Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The American Dream -- As Possible As It's True.

Capitalism has been vindicated -- yet again. A fascinating new memoir, Scratch Beginnings, tells the story of Adam Shepard who finished grad school and went to check if the American Dream could ever really come true.

He went to Charleston, South Carolina, with a sleeping bag, a change of clothes, $25, and a made-up tale of woe. He spent the first two months in a homeless shelter while he worked as a day laborer. He later found a permanent position with a moving company, which gave him a stable income. This allowed Shepard to buy a (very) used pickup truck, rent and furnish an apartment with a coworker, and start saving. During this time, he was on a strict budget, buying clothes at Goodwill and lunching on peanut butter crackers and Vienna sausages. In ten months, he had saved up over $5000.

Adam planned his experiment in college when he read Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed, which argued that only government intervention and aid could help alleviate poverty. It didnt make any sense to Shepard, and what better way to test it than a first hand experience. Seeing is believing, right.

Shepard had also met many people during those times whom he found relentlessly fascinating. He explained the differences between his approach and Ehrenreich’s in a recent interview -- “She wrote about how tough and depressing poverty is. Really? Tough and depressing? Of course it is! I wanted to believe that there were people living in these tumultuous circumstances who weren’t living the life of cyclical misery that Ehrenreich was writing about,” he said. “The economics side of Ehrenreich’s story didn’t make sense to me from the beginning and she never proved her point. To me, anyway. She lived in a hotel, ate out, didn’t look for ways to really save money.”

Although critics are quick to point out the fact that he could not have pulled it off without government help, they slip not on not just one, but on two counts. As Evan Sparks points out, that "everyone Shepard encountered at the shelter and in the bad neighborhood he later lived in was already using the same services. It wasn’t the public services that lifted Shepard out of destitution—it was his own initiative. Indeed, if spending money on government services were the best way to cure poverty, it would no longer be a problem." It makes sense -- tomorrow will be determined, not by any cosmic overseer, but by the actions one chooses to take today.

Secondly, the critics also take the liberty of assuming the fact that there will be no charitable organizations in a capitalist society. If one were ever in doubt the question, one only has to compare the plight of a beggar in Africa and in the streets of New York. Nothing more is necessary to make the point any clearer.

Although any social system cannot guarantee rationality, it can, reward rationality and punish irrationality. All that there is to realize is that a person works better when he takes the responsibility of his own life. No amount of "big" money or "big" government can change that. Not if A is A.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Devil's Swimming Pool.

This is a picture of the Victoria Falls in Southern Africa on the Zambezi River between Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is one of the largest waterfall in the World at a height of 128m. During the months of September and December, one could actually swim to the edge of the waterfall without falling off. It is thus aptly named, "The Devils Swimming Pool."

I found the picture from this great site on travel. It features a lot of places and if the author has made money by has to be a lot of traveling. I plan to visit a lot of the places reviewed on the site in this lifetime.

No doubt about it!

Thanks, Diana!

I've very recently read Diana's advice on blogging. I must say, the tips were not things I didn't know earlier, but i guess most smart things are things we already know, but just not explicitly. I kept nodding my head until I finished reading the post.

It was frickkin' awesome.I am glad we have such smart people hanging around the block!

The Official Name Change.

I've decided to change the name of the blog from "Philosophy, law and life" to "Reddie Reasons". Reddy being my last name and all got me thinking about it. I started this blog to write about things instead of just blurting them out and also to develop a writing habit. I was just scrolling thorough the page and am amazed I have written so much. Well, its not much when compared to other bloggers, but what the hell..I AM WRITING! Personally, it feels great.

Anyway, I plan to do a global warming series, given the time I've spent with the environmental law bullshit. I don't know how many parts I am gonna put in it but i promise to make it great. I have approximately a few hundred students thinking global warming is man-made -- which is completely absurd. I find it hard to believe such nonsense is the normal state of affairs. I mean as a kid I always thought mistakes were mistakes, but now it’s the normal state of affairs. In fact, making sense outta things is abnormal today. It really does take a lot of courage to stare at evil and not blink if this is the state of us. I really need to make the global warming series happen!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Exams In Hibernation.

Being a IVth year law student in India is tough -- for all the wrong reasons. I have my exams and am outright bored every time i pick up any study material.

For starters, here is a list of my subjects -- direct taxes which are insistent on stealing money from hard working individuals. In fact, my tax professor has a magic word phrase which he often uses to justify taxes - "Taxes are required to raise revenue". How can anyone talk of raising revenue or whatever without first discussing the functions of the State itself. Its true that a free country needs a defense, so what are we going to do about it? Do we point a gun and then ask the people to pay protection money? Atleast from what I gather in classrooms, nobody is interested in finding out the way things work.

Company Law is so full of government regulations and procedure that one would not know where to begin taking permissions. It is also spiced up with the Competition Act (the Indian version of antitrust laws)enforcing "fair" competition. We are supposed to find the pleasure of law school with the same old crap of memorizing case laws which are decided on a case by case basis which find no problem watsoever by dispensing with fundamental abstractions.

Labor law is totally insane. I think a person without a law degree would know more of any commonsensical laws about labor than any lawyer who argues in front of labor tribunal. I mean if there is a bonafide dispute between the employer and employee, the first thing to contemplate is the terms of the contract that was agreed between them. But hell, I am yet to come across the word "contract" itself. In fact, there is a specific bar on the jurisdiction of the Civil Court.Consider who can be termed as a workmen under labour law. A worker can be classified as a "workmen" under the Industrial Dispute Act, not by looking into the nature of relationship between the employer the and the employee but on considerations such as whether the worker has any friends in the labor Union to support him. Now we have like 20 case laws which we have to memorize and apply the aforesaid theory to any problem in the exams. Does it surprise people that students don't take them seriously!!?

The worse part of the whole issue is that nobody even enjoys the subject. Idiots find pleasure, not in rational inquiry, but in suspending and blurring their conceptual faculty.

And of course, the environmentalists propaganda -- Environment law. Al Gore's documentary, "An Inconvenient truth" was screened in class showing students the myth of global warming. Forests, animal and what not are "protected" by the government. Even though we fully well know a free market system works better, we are still stuck with this shitty system of the government calling for proactive legislations instead of leaving people alone. Its clearly not evidence that we are concerned about. Intrincism runs deep in environmental propaganda and if you want to well in law school -- don't question, just obey.

Land and Agricultural laws deals with how to confiscate the land of private, honest individuals for "public" purposes. For kicks, even its constitutionality is discussed. As if it changes the fact that it is wrong to take away the right to property for any goddamn welfare scheme proposed by the ever-proactive governments. I just don't see the point that no matter what fancy names one chooses to call stealing land, it doesn't change the fact that the beneficiary of such a policy is getting it for nothing -- forced charity!! Now, how difficult is that to grasp, really.

It makes complete sense that students find the classes boring. The laws proposed atleast wont work on Earth -- and thus fail to attract any attention of 21 year old kids who spend 5 hours a day listening to this shit. I don't think this is what any law student signed up for when they planned to enter law school. Nobody starts off wanting to be bored or to end up as a back bencher. I think most give into the irrationality because it easy -- so easy to quit thinking and substitute raw material for processed thought.

Gotta hit back to the lies, the books and the stillness of boredom.