Un-Tibet

March 16, 2008 at 11:25 pm | Posted in annexation, British meddling, Burma, chimpanzee, CIA, civilian massacre, colonization, communism, Dalai Lama, democracy, dictator, discrimination, displaced persons, dissidence, dissidents, equality, ethnic cleansing, exile, forcible deportation, freedom of speech, global evils, government, human rights, Indian foreign policy, individual freedom, individual rights, intolerance, justice, liberty, man's inhumanity to man, Myanmar, peace, poverty, race, racial profiling, racism, self determination, Tibet | Leave a comment
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three chimps see no

None in the International community of nations, seems to be ready to bell the Chinese cat on Tibet. The policy of silence is loudest in Tibet’s closest neighbour – India.

It seems a shame that commercial interests combined with India’s real fear of confrontation with China on the disputed area of the borders in Arunachal Pradesh state, should be sufficient to cow down such an erstwhile champion of human rights as India. Still, the sad truth is that though the Dalai Lama is our guest in exile, in toto, that too is just for publicity’s sake and has little other than symbolic value.

Reading through Tibet’s long and tortuous history, we must again conclude that the death blows to Tibetan independence were finally dealt by the British in the early years of the 20th century, closely followed by a botched CIA operation during the 1950s.Like any unfortunate country that is lacking great enticements (like oil or mineral wealth), no other nation is willing to stick their necks out against the Chinese behemoth for the sake of a few million poor and exploited Tibetans. Europe is happy to support the right of Kosovans to self determination but won’t even whimper at the fate of the poor Tibetans.As with Sudan and Burma, so it is too with Tibet – a mysterious cat has got every single nation’s tongue!
The Chinese have been much more concerned with the possible effects on their precious Olympics. I think they have misread the world’s commitment to anything other than money. Our modern world’s shame is highlighted by the fact that ‘amateur’ sport has been so successfully exploited to become the biggest money spinner of all time. Catch the nations of the world putting principles ahead of the chance to collectively make some really fast bucks! If only even one country would demand autonomy or at least basic human rights for Tibetans before agreeing to Olympic participation… fat chance!

Just for fun, compare the “Freinds of Tibet” facts and figures with the Chinese version of ‘the truth’ and tell me what you think… There certainly is bias showing in Western reporting on Tibet but the Chinese story is simply pathetic.

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Burma’s Bloody Gems

March 11, 2008 at 7:08 am | Posted in Burma, China, deforestation, democracy, forest, hardwood, India's double standards, Indian foreign policy, individual freedom, individual rights, injustice, junta, MNC, MNC nexus, MNCs, Myanmar, tree | Leave a comment
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Quoting from the Christian Science Monitor : “The government’s Myanmar Gem Enterprise – Burma’s third largest export company after the state-run oil and timber companies – has said gem sales have increased by 45 percent every year for the past three. The gem auctions, held once or twice a year since 1964, are becoming more frequent. All told, the official trade in Burma’s gems, according HRW, was valued at $297 million in fiscal year 2006-2007, but is estimated to actually be much higher when factoring in unofficial sales.”
The triumphant announcement of the growing success of the Rangon gem auctions comes after our morally bankrupt “world leaders” called for a boycott on Myanmarese gems. Most of the mines are government owned, with large shares going to individual memebers of the military Junta. The mines supply a world hungry for jade, rubies, diamonds, cat’s- eyes, emeralds, topaz, pearls, sapphires, coral, and yellow garnet. A further horror is that in typical fashion, all the mines have been confiscated from local communities and these same communities are now ’employed’ there as forced labor – mostly women and children.
Interestingly, gem exploitation ranks only third in Burma’s export earnings. Oil and TIMBER take the lead (no boycott has been called against Burmese timber or oil!). In all three spheres, China studiously ignores all calls for international boycotts and is closely followed (though much more obliquely) by India. While some of the world’s gem trading MNC giants have officially supported the ban, many are also busy exploiting ‘the letter of the law’ and hiding the origins of their gemstones by rerouting the raw Burmese gems to other countries such as India and Sri Lanka in order to muddy the original source. In India, gem traders gleefully line their pockets with the bloody spoils of value addition as they polish and facet the gems to be exported as India’s own (it’s a Rs. 800 billion industry with India processing between 75 and 80% of the world’s gem stones).What a shame that the world’s largest democracy and a supposed champion of human rights would quietly allow their traders to deal with a monster state that makes its money by bleeding a fellow democracy to death.

Greg Manikiw on the Yin and Yang of Economics

December 15, 2007 at 8:50 am | Posted in competition, corporations, economics, economy, escher, free market, government, income dostribution, individual freedom, individual rights, liberty, market, market forces, Michael Kruse, MNC. economics, monopoly, poverty, right and left, selfish, socialism, taxation, trickle down, wealth distribution, world GDP | 2 Comments
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How do the right and left differ?

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The conclusion of today’s ec 10 lecture:

In today’s lecture, I have discussed a number of reasons that right-leaning and left-leaning economists differ in their policy views, even though they share an intellectual framework for analysis. Here is a summary.

  • The right sees large deadweight losses associated with taxation and, therefore, is worried about the growth of government as a share in the economy. The left sees smaller elasticities of supply and demand and, therefore, is less worried about the distortionary effect of taxes.
  • The right sees externalities as an occasional market failure that calls for government intervention, but sees this as relatively rare exception to the general rule that markets lead to efficient allocations. The left sees externalities as more pervasive.
  • The right sees competition as a pervasive feature of the economy and market power
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  • as typically limited both in magnitude and duration. The left sees large corporations with substantial degrees of monopoly power that need to be checked by active antitrust policy.
  • The right sees people as largely rational, doing the best the can given the constraints they face. The left sees people making systematic errors and believe that it is the government role’s to protect people from their own mistakes.

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  • The right sees government as a terribly inefficient mechanism for allocating resources, subject to special-interest politics at best and rampant corruption at worst. The left sees government as the main institution that can counterbalance the effects of the all-too-powerful marketplace.

    There is one last issue that divides the right and the left—perhaps the most important one. That concerns the issue of income distribution. Is the market-based distribution of income fair or unfair, and if unfair, what should the government do about it? That is such a big topic that I will devote the entire next lecture to it.

    Greg Manikiw on himself: “… a professor of economics at Harvard University, where I teach introductory economics (ec 10) among other courses.”
    Thanks to Michael Kruse for posting this up on his own exciting blog: Kruse Kronicle and that’s also a link to his excellent new series on “Living Simply in Abundance”.

Forces of Evil

September 13, 2007 at 4:54 pm | Posted in casteism, culture, family, family prerogatives, forced marriage, honour killing, human rights, individual freedom, individual rights, marriage, SED, suicide | 4 Comments
The clash of cultures in India and other parts of the third world is something that I have always thought of as an intellectual exercise. Recently, though, the realities have struck a bit too close to home for comfort!

Our culture is one that is dominated by family. The family is now mostly the immediate family and the closest relations, something an order of magnitude greater than the nuclear family itself. Previously such was a much bigger group in India very often comprising one’s caste, (community or jaathi). Nowadays, for many of the city dwelling folks, the caste carries a little less weight, but the slightly extended family (SED), has taken over that role and dictates terms to the concerned individuals with an overpowering and imperative voice.

The Now Generation, the 6th – 7th generation of our youth (Millennium 1?) since this nation gained independence, is at a crossroads. They know, and their national constitution guarantees them, their rights, but the rights are on paper and cannot be exercised without causing much consternation in the SED. The SED decides on everything from dress codes, to schooling, to work, diet and even, yes, marriage partners. The confusion is compounded by the utter contrast between what these kids see on TV, on the internet, and what the SED is telling them.

Over the years, it has been our privilege to stand by those few brave souls who are willing to buck the system and insist that they do have the right as individuals to make their own choices. Not surprisingly, these individuals are those who have had perhaps more of an exposure to Western cultures, perhaps with parents who had themselves felt uneasy with the status quo but also quite often it is a matter of conflict from the word go.

Surprisingly, when in the midst of the heated, emotional and sometimes dangerous conversations that follow when a person moves against their SED, the question often boils down to economics: The SED has done a,b, & c for you at great cost to itself, therefore you cannot now go your own way. Obviously, the entire system, the economics of the SED way of life, is being called into question.

Reactions to challenges to the SED system of life are often even violent for so much is at stake. But the critical question is how this clash of cultures is going to work itself out? For one thing, those who want to accommodate the good in the older system (stable, long lasting marriages and families that are child oriented) find themselves in a bind for any change is not appreciated. Without the middle path it seems that only by open conflict will the system change!

Ground Zero is usually marriage. Arranged versus love marriage is the stark choice that faces our youth. The SED will not tolerate love marriages at all. Very often the few couples who proceed and succeed in getting married after falling in love, will face ostracism, often by parents and family on both sides. Some do survive the economic and societal pressures but often these couples are forced apart. The result is often disastrous with the couple deciding to commit suicide.

The only option within SED is to marry

whomever the SED picks out, and make the best of it.

It may have been a good system resulting in stable marriages and strong families at one time, but it only works when both husband and wife (and their kids!) are strictly role bound and do not ask any awkward questions. Given the ways in which the supporting culture is changing, it’s only a matter of time before the questions will out and marriages that looked solid find themselves on the rocks.

Our youth will have to find their way through this difficult maze, and to some extent, one can see them succeeding in forging a new path especially in the cities. The rural scene is still completely bound in tradition and forced marriages and even honour killings are still a ‘norm’ whenever the rural SEDs and the local caste system are challenged.

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