Monday, November 24, 2008

1984 Sikh carnage was wrong: Rahul Gandhi

1984 Sikh carnage was wrong: Rahul Gandhi

Amritsar, November 18. Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi condemned the anti-Sikh violence in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi’s assassination, saying “whatever happened was wrong”.

“The 1984 riots were wrong. I strongly condemn the carnage,” Rahul said at a news conference in response to a question on Operation Bluestar and the riots. “There is no truth that there is hatred among Sikhs against the Congress party. I have travelled a lot and wherever I go and interact with them (Sikhs), I find lots of love for us... When my grandmother lost elections in 1977, I saw with my own eyes many Sikhs assembling by her side at our residence, when many others had left her isolated. We cannot forget all this.”

Rahul said he and his family bore no ill-will against the community of “which the whole country is proud of”.

Rahul reacted to BJP chief Rajnath Singh’s description of him as a “bachcha” in politics. “Yes, I am a bachcha. But then, 70% of the country’s population is bachcha. What kind of message is Rajnath Singh sending?”

In an interview with The Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta on NDTV’s Walk the Talk, Rajnath Singh had said, “I would not like to comment on Rahul at all, I consider Rahul a child... Maybe some politicians consider him a rival but as far as I’m concerned he is just like my child.”

;-) contemporary politics!

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Probably those 8 folks, who took the law into their own hand, thought that they are above law. Now gone fishing!

TN Police is not doing the job.

When situation is out of control, when "one" person is getting beaten up.. the good Samaritan can even beatup the perpetrator to save the other. Here entering the campus, would not be a question at all.

Police did not behave like good Samaritans, forget about laathis and guns!

I just want to know, who the local Collector is? Definitely I can name and write a complaint about that person for not taking action under Sec 144, for not keeping peace, when there was know information about the rowdyism in the campus.

What we all should do is, for the 40 police posted there, send some flowers! (pun intended!)

Your "theerpu" is good. Parents are the one's to blame.

Ramana's ATF will take care of those 8 idiots.

Just people like Gnani et al, would be just writing. Doesnt help!

Kanimozhi, please do something!

In fact, this comment is good enough for the DGP to take action!

Those 8 guys, should be booked under Goonda's Act immediately... and as a fellow blogger says, their parents also should be held accountable!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Ethics, Corruption, and Economic Freedom

Ethics, Corruption, and Economic Freedom
by Ana Isabel Eiras
Heritage Lecture #813

The subject of ethics has increasingly been present in economic analysis, 1 although not without considerable debate. Some economists believe that the importance of economics is purely technical. Others believe that moral considerations in economic analysis provide a more accurate picture of possible outcomes since it takes into consideration the human aspect of economic actors--that is, people.

I confess that, as an economist, it makes me nervous to insert subjective measures such as morality and ethics when I do my own analysis, both because my conclusions may be applicable only to a few cases and because morality and ethics are hard to measure. But since economics is the study of choice, human behavior cannot be ignored in economic analysis if we want to have a meaningful insight into people's economic life.

I will try to explain corruption, therefore, in economic terms and show how economic freedom removes opportunities for corruption and promotes ethics not just for its moral implications, but also because of its economic value.

Ethics, according to Merriam-Webster's dictionary, is "the discipline dealing with what is good and bad...." In general, we call unethical those actions for which there is a social consensus that they are a bad thing. 2

Corruption has several meanings, depending on whether it takes place in the public or private sector; however, for most people corruption is something unethical, something considered a wrongdoing. A closer look at human behavior in economic life suggests that, in some instances, corruption does not reflect so much a lack of ethics as it reflects a lack of economic freedom.

Economic Freedom and Corruption

To better understand the link between corruption and economic freedom, let me first describe economic freedom and then explain how its absence fosters corruption. I will examine the relationship between economic freedom and corruption both in the form of informal economic activity and in the public-sector bureaucracy.

According to The Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal annual Index of Economic Freedom, economic freedom is "the absence of government constraint or coercion on the production, distribution, or consumption of goods and services beyond the extent necessary for citizens to protect and maintain liberty itself." 3

The Index measures the level of economic freedom in 161 countries around the world. To measure economic freedom, it focuses the study on 10 different factors:

  • Trade policy,
  • Fiscal burden of government,
  • Government intervention in the economy,
  • Monetary policy,
  • Banking and finance,
  • Capital flows and foreign investment,
  • Wages and prices,
  • Property rights,
  • Regulation, and
  • Informal market.

The Index provides a framework for understanding how open countries are to competition; the degree of state intervention in the economy, whether through taxation, spending or overregulation; and the strength and independence of a country's judiciary to enforce rules and protect private property. The 10 factors of the Index allow anyone to see how much or little economic freedom a country has.

Some countries may have freedom in all factors; others may have freedom in just a few. One of the most important findings of the Index is that, as Frederick von Hayek foresaw more than 60 years ago, economic freedom is required in all aspects of economic life--that is, in all of the 10 factors--in order for countries to improve their economic efficiency and, consequently, the living standards of their people.

The Index shows that corruption does not always reflect inherent unethical behavior. This is particularly the case for those who are forced out of the formal economy into the informal economy through burdensome regulations, taxation, and weak property rights.

Economic Freedom and the Informal Economy

Charts 1 and 2 illustrate the relationship between economic freedom and the size of the informal economy as a percentage of GDP in OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] countries and 22 transition economies. 4 Chart 1 shows a positive correlation between these two factors. As economic freedom vanishes, the informal economy takes a larger share of GDP.


On average, as shown in Chart 2, the size of the informal economy in economically unfree and repressed economies is almost three times the size of the informal economy in free economies, and almost double the size of the informal economy in mostly free economies.


These charts illustrate the perverse effect of economic repression on the ethics of ordinary people and on the perpetuation of their poverty conditions. For example, in most developed countries, people have a better standard of living thanks to credit access. In the United States, for example, without credit, I would not have a house, or a car, or a TV, or a vacation, or many of the products that add comfort and convenience to my life. Credit makes it possible for me, an ordinary middle-class person, to improve my standard of living in many ways.

To have access to credit, however, I need to prove that I have an income or property. To prove that I have income, I need a formal job, and to prove that I have property, I need a property title.

The amount of available formal jobs depends, of course, on how easy or difficult it is for people to invest, whether in a small retail shop to sell groceries or in a big factory. The friendlier the business environment, the more likely formal jobs will be available. According to the Index of Economic Freedom, however, in most low- to middle-income countries, it is extremely difficult for small and medium investors--which are the largest source of jobs--to operate, both because of the regulatory environment and because of the lack of a strong rule of law.

Consider labor regulations in Argentina. In this country, an employer must grant, by law, several employee benefits, including holidays, vacations, sick leave, health insurance, paid overtime, an annual bonus, and some paid months before laying off an employee. 5 Or take France, where employers must grant, by law, at least 2.5 working days of paid vacations per month; pay over 30 percent in contributions to social security; offer a complementary pension scheme, 35 hours of work per week, and time off; and abide by a burdensome bureaucratic procedure to dismiss employees. 6

The immediate problem with this kind of legislation is that it assumes that all employees are equally good, equally responsible, and equally productive, which is not true. If the employee arrives late, treats customers poorly, and makes the employer lose money, the law grants that employee the same benefits that it grants to a good employee.

Perhaps large businesses, like a multinational factory, can afford to comply with these regulations because of the size of the business and its diversification around the world. But the burden of these regulations destroys small and medium entrepreneurs, who may put their entire savings at stake in their investment.

Small and medium businesses therefore choose to do business and create jobs in the informal sector, where these benefits are negotiable and tied to performance, and not forced by law. This is a clear case in which the rules of the state create perceived unethical behavior by private employers and employees when what is really in question is the ethics of such a regulatory burden in the first place.

If they do not have a job, people can still get access to credit if they have a property title to use as collateral. According to Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto, many of the poor in the developing world have property but the bureaucracy they have to go through in order to get a property title is, at best, huge. 7 For example, in Perú, "to obtain legal authorization to build a house on state-owned land took six years and eleven months, requiring 207 administrative steps in 52 government offices.... To obtain a legal title for that piece of land took 728 steps." 8

It is just as bad in other countries, such as Egypt, where it takes 77 steps in 31 government offices (anywhere from six to 14 years), or the Philippines, where it takes 168 steps through 53 offices (anywhere from 13 to 25 years). The poor own many things that they could use as collateral, but it is bureaucratically impossible for them to validate their property rights. As a result, they are unable to convert what they own into capital and, therefore, raise their standard of living.

Informality is a response to economic repression, not to something inherently unethical in those who circumvent legislation. What is most unethical about informality is the condition in which the government forces the poor to live. Informally employed people are condemned to a standard of living that is significantly lower than that of formally employed people, who have credit access. Also, informality creates a culture of contempt for the law and fosters corruption and bribery in the public sector as a necessary means to navigate the bureaucracy.

Economic Freedom and the Rule of Law

Charts 3 and 4 illustrate the relationship between economic freedom and the level of corruption in 95 countries around the world. 9 Chart 3 shows a strong correlation between these two factors. As economic freedom vanishes, corruption flourishes. On average, as shown in Chart 4, the level of perceived morality--as a contrast to corruption--in economically free countries is almost four times the level of perceived morality in the public sector in mostly unfree or repressed economies, and almost 60 percent greater than in mostly free economies.



Having a weak rule of law significantly adds to the level of corruption in the public sector as well as the amount of informal activity. A weak judiciary is a "blind eye" on anything done outside the law. With a weak judiciary, corruption goes unpunished and informality flourishes.

This is one of the most serious problems we find in the world today. Of 161 countries evaluated in the 2003 Index of Economic Freedom, 108 received bad scores in both regulation and property rights," undermining any effort to improve the living standards of the poorest in those 108 countries.


To be sure, there are cases of corruption that respond to the unethical nature of the corrupt individual. But for the most part, the unethical behavior stems from the environment in which individuals must interact. Convoluted regulations and weak rule of law foster a culture of corruption and informality both in the private and public sectors.

In the public sector, convoluted regulations and weak rule of law provide ample opportunities for public officials to accept bribes without punishment. In the private sector, those two factors push some people to do business informally as a means to survive and others to profit far more than they would if the possibility of bribery did not exist. The result is an increasingly unequal society, in terms of the opportunity to create wealth and improve living standards.

To fight corruption and informality, it is essential to understand that corruption is a symptom--of overregulation, lack of rule of law, a large public sector--not the root of the problem. The perceived problem is unethical/corrupt behavior of the private sector, which leads the government to press more on private-sector activities. The real problem is the government action/regulations causing undesired behavior of the private sector. The optimal solution would be to eliminate burdensome regulations so that unethical behavior does not occur.

Countries must advance economic freedom in all possible areas of the economy, with particular emphasis on regulations affecting small and medium business, in order for corruption and informality to decrease. The Index of Economic Freedom is an excellent guide to identify what is obstructing economic activity and, therefore, perpetuating poverty.

Countries must also preserve the independence and effectiveness of the judiciary to punish corrupt actions. Economic freedom with a strong rule of law will foster a culture of investment, job creation, and institutional respect--all essential factors in massively improving the living standards of ordinary people.

--Ana Isabel Eiras is Senior Policy Analyst for International Economics in the Center for International Trade and Economics at The Heritage Foundation. These remarks were delivered at a conference on the "Ethical Foundations of the Economy" in Krakow, Poland. 10

1. See Daniel Hausmann and Michael McPherson, "Taking Ethics Seriously: Economics and Contemporary Moral Philosophy," Journal of Economic Literature, Vol. XXXI (June 1993), pp. 671-731. See also Leonard Silk, "Ethics in Economics," American Economic Review, Vol. 67, No. 1 (February 1977).

2. Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition (Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, 2002), p. 397.

3. Gerald P. O'Driscoll, Jr., Edwin J. Feulner, and Mary Anastasia O'Grady, 2003 Index of Economic Freedom (Washington, D.C.: The Heritage Foundation and Dow Jones & Company, Inc., 2003), p. 50.

4. Friedrich Schneider (see Charts 1 and 2) used the physical input (electricity) method, designed by Daniel Kaufmann and Aleksander Kaliberda. Overall (official and unofficial) economic activity and electricity consumption have been empirically observed throughout the world to move in lockstep with an electricity/GDP elasticity that is usually close to 1. By having a proxy measurement for the overall economy and subtracting it from estimates of official GDP, Kaufmann and Kaliberda derive an estimate of unofficial GDP and DYMIMIC method (dynamic multiple-indicators multiple-causes, a model that measures the link between the unobserved variables [the shadow economy] to observed indicators) to measure the size of the informal economy in transition countries in Central and Eastern Europe and in states of the former Soviet Union. For the OECD countries, either the currency demand method (first used by Phillip Cagan, who calculated a correlation of the currency demand and the tax pressure--as one cause of the shadow economy--for the United States over the period 1919 to 1955) or the DYMIMIC method is used to estimate the size of the shadow economy.

5. The Labor Market and Its Legal Context, Executive Summary, Deloitte & Touche, July 2003.

6. Country Commerce: France, Economist Intelligence Unit, June 2002.

7. Hernando de Soto. The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else (New York: Basic Books, 2000).

8. Idem.

9. The TI Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ranks countries in terms of the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among public officials and politicians. The CPI focuses on corruption in the public sector and defines corruption as the abuse of public office for private gain. The lower the score, the higher the level of corruption. For details about how the CPI is done, see

10. The author would like to thank John Lyneis, an intern at TheHeritage Foundation, for his valuable research assistance.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Acceptance Speech (c) Barak Hussein Obama

Hello, Chicago.

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It's the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

It's the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.

We are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It's the answer that led those who've been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment change has come to America.

A little bit earlier this evening, I received an extraordinarily gracious call from Sen. McCain.

Sen. McCain fought long and hard in this campaign. And he's fought even longer and harder for the country that he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine. We are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader.

I congratulate him; I congratulate Gov. Palin for all that they've achieved. And I look forward to working with them to renew this nation's promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart, and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on the train home to Delaware, the vice president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

And I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last 16 years the rock of our family, the love of my life, the nation's next first lady Michelle Obama.

Sasha and Malia I love you both more than you can imagine. And you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the new White House.

And while she's no longer with us, I know my grandmother's watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight. I know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my sister Maya, my sister Alma, all my other brothers and sisters, thank you so much for all the support that you've given me. I am grateful to them.

And to my campaign manager, David Plouffe, the unsung hero of this campaign, who built the best -- the best political campaign, I think, in the history of the United States of America.

To my chief strategist David Axelrod who's been a partner with me every step of the way.

To the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you've sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to. It belongs to you. It belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn't start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington. It began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston. It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give $5 and $10 and $20 to the cause.

It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation's apathy who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep.

It drew strength from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on doors of perfect strangers, and from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organized and proved that more than two centuries later a government of the people, by the people, and for the people has not perished from the Earth.

This is your victory.

And I know you didn't do this just to win an election. And I know you didn't do it for me.

You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime -- two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.

Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us.

There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after the children fall asleep and wonder how they'll make the mortgage or pay their doctors' bills or save enough for their child's college education.

There's new energy to harness, new jobs to be created, new schools to build, and threats to meet, alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.

I promise you, we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can't solve every problem.

But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it's been done in America for 221 years -- block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night.

This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were.

It can't happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other.

Let us remember that, if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers.

In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let's resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.

Let's remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity.

Those are values that we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.

As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.

And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces, to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand.

To those -- to those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright: Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.

That's the true genius of America: that America can change. Our union can be perfected. What we've already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that's on my mind tonight's about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She's a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn't vote for two reasons -- because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she's seen throughout her century in America -- the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can't, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women's voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that "We Shall Overcome." Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination.

And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change.

Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves -- if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment.

This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can't, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.

Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.

(c) Barak Hussein Obama