Monday, October 31, 2011

Further nonesensical research

Would you have guessed that postponing motherhood leads to an increase in women's earnings of 9% per year of delay? That's a genuine finding, as a result of research by Amalia R. Miller of the University of Virginia.

Let's see. So what does that suggest? Basically that young women should put off childbearing.

Presumably, in order to maximise earnings, best not to have children at all.

But such research doesn't ask any of the really important questions: Is it as easy to have a child at 21 as at 40? Does the chance of having an unhealthy baby increase with the mother's age? What is the cost of the "mother-satisfaction" denied to the mother? What about the economic, social and cultural cost to a society of not having enough children? Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Role of Business Schools in Promoting Values in Business

I have only just had the time to finalise the text of my presentation at The Global Ethics Forum, Geneva, 30th June to 2nd July 2011, on the topic: "The Role of Business Schools in Promoting Values in Business".

Here it is:

Mr Chairman, many thanks for that very kind introduction, and do allow me to jump straight into my presentation, starting with the caveat that I have a large topic, in relation to which we have of course only a tiny amount of time, and that will have certain consequences, meaning some exaggerations and distortions, rather than reaching for the ideal of academic precision - at least to start with – though I hope that we can jointly aspire to that, in the time available for interaction in this room after the presentation, and we can of course continue more informally afterwards for the duration of the Forum.

I should also say, in the interests of transparency, openness and due disclosure so you can assess my biases that, having been an atheist, I am now a Hindu follower of Jesus the Lord. He was anti-religious; I am anti-religious too, but also specifically anti-Christian: so far as I can see, Christianity is a systematic attempt to distract attention from the person and teachings of Jesus the Lord, by distrorting and subverting him and his teachings. In order to get any true idea of Him, one needs to throw out all the rubbish that has been put about by churches and priests, and read the Gospels and indeed the rest of the New Testament for oneself.

So to our topic, which consists of two parts:
- what is the proper purpose of business schools?
- insofar as business schools may be agreed to have any role in promoting anything, what values might be involved?

I take it that, given the presentations that are scheduled, it is not intended for me to focus on the first debate, about the role of business schools. I will therefore take up the second question, regarding values.

It appears to me, and not only in relation to business schools, but in our dominant global cultures as a whole, that two key issues are dodged.

The first issue is: WHAT values are we talking about? A Muslim is granted permission to have up to four wives, in addition to concubines and “temporary wives”, and the ideal is as many male children as possible. By contrast, a modern secular materialist (typical of today’s elite, whether male or female) wants as much sex as possible, perhaps with as many different desirable partners as possible, but does not want even one spouse OR child! I could of course draw many other such contrasts. When confronted by facts like these, some people say: “No, no, by values we don’t mean that sort of thing at all, we mean values such as honesty”. I guess it is these sorts of folks who search for a “Global Ethic” on which people of all backgrounds can agree, and Hans Küng and others have at least come up with some lists of “values”, such as “honesty” to which they feel that the majority of the important religions (however defined) can agree.

However, the problem with lists of such words as “honesty” is that the words mean something different to a traditional Hindu, a traditional Muslim, a traditional Christian, a traditional tribal, a modern or post-modern atheist, and so on. For example, to a follower of Jesus, honesty is a more or less absolute value (I say “more or less” because some of us see extreme circumstances in which it may be necessary to tell an untruth in order to save another individual’s life or even the lives of groups of people; I reject this position, but I quite understand and sympathise with those who take this, shall we call it, more generous position. By contrast with that absolutist or generous position in relation to honesty, however, is the fact that a Muslim is permitted by the Koran to tell lies to advance the cause of Islam, and the moment someone achieves “spiritual enlightenment”, according to the dominant Hindu traditons, he (or nowadays also SHE) is released from earthly moral considerations such as honesty because he or she is considered to have ascended to a higher level where morality does not matter (that is the principal reason why our gurus have such lavish and immoral lifestyles, and their devotees continue to be loyal to them though know about those things; specifically, in addition to fraud and of impropriety, the discipline of Tantra urge you to undertake what most people would consider sexually immoral behaviour in an attempt to transcend the bounds of individuality, morality and reality).

But if you were to take the sorts of “global statements of ethics” that are developed by Hans Küng, by assemblies of dignitaries from the Abrahamic Faiths, and so on, you will find a startling and uncomfortable fact: the actual ethical basis of these, as well as of international business and (increasingly) of international politics, is the ethics of the New Testament without its supernatural basis.

So let us call this «universalist» ethics by its proper name: «denatured New Testament ethics» or, if you like, «humanitarianist ethics derived from the New Testament, but which insists not only on avoiding acknowledging its debt to the Bible, but also on attacking the Bible»

That apart, is there any other problem or challenge that arises as a result of smuggling Biblical ethics into a humanitarianist context? Well, let me put one challenge like this: we ignore or deny the problems that are created for practicing Biblical ethics in non-Biblical cultures. It is of course hugely difficult to practice Biblical ethics in any non-Biblical culture, as any business executive or political leader knows – and the kind of sleight of hand represented by “global ethics” provides no guidance regarding how this kind of “denatured Biblical ethics” is to be actually practiced successfully in cultures that may be dominantly tribal, Muslim, Hindu, Chinese and so on.

The result is that we have the quite proper observation, and indeed objection, that whole non-Biblical cultures are being measured internationally by extraneous Biblical norms (e.g. by then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed of Malaysia when he said that the UN Declaration of Human Rights was “a Christian document” and should not be imposed on Muslim countries such as his; or, this week, by Premier Wen of China on his visit to the UK, telling them to stop bothering him about human rights in China, because Westerners don’t understand Chinese culture. That is of course quite true, because the West still has some sort of commitment to human rights, whereas Chinse traditions have historically had no human rights, only rights for rulers.

So that is the first issue (WHAT values) which is usually dodged in discussions of values in business schools or indeed in the dominant discourses about values.
The second issue that is dodged is: Can values be values if they don’t cost you anything?

I don’t know how many so-called “business ethics” courses you have taught or audited, or how many discussions you have participated in about business ethics courses, but I have found a remarkable dearth of mentions of ethics costing you a lot in business. And when such stories are offered, how often are such stories praised, and how often they are slighted (on one ground or another)? Usually you hear drivel about how ethics helps you in business! Honesty is sometimes called the best policy - but that, of course, is nonsense. If honesty is only a policy that helps you in business, then you will change the policy when it stops helping you in business! So, honesty only moves from being a policy to being a value if you are prepared to lose business because of it, to go bankrupt for it.

If the first issue that is dodged in discussions of business ethics is that of WHAT ethics, and the second issue that is dodged is whether values can be considered values if they don’t cost you anything, the more important issue, the most fundamental issue is that “business ethics” itself is dodged by B-Schools, because it is treated as if the problem is one of «ignorance», so that the remedy proposed is that of information or discussion. The information communicated is usually pretty superficial, at least in my assessment of it, and the discussion can be summed up as “the bland leading the blind”, “a sharing of feelings” and “You’re all right, mate, and I’m certainly all right”.

Let me now change gear and draw attention to the scandalous truth that is usually ignored: what most business ethics courses don’t do is to challenge the very specific set of values – WRONG values, or lies – that are systematically inculcated by the mainstream curriculum. These might be called the “hidden agenda” of the business school. What is this hidden agenda, this miasma of lies, that is systematically inculcated by the business school, what are these lies that are communicated and must be adhered to by our students if they are to make a “success” of their time with us?.

Here are a few:
- Greed (which we refer to politely as «profit maximisation») is good
- There is no such thing as society
- Everybods looks after, and everybody should look after, only Number One (and be suspicious of do-gooders)
- Society will look after itself if markets are left free
- Technology will solve all problems
- Corporations should have the same rights as individuals, in addition to the privileges they already have as companies
- Morality and law are necessary inconveniences around which I should find as efficient a way as possible, while I focus on making as much money as I can, as quickly as I can, without considering the context or consequences too much
- Don’t even think about questioning the system; focus on getting to the top of the system – you can, if you really want to, start thinking of questioning the system when you retire; but, even then, what is recommended and even admired is if you simply do one or two small things to reduce the worst effects of the system.

How come we are so successful in shrouding the minds of otherwise bright, thinking,knowledgeable, critical people with such a miasma of lies?

Precisely because these lies are rarely taught, they are mostly caught - because they are implicit in the curriculum by what is included and what excluded; as well as in the structure off the B-School as a phenomenon.

Our participants come to us because we are expensive and prestigious institutions to come to, so they make an expensive investment of time and money to learn how to enhance their earning power and position, not in order to learn to serve society better.

That raises, naturally, the question of whether there is any “system” to which we consciously or unconsciously adhere, and to which we expect our b-school participants to adhere.

Here are some key characteristics of “our system” that cannot be questioned or even thought about, however negative the consequences of these systemic features:
- Fiat currencies (i.e not backed by anything real like gold, a basket of products, or the GDP itself)
- Usury (the use of money to make more money)
- High-frequency trading
- short-term-oriented stock exchanges
- the shadow financial world bigger than that recognized by the regulatory bodies and outside the reach of the regulatory authorities
- Regulatory bodies designed to be ineffective, and then weakened from on high by nods, winks and specific instructions – which are what have created bust after larger bust
- The ascription of these busts to “business cycles” rather than to the effects of morally wrong practices which finally come home to roost (I am not arguing that there are no such things as business cycles, rather that the busts are ascribed 100% to these, and the role of hubris and over-reach, which are moral matters, is rarely addressed – and, when it is, as after the current crisis which started in 2007, it is still extremely difficult to get any movement on the moral matters involved.

Mr Chairman, so I come to my conclusion: Till we articulate what values we stand for and what we are against, till we articulate what values we are prepared to encourage businesses and business leaders to pay a price for, till we are prepared to identify and debate the real values that are implicitly and explicitly communicated by business schools, all the fuss that is made about “business ethics courses” and “ethics teaching in business schools” will continue to be so much lukewarm air.

Thank you.

ENDS Sphere: Related Content

Should we sometimes be sad when a book is republised?

I see that Randy T. Simmons' 1955 book, BEYOND POLITICS: THE ROOTS OF GOVERNMENT FAILURE has just been republished - sadly!

Don't I love books? If so, why should I be sad when ANY book is republished?

I am sad to see a book republished when the original argument of the book is no longer relevant: the book should be allowed to lie peacefully somewhere on a dusty shelf for historians to do their work on it in future.

But such is the fury with which Right and Left are fighting it out in the USA that this old nag of a book has been pressed back into service.

The book's basic argument is that "public interest goods" (schools, jails, the defense forces, consumer protection, trade...) do not need to be provided by government, and can be provided by the "free market".

Instead, Simmons's "public choice theory" approach attempts to demonstrate that government inevitably produces political myopia, economic stagnation, and public distrust.

Of course, Simmons is no idiot, and acknowledges that there are indeed "market failures" as well as "government failures" - but he prefers "market failures" to "government failures".

The republication (albeit in updated form) is a sign of the inability or unwillingness of some American intellectuals to break free of yesterday's battles.

They are still fighting the Left from the Right, just as many people are still wanting to "protect national interests".

But there is no longer any realistic or meaningful way in the long or even medium term of "protecting national interests" in isolation from global interests.

Similarly, we should all be able to see, if we are at all open minded, that the categories of Left and Right do not make sense in today's globalising economy.

Around the world, we all want to have all the advantages of free markets without the distortions that have transformed free markets into "robber capitalism" or "casino capitalism" in the last 30 years.

Moreover, we all want to see some minimal social and environmental responsibility - organised not through Big Bad Government, but through the implementation of the right kinds of laws in a free market.

Regretfully, books such as Simmons's simply delay the coming of the good day when we can have the right kind of capitalism, globally. Sphere: Related Content

Monday, October 24, 2011

Why every sensible person should OPPOSE the Vatican's plan for global financial reform

I see headlines being created by the call for the creation of a global financial authority, issued by The Vatican's Council for Justice and Peace.

This is a repetition (though also an expansion of) what the Pope himself said some months ago, as well as of calls by various other world politicians along similar lines.

I thought I had commented on these in my Blog some time ago, but now can't find the text, so I guess I should pen to paper.

Interestingly, I can't find the actual text of the Vatican proposal on the Internet yet, but there are several websites where you can find some outlines of the proposals, for example and

Many of the proposals supported by the Council (e.g. to tax financial transactions) are sensible and have been publicly espoused by me for years.

However, the idea of a “global public authority” and that of a “central world bank” to rule over financial institutions is fundamentally misconceived. One can also throw in the idea of a global currency, which is sometimes touted for very similar reasons.

Of course, we should expect the Vatican to support such ideas because they are in line with the authoritarian mind-set of the Roman Church.

But how can I argue against such proposals when it is clear that these would make for efficiency?

It is true each of these might make for efficiency (though, as with all bureaucracies, that is not guaranteed - or even likely).

However, each of these ideas would certainly lead to huge concentration of power - with the accompanying potential for abuse.

Each of these ideas would therefore end up being a disaster for freedom and for civilization.

Every sensible person ought to oppose such proposals.

What we need are competing institutions, competing currencies and competing national currencies, within a system of global RULES governing global trade, finance, economics and business.

We already HAVE a sufficient number of global institutions (e.g. the UN, the WTO, the Bank for International Settlements, the World Bank, and so on).

We need to understand why these do not work, and then propose the specific changes that are going to make these work better. For example, the WTO regime does not work in a way that is to the benefit of humanity because WTO rules do not embed social and environmental responsibilities. The UN admits as members countries such as China which sign the UN articles without any intention of keeping to UN standards, declarations or norms. The Bank for International Settlements is too captive to current economic orthodoxies, when it is precisely those orthodoxies that have led to the current crises - indeed, to the whole global system we have now with its volatility and vulnerability. I have written about such matters extensively in this Blog, and have referred to some of the scholarly literature in these fields.

So, if I had the opportunit, what would I say to the Vatican?

I would say: please stop pretending that you are coming up with new ideas; thanks for your support for the ideas which are already in the marketplace which will make for human flourishing; and do see if you can move beyond your current simplistic thinking, to fight against centralising and authoritarian tendencies worldwide - even though, given your DNA, I know that you will find it difficult to do so. Sphere: Related Content

Friday, October 21, 2011

Mahbubani: "What can save our world? The social contract!"

Professor Kishore Mahbubani, the Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, has an article in today's Financial Times, arguing that "Two words can save our turbulent world: social contract. The social contract of the last three decades has died. We need to create a new one"

He does not tackle the questions: What caused the social contract to exist (primarily in the West) in the first place? And why has it declined?

The best book to provide information on the basis of which these questions can be answered is: Vishal Mangalwadi's The Book That Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilisation

Though Mangalwadi does not go on to cover Mahbubani's specific points, I think he would say that as the Bible has been rejected in Western society, so the social contract has declined.

My view is that the social contract has existed in various societies and at various times, often as a direct or indirect result of the influence of the Bible, but sometimes also as a result of nationalism, Marxism, tribalism, and so on.

However, it is true that the longest-lasting and most-durable social contract existed as a result of the influence of the Bible, and it is doubtful if the modern world can recover the social contract on any basis other than that provided by the Bible. Individuals can be more or less socially responsible, on any and all sorts of bases. But society needs more than a few whimsical individuals if there is to be a social contract of any sort.

Of course, Mahbubani does not address the question of WHAT SORT of social contract. Traditional Indian society had the social contract of the caste system. Traditional Chinese society had the social contract of Confucianism. Traditional Japanese society had the social contract of Shintoism. Traditional African society had the social contract of tribalism. And so on. But of course Mahbubani is not referring to these sorts of social contract. He is referring, I am pretty sure, to the sort of "modern social contract" by which free individuals in free societies voluntarily took responsibility for society - something that started only with the influence of the Bible from the sixteenth century with Luther, Calvin, and the Radical Reformers - and the influence of the "modern social contract" has declined with the decline of the influence of the Bible. Specifically, the decline of the influence on the Bible in Protestantism (Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox have been the majority of Christians since the Emperor Constantine transformed the persecuted followers of Jesus the Lord into state-protected Christianity at the cost of reducing the influence of Biblical teaching).

I should also point out that Mahbubani's dates are a bit wrong. The social contract was not "of the last three decades"; rather, it was decimated in the last three decades. Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Second response to my article on Eliminating Black Money in India

Someone based in a European country writes:

"Thought provoking and absolutely novel approach" Sphere: Related Content

Response to my article on Eliminating Black Money in India

From a friend who is at present based in New Zealand:

Nice one Prabhu!

It is very telling that so many periodicals refused to publish your
article, especially as it is a such a "garam alu". It was a good move
to state who these organisations were at the end of your article.

In NZ there is a Serious Fraud Office. The point you make of the need
for total independence for the organisation dealing with these crimes
is vital.

I note the following about the SFO:
"The Government minister responsible for the SFO is the Minister of
Police. However, under the Serious Fraud Office Act 1990, the Director
of the SFO has complete independence when it comes to operational

On another topic - one thing I often think about is a government
structure that could replace what we have. We need democracy but we
need to get beyond party politics, where the governments become so
self-serving during their short terms of office in order to ensure
getting voted in again. Too many of our politicians are voted in by
ignorant voters due to popularity and good marketing rather than their
skills and experience.

I think we need a performance-based system where a CEO-type PM is able
to stay in power as long as a list of KPIs are being met. They could
then plan 10 or 20 years ahead.

I've got a few more ideas but I need to think further about them. Sphere: Related Content

My proposals for Eliminating Black Money in India

My proposals for eliminating black money in India have been turned down by Civil Society, Economic Times, The Hindustan Times, Indian Express, Mint, Tehelka, and The Hindu.

But I am glad to inform you that The International Indian magazine (published from Dubai) has published them - please see pages 54-57 of this month's magazine - click here

I will be glad to respond to questions or suggestions, and indeed to discuss my proposals further. Sphere: Related Content

On Financial Incentives versus Social Norms

Which do you think is more effective in changing behaviour: financial incentives or social norms?

If modern notions of human beings are correct (that is, if human beings are profit maximisers) then financial incentives should be more effective.

Actually, it turns out that in even such an individualistic and materialistic society as the USA has become, financial incentives are less effective at changing behaviour than social norms.

Research by Hunt Allcott of MIT studied the effect of telling homeowners how their electricity use compared with their neighbors' use. This had the effect of cutting energy consumption by the same amount as the impact of an 11% to 20% increase in prices:

For those who like "evidence-based" research even when common sense should be enough, this demonstrates that modern economic theory is based on false assumptions about human nature.

However, though this does not rise from the above, false theories do affect human nature, and if they are sufficiently propagated and accepted in any society, do change human behaviour in line with those theories.

In other words, we become what we accept is wiser, better, more rational, more acceptable or more right as the basis for choice, depending on which criteria is propagated in society.

Thus the importance of what is thought, what is taught in schools and universities, what is disseminated through the mass media, and most importantly what is valued and nurtured by families, churches, associations, clubs, political parties, and other social groups - both formal or informal. That's a lot of influences, you say, so which are most important? Those to which you have greater affiliation. Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

"A Final Chance?: The Economic Crisis and the Future of the USA." Text of the talk given to the Arizona Council on Economic Education, 16Oct2011

Mr Chairman, many thanks for that very kind introduction, and I am grateful to you President Bill Hicks, to Executive Director Debbie Henney, and to your Board Member Dr Bill Weldon for your kind invitation for me to speak here this evening. May I say how delighted I am to see so many people taking time of a weekend evening to be here. I guess that shows that the subject is close to your concerns at the moment.

Allow me to start by mentioning that I am a Hindu but I was partly educated at a Christian school, and always regarded the Bible as being Incredible, unbelievable, and even silly, because it said things such as “People are like sheep”, and “all human beings are morally flawed, sinful, imperfect”.

Flawed? Imperfect? Some people no doubt, but most people I knew were most of the time generous and kind and truthful. And people like sheep, mindless, herding, I thought?! Maybe, some people, but not intelligent, university types like us!

Well, the more I have lived, the more I have experienced the varieties of human nature, and got to know more specifically my own nature, the more I have realized that that old book has much more wisdom than I had given it credit. I became, in fact, a follower of Jesus the Lord - but that is by the by, the point I want to start with is the record in the Bible of the behavior of a small group of Jews in an otherwise unknown place called Berea - when the famous, great Saul of Tarsus, who had by this time been renamed Paul, came to Berea, you know the guy who wrote more than half the NT– when he came with new information which was completely outside their understanding of the world and even their worldview, these Bereans checked it out – they were not willing to simply go along with one of the best-educated and most famous and stimulating rabbis of their age, in fact they were not willing to accept anyone’s say-so, they were interested in the facts – and for that reason, the Bible calls these Jews from the small insignificant town of Berea, the Bible calls these Berean Jews, and I quote, it calls them “more noble” than the Jews in the previous place where Paul had just given his lectures, the large and sophisticated city of Thessalonica.

Why does the Bible call the obscure Bereans more noble than the sophisticated Thessalonians? Because the Bereans didn’t simply reject things that offended their prejudices and preconceived notions, nor did they simply accept the say-so of the great Saul of Tarsus – no, no, unlike the Thessalonians, the Bereans were committed to checking the facts, however uncomfortable they might be - and from however great or however unlikely a source they might come.

So, dear colleagues, my first point: I am unlikely source for any information or ideas about the USA because I am not American, I do not specialize professionally in the USA, I was not educated here, I have even visited fewer places your great country and spent less time here than many tourists. So you will notice huge gaps in my understanding of the USA, and I probably have lots of things wrong! As I say, a most unlikely source of information on anything to do with the USA. And what I do have to say will most likely cut clean across your prejudices and even your views about your own country. But I would ask you to consider the facts, and nothing but the facts, with an open heart and mind, because it could be, it could just be, that an outsider with all the deficiencies that he has in terms of detail, MAY, just MAY, see some things that you don’t because you are too close to the detail. And it could also be that cultural or political taboos, and perhaps self-interest, prevent your own people from expressing some of the truths they see.

I think it was Churchill, Winston Churchill, who said that courage is the first of all human qualities, because courage is the quality which guarantees all the other qualities. Courage to tell the truth, to say what is possible, and what is not possible.

So my first point: please have the generosity to overlook, for your own sakes, the gaps, the holes in what I am about to tell you – even if there were no gaps, no holes in what I am about to tell you, limitations of time mean that I cannot cover everything, so please ignore the gaps, the holes, and focus on the substance of what I am about to say.

My second point is that American discourse and discussion is conflicted because America itself has become a deeply conflicted society, and it is now extremely difficult to have a civilized discussion about anything to do with US politics or economics, because each American is convinced not only about the “truth” of her or his own opinion (that is only natural) but is also convinced that any person holding another point of view must be not only wrong but an idiot!

Moreover, people tend to move in self-contained social circles which reinforce their own opinions. Channels of public information tend to be owned by one party or the other – and where they allow debate, tend to put forward polarized opposites for dramatic and entertainment value, which are designed to generate, and do generate, more heat than light.

Kindly extend to me the generosity of accepting that I am not an entertainer, and more important, that I have no political axe to grind, I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat, and if I sometimes seem to take a position close to either Republican or Democrat, it is only because that position seems to me to be true.

*I* am, and I hope we are ALL willing to be, like the Bereans, after the facts, the truth.

So to the substance of what we have to discuss.

Let me summarise, characterize and perhaps caricature each of five interesting perspectives on the economic situation.

One view focuses on three key words: entitlements, unsustainability, and uncertainty.

In the area of entitlements, this view focuses, for example on pensions – and on pension expectations. This view draws attention to the fact that many Americans don’t understand that there needs to be a relation between what was paid in and what can be received. People who hold this view like to debate who should be covered by what kind and level of healthcare. They like to point out that Medicare (for retired people), Medicaid (for poor people), Pensions and Social Security commitments cost a whopping $1.3 trillion a year now, and the commitments already made in these areas are just starting to ramp up! Where will the money come from? Who should pay for all that? The uncomfortable fact is that no one wants to pay for it, and everyone wants to benefit, say the proponents of this view.

Of course, Medicare, Medicaid, Pensions and Social Security are not the only areas where there is an entitlement mentality. One could look at R&D subsidies, industrial subsidies, and farming subsidies (whether for conservation or for avoiding undesirable production), and so on – but I think the point is sufficiently made for the moment. The first watchword in this view is Entitlements.

The second key word in this view is unsustainability. We should look at what is happening to America’s national debt, they say. If one looks at the national debt as a percentage of GDP, in 2010 it was already 93%, by the end of June 2011 it was estimated to be $15.003 trillion, which was 99% of GDP, and is expected to go up to 120% by 2020 and, unless something drastic happens, is projected to be 200% by 2035. National debt growth as a percent of GDP has shot up 35% in the last two years. As certain entitlements that are baked into Federal expenditures, the servicing the national debt alone could take up to $1 Trillion per year.

It is not just the debt that is unsustainable, say the proponents of this view, even US defense expenditure is unsustainable. The official score for national defense expenditure is $692 billion (but, when all the defense-related expenditures are factored in that should be factored in and are not due to the way facts are fudged nowadays in the US, the real expenditure on defense is actually, all in, $1 Trillion per year). Now, you can of course regard that as the cost of being a global peacekeeper and therefore the necessary cost of being a superpower, but the proponents of this first view, think that it is not necessary or even useful to be a superpower or a global peacekeeper, and would like to cut down defense expenditure because it is – you got it – unsustainable.

In any case, in this view, the current government consumption is 25% of GDP, and should return to the historic norm since WWII of 18-19%, so the 45% increase in the last two years needs to be trimmed back, by something like 4-6 billion per year.

So we come to the third key word in the first view that I am presenting: Uncertainty.

The uncertainty is caused by the flood of new laws, regulations, policies, and short-term spoon-feeding. They are particularly disturbed by attempts to reform the financial system through the Dodd-Frank Act, through Obamacare, and through new regulations emanating from e.g. the Environmental Protection Agency.

The U.S. Small Business Administration estimates that the cost of all these is $1.4 Trillion or 10% of GDP at Federal level alone. When you add the cost of the regulatory burden at state, regional, and local level, it is simply too much. Ken Langone, the co-founder of The Home Depot published an OpEd in the Wall Street Journal about a year ago, in which he said that if he and his partners, Bernie Marcus, Arthur Blank, Pat Farrah, tried to start Home Depot today, “it's a stone cold certainty that our business would never get off the ground, much less thrive”.

However, I think it is fair to say, that in this view, regulation is regulation, and if there is heavy regulation, it applies to everyone, so we may not like it, but it becomes simply the cost of doing business. If it reduces profits, it reduces profits for the whole of that industry, and investors can decide whether to be in that industry or not.

But what’s most paralyzing is uncertainty. That is what is the enemy of investment. I am told by a Member of the Board of one of the five largest banks in the US, that there is $2 trillion of cash available in the banking system in the US, which is not being drawn upon by companies, but they don’t want to invest at present because of the confusion and uncertainty regarding legislation, regulation, policies and the rest.

What is being offered by the current Administration is short-term spoonfeeds: reducing employment tax for six months or a year doesn’t address the huge problem of unemployment but merely confuses the situation (the current official unemployment rate is around 9%, but that only includes people who have applied for a job within the previous four weeks. the Department of Labor's "U-6" number of 16.5% that has received increasing attention lately because it includes people who have given up looking for work within the past year, plus people who have been cut back from full-time employees to part-timers. When you also consider the labor-force participation rate and the so-called "birth-death series" that measures business starts and failures, the real U.S. unemployment rate is now 20%).

So let me sum up the first view. What we need to solve America’s problems are: withdrawal from theatres of war where we have no chance of winning, reduction of unnecessary expenditures on every kind of entitlement, a return to small government, and tax cuts to stimulate growth.

That is the essence of the first view. Another view responds to that view by asserting that there is no correlation between tax and growth (there is only one thing that real growth correlates with, and that is innovation). So far as tax and growth is concerned: Sweden has been a high tax country for something over a century, and that does very well thank you, while Switzerland has historically been a low tax country and also does very well thank you. So we should not focus on taxation, we should focus on innovation, which is what leads to growth – though of course taxation OR subsidies can help or hinder that, but let’s focus on innovation, not on raw tax rates for the general population.

If you want to do that, say proponents of this second view, the tax laws dealing with private pools of capital, such as hedge funds, gives tax breaks to the already wealthy while the poorer people in society are not granted such luxuries. (If the amount of tax revenue lost to private equity firm managers is equivalent to that lost with hedge funds, then the combined amount would be $12.6 billion per year).

In this view, far more important than tax or subsidies is the flight of manufacturing capital as well as of knowledge that has taken place from the US since NAFTA was signed and the WTO was created – the elite benefited at the expense of jobs and prosperity in the USA, so that the middle class inside the US has been decimated, while enriching the elite and growing something of a middle class in other countries such as China and my own country India.

So a key question for the US is the return of manufacturing capital, and more important, the return of manufacturing to the USA.

In this second view, a godless, intelligent, sophisticated and amoral Ayn Rand-ist post-WWII elite delinked the dollar from gold, struck down the Glass-Steagall Act, licensed uncontrolled speculation through the legislation which replaced Glass-Steagall (that is, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999) and which enabled unprecedented amounts of money to be made available for theoretically unlimited and, in practice, unprecedented leverage, to usher in the most high-growth period in world history, at the cost of volatility, vulnerability, a huge and fast-growing gap between rich and poor, and enormous environmental damage. That is why BOTH political parties have talked fiscal responsibility, but have spent and spent.

Now, as I say, you can agree or disagree with parts or whole of that second view, but it does seem to me to be the second view of the US in the context of the current crisis.

The third view, and I want to put it briefly in the interests of time, though we can pick it up during our Q&A if you wish, is what might be called the international view of the US at present: to outsiders, the US seems to be exhausted and paralyzed, widely if imperfectly copied (or at least aspired to) in its good points, but without any fresh ideas with which to resuscitate itself. Of course, that is not true, there may be some exhaustion and paralysis - and we will certainly come back to that in a moment – but, while it is true that the gap between the US and other countries has been reduced by other countries copying (or at least aspiring to copy) the best features of the US, it is clearly not the case that there are no new ideas – rather, it is the case that such new ideas as are around have not yet garnered sufficient public support to be policy options that are widely debated or considered.

So we move from the first view I presented (that of small government) to the second view that I presented (that of moving the discussion to growth) to the international view, and now to the Tea Party view.

The Tea Party is mocked in certain quarters, but I take it quite seriously. It is of course a heterogeneous party, but its single focus is on balancing the books. In this, it is quite close to the small government or first view that I presented, but we may take it as a more extreme form of that view, and held by a larger number of ordinary people – that is, people outside the political elite that usually discusses such matters.

The counter to the Tea Party is of course the recent Occupy Wall Street movement, which also tends to be mocked, just as the Tea Party does. Occupy Wall Street is a bit of fun and games, we are told. These guys are enjoying free pizza as long as the sun is shining, but just wait till the weather turns cold, these guys will beat a retreat and disappear. Occupy Wall Street is just about class envy, coveting the riches of others, these guys don’t realize that entrepreneurship is hard, and they are in any case economically illiterate.

The riposte to that is of course that it was the economically LITERATE that created the global crisis, starting with Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, and not excluding the top executives of the world’s largest financial institutions and corporations, most of which are based in the US, but many of which are also based in Europe and China and India and the Middle East.

It is not clear to most observers why the US resists financial sector reform, wanting to undo the Dodd-Frank regulations and the Volcker Rule. Does the US really not want to get back to capitalism from the sort of casino-ism that the US has created in the last few decades?

In my view, the Occupy Wall Street movement has only just begun, and we should expect it to spread more. Is it here in Phoenix or Arizona yet? I’m afraid as I’ve been chairing another conference, please excuse the fact that I haven’t been able to keep up with your local news. The Occupy Wall Street movement is in over 100 cities in the US, and you can see it from London to Frankfurt to Sarajevo in Bosnia, to the Philippines, Australia and even usually conservative and shy Japan! Just yesterday, the demonstrations in Rome became violent, just as they had earlier, in the summer, in the UK.

So much for the five views that I wanted to portray.

Meanwhile, the US is deadlocked politically, and no one with whom I have spoken expects any resolution of that before the next national elections.

My own view is different. I sympathize with aspects of each of these five views, but am probably the most optimistic person in the world that I know about the US economy and its prospects in the next year or so.

Can the US really grow? Can it really create the 20 million new jobs that it needs by 2020? That cannot happen unless manufacturing returns to the US, so: can and will manufacturing return to the US?

The first reason I am optimistic is because the free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea have just been passed by Congress. You may wish to argue the merits of these treaties, you may think some or many or most or even all of the provisions are right or wrong, but my point is beyond all that. My point is that your political process is not totally stalled! Of course it is true that the US is not even at the table for 160 free trade negotiations, and the suspicion is that this is due to the fact that President Obama’s election campaign cost $700 million, of which $453 million was from the trade unions, so it is the trade union type of mentality that is preventing the US from going into these negotiations. Well if trade union type jobs are to be preserved, that is a good strategy, but the question the US needs to ask itself is whether those sorts of jobs should be preserved or whether real jobs need to be created or preserved. And if you are after the creation and preservation of real jobs, the US cannot accomplish that if it does not embed environmental and social concerns into these treaties, whether they are bilateral or global. Why will lack of attention to environmental and social considerations in such treaties continue to take jobs out of the US? Because, without those, you are not competing on a level playing field. Investment decisions, whether about manufacturing or about innovation, will continue to take more and more jobs to other countries which have lower wages, lower costs of real estate, and lower investment costs because they ignore human rights, exploit workers, do not provide for pensions, and abuse the environment. Anyway, the first reason I am optimistic about the US is that your political process is not stalled, and because I think that you will soon begin to move on free trade treaties that do integrate environmental and social concerns.

The second reason I am optimistic is that I think you will soon complete export reforms and the transpacific transportation agreement which will provide an enormous boost to your economy.

The third reason I am optimistic is that you have an intellectual property protection regime that is better than that of most countries, and that superiority will continue to draw innovations from around the globe to the US. I should make it clear that I am not a proponent of the current sort of intellectual property regime that we have in the world, I think it is in need of fundamental reform as I argue in more detail in a moment, but as long as we have the current sort of intellectual property protection, it will continue to advantage the US.

Next, I am optimistic because I think you are going to move on energy policy. The Gulf spill caused not merely a cutback in domestic production but a reassessment of the whole of energy policy in the US. You are blessed with good quality coal and new coal technologies will I think give you a huge advantage, as will the new possibilities in oil (including shale) and renewable energies and, particularly, energy-efficient technologies. By the way, the US seems to me to still not have discovered the existence of an ancient technology for energy efficiency. It is called the OFF switch. I do not understand why you have a national addiction to cold water and to ice (which by the way have health disadvantages, and may contribute to some of your national diseases). And I do not understand why you need air conditioning when you have relatively clean air available in so many parts of the US for free, for example here in Arizona. Of course you need to keep your homes and offices cool here, but that could be achieved much more cheaply by the use of proper insulation and by introducing a new taboo on suits and jackets!

Anyway, the next reason I am optimistic is because your Judeo-Christian tradition teaches you that self-control is essential to free enterprise - and gives you the advantage of the work ethic, the punctuality ethic, the sensible lifestyle ethic, and so on. Though the influence of the Judeo-Christian traditions has been massively eroded since World War II leading to widespread succumbing to self-indulgence, consumerism and the debt culture, I believe that Judeo-Christian influence will revive as Americans come to understand, for example through books such as Dr Vishal Mangalwadi’s THE BOOK THAT MADE YOUR WORLD: HOW THE BIBLE CREATED THE SOUL OF WESTERN CIVILISATION, that the economic and political advantages you have enjoyed come only from that tradition and that, if you want national reconstruction, that can only be done if you rediscover the Bible and explore how its teachings on economics, politics, society, family and individual life apply in and to a globalizing world. If you are interested in exploring that, I recommend to you Dr Mangalwadi’s website (, my Blog ( and the website of Relationships Global ( The question for the US is the following: Since the Second World War, you have increasingly abandoned your historic path, will you now discontinue that abandonment and return to your historic path? As I have indicated, I believe you will return to it.

The next reason I am optimistic about the US is that you still have the largest middle class in the world. I know that you have attacked and decimated it in the last 30 or 40 years, but you can easily build it back – and, even if you don’t build it back, if you simply stop demolishing it, you will continue to have an advantage due to it for several decades till other countries catch up with your middle class in terms of quantity and quality.

The seventh reason that I am optimistic about the US is that you are still a largely mobile society. I don’t mean geographical mobility, too much of which I think is rather a disadvantage, but I mean economic mobility – across classes – that is, someone who is rich today can easily become poor in the US because of unrealistic investments, and someone who is poor today, can become rich because he or she brings some useful innovation to the table which can be much more easily funded and brought to market in the US than in any other country in the world. So the fact that people can and do move in and out of poverty and wealth is a huge advantage to the US.

But all the reasons that I have mentioned above could also have been mentioned before the start of the crisis in 2007. Is there any new reason to be optimistic about the US right now?

I believe there is. A renewed flight to safety in currency markets is helping the dollar gain ground against a broad range of currencies. The euro as well as emerging market currencies are declining because nervous investors, including hedge funds and real money accounts, are withdrawing from them. I expect more gains for the dollar as the environment will continue to be risk-averse. The Swiss authorities have effectively closed the Swiss franc as a safe-haven at least for the present, so the dollar has become the last refuge for risk-averse investors seeking to exit slowing global growth and the social and political challenges that are resulting and will result. The Economist points out that, for the last couple of weeks, there have been positive developments, for example in industrial production, consumer sentiment, and employment growth. American equities are up over 10% since October 4th, which is a remarkable recovery – major indices have climbed from the depths of near bear-market conditions to enter positive territory for the year. Major indexes have climbed from the depths of near-bear-market despair to positive territory for the year. Government bond yields are rising from record lows, indicating an appetite for risk and greater expectations for growth in the US. The trade deficit and unemployment already show improvements. The overall gains are of course modest at present, and will go back and forth, but I expect there to be a continued trend to improvement in the foreseeable future, unless some disaster happens or the US does something extremely stupid. Euro-area concerns will be sorted out by the end of this month, and though few will believe they will be effective, you will see them taking effect and improving things in the medium term. And, in the medium term that will also be good for the US economy.

May I, however, return to an important point for the future of the US and remind you that you need to focus on innovation and investment. In the past, when it was much easier to identify the winning infrastructural and other technologies, it was Federal investment that led to the development of the railroads under Abraham Lincoln and to the federal highway system under Dwight D. Eisenhower. Nuclear technologies, leading to the wide-scale use of nuclear power, were developed in government labs and initially deployed by the U.S. Navy and the Atomic Energy Commission. Investments in education, computer science, and infrastructure through programs like the GI Bill, National Defense Education Act, and Apollo space program laid the foundation for the emergence of whole industries such as aerospace, computing, and information technology. The United States Department of Defense (DOD) initially funded, and was an early adopter of key technologies - radios, semiconductors, computers, software and, most importantly, the Internet. It was Federal investments in health research through the National Institutes of Health that enabled scientists to map the entire human genome, making way for path-breaking advances in biotechnology – with all the pros and cons of those.
The point to keep in mind is that all these investments were not simply “sunk”. In education and technology, federal investments have been repaid many times over in greater economic growth, increased tax revenues, and high-paying domestic jobs. According to a Congressional report, every dollar invested in education by the GI Bill following World War II produced just over $5 in greater economic growth and $1.83 in greater tax revenues over the following 35 years alone. Economist Robert Solow received a Nobel Prize in economics in part for demonstrating that over 80 percent of economic growth in the first half of the 20th century was driven by advances in technology, and later economists confirmed that technology innovation played a similarly outsized role in economic progress in the latter half of the century. For these reasons, I believe that all research, globally, should be publicly funded (note: I said “publicly funded” not “government funded”) and therefore publicly owned – but with much greater competition in applications and products than we have now (no patents and intellectual property protection for products). However, as long as that model is not globally adopted, my view is that governments should pull out of research entirely as it is more and more difficult for governments to identify “essential” or “winning” technologies. Instead, 100% of research funding should be written-off from tax. In cases where R&D expenditure exceeds the income of the organization concerned, they should be able to reach arrangements whereby other entities can co-fund the expenses in exchange for tax write-offs. This will ensure healthy and non-monopolistic competition in research, while keeping in line with the American genius, spirit and tradition – which has been called “the idea of the US” – small government, creativity, innovation, a “can do” attitude, entrepreneurialism, and a chance for anyone and everyone to make it – which is the last and most important reason that I am optimistic about the immediate future of the US. Sixty five per cent of parents want their children to be entrepreneurs, and the recent Gallup Student Poll found that, in grades five through twelve, forty-five percent said they intended to start their own businesses.

Let me sum up: the US needs to stop the debilitating debate on tax cuts (you do need them, but get on with them and get them out of the way as soon as possible – a few billions here or there really do not make any difference to the US economy as a whole). Alongside cutting costs, you do need to at least temporarily raise taxes on the rich – it won’t kill them and it won’t kill your economy. Get that done as quickly as possible, and switch attention instead on what will produce more wealth for everyone (rich and poor), which is renewed economic growth. Encourage science and technology investment specifically to get clean technologies manufacturing going in the country, primarily through small and medium-sized businesses (from whom comes 70% of job creation, while employment in the large companies is declining and will probably continue to decline). The US needs to do that alongside getting the right kind (not the wrong kind) of free trade agreements whether bilateral or global, and putting tremendous emphasis on modernising your infrastructure (not merely financing the municipal unions) and, of course, the cultural key: education. A discussion of that quickly takes one to the heart of the malaise in the US, which can only be addressed by returning to a philosophical commitment to truth, and to an ethic of probity and public service. Your healthcare system needs to be thoroughly reviewed with a focus not merely on providing basic care for everyone but primarily on reducing its quite incredible costs. Finally, you need to consider whether your political system is still serving you well. From my outsider’s perspective, the key to the future health of the US is political reform: ban union funding as well as corporate funding of political parties, move to proportional representation so that you have more than two political parties, and encourage devolution of decision-making by discouraging centralized tax collection systems and giving more responsibility to the local, regional and state levels.

So I come to my conclusion: my subject has been the current economic crisis and the future of the USA, but the title of my talk asks whether the US has only “A Final Chance”. Frankly, I do not know. What I do know is that what the US is being given right now is the chance of at least a generation. As far as I can see, the US is being given this chance, not as a result of anything great or even right that it has done. The US is getting this chance because other countries have been even more stupid and wrong than the USA. You could say that the chance that the US has now is a supernatural chance, a gift of grace. If you miss this chance, as I say, that will be the end of any possibility of the return of US economic growth for at least a generation. The question is whether the US – that is to say, YOU - will grab that chance and run with it.

Thank you. Sphere: Related Content

Friday, October 14, 2011

Should the new global IMF-based rescue plan be welcomed?

For details, see:

Yes, such a plan should be welcomed, and I do welcome it.

However, the question is whether, by the time comes to implement the plan, emerging countries such as China, having their own problems with which to deal as a result of the current crisis, will have enough money spare to put in. Sphere: Related Content

No the recession ahead is NOT likely to last 30 years

Apparently, investors are rushing to buy 30-year US debt:

Usually there is a rush to such a "safe haven" only if a storm is expected.

So we could reach two conclusions: first, a lot of the smart money is now on a recession; second, the recession is expected to last 30 years. The first conclusion would be right, the second would be wrong. However, it does indicate that such investors expect a long-term recession.

But we can expect a restructuring of the global economy, if the US plays its cards right: we can forget all the talk about this being an "Asian century".

That may happen but, if so, it will start happening several decades out.

Meanwhile, expect Asia to decline, and the US to rise (as well as the EU, if it can set its house in order).

As capital flows back to the US (not for any good reason, but simply because other markets look even worse than the US!), expect the US economy to recover - specifically manufacturing to recover.

The question is: will the new US growth be on a wise, sustainable and humane basis?

Wise: thoughtful, well-organised, sensible (not merely casino-style, or wild-west-style, as in the last 30 years)

Sustainable: taking environmental and other long-term matters into account

Humane: can the poor be taught to be (and learn to be) more responsible, and can the rich be generous about paying not for "Obamacare" but for the sort of basic human quality of life that every citizen ought to be guaranteed?

By "basic" I mean shelter from the elements, two pairs of clothes, one square meal a day, education appropriate for the intellectual ability and interest of each person, transport and physical infrastructure that works even for the poor, and ensuring treatment of common diseases and preventable physical suffering.

If one of the richest countries in the world can't organise itself for this, it ought to be ashamed of itself - and God will condemn it for its irresponsibility.

If it does take seriously its responsibilities outlined above, then God will bless it.

How can I dare to say this? Because the Bible - and history - make this clear. Sphere: Related Content

"The four principles of Indian spirituality"

A friend sends me a beautiful set of powerpoints, propagating "the four principles of Indian spirituality": (1) whomsoever you encounter is the right one
(2) whatever happened is the only thing that could have happened
(3) each moment in which something begins is the right moment
(4) what is over is over"

I was forced to respond as follows:

"Dear ....

As most Indians are totally unaware of the history of Indian spirituality, we make things up as we go along (that is the challenge with a culture that has deliberately turned its back on history and truth, to take to myths)

the four principles that you state are, actually, Buddhist principles, not "Indian"

if you are interested in INDIAN spirituality, that is rather more complex, more interesting, more exciting, more worthwhile, as well as more challenging

meanwhile, you might like to consider that if "whatever happened is the only thing that could hae happened", etc, that gives us no basis on which to resist evil or struggle for the good, the beautiful and the true, no basis on which to grieve or celebrate

such a belief would enable us only to accept fate - which is what has historically kept most countries poor, diseased and without hope

we would have no basis on which to resist Hitler or fight disease or environmental disaster

all hope, and all progress, can only happen if such false beliefs are rejected and we accept the pain of making moral evaluations and then struggling sacrificially for what is right". Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Dr Vishal Mangalwadi's lecture tour of Australia

I have just received the following News Release:

‘Truth and Transformation’ Tour: 8 - 16 October 2011
India’s C.S. Lewis, Dr Vishal Mangalwadi, to visit Australia

Dr Vishal Mangalwadi is a philosopher from India, at present based in the USA. He will be holding his first Australian media conference at the NSW Parliament on Monday 10 October 2011 at 12 Midday. Dr Vishal Mangalwadi is a prominent international professor, speaker across 36 countries, a regular media commentator in the States and author of 14 books. His latest title is ‘The Book that Made Your World’.

Vishal is a man with a prophetic voice and a compassionate heart. Some have called him the “CS Lewis of the East”. Born in India in 1949 he studied philosophy at universities, in Hindu ashrams, and at L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland. In 1976 he turned down several job offers in the West to return to India where he and his wife, Ruth, founded a community to serve the rural poor. Vishal was put in gaol by corrupt provincial officials for his stand for the poor and for the truth. Undeterred, Vishal continued his involvement in community development, serving at the headquarters of two national political parties, where he worked for the empowerment and liberation of the poor and lower castes.

Dr Mangalwadi’s current focus is ‘The Decline of the West’ where he relates that when the Bible, as the moral compass of our Western culture, is removed as a positive influence on society, there is a moral decline. In his talks he poses the question, ‘Must the Sun Set on the West?’ He accompanies this with some observations on other social topics such as the questionable integrity of our national leaders, the decline of innovation, education concerns, the family, finance and justice.

In Australia

Dr Mangalwadi has been invited to speak to a variety of audiences on the values that made Australia great. He is the speaker at the inaugural William Wilberforce Luncheon to be held at NSW Parliament House, Macquarie St, Sydney from 12:30pm – 2pm on 10 October 2011. Dr Mangalwadi will be part of some presentations to honour NSW Parliamentarians for their stand for life, family, faith and freedom. His new release, “The Book that Made Your World” will be part of the presentation.

Dr Vishal Mangalwadi is in Australia from 8 – 16 October for the “Truth and Transformation Tour” which has been organised by the Australian Christian Values Institute. During the tour Dr Mangalwadi will be speaking in Federal Parliament, Canberra, NSW Parliament, Queensland Parliament and also in Sydney, Wollongong, Brisbane, Adelaide and Canberra. Dr Mangalwadi is also the keynote speaker for the Australian Christian Lobby National Conference being held in Canberra 14 - 15 October.

Dr Vishal Mangalwadi is available for media commentary.

Media Conference Details

NSW Parliament House, Sydney 12 Midday on Monday 10 October 2011.
Location is near fig tree in The Domain at rear of NSW Parliament.
NOTE: In the event of rain Media Conference will be held in the Dining Room where Dr Mangalwadi will be speaking for a William Wilberforce Luncheon from 12:30pm – 2pm.

Truth and Transformation Tour Schedule

Sat 8/10 – Sydney
Sun 9/10 – Sydney
Mon 10/10 – Sydney
Tues 11 – Canberra-Press Gallery
Wed 12/10 – Brisbane
Thurs 13/10 – Adelaide
Fri/Sat 14-15 – Canberra
Sun 16/10 – Woll/Sydney

Media Enquiries: Warwick Marsh [M] 0418 225212 [E]

Truth and Transformation Tour Schedule
8-16 October 2011
Saturday 8 October 2011
6PM – 9PM Dinner/Lecture
“The Book that Made Your World”
10 River Rd, Elderslie Camden NSW 2570
Phone: (02) 4658 0227
Web Site:
5:30 for 6pm start.
RSVP 5th October: Suggested minimum donation of $20 towards costs and Vishal’s ministry.

Sunday 9 October 2011
9AM Service
“Truth Transformation”
19 Dowling St (entrance from Kembla St)
Arncliffe NSW 2205
Sydney Australia
Tel: 02 9567 8133

3:30PM Service
“The Book that Made Your World”
New Life Community Church
Unit T/10-16 South Street Rydalmere
Phone: 02 9680 0439

8:30PM Live Syndicated Radio Interview:
“Open House” with Leigh Hatcher
Played all across Australia
Studio Complex
2 Leabons Lane, Seven Hills, NSW, 2147
Phone: 02 9854 7000

Monday 10 October 2011
William Wilberforce Luncheon
“Standing for the Truth in the Public Square”
NSW Parliament House Dining Room
Parliament House
Macquarie St, Sydney
Cost : $75.00
Bookings Warwick Marsh 0418 225 212
RSVP: 4PM Wednesday 5 October 2011

Tuesday 11 October 2011
Breakfast Meetings with Parliamentarians (TBC)
Parliament House Canberra, ACT
(Meetings in Parliament House)

Monday 10 October 2011
William Wilberforce Luncheon
“Standing for the Truth in the Public Square”
NSW Parliament House Dining Room
Parliament House
Macquarie St, Sydney
Cost : $75.00
Bookings Warwick Marsh 0418 225 212
RSVP: 4PM Wednesday 5 October 2011
7PM –9PM
“Big Ideas: how Christian thinking can rebuild society”
Nexus Church
151 Flockton St
Everton Park Brisbane
(Love Offering taken)
For more Information contact
Cindy McGarvie 0425 308 219

Book on Facebook at below Link:!/event.php?eid=274430725915150

Wednesday 12 October 2011
7:30 – 8:30AM
Bi Partisan Parliamentary Prayer Breakfast
Queensland State Parliament
Meetings with Parliamentarians in Morning

12 – 2PM
William Wilberforce Luncheon Seminar
“Truth and Transformation”
(Plus Short Lecture to Baptist Bible College Students afterwards TBC)
Queensland Baptist Centre
53 Prospect Rd Gaythorne.
Cost for this event is $25.00.
RSVP by 12.00pm 11th October –
Wendy Francis: 0411 431 141

Thursday 13 October
10:00 AM to 12:30 PM
“Transforming Our Culture Seminar"Seminar followed by a light lunch.
Edwardstown Baptist Church
Cnr Rothesay Ave & Dorene St, St Marys Adelaide
Price Early Bird: A$25.00 - for payment by 29 September 2011
Full Price: A$30.00 - for payment by 10 October 2011
For more information phone Family Voice Australia
Ph: 1300 365 965
Night Webinar “Amazing Truth” with Family Voice Australia (Invitation Only)

Friday 14 October 2011
ACL Intern Christian Values Roundtable
10AM – 12:30PM

Australian Christian Lobby
National Conference 14-15 October 2011
“Putting Kids First”
Hyatt Hotel
Commonwealth Avenue
Canberra, ACT
Numbers are limited so please register early to avoid disappointment.

6:30PM Friday 14 October
Dinner with Dr Vishal Mangalwadi
Dinner Cost $100.00 Book online

Sat 15 October 2011
8:30AM – 4:30PM
ACL Conference
Cost $150.00
For more Information
ACL National Office
Canberra ACT
Phone: 02 6259 0431

Sunday 16 October 2011
9:30AM Service
“Truth Transformation”
Shellharbour City Community Church
500 Shellharbour Rd
Shellharbour NSW 2529
Phone: +61 02 4297 3549

6PM Service
“Truth Transformation”
Christian Community Church
20 Park Rd
Wallacia NSW (Western Sydney)
For more Information Ps John Carroll
Mobile 0418 291 449

ENDS Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, October 06, 2011

President Obama - correct, but not adequately

For a brief account of President Obama's response to the anger of the US public on rising inequality in the US, see

As I recollect, it is a VERY long time since Americans have protested about economic inequality, because of the dominant idea that "anyone can make it if they work hard enough and have a sensible lifestyle". This has been true for much of America's history, but has been less and less true in the last few years: income inequality is not only rising but is also becoming more entrenched - and the scandals since 2007 about privatising gains and socialising losses haven't helped.

Now that there are demonstrators on the streets, President Obama has responded. Mainly by defending the Dodd-Frank Act and financial reform in general (which he should) and by defending his USD448 billion "jobs package" (though that is only a kind of band-aid and, as I have argued earlier in this Blog, the President needs to rethink his position on world trade if he's going to make any substantial impact on unemployment in the USA).

Accusing the President of "class warfare" isn't going to get the Republicans far with the public, because the public perception is that it is the rich who declared, actually several years ago, class war on the poor and indeed the middle class - and that the consequences of that class war are only now becoming apparent. Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Consensus economists views versus my view

For a good summary of the current views of consensus economists see:

Why are theee consensus views wrong?

Because the models they use to understand what is going on and to make their forecasts do not take three things into account:

1. Deleveraging: we have had some decades where we have had the benefits of over-leverage, and we are now in a phase where we must deleverage. That will not take days or weeks or months, but at least a few years.

2. The current money wars: we have had some decades where currencies (excuding the Chinese Remnimbi or Yuan) appreciated and converged. We are now in a phase where every country, in response to the Chinese position as it has become increasingly damaging to other economies, are all in turn trying to weaken their currencies and keep them as low as possible. That is what explains at least a part of the logic for Quantitative Easing, and for the reluctance of European authorities to rescue Greece et all too quickly or definitively.

3. Asset overvaluation due to too much money sloshing around the world: asset values will have to come down, and a lot of paper money will have to be effectively destroyed, before asset prices diverge again to reflect the real risks involved in each class of them, and the different phases of boom and bust in which each class of assets is.

When I am convinced that the models of consensus economics take the above three factors into due account, I will be more inclined to trust them. Sphere: Related Content

Isn't it tiem to simplify overly complex US regulation?

I see from today's news stories that the "U.S." is considered to have "won" three cases that even the courts described as "exceedingly complex":

As you can read all about them at other places on the Internet, I won't bother to summarise them here, beyond saying that they represented THREE cases where some of the best-educated and most-experienced experts from some of the largest US commpanies thought they were doing something legal (so convninced that they were willing to spend the huge amounts of money and time that are now necessary to take a case to court in the US), which turns out not to be legal.

That should alert Americans to how difficult the entire system of law has become in the USA.

If the US could start simplifying the law and making it more clear and reliable, it would improve business confidence no end - specially at present, as the US has a window of perhaps three years in which to rebuild itself, or it will lose the chance for at least a generation. Sphere: Related Content

The current currency wars and Republican treason

If the US has any laws agains treason, the Republican leader John Boehner should be tried under those immediately.

At least ince 2005, it has been clear that one of the major causes of economic instability around the world is the value of the Chinese currency, the Yuan or Remnimbi, which is deliberately kept low by the Chinese government.

It is well documented that the US elite has betrayed the interests of the people of the United States ever since Nafta was signed, and then the WTO agreement,and then the bringing in of the Chinese into the world trade system without any safeguards or meaningful guarantees.

All measures to bring the Chinese into line with their own commitments have been systematically thwarted by the US elite of both parties.

And now the latest attempt to bring the Chinese into line is being opposed by none less than the leader of the Republican Party in the House of Representatives!

He does not seem to understand that we are in the middle of a currency war and that, following the refusal of the Chinese to strengthen their currency (attempts have been made to persuade them to do so since before 2005) EVERY country is trying its damndest to weaken its currency.

If we don't understand that, then we don't understand an important part of the logic for Quantitative Easing around the world, and we don't understand the logic for the decisions regarding whether European authorities wish to rescue Greece et al.

If China were to allow its currency to strengthen, it would create room for all currencies to strengthen and we would have space to move beyond our current currency wars.

Having said that, I do understand that Chinese authorities may feel that this is not be the right time for China to allow its currency to strengthen, given that it is beginning to face a crisis that has been a long time coming. China should really have taken the opportunity to allow its currency to rise when it was in a strong position. But even now is not an impossible time for China to move to making the sorts of structural changes that are necessary if the country is to prosper. Otherwise, like Japan from the 80s, China may find that it has now reached the limit of its rapid rise in prosperity. Sphere: Related Content

Sustainable Investing conference, 10 & 11 November 2011, London

Please note that I have no commercial, financial or even personal link with this conference, but am drawing attention to it solely because you might be interested in sustainable investing, though my own view of the most sustainable investing remains that of investing in small businesses that you know and can check on personally:

Banking and NGO professionals will discuss the problematic relationship between commodities investing and basic human needs - and there will be four Roundtable discussions, with the following speakers: Remy Briand, Managing Director, Global Head of Index and ESG Research at MSCI Inc. - Switzerland, Sabine Schels, Senior Director, Head of Fundamental Commodity Research at BofA Merrill Lynch - United Kingdom, Julia Balandina Jaquier, Founder of 3P Capital Partners - Switzerland and Ewoud Goudswaard, General Manager at ASN Bank - The Netherlands.

Some of the Workshop Speakers: Richard Mattison, Trucost - United Kingdom, Christopher McKnett, State Street Global Advisors - USA, Alexia Zavos, SRI Manager, Cazenove Capital - United Kingdom and Mariana Bozesan, Founder and President of AQAL Investing - Germany.

10 & 11 November 2011, London. For full details: Sphere: Related Content