more fatalities despite the fact that India has a population 20 times as large.
 Universities have been ordered to monitor the social media activity of students.
But Harvard has been doing it since the beginning of this decade.
Adopted in 1950, the Constitution of India was regarded by some as an elite document drafted in an alien language. Yet in its first decade, ordinary Indians transformed it into a talisman and a resource to advance claims to liberty and livelihood.
Very true! The ordinary Indian would rise at dawn to feed the cows. Then he would put on his barrister's gown and advance claims to liberty and livelihood in the Supreme Court for the rest of the morning. They he would take a little nap under a tree. In the afternoon he would plow his fields while looking over the the latest issue of the 'Constitutional Law for fun and profit' magazine.
 Distinct groups turned to the Constitution to protect their specific interests. 
Much good it did them.
Today’s mobilization is a broad coalition, which raises a common demand for full political citizenship and all that this implies by way of duties upon the state.

How is it a broad coalition? It's just some rowdy students, a few Muslims and some Opposition spokespeople. What the fuck does 'full political citizenship' mean? How do you tell if your political citizenship is only half full? Where do you go to top it up? Rather meanly, our two authors won't tell us.

The articulation of constitutional rights and values has also invigorated the federal spirit. 
No. It has invigorated the feudal spirit of sycophancy to the Dynasty.
While India is constitutionally a federation, its states have enjoyed greater rights during eras of coalition union governments.
India is a Union of States. The word 'federation' is not used in the Constitution. The British had proposed a Federal structure but nothing came of it.

The electoral dominance of Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party since 2014 emboldened his government to erode the autonomy of Indian states, including limitation of fiscal powers, interventionism by federally appointed governors of the states and the revocation of the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir and its abrupt dissolution as a state.

The Supreme Court said in 2016 that no State- including J&K- has even a vestige of autonomy. But that was always obvious. The Center and the Center alone carved up States and Union Territories as it pleased.

In the aftermath of the protests against the C.A.A., the chief ministers of nine Indian states have refused to implement the new citizenship law and the citizens register. Leaders of six political parties, including those allied with the B.J.P., have voiced concerns about its disenfranchising effects.

So what? Their compliance is unnecessary. The Bench, and the Bench alone, will decide the constitutionality of these measures. Whether or not they will be implemented will be up to Center.

In various states, Mr. Modi’s government had started building detention centers for people unable to prove themselves as citizens under the new registry. 
If these two cretins have such an aversion to detention centers, why don't they quit the U.K or the U.S.A which stringently enforce immigration rules?
The recently elected chief minister of the state of Maharashtra stopped the construction of the detention centers commissioned by his B.J.P. predecessor. 
Wonderful! So the Shiv Sena now wants to coddle migrants! No wonder Congress allied with the only openly Fascist party in India. But then, it too is now wholly dynastic. Like calls to like. Thackerays and Gandhis are sisters under the skin.
Opposition has been growing as the B.J.P. has been losing elections for state legislatures.
Cool. So there's no need for any stupid agitation. The ordinary working of electoral politics provides enough of a check and a balance upon 'authoritarianism' or 'populism' or whatever.
The Indian judiciary’s response to the protests against the C.A.A. and the N.R.C. has been mixed. The Guwahati High Court in Assam responded favorably to litigation seeking to restore internet connectivity in the state. The Delhi High Court postponed the hearings relating to the violence against student protesters by six weeks and was met by cries of “shame!” in the courtroom.
The big problem is lawyers who beat up policemen. As for 'shame', which lawyer is capable of any such emotion? Chidambaram? Kapil Sabil? Maybe Sushma Swaraj or Arun Jaitley- but both are dead.

And there have been novel invocations of the Constitution to challenge nationalism and build alliances between disparate groups and regions. From rap to Urdu poetry, TikTok videos to artwork, using the Constitution as a tool for public politics has become the zeitgeist.
No question, the zeitgeist is created by tools, for tools, so that being a tool will be considered cool.

In 1951, Justice Vivian Bose, a judge of the Supreme Court of India, wrote that the Constitution was “not just dull, lifeless words … but living flames intended to give life to a great nation … tongues of dynamic fire, potent to mold the future.”
Vivian is a real butch name. But is the allusion to Pentecost fire apposite in context? Yes if you believe in a Messianic Age. No if you think people babbling nonsense are merely off their chump or are teaching some worthless shite in a worthless shite University Department.

We are witnessing now a rediscovery of the republic — and of our Constitution as its blazing torch.

Coz every babbling cretin has become an Apostle of the New Messiah! Nice to these two kids with Hindu names are getting with the program. Hope they get baptized real soon.

Returning to Cowan, who thinks it worthwhile to highlight this type of illiterate tosh, we can only hope some passing Exorcist relieves him of the demon of stupidity which has ensured his reputation as an economist.

What the fuck does this mean?

All the more, the “establishment media” just isn’t interested in framing the story in terms of individual rights and constraints on democracy. 
Does Cowan mean the Judiciary? But that is well covered. Anyway, the only 'establishment media' relevant to a discussion about India is established Indian media- more especially the vernacular language channels.
That narrative is too…well…libertarian and also anti-statist.
For one example, blame either Nilinjana Roy or the person who titled her FT column “Democracy in India is on the brink.”  Last I checked, Modi was elected, then re-elected, and his party and its allies control almost 2/3 of the lower house.  That is truly an Orwellian column title. 
No. It is simply a stupid lie.
It should not be so hard to write “The problem with Modi is the statism, and lack of respect for minority rights, sadly this is democratically certified and thus democracy requires real constitutional constraint of the powers of the government.”
Why write this nonsense? Everything Modi does is reviewed by the Supreme Court. Since he has respected the Constitution and there is no evidence against him at all, it is likely that he will be allowed to carry on. The 'Real Constitutional Constraint' already exists. Sadly, it can't punish imaginary crimes.
  But so many people today are mentally and emotionally incapable of thinking and writing such thoughts, having spent so much time in their mood affiliation glorifying “democracy” (or what they take to be democracy) above all other values.
So we should be spending our time developing and publicizing a new (non-Modi) ideology for greater state capacity in India, combined of course with greater liberty.
Cool! How about this- 'Do everything Modi is doing but keep saying Hinduism is evil.' What's that? Congress already did it while enriching itself? Oh, well, in that case don't bother.
And yes, please do restore, redefine, re-enforce or in some cases discover all of the required minority libertarian rights.  Hundreds of millions of Indians and others are counting on it.
Hilarious! Cowan thinks Indians are eager for his wisdom. I can assure him that there may be a few hundred Indian cretins who think he is smart, nobody else in India has heard of him or wants to hear from him.

The Rights based approach to Development failed. Why? Rights have to be linked to incentive compatible remedies under a bond of law. It is foolish to think that sufficient 'State Capacity' is a magic wand. The problem remains that State Capacity won't be exercised to secure a Right unless an appropriate incentive exists. Merkel's Germany may have had sufficient state capacity to make good on her 'come one, come all' offer to the Syrians. But it lacked the incentive to do so. Thus it barred the gates and left hundreds and thousands in limbo.

Gandhi's Himalayan blunder

On April 6, 1918, Gandhis started the anti-Rowlatt Act agitation. Some White people were attacked in Amritsar. Gandhi did not call off his Satyagraha. On April 11, Brigadier Dyer took charge in Amritsar. On the 13th of April, he massacred hundreds of innocent people in Amritsar. Five days later, Gandhi withdrew Civil Disobedience saying it was a Himalayan miscalculation. A couple of months later the Satyagraha too was cancelled.

This was how he explained his decision-
Almost immediately after the Ahmedabad meeting I went to Nadiad. It was here that I first used the expression 'Himalayan miscalculation' which obtained such a wide currency afterwards. Even at Ahmedabad I had begun to have a dim perception of my mistake. But when I reached Nadiad and saw the actual state of things there and heard reports about a large number of people from Kheda district having been arrested, it suddenly dawned upon me that I had committed a grave error in calling upon the people in the Kheda district and elsewhere to launch upon civil disobedience prematurely, as it now seemed to me. I was addressing a public meeting. My confession brought down upon me no small amount of ridicule. But I have never regretted having made that confession. For I have always held that it is only when one sees one's own mistakes with a convex lens, and does just the reverse in the case of others, that one is able to arrive at a just relative estimate of the two. I further believe that a scrupulous and conscientious observance of this rule is necessary for one who wants to be a Satyagrahi.
So, Gandhi is saying that one must minimize the wrongs committed by the enemy and magnify one's own faults. This means being a Saytyagrahi involves always saying sorry and admitting everything was your own fault.
Let us now see what the Himalayan miscalculation was. Before one can be fit for the practice of civil disobedience one must have rendered a willing and respectful obedience to the state laws.
The laws of India, at that time, required a willing and respectful obedience to the Sedition law. Thus, before practicing civil disobedience a person would first have to show a track record of reporting any instance of seditious behavior. Failure to do so would be the crime of 'misprision'. Had Gandhi actually spent his time reporting any person he came across who was 'by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brought or attempted to bring into hatred or contempt, or excited or attempted to excite disaffection towards, the Government established by law in India?' The answer is, no. He had associated with people whom the Government had thought fit to imprison. He had not rendered a willing and respectful obedience to the state laws. Nor was it likely or feasible that those whom he recruited for satyagraha would have been previously employed in detecting, reporting, or otherwise punishing sedition. Which freedom fighter would have joined Gandhi if all his followers were known to be police spies or unpaid informants of the C.I.D?
For the most part we obey such laws out of fear of the penalty for their breach, and this holds good particularly in respect of such laws as do not involve a moral principal.
Surely, this only applies to laws where there is a strong probability of detection? We do not fear that which is unlikely to happen. Moral principles are irrelevant. Any law may conflict with a particular person's moral principles. It may be that out of empathy we too should consider that law immoral. However, if we are likely to be detected and severely punished for breaking that law, we may well think twice before doing so. 
For instance, an honest, respectable man will not suddenly take to stealing, whether there is a law against stealing or not,
There has to be a law regarding what is or isn't property before there can be a concept of theft. Currently, India has an Intellectual property regime such that if I quote, without acknowledgement, the work of another poet, I would be rightly considered guilty of an offense. This was not always the case. There was a time when poetry was considered a type of aesthetic commons. 
but this very man will not feel any remorse for failure to observe the rule about carrying head-lights on bicycles after dark.
 This is strange. Failure to carry head-lights poses a risk to yourself and others. This is a matter of common sense. Even if there is no law against this, you are still committing a potential tort. You have not discharged a duty of care which would be obvious to any reasonable man in your position.
Indeed it is doubtful whether he would even accept advice kindly about being more careful in this respect.
But, if caught by a policeman and fined by a magistrate, this fellow- who, it seems is not really good and ought not to be respected- will learn the errors of his ways. 
But he would observe any obligatory rule of this kind, if only to escape the inconvenience of facing a prosecution for a breach of the rule.
Because he is a stupid man who does not understand that he poses a risk to himself and others by riding a bike in the darkness without any headlights. 
Such compliance is not, however, the willing and spontaneous obedience that is required of a Satyagrahi. A Satyagrahi obeys the laws of society intelligently and of his own free will, because he considers it to be his sacred duty to do so.
If he is doing so because he is intelligent, then it isn't the case that he is complying with a sacred duty. Only if he is stupid or not doing what he would otherwise do, could we say that actions are dictated by a duty which he may consider sacred.
It is only when a person has thus obeyed the laws of society scrupulously that he is in a position to judge as to which particular rules are good and just and which are unjust and iniquitous.
So Indians must first obey all the British laws, including those which relate to misprision of sedition, before they can judge which British laws are good and which are bad. Had Gandhi himself done this with respect to the Rowlatt Act? True, he had not been arrested, but many of his comrades had. Clearly, the Government thought they were doing something illegal. Did Gandhi refuse to associate with these men? If not, how could he claim to have willingly and respectfully obeyed the spirit and the letter of that 'Black Act'? 
Only then does the right accrue to him of the civil disobedience of certain laws in well-defined circumstances.
Is Gandhi saying he was not qualified to do 'civil disobedience'? He was not a true satyagrahi because he had not willingly and respectfully upheld the Rowlatt Act? Indeed, by distributing the banned Hind Swaraj, of which he was the author, he was deliberately breaking the law.
My error lay in my failure to observe this necessary limitation. I had called on the people to launch upon civil disobedience before they had thus qualified themselves for it, and this mistake seemed to me Himalayan magnitude.
So Gandhi says he himself had obeyed the act. His mistake was to call on people- many of whom had never heard of it- to take up civil disobedience. But this meant he himself was guilty under that Law! He was worse, not better, than others in this respect!
As soon as I entered the Kheda district, all the old recollections of the Kheda Satyagraha struggle came back to me, and I wondered how I could have failed to perceive what was so obvious.
It was obvious that Gandhi was a seditionist. That is why he had a following. But this was not obvious to Gandhi. 
I realized that before a people could be fit for offering civil disobedience, they should thoroughly understand its deeper implications.
But, clearly, Gandhi himself was not fit for offering civil disobedience. He did not say 'everyone except me but stop this nonsense. I alone should break the law and go to jail.' 
That being so, before re-starting civil disobedience on a mass scale, it would be necessary to create a band of well-tried, pure-hearted volunteers who thoroughly understood the strict conditions of Satyagraha.
But these well-tried and pure-hearted volunteers would have to have a spotless record of willing and respectful obedience to any and every British law- including those dealing with misprision of sedition! 
They could explain these to the people, and by sleepless vigilance keep them on the right path.
So Satyagrahis should go around telling everyone to pay willing and respectful obedience to every and any British law!
With these thoughts filling my mind I reached Bombay, raised a corps of Satyagrahi volunteers through the Satyagraha Sabha there, and with their help commenced the work of educating the people with regard to the meaning and inner significance of Satyagraha. This was principally done by issuing leaflets of an educative character bearing on the subject.
Why did anyone read those leaflets? It was because they wanted the Brits to pack their bags and go. It was only Gandhi's seditious views which made him an important political figure. 
But whilst this work was going on, I could see that it was a difficult task to interest the people in the peaceful side of Satyagraha. The volunteers too failed to enlist themselves in large numbers. Nor did all those who actually enlisted take anything like a regular systematic training, and as the days passed by, the number of fresh recruits began gradually to dwindle instead of to grow. I realized that the progress of the training in civil disobedience was not going to be as rapid as I first expected.
Gandhi would go on repeating the same 'Himalayan blunder'. He'd back something the people supported and declare a Satyagraha. But then, he'd change his mind and cancel it. His hope was that he'd attract genuine adherents for 'the peaceful side of Satyagraha'- i.e. everyone giving each other enemas in between spinning cotton. But nobody- save a few crackpots like himself- was interested in doing so. Still, so long as the Brits remained, Gandhi had salience. Once the Brits left, Gandhi was shot and everybody shed hypocritical tears while breathing a sigh of relief. 

Suppose Gandhi had hit on some way of genuinely improving life for India's poor. Then his Ashrams would have paid for themselves. But khaddar was a money pit, 'Basic Education' was a fraud, and 'naturopathy' was the creed of a quack. Still, Gandhi was able to get a lot of money out of wealthy people of a similar background to himself and he was a useful mascot for the Congress party. They could always rely on him to commit a Himalayan blunder thus absolving themselves of blame for being crap at administering anything.

Boulding on why Gandhi failed.

Ken Boulding, the Quaker Economist wrote some 50 odd years ago-
Some of us hoped indeed that India, because of Gandhi, would be a new kind of nation, rejecting the whole system of threats and counter-threats which had brought the world to disaster. What has happened since 1947 however has been profoundly disturbing for those of us who held these high hopes.
This is unreasonable. India did not threaten anybody. It merely defended itself. Only a lunatic would have been 'profoundly disturbed' by anything India was doing then or has done since. 
For what has happened? India has become a nation like any other, and even, truth compels me to say with pain, less mature in its foreign relations, less peaceful, less realistic, than many others.
This is nonsense. India had not become a nation like Maoist China or Brezhnev's Soviet Union. It was and is a stable liberal democracy under the Rule of Law. 
In its internal policies there is one outstanding achievement, the maintenance of internal freedom and democracy in the face of enormous problems and difficulties.
That's the only thing which matters. 
I happened to witness the military parade in New Delhi on 26 January 1964 on my way to the Pugwash Conference in Udaipur. I felt as if I was back in the Europe of 1914, and hardly knew whether to laugh or weep. It was as if Gandhi had never lived or had lived in vain. I confess I never expected to live to see girls in saris doing the goose-step!
Why? Because you were brought up in a patriarchal society. You may not have expected to see female soldiers but, because they are just as good as male soldiers, sooner or later, every country will have them.
It is very hard for Indians now to see how they look to the world outside, for they are naturally preoccupied with their enormous internal problems.
Also they know that foreigners are stupid and get conniptions if they see police-women marching while wearing khaki sarees.  No doubt, foreigners would like to see Indians lying on a bed of nails while not doing the rope trick or charming snakes.
It is very easy, however, for India's actions to be interpreted as those of a weak and petulant bully, not hesitating to use the old-fashioned threat against a weak enemy, as in Goa, answering provocation with provocation in the case of a strong enemy, such as China, and refusing to make a desperately needed adjustment in the case of Kashmir.
What a load of hoseshit! Salazar was a Dictator. The entire Portuguese Empire was soon to be liquidated. Portugal was better off as a result. Goa wasn't an enemy- it was an annoyance merely. As for China, the fact is, by 1967, India had the upper hand in that sector. Indeed, the outcome of the '62 war would have been very different if India had been better led and used its superior air power in that theater. Still, the defeat was useful for India because it ended Tamil separatism and put the Commies in the doghouse. As for Kashmir, Pakistan tried to raise up the Valley in '65 and failed miserably. It was taught a lesson on the battlefield. Then in '71 it was dismembered and thoroughly humiliated. It responded by destroying its economic advantage and going down the path of extremism and narco-terrorism. No 'adjustment' is required when you are dealing with a lunatic.
I am not saying that this image of India is either true or just, merely that it is a possible interpretation of India's actions.
Why say things which are untrue and unjust? Is that the Quaker way?
What is abundantly clear is that India's international posture is an enormous handicap in achieving economic development,
Nonsense! Stupid economic policies were the handicap. 'International posture' did not matter in the slightest. 
a handicap so great that it may prevent development altogether, and may have in it the seeds of a human catastrophe on an almost unimaginable scale.
With hindsight, we can see that Boulding- like all economists- had shit for brains.
The problem of development in a country like India, burdened with a tradition and a religion which for many centuries has produced a heroic adjustment to poverty rather than to a sober and organized attempt to get out of poverty, is so difficult in itself that it requires every ounce of human effort, of talent for organization, and of economic resources to break out of the trap.
Rubbish! Free markets and enlightened self-interest was all that was required. India should have scrapped 'licence Raj' and gone for export led growth at the same time as Taiwan and South Korea and so forth. 'Heroic adjustment to poverty' means being a shithead all your life. No talent for organization is required in letting markets rule. 
Every man, every rupee wasted in military effort is a millstone round India's neck, and may condemn billions of her unborn to poverty and misery.
Utter nonsense! The Military is useful. Gandhian shitheads are useless. America only climbed out of the Great Depression thanks to rearmament. A large military industrial complex turned out to the a great boon for that country. For one thing it meant Jim Crow had to go. Indeed, the need for military efficiency meant that women had to be admitted to the Armed Forces and promoted on merit.

It is quite true that Military expenditure can be wasteful- look at Pakistan or Egypt. But it can be a very good thing. The Israeli Army is the biggest tech incubator in that country. There is a direct connection between Military success and higher productivity. Violence is a learned skill. To get better at killing, you have to study useful Sciences. Talking shite about God and Non Violence makes you stupid. It is a waste of resources. 
Economic development is like a man trying to jump out of a ten-foot hole; it is no use his jumping nine feet eleven inches, for he will just fall back.
This is the stupid Rostow 'take-off' theory. All that matters if free markets. Of course, if the population is completely shit, then the economy will be shitty. But that was not the case in India- at least, large parts of it.
At a certain crucial stage a little more effort may make the whole difference between ultimate success and failure. What are we to say, therefore, to a man who tries to jump out of this hole with a cannon deliberately strapped on his back - yet is not this precisely descriptive of India today!
What would we say of an India that did not fuck up the Chinese at Natu La in '67, or shit on the Pak Army in '71? For a start, there would be no India to talk about. The Chinese would have armed the Naxals while the Pakistanis would have grabbed more and more territory on the pretext of jihad. 
The plain and ugly truth is that in the game of international politics India is going to be a militarily weak nation for many decades to come.
Boulding was a poor prophet. India prevailed against the Chinese in '67. It defied Nixon and freed Bangladesh in '71. It conducted a nuclear test in '74. At the same time, it became self-sufficient in agriculture so as to become independent of America. Had it freed up the economy in the Seventies it would have raced ahead of China. 
In the modern world especially, with the United Nations and the increasing recognition of the illegitimacy of war, it is quite possible for a weak nation to survive and prosper, and indeed eventually become a "strong" one for whatever that may be worth, which is not much.
This cretin was saying this at a time when America had half a million troops in Vietnam!
When it is weak, however, it must behave like a weak nation, and not pretend that it is a strong one.
So, Vietnam should have let the Americans fuck it in the ass. It shouldn't have sent 50,000 GIs home in body bags. What a wise little Quaker it is to be sure!
Both India and Indonesia - the latter much more so - seem to be under the illusion that because they are big nations they must, therefore, simply because of their large populations, be powerful.
The Indonesians were powerful enough to fuck up their Communists and Chinese immigrant populations. That's why they didn't have a Vietnam type insurgency problem. A large population means you should be powerful and tell the Bouldings of this world to go fuck themselves. What was the big Quaker contribution to preventing the Second World War? As far as I can see, all they did was introduce Quisling to the Nazis who quickly converted him to their vile ideology. 
Nothing could be farther from the truth; their very size is a major source of their weakness,
which is why the US is so much weaker than Panama.
for in the modern world small nations have a much better chance of managing their internal affairs well and getting on the road to development than large nations. It is a fatal mistake, however, for a weak nation to behave as if it were a strong one, which seems to me precisely what India is doing.
If you fight strong people you get better at fighting. That's the only way to get stronger. You have to start at the bottom and work your way up. But there is a big reward for doing so. By contrast, staying weak means getting fucked in the ass.
Quite apart from Gandhian moral standards, then, and even judged by the low morality of international power politics, India is behaving badly and gets a low mark.
Says a stupid pedant who awarded high marks to the cretins who obediently regurgitated his own bullshit. 
The child born with such high hopes has turned out not only to be no better than the average, but actually worse.
Very true! India had ethnically cleansed its Muslims in the same manner that Pakistan had done to its non-Muslims. What's that? India did not ethnically cleanse anybody? Oh, well in that case this Quaker got off on telling stupid lies. 
There are, of course, many extenuating circumstances. Colonial rule is a dreadful thing, which corrupts both ruler and ruled, and the ex-colonial countries all suffer from a well-recognised disease of society which might be called the "post-colonial trauma", and from which it may take several generations to recover
Utter shite! Did America take generations to recover from booting out the Brits? 
- indeed, I sometimes think the trouble with England even today is that it never really recovered from the Norman conquest, for it too exhibits many of the marks of a post-colonial society!
So, Boulding was completely insane! If Britain is a 'post-colonial' society where in the world will you find any other type of society? Does the Quaker Religion instill nothing in the minds of its adherents save a reckless, to the point of absurdity, disregard for the truth? Or should we blame Academic Economics as a discipline which rots the brain?
It takes time to learn mature international behaviour, and the nations - including my own - are all busy teaching each other how to be immature and childish, and learning this lesson all too readily.
So, listen to Whitey coz he is 'mature'. 
Still, the nagging question remains: India, because a new light shone into the world there, should have been different―or perhaps one should have expected Gandhi to suffer the fate of the Buddha!
What the fuck is this cretin babbling about? The fate of the Buddha was that he was deified. True, the Muslims chased Buddhism out of most of India but that's because they were Turkish, not Indian. 
A prophet, as the Christian Bible says, is not without honour save in his own country!
But the Bible was wrong. Prophet Muhammad was honored and is honored in his own country. Millions of Muslims make the Hajj pilgrimage to the two Holy Cities where he preached his message. By contrast, Christians are thin on the ground in Palestine.
For those concerned with the theory of nonviolence the failure of Gandhism in India to produce a successful development process after the "revolutionary" change raises severe problems.
No it doesn't. Nonviolence means no coercion. Let Free Markets work in an unfettered manner. 
Nonviolence remains a powerful instrument of revolutionary change―we see now, indeed, in the movement of Martin Luther King in the United States.
Nonsense! The Law is a powerful instrument of change- but this is legal, not revolutionary, change. Dr. King mobilized public opinion. He rejected violence because of the danger of a greater back-lash. The truth of the matter is that some 'Black Panthers'- like Eldridge Cleaver- were despicable men. 
It perhaps has a greater effect on those against whom it is used than on those who use it. In a very real sense Gandhi liberated Britain more than he liberated India; when I go back to Britain I am astonished at how much richer and happier a country it seems to be than the "Imperial" England, of my childhood.
Britain gave up its Empire because the thing could not pay for itself. It was more profitable to have purely commercial and cultural intercourse with ex-colonies. Indeed, Warren Hastings said in 1818 that the time was not distant when the only connection between India and England would be a commercial and cultural one. But for Gandhi's stupidity, India would have become Independent in the Nineteen Twenties. Non-Violence meant doing the stupidest thing possible while pretending to have magical powers. Quakers may be good people, but their politics is for shit.
In spite of the damage and sufferings of the wars, and though Gandhi can hardly be given all the credit for this, the plain economic fact is that in the twentieth century empire became a burden to the imperial power, not a source of wealth or even power. It is hard, however, to cast aside even burdens willingly, as the case of Portugal (the poorest country in Europe, with the largest empire) indicates.
Within a few years, Portugal would find it very easy to cast aside the burden of Empire and to prosper as it had never done before. 
Nonviolence indeed is only effective when it is aligned with truth - ahimsa and satyagraha must go hand in hand.
Rubbish! Nonviolence is only effective if it is 'incentive compatible'. Suppose I want a masala dosa. I go to Sravana Bhavan and say 'I shall do non-violent satyagraha till you give me a dosa'. They reply- 'why not just pay for the dosa like everybody else?' I hand over some cash and non-violently succeed in getting dosa. This is an incentive compatible arrangement. Sravana Bhavan has an interest in serving me tasty dosas and I have an interest in doing some useful type of work in order to be able to eat excellent dosas.
When truth is rejected, and when an illusory view of the world clouds the judgement, as it seems to me is true of India today, of course nonviolence will be rejected.
So, Boulding says 'India is weak. Weak people must say thank anyone who beats them and fucks them in the ass. Thus India must follow non-violence- thanking everybody who fucks them over- because the truth is India is a shithole. If any country should be fucked in the ass, it should be the country which is just one big shithole.' By rejecting non-violence and punishing Pakistan in '65 and China in '67, India was ceasing to be an utter shithole. Boulding felt this was a betrayal of the vision of Mahatma Gandhi. Yet, Gandhi defied his Quaker friends by offering to enlist in the British Army when the First World War broke out. He acted as a recruiting sergeant then. When Indian troops went to defend Kashmir, he approved wholeheartedly. Thus, Boulding was either very stupid or else he was telling a stupid lie. 
The critical problem then, comes down to how we learn to test the reality of our images of social and political systems, for the greatest enemy of nonviolence is the lack of "reality testing".
Says a cretin who thinks Britain hadn't recovered from the Norman conquest? What fucking 'reality testing' was he capable of?
Even violence can be interpreted as a crude and costly method of testing our images of the world―as, for instance, Japan and Germany discovered by violent defeat that their images of the world had been wrong.
Every action is a case of 'reality testing'. If the outcome of a violent on non-violent encounter where known in advance then the action would be unnecessary. The bank robber would not need to show his gun to get the bank teller to hand over cash. Nor would I need to write a check to Sravana Bhavan for the vast quantities of dosa I eat there. My Bank would know by magic to deduct money from my Current Account and transfer that money to Sravana Bhavan's account. 
Thus, the failure of Gandhism is not a failure of ahimsa, but a failure of satyagraha.
Nonsense! If satyagraha consists of buying and selling stuff in a non-fraudulent and non-coercive way, then it succeeds. By contrast 'ahimsa' fails because it is based on stupid lies. I may think Sravana Bhavan has yielded to my 'soul force' when it gives me a tasty masala dosa. I may say 'Truly, my Ahimsa is more perfect than that of all those miserable bastards who are not able to eat here.' However, it is not really the case that my 'satyagraha' has succeeded. Rather, Sravana Bhavan knows that my debit card won't be refused by the electronic card reader. They are serving me because it is in their interest to do so. This is Smith's 'invisible hand'. It isn't some Quaker magic.
The modern world is so complex that the truth about it cannot be perceived by common sense or by mystical insight, important as these things are.
The modern economy is not complex at all. A price vector captures almost all salient information. That's why we don't need to know Economics to be very good at economizing. Common sense- as in buy low, sell high- is all that is needed. As for 'mystical insight'- the only way you can achieve it is by stuffing something larger than the Universe up your backside. At any rate, you may have fun trying.
We must have the more delicate and quantitative sampling and processing of information provided by the methods of the social sciences if we are really to test the truth of our images of social and political systems.
This is utterly foolish. There were plenty of economists- like Joan Robinson, or even Samuelson, who gassed on and on about how, all things considered, the Socialist system was much better than the Capitalist one. Yet North Koreans or East Germans had to be actively prevented from voting with their feet. Academics may have very very foolish 'images of social and political systems'. But who listens to them? They are widely derided as shitheads. 
The next logical step, therefore, for the Gandhian movement would seem to be in the direction of the social sciences, in peace research,
There is a heck of a lot of 'Peace research' in various shite University departments. What good has it done? It is utterly worthless. 
and in the testing of all our images of society by the more refined means for discovering truth which are now available to us.
Samuelson had plenty of 'refined methods' at his disposal yet he went on plugging the Soviet system even when it was on the point of complete collapse. 
I am not suggesting, of course, that the social sciences produce "absolute" truth, or indeed that much valid perception is not achieved through common sense and insight. What I do suggest, however, is that the problem of truth is so difficult that we cannot afford to neglect any means of improving the path towards it, and that without this, nonviolence will inevitably be frustrated.
So, some magical bullshit will be frustrated unless we do junk social science of an inutile and obviously foolish type. Why not say 'Alchemy will be frustrated unless we improve our method of testing lead till we can show it is actually gold.'?
Everywhere I went in India in my brief and inadequate visits I heard one thing: "There is no alternative".
This was true. There was no alternative to having an army which killed invaders and a police force which beat the shit out of criminals. Talking worthless shite was not an alternative because without the police and the army, you'd be gagging as your rapist went ass to mouth. 
It was precisely the greatness of Gandhi that he always insisted there was an alternative.
Very true! This was also the greatness of the Maharishi who made a lot of money telling people that 'Yogic levitation' was the way to spread World Peace. 
Morality always implies that there are alternatives to choose, for morality is choice.
Nonsense! Morality is observed when you feel there is no choice whatsoever. Suppose you are left alone with the gorgeous pouting P.Chidambaram. If you are truly moral, you would not say to yourself 'I have the choice to lift this man's veshti and gaze in awe at his shapely haunches'. The thought will never cross your mind. 
To deny alternatives is to deny morality itself.
So, Boulding was an immoral man because he denied that there was an alternative to the sort of worthless shite he himself was peddling. What was that alternative? It was to waste no time on Junk Social Science but just imitate what the smart people were doing. China started to do well when Chinese leaders decided to imitate South Korea and Taiwan and so forth. 
To perceive alternatives requires imagination, hard thinking, and costly and painstaking study.
Sadly, those 'Social Scientists' who had these qualities produced unworkable Utopias. In seeking for a Paradise on Earth, they created a Dantesque Inferno.
If the Gandhian movement in India can recapture this great vision of the alternative, India may yet be saved from the disaster towards which she seems to be heading.
What was the 'Gandhian movement' doing in India at that time? Nothing except for the fraud that was Bhoodan. Thankfully, the whole of Bihar was gifted away and so Vinobha Bhave was persuaded to fuck off back to where he came from. J.P Narayan realized he had been wasting his time in the boondocks. The cretin started clamoring for 'sampoorna kranti'. Still, he helped create an Opposition 'Janata Morcha' which is now represented by Modi's BJP. As for Gandhi, India keeps him around as a mascot- a bit like George Washington who could not tell his Daddy a lie and so his teeth fell out and he cut down a tree to make himself a set of wooden dentures. The Brits would laugh at him so he chased them away. Sadly, some of them came back and, like Boulding, took citizenship coz they liked Jim Crow. Darkies should be kept in their place. One way to do it is by visiting countries like India and telling its people stupid lies.

Monday, 30 December 2019

The Philosophy of Wealth Distribution- a case of Special Education

What is the ideal wealth distribution? First, let us define Wealth as that which generates a stream of income. Because people in the West now live a lot longer and get State pensions and other benefits, Wealth distribution has become much more equal than ever before. Kids also get better education for longer- this too is a type of wealth. Indeed, Public services- e.g. the Police, Army etc- are also a type of Wealth which provide a stream of services which are equivalent to Income. All this does not show up in the statistics on Wealth distribution which focuses on who owns fungible assets.

What should the distribution of private Wealth be? The answer depends on the capacity of the population to manage assets. Take Housing. If the population is slovenly, housing should be owned by the State or private landlords who will maintain them to an acceptable standard. Mrs. Thatcher's genius was to see that British people would take better care of their houses than the Council would. But this was not always the case. British working class mores had changed greatly.

Similarly, if the people are stupid and greedy, they ought not to own enterprises. But, as they become more thrifty and rational in pursuing self-interest, they should own their own businesses and have an increasing share in Corporate Equity.

However, where there is rapid technological change of a type most ordinary people don't understand, wealth distribution should worsen. The new industries should be controlled by very smart people with a better idea of what the new world will look like.

Ordinary people understand this. They aren't upset that Elon Musk or Bill Gates have enormous wealth. This is because Musk and Gates and so forth have far greater technological savvy.

In Britain, Harold Wilson redistributed wealth on quite a significant scale. But the working class turned against Labor. Why? Life was getting worse. 'Fiscal Drag' under conditions of 'Stagflation' meant workers were paying Income tax for the first time because their nominal earnings had pushed them into the tax net. Indeed, they were paying Companies to keep employing them. In other words their own pockets were being picked by a reverse Robin Hood.

It is interesting that 'Inequality studies' gained a footing in British Academia at precisely the time that the working class turned against Redistribution. More generally, as the recent experience of Greece has shown, Redistribution is not sustainable. In the end pensioners take a 'hair cut'. Entitlements collapse. In China, the 'iron rice bowl' was broken. People like Amartya Sen thought the Chinese working class would suffer. Instead they were lifted out of poverty in exactly the same manner as the South Koreans.

Nothing is inevitable in this respect. Assets should be owned by those who will make best use of them. Sometimes this means ordinary people should own their 'means of production' and their own homes and so forth. But not always. If the people are stupid and short-sighted, it is better for them if they don't own assets or at least don't have control over those assets.

Tim Sommers has an article in 3 Quarks nicely summarizing the many fallacies Academics perpetuate in this context.
A 2011 survey by Michael Norton and Dan Ariely, of Harvard’s Business School, found that the average American thinks the richest 25% of Americans own 59% of the wealth, while the bottom fifth owns 9%. In fact, the richest 20% own 84% of the wealth, and the bottom 40% controls only 0.3%.
Oddly, the 'average American' is right. The bottom fifth have considerable entitlements- the Capital value of which would probably exceed 9%. The fact is, for certain populations, long spells in prison increases life-span and health outcomes. But prison is expensive.
An avalanche of studies has since confirmed these basic facts: Americans radically underestimate the amount of wealth inequality that exists – and the level of inequality they think is fair is lower than actual inequality in America probably has ever been.
It is academics who radically overestimate wealth inequality by refusing to look at the Capital Value of entitlements. The reason some poor, but rapidly developing, countries without much in the way of Social Security have such high savings rates is because people have to accumulate assets.
As journalist Chrystia Freeland put it, “Americans actually live in Russia, although they think they live in Sweden. And they would like to live on a kibbutz.”
Journalists get paid to write stupid shite. Incidentally, Russia used to be a Communist country. However bad things got under Yeltsin, the people didn't want to go back to that horrible system. 
Thomas Piketty ramped up the inequality debate, a couple of years later, with “Capital in the Twenty-First Century”, a massive 250-year survey of wealth inequality. He discovered that r > g. That is, the rate of return on investment is always greater than growth.
The rate of return on successful investments must be greater than that of aggregate growth, otherwise the enterprise or underlying asset changes hands because of 'Value discrepancy'- i.e. a smart person will pay more for a thing than it can yield the current, stupid, owner.
The rich really are getting richer – and the poor?
But the composition of the rich keeps changing. One reason for this is immigration. Smart people move to where they can do astoundingly well. When they arrive they may be poorer than average but, within a decade, they are leaving the indigenous population in the dust.
Well, not so much. The post-war middle-class, Piketty warned, may well have been a historical anomaly.
The pre-war rentier class was a historical anomaly. It was pauperized by high taxes and inflation. On the other hand, the entrepreneurial class and skilled workers found ways to evade taxes and used inflation to get the better of the creditor class.
Economic inequality is likely to get worse – and never get better – without coordinated international action.
Coordinated international action is an oxymoron. Nations compete with each other. If America decides to tax its entrepreneur out of existence, Europe and China will be delighted to take them in.
The good news is that not one, but two, serious candidates in the current Democratic Presidential Primary are endorsing versions of Piketty’s “Wealth Tax” – Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. (And, by the way, the English-translation of Piketty’s latest book, “Capital & Ideology” is due out in March.)
So, we may be able to thank Sanders or Warren for a Trump second term.
So, what should the distribution of wealth be? What does justice have to say about wealth inequality?
Nothing. Justice is a service industry. We pay a little money for a Justice system so that if we are the victim of an injustice, we have a means of gaining redress. The thing is demand driven. By contrast, Politics can say something about wealth inequality. But when it does something about it, the result is generally counter productive. Idi Amin threw out the Asians so as to improve equality of wealth. The thing was a disaster. That's why Musaveni let the Asians back in and why, unlike Amin or Obote, he is still around.
Here are some of the main positions philosophers have taken. Libertarians, or as they are sometimes misleadingly labeled, “classical liberals”, don’t believe that the distribution of wealth is a matter of justice at all.
Nonsense! They think the State should protect justly acquired assets. However, it should prevent unjust enrichment- e.g. by unfair business practices.
Utilitarians think whatever distribution maximizes the overall amount of wealth (or utility, really (see the caveat below)) is just.
Rubbish. They believe in the diminishing marginal utility of wealth. They want to maximize a Social Welfare Function based on a cardinal measure of utility.
Welfare state liberals, sufficientarians, and many of the advocates of Universal Basic Income (UBI) think that there should be a certain minimum level of wealth that no one should have to fall below.
No. They say there is an entitlement to a social minimum, not that the underlying asset should change ownership. It would be foolish to give the Capital Value of Social Security payments to a drug addict.
Egalitarian liberals argue for a still more equal distribution. John Rawls, for example, argued that the least well-off members of society should be as well-off as possible. But Rawls still allows for inequality where it works to the benefit of everyone. Some socialists, Marxists, and G.A. Cohen go all the way. They think the distribution of wealth in society should either be straight-up equal or, as in Marx’s famous (notorious?) formulation, “from each according to their ability, to each according to their need”.
What Marx actually said was that till technology and human nature so changes that people only work because they enjoy working Society should aim to reward each according to his contribution. This was a feature of Soviet economics and also the main argument put forward for reform in China in the Eighties.
Here are just a few of their arguments.
Wealth is not just out there waiting to be distributed by the state. Wealth is created. Things mostly come into being already attached to someone, i.e., owned, the result of someone’s labor. Hence, there is nothing for justice to distribute or redistribute. People own themselves and whatever they can acquire by laboring or free exchanges with others. Justice is just preventing force, fraud, and theft.
This is the Lockean 'intermingling of labor' view.
Here are just a couple of problems with this view. The current distribution of wealth is, in fact, mostly the result of force, fraud, and theft.
Rubbish! People who have wealth would soon lose it if all they did was beat people and steal money and defraud each other. Even the Mafia Don has to 'go legit' at some point if he wants to hang on to his wealth rather than get blown up by his rivals.
Robert Nozick, one of the most influential philosophical libertarians of the twentieth century, recognized this. In a much-overlooked footnote in “Anarchy, State, and Utopia”, he suggested that we would need something like 200 years of Rawls’ “difference principle”, before we could start to have a just libertarian social order.
This is very silly. The fact is people in the 'Rawlsian original position' would choose a Social Insurance scheme. They wouldn't endorse the 'difference principle' because they would have been taught, according to Rawls's stipulation, enough Econ 101 to know that under Knightian Uncertainty, regret minimization is the way to go. Insurance is regret minimizing. Political Philosophy is for cretins.
Also, things rarely come into being as the result of a single-person’s labor. As Obama said, “You didn’t build that” – at least on your own.
That was the problem with Obama. He said 'We can' not 'I will'. What did he build? Obamacare? The Bench appears to think the individual mandate is unconstitutional. What about the Iran deal? That sure worked out fine.
Often, then, the question of how the returns on collective effort should be divvied up is unavoidable.
But this question is idiographic, not nomothetic. Within a family, the answer to this question changes over time. Similarly, within an enterprise, the answer changes depending on the 'shadow price' of different types of labor input.
The state’s role is not helpfully viewed (as many libertarians suggest it should be) as simply enforcement of a mutual protection pact.
Mutual protection includes Social Insurance against various types of risk. It is very helpful indeed to view the State as a collective 'regret minimizing' agent whose existence is required by Knightian Uncertainty. If there was no Uncertainty, there would be no need for the State. Rational agents could insure themselves against all contingencies.
Developed economies are almost impossibly complex cooperative ventures.
Actually, developed economies have lower Kolmogorov complexity than undeveloped economies. A perfectly developed economy can be represented by a price vector and its dynamics would be easy to simulate.
Whatever role markets should play in modern economies, asking how their fruits should be shared is not just a reasonable question, it’s an inevitable one.
Only if one is paid to act as a child minder to a bunch of Credential seeking cretins.
There’s a crucial misunderstanding that is easy to make here. The question of how wealth should be distributed is not, or at least not mainly, the question of how wealth should be redistributed. The distributive question, or at least the one Rawls, Cohen, and other analytic philosophers are asking, is what would the ideal distribution of wealth be – all other things being equal.
If all other things are equal, then whatever we are looking at doesn't matter in the least. It is not 'entangled' with anything else. It doesn't matter what name we give to the Nicaraguan horcrux of the neighbor's cat. Ceteris really is paribus, in this case. However, the distribution of wealth is connected to factor inputs and reproductive chances and almost everything else.
It doesn’t follow, from the answer to that question, that we should immediately seize everyone’s holdings and redistribute them according to that principle.
Nothing follows from the answer to a silly question. On the other hand it is very wrong and utterly wicked to call the Nicaraguan horcrux of my neighbor's cat Dorcas instead of Mildred.
Rather, the principle gives us a background ideal as a reference point going forward. Knowing what distribution of wealth we think is ideal helps us make decisions about taxes, property law, corporate law, and everything that touches the basic structure of our society.
Nonsense! Any jurisdiction which does this will see massive exit. I won't go to a judge who decides cases on this basis. He may decide that a homeless dude should be allowed to enter my flat and rape me to keep warm.
Why not, then, view whatever distribution of wealth maximizes the overall wealth of society as a whole as the just one?
How the fuck are we supposed to know this? Suppose wealthy people in Britain had been able to foresee the future. They would have insisted on a massive Capital levy to finance Rearmament in 1933.
That’s utilitarianism.
No that's utilitarianism without diminishing marginal utility of wealth- what could be called 'Hicks-Kaldor' efficiency.
It’s effects over the last 150 years on philosophy, economics, law, and even the design of factories and prisons would be hard to overstate.
But the importance of philosophy would be difficult to understate.
It makes sense too, right? Why shouldn’t the distribution that creates the most wealth be ideal?
We don't know what will prove to be wealth and what will turn out to be a white elephant.
But would you like to move to a society where the total amount of wealth is much higher than in our society, but in which one person owns 99% of that wealth – and everyone else lives in abject poverty sharing the 1% left over?
Maybe. It depends on what else is on offer. If everybody else is starving- or at risk of obliteration from an asteroid strike- abject poverty sounds good. The other thing is dynamics matter. If our kids have a chance to climb into the patrician class, we may think the risk is worth it.
Or would you think a society just if 10% of the people in it were slaves, but the other 90% were very, very well-off because of those slaves? Would you like to live in the wealthiest society in history, if in that society the richest 1% owned more that the bottom 90%? By the way, you do, if you live in the U.S.
And people paid good money to emigrate to America even when it had slavery and 'robber baron' industrialists.
The trouble with utilitarianism is that we do, and should, care about, not just the total amount of wealth, but how that wealth is distribution.
Utilitarianism assumes the diminishing marginal utility of money. It favors redistribution.
One last example. Which would be fairer? A society where two people equally split 100 units of wealth or one where one person has 101 units of wealth and the other has 1?
It depends. The latter is fairer if the other guy spent all his time raping the richer one and is now in jail.
Libertarians would say it depends on how the wealth came to be. But utilitarians don’t care about that. They must always favor the second highly unequal distribution as long as the overall total is higher – even if (for some weird reason) it was the person left with 1 unit that created all the wealth.
Only a variety of Utilitarianism which doesn't have diminishing marginal utility says so.
Does that seem right?
No, the only thing that seems right is calling the Nicaraguan horcrux of my neighbor's cat Mildred rather than Dorcas.
Here’s a different possibility. Maybe you should care about creating a society as well-off as possible (as utilitarians do), but not at the expense of everyone or, in particular, not at the expense of the least well-off. Welfare-state liberals, sufficientarians, and many advocates of UBI think a fair distribution of wealth would be one where, however overall wealth gets distributed, a certain basic minimum is provided to everyone.
But, a better method is collective insurance. But the thing has to incentive compatible so as to prevent adverse selection and disincentive effects. The problem with insurance schemes is that it is easy to get the actuarial science wrong. There could be an unexpected entitlement collapse. But this is also true of U.B.I.
Maybe, I ‘m wrong, but I think this is the bare minimum required of a decent society – of justice. A relatively well-off society, one in what Rawls called “reasonably favorable circumstances”, should (and can) provide a minimum level of wealth to everyone.
No it shouldn't. A drug addict or a guy who wants to buy machine guns so as to massacre his work colleagues should not have any wealth whatsoever. He may be entitled to some food stamps or a nice cozy padded cell.
But how do you set that minimum? Who’s to say what it is? Well, think about what kind of society you would want to live in. You probably want to be free in various ways, but you also want to be as well-off materially as possible. If you didn’t already know your social position or your talents and abilities, you’d probably choose, if you could, to live in a society that maximized your prospects for being materially well-off. Whether you were the most well-off, or a member of the most well-off group, wouldn’t be as salient to you as the question of whether you might be one of the least well-off members of society. Given that we are talking about a society that overall is pretty well-off, arguably, the thing to do would be to go all-in for the least well-off being as well-off as possible. This is the conclusion of Rawls’ argument from an “original position” behind a “veil of ignorance” – and his “difference principle”. And one way to think about it is as a natural extension of the view that we need a social minimum. We need a social minimum, we might say, and that minimum should be set as high as possible.
In which case you have to impose tough migration controls. Chances are you'll end up with badly paid 'guest workers' who have no right of settlement.

You'd probably also get a lot of hostility to groups with high fertility.  As time moves on, you'd get social exclusion based on Tiebout sorting- i.e. people with few dependents move to areas where Schools and Retirement homes etc are of poor quality.
But why should there be inequalities at all? If our natural talents and abilities and social position are unearned, why not just go for strict equality? Well, for one thing, because some inequalities benefit everyone – including the least well-off. One central way that they do that by incentivizing the talented to contribute and work hard by giving them a larger share of wealth in return.
But why do the talented need to be incentivized? If I am one of the talented and I accept the argument for the difference principle, then I know that if I work harder without demanding greater compensation, I can help the least well-off even more. This will result in a stricter equality than that demanded by the difference principle. Now, as a practical matter, I might think that we do need to incentivize the talented in this way. But that practical need is not a matter of justice. In fact, it’s unjust of the talented to demand to be incentivize in this way. They are holding the rest of us hostage, demanding ransom to work to their fullest capacity. If they accept the difference principle they should want to make the least well-off as well-off as possible and should spend their energy and effort doing so without threatening to boycott contributing unless they get more. This is G.A. Cohen’s argument in “Rescuing Justice and Equality”. It is related, of course, to the long history of such arguments by Marxist, utopian socialists, et al.
The problem here is that if you misuse a word, all you have done is to tell a stupid lie. A person who is raping you may say you are very unjust for not paying her for her services. Then you get hold of a poker and smash her head in saying she is very unjust for getting her blood on your nice clean poker.

People who don't want to be raped are holding rapists to ransom by unjustly denying them access to their orifices. G.A Cohen was holding society to ransom by refusing to clean my toilet. Instead he shat higher than his arsehole and got paid to do it.
Maybe, Cohen’s right. But here I am tempted to borrow from the libertarians. Cohen’s view results, I worry, in “the slavery of the talented”.
Talented people fuck over the Cohens of this world. Even if they are slaves, they create 'Slave Dynasties'. Fucking over stupid people is a talent. Sometimes it is the only talent that matters.
While I think libertarians are wrong to argue that any social scheme that does not attempt to distribute wealth based solely on individual contributions is wrong, I still think there is a limit to what should be demanded from people.
This is a wholly empirical matter. States want an unlimited amount of resources. But they have to settle for a sustainable stream of tax revenue. They may promise to redistribute this but want to minimize the amount they actually transfer.
It’s one thing to think that, overall, we should aim to make the least well-off as well-off as possible. It’s another to think that unless everyone tirelessly labors to make everyone equally well-off, they sin against justice. The principle that governs the overall distribution of wealth it is not, I would think, also the one that specifies my charitable obligations – or what morality in general requires.
What is important is that assets are owned by those who can allocate them most efficiently. Charity has the same adverse selection and preference revelation problem as Government action. Mechanism Design is difficult to do but it can be done provided those with agency are the right end of information asymmetry and they act in a regret minimizing way.
But all of my arguments here have been relatively simple, superficial even. This is meant to be the beginning of a discussion, not the end of it.
But it is an uninformed discussion. This is a matter for empirical, positive, economics. We may as well speak of what the law of gravity ought to be as what the distribution of wealth ought to be.
And I should also say that I have been treating the distributive justice debate between philosophers as though it is only a debate about the distribution of wealth. This is a serious simplification. Philosophers debate both the distribution that justice demands and what the distribution is a distribution of.
They may debate what they like but everybody now thinks they have shit for brains. It is obvious that the distribution of wealth is a distribution of assets which yield income over time. Economists and Accountants and Actuaries spend a lot of time deciding what is or isn't an asset. At one time a PhD in Philosophy was an asset- you had higher life time earnings with one. Nowadays, the reverse is the case- unless you are in fact an utter cretin.
This second debate is sometimes called the debate over “the currency of egalitarian justice” (see, Cohen). No one in that debate actually proposes that wealth, much less money, is the right stand-in for what we should be distributing. Instead, they propose that we distribute primary goods, resources, welfare, unchosen luck, capabilities, the opportunity for welfare, utility, access to advantage, or the like. However, I think these arguments apply well-enough to the distribution of wealth to be useful. You might disagree.
Useful to whom? This is a matter where the layman has superior knowledge to the philosopher. That's why the layman refuses to study philosophy. He gets a trade and encourages his kids to apply themselves to STEM subjects. If they are stupid, they are welcome to try Econ. If they are mendacious, they should study law. Only if they are utter cretins is a credential in this worthless subject a matter for approbation. Those with special needs need special education and Philosophers are very very special indeed.