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What is good?
I was somewhat concerned that Utkarsh/ Kush and others might get an
impression from a few of the statements I have made/ quoted, that
self-interest is "bad" and that this is the "sad reality" and that
therefore one has to go for a "capitalistic" system because [of] TINA
(there is no alternative).
Quite to the contrary. Evidence shows that each human being has enormous
potential, and if that human being furthers his 'interest' by developing
that potential, then the society is better off, than if each person were
to convert into an altruistic person 'serving' everyone else.
I made up this little "quiz," for the non-believers:
QUESTION: Is it good for a society to
* Tell its best CHILDREN: stop working, stop studying, stop
creating, and go and serve the poor? If you study hard,
you might become the best in school, and then get a good
job, which is a very selfish thing to aspire for.
* Tell its best CREATORS: stop being creative, stop the creation
of new music, new art, new dance, since that might lead
to fame and greatness and also some wealth for India, and
that is no no! Bad Bad. Very bad. Very selfish. Stop
painting, drawing, singing, dancing. Or at the best,
simply copy the ancestors and do not dare to innovate.
* Tell its INVENTORS, great COMPETITORS: Tut, Tut!! My little fella,
you are being a bad guy. Stop trying to win a Nobel Prize,
or a gold medal in the Olympics. You are a bad boy for
wanting to be the best in the world. Bend down. Stop trying.
Start living with the slum dwellers, and Nirvana and Virtue
shall be yours.
* Tell its Government, "Dear Motherly Government, I am but a little
child who never learnt to grow up and never learnt to take
care of myself. Please come into my bathroom and tell me
which toothpaste I must use. Tell me if I can eat this
or drink this. Set limits on me from outside. Ban alcohol.
Ban beef. Ban things which you think I should not have.
I am never a grown up who can decide for myself.
I need you - O Motherly Government! to guide me through
this turbluent life."
* Tell its Government, please stop bothering about roads and bridges,
stop bothering about the defence of my country, but
come into my factory and tell me how much to produce. After
all if I produce too much, or of a good quality, I might
become rich, and that is a well-known BAD thing. Also,
please do stop Singapore Airlines from providing me better
service. I am very very scared of little flying ants.
Protect me, O Motherly Government! From these foreign
beasts who have somehow learnt how to become rich.
* Tell its Government, please stop collecting money by fair means, but
do set up a toll gate system at Srirampur,* and a fake "tender"
system for 'central' purchase of cement, and a system for
foreign investors to come and pay you a tribute. Please ensure
that any 'altruistic' public servant who comes in your way
is summarily transferred, or worse.
[Aha! You don't know Srirampur? Well, that is the gate on the
highway entering Assam, and the revenue "generated" for the
political leadership in Assam from that gate is in the lakhs
per day. You can go there today, take an observation post
and see what happens!}
* Tell its sports administrators that there must be "quotas" for every
region, and that there is no need for excellence. After all,
it is enough to "participate" under India's tattered flag. It does
not matter at all if no one wins a medal. Sportsmanship is what
matters, not the winning. In fact, winning is BAD. Plain bad.
Winning is selfish, and self-seeking. We don't like that in
These are of course very clumsily drafted "questions." Most of you could
do better. The funny thing is that we all recognize that the key human
attributes leading to excellence are: hard work, competitiveness, urge to
do better than the best. These are NOT altruistic things. Altruism kills
all initiative and enterprise. A society must be fully geared toward
tapping **this** highest form of self-interest: what Maslow called
"self-actualization." Socialistic economies forbid self-actualization. The
service of the poor can be at best one small goal of a society. The
primary goal MUST be the creation of wealth and being the best. When a
Stephen Hawkins or a Hellen Keller out-smarts his/her physical handicap,
that is the essence of self-seeking. When USA decides to put a man on the
moon, and does it, that is called societal self-seeking.
In general, people work the way they see their actions rewarded. If people
see that corruption is rewarded with promotion, and honesty with a
transfer, then no matter what some theorists might say about how human
beings "should" behave, the good will start packing up and leaving, first
the job, and then the country. In India, I , for example, faced the
following "deal" from the society, as offered to me by **your**
"You who are a God-Forsaken Fool
and Pain in The Neck
that really wants to
serve the people, Listen to Me:
I the elected representative want to serve myself.
(while of course talking about serving the poor.
I the elected rep control what you do in your life.
I, your BOSS, offer you a simple deal:
If you allow me to make all the money I want,
If you allow my corrupt officers to flourish under you,
THEN, and ONLY then,
will I, your BOSS,
let you serve the people.
else I will TOSS you into the
dustbin of history.
I will ensure that the official wage I pay you
will make you cry and your children suffer.
As you see the corrupt inspector's children
get the best education and prosper.
(I of course use my "official wage" to purchase
toys for my child's dog. Ha Ha, again!!)
Well, I am AUTHORIZED by the People of India
to offer your this deal.
Take this deal or leave it.
(Ha Ha!!!!: Resounding laugher is heard
in the corridors of power!!!)"
[Sanjeev gets up, packs bags, and leaves.
Goes out and comes back with IndiaPolicy ...
India continues as before...
Sanjeev gets tired, gets old, and dies...
In the distance, the Srirampur gate is
seen to be continuing its age-old tradition...
Curtain falls on the scene.]
Reverting to the enthusiasm being displayed by some folk on this list, for
'somebody' sacrificing themselves for the welfare of others.
Stop! There is no need to be a sacrificial goat! Sacrificial goats meet
only one end: they are roasted alive and eaten with relish!
The system does NOT need sacrifices. It needs good thinking.
If we design a human society with the assumption that all people who join
public service are 'automatically' good and those who run businesses are
'automatically' bad, then we will be making a fundamental error. Let us,
instead, create a Fair Society. When people work for their self-interest
and are rewarded for their contributions in proportion to the work and
effort and quality expended, that society is called a "Fair" society, not
the one in which a few people exhort everyone else to "sacrifice"
themselves for the welfare of the People.
I hope Utkarsh and Kush will have no dispute with this definition of a
"Fair" society, which focuses strongly on individual self-development, and
If that is agreed to then (I am keeping KS's point to pause and summarize,
a) I'll add a definition of a "Fair" Society somewhere on the web page;
perhaps in the Free Citizen section.
b) Close the topic on remunerations to our representatives by saying that
we must compensate our public servants (whether elected or otherwise)
substantially, and hold them accountable for results.
c) In order to ensure accountability of elected reps, I would like to
suggest that an ideal political party must have its own code of conduct
which over-rides all other codes. A political party is like a corporation:
offering "governance services" to the people. It must have thing like:
* Only taxpayers with a history of paying income tax
for 5 years would be eligible to contest on behalf
of the ideal party.
* All those who wish to contest will have to publicly
declare their tax returns and assets on the internet
* Basic educational qualifications: 4 years of college
* Basic political training: 1 year certificate course
in the Institute run by the party. Course would
include basics of policy, governance, economics,
* No criminal case pending in court (something
to do with reasonability to be added here)
* Any complaint about integrity of an elected
member would be investigated within 15 days by
an internal Corruption Squad.
* Any elected member not declaring assets publicly
each year by a fixed date would be terminated
from membership of the party, permanently.
and so on.
I think this is a very hypothetical party, but this is what we would like
to have: a party that carries out its own internal checks and provides a
GUARANTEE of good quality both of its candidates as well as of the
We would like, as citizens, to vote for parties which carry out their own
internal checks, and which do not demotive the good public servants who
were appointed by us, citizens, to serve our self-interest. We want
parties which screen out their own candidates, and offer guarantees of
stringent internal punishment to the bad guys.
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