A Capitalist Manifesto

12 October 2007

The author of this work has granted permission to reproduce it freely, provided that the content is neither distorted nor quoted out of context:

A Capitalist Manifesto

Note of credit: Some of the articles on this site, notably Capitalist Apologism, has drawn from this work.


Deregulate private buses

13 June 2006

Deregulate bus routes. Let the private bus operators choose their own routes and switch between routes at will (as long as they complete a full run on a route before switching to another — you wouldn’t want to get on a 135 and have it become a 120 five minutes later).

Each route has its own peak hours and peak directions. If you allow bus operators to change routes, free market dynamics will go to work and the most active routes will get the most service. And the bus operators will come up with the most optimal route, i.e. the routes that will transport the most passengers with the least expenditure of fuel. For the passenger, that translates to better travel.

Break the private bus cartel

12 June 2006

As things are, you can’t just put a passenger bus into service in Sri Lanka, even if you get permission from the government — you have to deal with the private bus cartel. If you don’t go through them and agree to their conditions, you’ll be intimidated, harassed and put out of business.

It’s the government’s job to crackdown on such cartels and protect newcomers into the industry. Break this cartel and threaten any intimidators with legal action, and Sri Lanka’s public transport system stands to improve — through free market dynamics. Who knows, we may even have innovative private bus companies that are more organized that present day private bus operators.

Today, there are more passengers than buses can carry. Anybody who has ever used public transport in Sri Lanka to get to work or school knows this. Whenever demand exceeds supply, there is some force stifling the free market. In this case, it’s the private bus cartel and government regulation.

Ignorance of the Masses

2 May 2006

Some time back, a well known government minister was quoted as saying "If we don't have enough money to complete this project, we'll PRINT money and complete it." This man should have been booed out of the podium by a shocked and disgusted public. Instead, the audience of average folk had cheered. Now you know why this country can't get anywhere economically — people don't even have the basic knowledge to tell the difference between medicine and poison.

Fiat money

When the government prints say, Rs. 1 billion, its value just doesn't materialize out of thin air. Money is just paper. If there were say, Rs. 9 billion already in circulation, then the Rupee is now worth 9/10th of what it was before. In other words, the government has taken approximately 1/10th of everybody's wealth held in rupees. This is why counterfeiting money is illegal. Even a layman should be able to understand that, and why it applies equally to the government.

But looks like the average Sri Lankan can't even understand this. He doesn't realize that the money the government prints ultimately comes out of his own pocket. And if that's how much they know about something as straightforward as inflation, then how are they going to understand some of the more complicated economic measures the government takes? Are these the people carrying around the votes that determine which way the country will go? The government can do anything and say anything, and they'll be none the wiser.

It's not rocket science

This is why we need to educate the general public about economics and politics. They should have an understanding of what they're voting for or against. Most of economics is common sense, not rocket science. If explained in simple terms anyone can understand it.

If I were a politician, I might come to the people and say a variety of things like "I'll cut interest rates", "I'll raise interest rates", "I'll reduce the marginal tax rate", "I'll increase VAT and reduce income taxes", "I'll introduce a fuel subsidy", "I'll cut the fuel subsidy and increase import duty" etc. Most Sri Lankans will not be able to tell whether the long term effects of these on themselves and the economy are going to be positive or negative. So the government will always choose what will result in the most public support during its term. At the end of the term, they'll toss the pin-less grenade at the incoming government and walk off. Everybody will end up blaming the wrong people.

Democracy is very dangerous when the ignorant hold the vote. The answer is not to do away with democracy. The ignorant should wisen up.

Hello world

18 April 2006

I am an advocate of radical social and political reforms for Sri Lanka. This blog will shock most Sri Lankans. Expect nothing less. I will make no apologies for the things I say here. I may play devil’s advocate and defend ideas that I don’t personally endorse, but I will not mention which are which.

Reformation vs. Metamorphosis

The social/economic/political problems this country is facing cannot be solved by any single administration because solving them will take longer than the maximum term any administration can serve. It cannot be done in six or even twelve years. At minimum, it will take one generation — approximately 25 years.

Political and economic reforms by themselves will not solve the problem. The core of our problem is social. The political and economic systems that we’ve allowed ourselves to get trapped into are a symptom of this core problem, not its cause. Ours is a problem of ideology — the way we think. Until that is changed in a drastic and radical way, we cannot hope to sustain any sort of political or economic reform even if we manage to actually implement them. What we need is not reformation, but a complete, gradual metamorphosis.

Reformation: Personal and Systemic

A society is reformed through two converging movements of reformation: one, personal reformation and two, systemic reformation. Neither can achieve any lasting success without the other. A brilliant social/economic/political system will fail in the hands of scoundrels. Even the most virtuous person will be eventually broken by an improper system.

There are different degrees or levels in each type of reformation. For example, it’s easier for you to change the way you brush your teeth each morning than to change your deepest beliefs about good and evil. Similarly, it’s easier to change the way a license application form is processed at a government office than to change the constitution or develop a new one based on new moral principles. Between these two extremes (under both types of reformation) we get a whole spectrum of reforms of varying degrees of difficulty.

I believe that we should start at the lower levels of each of the two ‘avenues’ of reformation. That is the realistic and practical thing to do. Dramatic changes will be quickly reversed if either the people or the ‘system’ is not ready for them. Lasting changes depend on firm foundations, not on coups or revolutions. When revolutions DO work, it’s because they’re the culmination of years of foundation-laying.

The biggest challenge in making reforms is to not choose the wrong ones. No reform at all is better than a bad reform.

Comments: Please send comments, thoughts and ideas to greenhornet.lk AT gmail.com. I may choose to either ignore them, answer them, post them on the blog in part or in whole, expand on them or refute them, depending on how relevant I think they are to my objectives.