This page is the result of a mind-blowing class I took under Prof. Ron Howard (Dept of MS&E, Stanford University) on "Designing a Free Society." We are unbelievably entrenched in coercive structures than we would like to know. This page is an attempt to look at current events with a different lens, that of a non-coercive, voluntary society, that lives on the maxim, "Peaceful, honest people have the right to be left alone."
Recently, an officer with the Indian Oil Corporation was murdered by unscrupulous fuel pump owners who were caught by the officer adulterating fuel with kerosene. While society is up in arms against the foul murder, very few are looking at the cause of the crime.
Kerosene is subsidised for the poor and a very small percentage actually reaches the intended audience. Most of it is used by the "fuel mafia" who adulterate petrol that costs Rs 35 a litre, with kerosene that goes for Rs 11 a litre (only for the bonafide poor).
This sounds devastatingly similar to the crisis that occurred in Communist Russia with subsidized bread. Farmers were feeding it to pigs as it was cheaper than pig fodder. So much for subsidies. In this case, it has taken a young, bright officer's life. He may not be the first if we do not understand the insidious nature of subsidies and taxes.
Here is a good analysis by Ila Patnaik
that goes deep into this issue.
There is a strange practice in Tamil Nadu of coercing women to retract statements if it happens to hurt public sensibilities. Pooja Bhatt sums it up rather nicely in this article
What I find so strange is the deafening silence in the media - while they normally tend to have opinions on everything, how is it that they haven't thrown up a storm at this blatant coercion? Why does this appear more like a tennis match than an attack on civil liberties?
While politics is probably at the bottom of this mess, I'm a little hesitant to dismiss civil liberties as a casualty. Saying something controversial is not a problem (though, in this case, the people involved were saying sensible things). Rebuttals or protesting statements are also not a problem. However, slapping defamation suits saying the state of Tamil Nadu has been defamed is a problem.
This tactic baffles the mind. How does one defame a state? Some suits have accused the speakers of corrupting the innocent. There are so many better ways of doing that and they are actually being done by several cable TV channels each day. I wonder why no one talks about safeguards that protect children from inappropriate material - channels run programs without any sort of standardized rating system.
What I am surprised about our legal system is that frivolous charges like this are actually allowed in for non-zero lengths of time.
Where is the soul of the people that should have revolted against such base behavior? Does it have to come out only during an election?