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Re: Exellent: the end of the debate nears!




>---Sanjeev Sabhlok <sabhlok@almaak.usc.edu> wrote:
> Birla had strings when he gave to Gandhi, but a lot of good came out
of it (India became independent).

KUSH:
Sanjeev: Once in a while you make such sweeping assertions that make
me jump out of my chair!  Surely, you are not implying that India's
independence was as a result of Birla's patronage of MK Gandhi? !! 
You will agree that India's independence was a result of many factors
and as a consequence of the efforts of many ( which started as far
back as 1857, if not before).

SANJEEV:
Different corporations will have different strings attached, but if
you and I as citizens can see each string  clearly, that will help
democracy a lot. Finally, don't imagine that all corporations will
give to one party or group. There will be massive competition there,
too. The tobacco lobby contributes to both Democratic and Republican
sides. Leave it to competition and transparency to sort out good from
the bad. And in any case, do not be afraid to look at reality in the
face. It won't eat you up.

KUSH:
I do not think we are afraid of facing reality.  yes, competing for
funds will be great.  However, there will be competition only if at
the very minimum two national parties are able to establish
themselves.  What happens if ONE party continues to dominate?  What if
the rich corporates collude and decide to support only a "right" wing
party? Would such a collusion be allowed?  OUR DISAGREEMENT WITH YOU
IS NOT ON CONTRIBUTIONS, BUT THAT THERE HAVE TO BE LIMITS TO SUCH
CONTRIBUTIONS. 

SANJEEV:
What I really liked was what you said above, "I believe there always
are strings attached." You get an A+ for recognizing that there are no
free lunches in the world. Even a citizen will not give without a
'string' (self-interest) attached. Without strings this world cannot
run. A worker's union receives contributions from workers because of
the worker's  self-interest. A string is another name for
'self-interest' in my dictionary. Self-interest will always find a way
to get what it wants. You and I - mere, poor, mortals - cannot stop
big businesses from trying to influence policy in their favor. I am
not in favor of trying to stop the Niagra falls simply because it
hurts some small plant downstream. 

KUSH:
I hope we are not going back to the false premise that democracy is a
free-for-all, do-anything-you-please system.  IT IS NOT.  IN FACT THAT
IS THE SYSTEM WE PRESENTLY HAVE IN INDIA!  Yes, we recognize
self-interest.  And there should be an expression of self-interest, no
crime there. However, each citizen (which includes corporates) must
respect the other side of the coin, which is self-restraint, and
self-control.  NO RIGHT IN A DEMOCRACY IS ABSOLUTE.  It is on this
priniciple that I am suggesting that you have to have some mandatory
control.  If you ignore this principle, then let us have no control in
any other area as well.  Which means I have a right to cry fire in a
theater.  I have a right to possess as many handguns as I want,
because I perceive my security as of paramount importance.  Sorry, it
doesn't work that way.   That is why whereas the US courts see
political contributions as an expression of free speech, they have
upheld any reasonable limits on such contributions.  There is no
contradiction there.

SANJEEV: 
I am in favor of you and I KNOWING what is happening: and in fact,
INSISTING on knowing what is happening (i.e., transparency,
accountability). Then we might be able to work out the right shelter
for the little plant (e.g., women being harrassed at workplaces). Just
by blocking the view of Niagra falls might not be a rational solution
to the problem of the little plant downstream. 

KUSH:
Transparency is welcome and we have complete agreement there. 
However, transparency alone cannot do the job as is evident from the
American experince.  If transparency alone was sufficeint, beleive me,
no one in the USA would impose limits on political contributions.   I
do not grasp your "Niagra Falls" analogy and how that is related to
sexual harrassment in the workplace.  I"ll keep working on it, but
lets move on.

SANJEEV:
I would like an India with a 0% black economy. Not a 9/10th black
economy as it is today. That will never happen if you try to impose
limits on self-interest. Let self-interests show up openly and COMPETE
publicly.  You know, you and I are in unanimity about transparency.
Along with everyone else. Why not focus on that rather than try to set
up limits to human nature. You and I and everyone else here can try to
work out excellent methods to ensure that, and once that is done, I
assure you,  you'll feel better about the little plant downstream. 

KUSH:
No, Sanjeev, nothing is without limit and without rules in a
democracy. Yes, we have agreement that the reality of self-interest
needs to be recognized.  However, all prudent people also know that
there is no such thing as a limitless self-interest.  At least that
has not been recognized in any Western democracy.  NO RIGHT IS
ABSOLUTE.  People want and willingly accept reasonable rules and
regulations.  In fact, without such self-restraining rules an ordered
democracy and a resultant good government is not possible.

The problem (as we have already discussed) is in arbitrariness.  You
talked about 0% black economy.  Can that be achieved in India? Yes,
100% but not until you will let people do what they reasonalby want to
do.  Taxation for example will always stay.  But the system has to be
reasonable and clean without needless, complicated rules and a "rate"
of taxation which is unreasonable.  Indian government never realized
the difference between taxation and extortion.  In addition, the
"principle" of self-interest was ignored. "How do my taxes benefit
me?"  Unless, you can provide a convincing answer to that question, a
government has no right to collect taxes.

SANJEEV:
Accept my 3 points and we can move forward to the next step: designing
transparent institutions for political donation, and fostering
powerful citizens bodies to prevent collusion. We will design
incentives for all sides to ensure that nobody can do the bad things
you were concerned about.
> 
KUSH:
Sanjeev based on the principle that no right is absolute, all we are
asking is that we include the statement that the people do reserve the
right to put reasonable limits on individual and corporate
contributions to limit the influence of money, if and when it is
perceived by them that decisions by law-makers are not being made in a
fair manner. Yes, I am not opposed to starting out with no limits on
an experimental basis.  If it works nothing like it!  However, do not
take away the option from the people to impose reason if the process
becomes unreasonable and a quid-pro-quo one.
 
Regards,

Kush Khatri

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