Thinks 627

William MacAskill writes about longtermism: “Out of the hundreds of thousands of years in humanity’s past — and the potentially billions of years in its future — we find ourselves living now, at a time of extraordinary change. A time marked by thousands of nuclear warheads standing ready to fire. A time when we are rapidly burning fossil fuels, producing pollution that might last hundreds of thousands of years. A time when we can see catastrophes on the horizon — from engineered viruses to A.I.-enabled totalitarianism — and can act to prevent them. To be alive at such a time is both an exceptional opportunity and a profound responsibility: We can be pivotal in steering the future onto a better trajectory. There’s no better time for a movement to stand up, not just for our generation or even our children’s generation, but for all the generations yet to come.”

Samuel Gregg: “The more you allow the government to intervene in the economy—whether through regulation, subsidies, tariffs, or industrial policy—to try and, say, diminish wealth differentials, the greater the opportunities for what economists call rent-seeking. This is when an individual or business tries to attain wealth by extracting resources from others (e.g., the government) but without actually doing much by way of economic productivity—in short, without adding value. There’s no reason why government interventions to address some of the wealth differentials and their effects that [David] Brooks laments would not become yet another source of rent-seeking.”

Ninan: “Despite the passage of 75 years and the resources of a growing economy, India has failed on three primary fronts: Universal school education up to the matriculation stage, universal health care with a good public health system, and jobs for all those looking for them. To adapt Thoreau, “Most Indians lead lives of quiet desperation”. To these primary failures one could add two more: Failure to provide universal access to the basics (including clean water and clean air), and the absence of a proper law and order-cum-justice system that does not have two-thirds of the prison population classified as “under-trials”. These failures are compounded by damage to the environment, and a growing water scarcity because of unsustainable agricultural practices. The victims of these failures are almost entirely the under-class: Dalits and tribals, migrants and other workers in the informal sector — in a word, the powerless…The next quarter-century could mark India’s rise as a nation to be more whole-heartedly admired if it addresses its institutional and policy failures, and focuses on reducing its inequalities and addressing its iniquities. That would truly make it an Indian century.”

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.