Jan 23, 2008

Give back?!

An opinion I have been hearing a lot recently - especially from the socialists and women among people I know - is that it is our duty to give back to weaker sections of society. Let's blast this thought, starting with one of the easier variants.

"You come to Bangalore uninvited. Take a lot from this place, and antagonize the natives who have no wealth. You have a moral responsibiliy to reduce the wealth gap, and will suffer a violent backlash if you don't do anything about it"

The only part I am ready to accept as credible is the possibility of a violent backlash. Let's take the others one at a time.

1. I came to Bangalore and earn what I do as a result of simple demand-supply mechanics. I had skills a company needed, and they offered me a salary I was happy with. A perfectly voluntary and fair arrangement. Why didn't the locals get this job? Because they weren't good enough. Simple.

2. It's not like I take a lot and return nothing. I pay one-third of my salary as income tax. Think about that. For every 2 rupees I earn, the govt earns 1. And I'm the only one making any effort for this earning. Some might argue this money goes to the Central Govt. Well, the Centre is not a money-sink in Delhi. They are supposed to spend that money across all the cities and states. If Karnataka is not gettin it's fair share, that's the Karnataka govt's fault, not mine. Its the same whiners who elected that govt

3. Ignore income tax. Of the two-thirds that I do receive, I spend a lot. Here. I watch a movie, the state govt earns entertainment tax. I buy a car, the state govt. earns road tax. I go to a disc, a restaurant, anything - the state govt. earns tax. I buy a bottle of booze - the state govt. earns tax. I invest in property here - again, the state govt. earns tax. Everything I do - the state govt. earns tax. So if i'm making a lot of money, so is the state govt. And it's supposed to spend/distribute that money for the poorer in the state. Money that wouldn't otherwise be there to benefit them. They ought to be grateful.

4. More directly - because of people like us, some of the locals who'd otherwise be unemployed, can now run more shops, more restaurants, drive public transport, offer domestic help, goods repair services, tour&travel services, and earn more than people earn in these professions anywhere else! Also we provide business for all the malls, the discs, theatre, wildlife resorts and everything. We inject money into the community. Multiplier effect, anyone? Development, anyone?

Finally - about those aren't earning as much and warn us of a backlash. Well, what stopped them? Unlike the British raj, or the apartheid regime, opportunities are fairly open now. Go out, make an effort, and grab yours, rather than complaining about me making the most of my opportunities! You can be jealous, I will not feel guilty.

The same argument applies across the board. Farmers commit suicide because they produce more kids than they have resources to support. Why should I take the responsibility for their economic growth, when they aren't even accepting responsibility for themselves and their families?

I hear this cliche a lot - the real India lives in the villages. Well, the majority lives in the villages. The majority fights over religion, caste, language and all other things that should not be relevant in a modern civilized society. Worse, this majority abuses the power to elect governments. Without any rational or economic basis, they vote for unqualified candidates. This India is ignorant, irrational, irresponsible, regressive and self-destructive.

The real India - that makes its existence count for something - lives in the cities. This India learns, earns and moves forward. Not because they had it easy, but because take responsibility for themselves, work hard, make sensible choices, and try to break any shackles that they are placed in. They make themselves matter.

We can take responsibility for the weaker lots. But life is all about give and take. People take responsibilities, because responsibilities always accompany power. Offer salaries to farmers, in return for ownership of land and the rights to make decisions about what is to be grown there and how. Offer free education - but with an 'equal opportunities' rider - no caste or gender discrimination will be allowed. Offer socio-economic development - in return for their usurping the power to vote idiotic, dishonest, inefficient, self-serving politicians into power.

However, none of the above will ever be acceptable to the masses. They'd rather vote with their emotions, than trust our judgment. Well, then, let them bear the consequences.

But please, let them stop complaining. And let us stop feeling guilty about the law of nature - survival of the fittest.

More supporting arguments here

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