Over the past few years, a lot has been said and done in the name of “protecting” industries, companies, and consumers. The individualist in me looks with interest at these words that should sound reassuring, but then the intellectual butts in and goes, “wait a minute!”
Two notions seem to have received much attention in the media over the past few years:
- If baby boomers give up their jobs, it will make it very easy for the Gen Y to get those vacant jobs and help the economy
- When baby boomers retire in hordes over this decade and the next, it will cause insurmountable burden on the economy to pay for their retirement and health care costs (http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2010/03/22/will-retiring-boomers-lead-to-too-many-open-jobs-by-2018/)
The inherent contradiction in these two notions should give you an idea that something is not quite right about this entire debate.
In fact, while people with no understanding of economic theory sway from one end of the pendulum to another, they forget the one cardinal truth of economy: jobs are to be created. They’re not a static quantity that can exist only in finite numbers and needs to be exchanged.
Please note that this is a reposting of an old rant with some edits and clarifications on the principles discussed in it.
The front-page story in an article on The Times of India read, “The cost of implementing the historic Right to Education (RTE) Act over the next five years by the Centre and states works out to a whopping Rs 1.78 lakh crore [INR 1.78 trillion as per the short scale]. The new law will come into force from the next academic year and since right to education is now a fundamental right, it is mandatory on the part of the government to provide what is demanded.”
So to make it simple, the implication here is that because we have a right to education, the Government is responsible to provide that education to us for free. Many people across the world, especially the Western countries would identify with this explanation of “rights” and think it’s the most logical one. But is it? By extension, does it mean that because I have a right to life, if it happens to be in danger from some disease, is it the Government’s job to fix it for me for free?
One of my dear friends tweeted this yesterday, “How about we spend an hour discussing how we can eliminate poverty in underdeveloped countries. As opposed to Sidney Crosby’s vertebra.” In response to that tweet, the first thing that came to my mind was, “do we even need to work on it in the first place?” Then I thought, okay, let’s indulge in some borderline altruistic thinking — I could argue that it isn’t really altruistic to want to help those in a subhuman level of existence, but that’s a topic for another discussion.
Some time ago, I posted my thoughts on Steve Jobs and his legacy, and linked to a definition of “free” on the website of the Free Software Foundation. In case that gets misconstrued as my full endorsement of that definition, and to talk about the things about that definition that don’t sit very well with me, I am writing this post.