Yes, I am a neo-liberal

Photo: Author

Dear you,

I believe that human progress can be best measured (and achieved) by material consumption per capita. Health and education are as material as TV and Cars. Availability of capital (machines and equipment) per worker is the best measure of enhanced productivity. More capital per worker is what we need. Capital is useless without labor and vice versa. I do not view capital as a vice. Its human creation to create more.

The more we have the better we are. Its not just a fantasy. Its a hard fact that we want to deny citing our spiritual dream of achieving Nirvana, but aspire for ourselves throughout our lives. We have seen how the capital haters have mercilessly maimed tens of millions of people within a very short span of time in our recent past, broken billions of human dignity in the dark corners of Gulags of twentieth century Europe and Asia. We have seen how religions and cults have killed many more millions in the name of avoiding evils of material life and achieving non-material Mokxya after life. I am all for material progress and capital induced growth as they ultimately improve the lives of the workers. The exponential improvement of the lives of the bottom strata of the exponentially rising population of the last two centuries is the witness of this progress. Not an indicator indicates otherwise.  Workers form the foundation of our progress.

Producing and consuming requires the use of energy in an amount primarily determined by the existing status of technology and population size. Winning a momentary battle against entropy demands lots of energy to be used producing heat and  unwanted “garbage”. There are externalities for everything. Yes we spoiled our nature when we progressed rapidly to get out of cruel poverty and undignified starvation to reach stars and planets, to defeat  indifferent diseases and bone crushing hard work required to sustain life. I think we can be more efficient in the use of available resources with newer technology and sounder political economic setup. This would sustain more good lives a bit longer with less “destruction” of the planet. I do not believe that we can destroy the planet; yes we can destroy ourselves and maybe life itself but not the planet. Could we have achieved the same results without the same cost? I am not sure as we do not have a good counterfactual to compare with. There is no way we know of to repeat the alternative history.

From a humanist perspective, human well-being (short term to long term) should be the center of everything. If we can save human civilization at the cost of planet itself, I would definitely save the former. Sustaining 7 billion people using 5th century technology is neither possible nor desirable for humanity. 50000 years back there were a few hundred thousand people on earth. Consumption was almost none existence, no pollution, no global warming, no capitalism and no digital technology. But saber-toothed Smilodon ate our ancestors, unknown and deadly diseases would not allow them to live past 25-30 years. Successful reproduction of offspring was the end goal of life. Law of Fish (Matsya Naya) was the only available constitution of the time.

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I am a firm believer of Steven Pinker type viewpoint based on data and evidence that we are making progress in almost any sector we may want to check. Our golden age is now not in the past.

I trust in free individuals, strong communities, free science, free business and civil movements, not the government nor a religious cult, for solving the most pertinent problems we face such as climate change or pandemics or nuclear war. Let the government just maintain peace and security by not raising unnecessary wars, and that’s enough from them. Let the government show leadership in bringing people together rather than dividing us in the name of race, birthplace, color, beliefs and sex. Let government focus on those tiny group of people who are not likely to have a dignified life on their own. That would be more that I expect from the government.

Small is beautiful is a beautiful idea for the rich, not for the desperate poor. I am not against it if it is not state or cult enforced and individuals make the choice. But, I think human beings are hard wired for wanting more, bigger and better. Any economic system or political framework that denies this fact is like building a rocket by assuming that earth is flat. The rocket will never fly or crashes before achieving meaningful height.

Find me one country whose per capita income is USD 10000 and their health and education is as bad as that of India or Nepal. Find me one country whose per capita income is USD 300 and their health care is as good as that of US. Don’t tell me US health care is worse than that of Bangladesh. Please do not tell me a lie. Material wealth and income growth results into good health and good education. For poor bigger and more is better. Ask people living below a dollar a day if they like to have a TV to entertain or one more bag of rice to feed their kids a bit better or a motorbike to commute a bit freely and easily.

If what I believe is labelled as neo-liberalism, I am a happy neo-liberal.