Every now and then, concern about a ‘brain drain’ sapping India of her most productive citizens is raised in the media. This phrase refers to the notion that skilled people are leaving India for better career and lifestyle opportunities abroad, leading to a shortage of social capital locally.
There is much truth in this concern. India is not anywhere among the most desirable countries to live or work. More people leave India than enter it, as evidenced by its negative migration rate. India’s popularity among foreigners is low, leading it to have approximately the same migration rate as nations like Kenya and Ghana. This can be contrasted to Australia where more people immigrate into the country than emigrate from it, leading to a positive net migration rate.
Addressing the factors that have caused the mass exodus from India won’t happen overnight. These factors relate to the fact that India is not by any objective measure a free society. The Heritage Foundation’s ranking of economic freedom places India at 120 in the world, which once again places it in the company of backward African economies. Unsurprisingly, India also has a lower Gross Domestic Product per capita than Australia.
In 1996, Senator Jesse Helms wrote a scathing critique of the United Nations in an article published in Foreign Affairs magazine. He slammed its power grabs and out of control bureaucracy leading to rising costs and offered an ultimatum: either the UN implements reform or America withdraws its support. Hardly a word of what Helms wrote then has changed in its applicability today.
India is a third world developing nation with a lower GDP per capita than Australia and with millions of malnourished citizens unable to meet basic dietary requirements. Yet it contributes about $33 million per year to the UN. On top of this, India has so far contributed more than $30 million to the United Nations Democracy Fund, while its own elections face allegations of fraud and at least one third of its national politicians face criminal charges.
In effect, the low and middle-class taxpayers of India are subsidizing the luxurious perks of UN officials who have an average salary of about $75,000 per year.
In an environment of stagnating economic growth caused by the Great Lockdown (in response to the novel coronavirus), such largesse needs serious reconsideration.
One of the myths about the Civil War is that the Southern states seceded to protect slavery. As Tom Woods points out (at the 13:50 minute mark), in fact many southern planters didn't want secession. Besides, only one-third of the southern population owned slaves.
If preserving slavery was the primary objective, then it made sense for southerners to stay within the Union since Abraham Lincoln had endorsed a deal that would have maintained slavery indefinitely had they stayed in. Why secede when the Northern Congress in March 1861 passed the Corwin amendment that would have guaranteed protection of slavery?
Instead the South decided to leave for other reasons, such as:
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I first met Ruby in late 2017 when I visited India. My family there is unable to take care of her to the high standards of Western countries due to financial issues and time shortage.
Rather than sending them money to take care of her, I thought since I love animals and know a lot about dogs (having owned two previously) - why not bring her to Australia to live with me?
In India, animals are generally treated poorly so I know in Australia the medical care she'd be given would be a lot better. I could also train her and help her transition into being a purely indoor dog. Because she is largely an outdoor dog at present, she had a pretty bad mite infection. I was able to fix this with the help of a vet in Cochin, Kerala, India but it would be best if she got my close attention living with me in Canberra.
I think of it like adopting a kid from overseas. I have retained the company Dogtainers to assist me with the transport and it will cost me $20,000 in total (their fee is $17,000 but there are other miscellaneous costs).
The reason it is so expensive is because India is not an approved country for import purposes. Therefore, I have to take Ruby via Singapore. Boarding her there and arranging vet transfers has been delegated to Dogtainers because I have no family there who can help me. Hence why the expense is higher than bringing her from, say, New Zealand.
If you'd like to donate to help cover the costs, click here.
It has been nearly two years since the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in November 2016 that his government would repudiate old 500 rupees and 1000-rupee notes and replace these with newly issued 500 rupees and 2000-rupee notes. The government advised that anyone holding the old notes can exchange these for new notes at any bank (up to a maximum limit per day) or deposit unlimited amounts as credit into a bank account.
The Indian demonetization experiment has been promoted as a way to crack down on black money circulating in the economy, with the rationale being that those evading taxes by holding funds in cash or criminals keeping ill-gotten gains in cash would be forced to make such money visible to the government due to the need to deposit old notes into a bank account.
This global ‘War on Cash’ is an attempt by governments to raise revenue from the cash transactions that occur in an economy, but the price of doing away with cash, especially in a developing country like India where many do not even have bank accounts, is likely to be high. By many accounts, the demonetisation experiment has been extremely troubling, with reports of mass financial dislocation and harm to some of the poorest individuals in India.
While all agree that Australia is, or was intended to be, a federal system of government, there has been limited discussion of the role that secession plays as an implication of the federalist principle. To rectify this neglect, I propose to investigate the legality of the unilateral secession of an Australian state.
The background to my inquiry arises from Western Australia’s 1933 attempt at seceding from the Commonwealth of Australia. A referendum held on 8 April 1933 in Western Australia produced a compelling result: nearly 70 per cent were in favour of WA seceding from the Commonwealth. It was an emphatic rejection of a federation that had been consummated a mere 32 years previously. Despite the two-thirds majority in favour of seceding, WA did not obtain recognition for its claim, either from the federal government or the United Kingdom.
As a theoretical concern, the lineage of secession in Western legal theory can be traced to the Glorious Revolution of 1688 in England, which established the principle that the sovereign people, in extraordinary circumstances, could go outside formal constitutional procedures and depose tyrants. English scholar William Blackstone endorsed this principle. Furthermore, the US Declaration of Independence is an example of the desire to effect revolutionary change and overthrow a government: Britain’s oppression of the American colonists gave rise to a claimed inherent right to ‘alter or to abolish’ existing structures.
Previous work has produced near unanimity holding against the legality of secession, at least via unilateral state legislative action, however there is divergence in reasoning as to why it would be unconstitutional. John Quick and Robert Garran in The annotated constitution of the Australian Commonwealth have suggested the preamble to the Constitution bars secession because the phrase ‘indissoluble Federal Commonwealth’ implies a permanent union. Another school of thought expressed by William Moore finds that secession is ruled out by the covering clauses, that is, sections one to nine of the Constitution. Gregory Craven reopened the question in 1985, albeit finding that that unilateral secession is not permitted by the Constitution.
Writes Thomas DiLorenzo:
Federal soldiers intimidated voters into voting Republican by menacing them at the polls. As Lincoln biographer David Donald has written, "Under the protection of Federal bayonets, New York went Republican by seven thousand votes" in 1864.
It's probable that Lincoln would have won the 1864 election even if he hadn't engaged in such manipulation. But there's no doubt that it helped him in the states with the closest margins.
Why restrict students to government funded university places? Let them pay if they want.
Year 12s have already lodged their university preferences with VTAC. Some may have opted for full-fee courses as a back-up plan if they don’t get into a government supported place.
But these fee-places are criticised by the Australian Labor Party. Indeed, the ALP has promised to abolish fee-places should they be elected to government.
Yet is such an action warranted? And would it improve access to university education?
To find the answer we need to understand how the current system works. The most important feature of the present system is that there are a limited number of government supported places, and universities can only accept the amount of students negotiated with the government. Also, governments—both ALP and Coalition—are unwilling and unable to increase the amount of students that universities can take on board because of financial constraints.
As Andrew Norton, a former advisor to federal higher education minister David Kemp, notes:
“You do not need... an ENTER 99, or anything like it, to be able to complete an arts/law degree at Monash University. But you do need an ENTER of 99 to have been ‘clearly in’ for a HECS place in 2005. The reason for this is simple. The number of HECS places in this course, and every other course, is limited. There are various ways we could ration HECS places, but Monash uses what is, in effect, an academic auction in which, instead of bidding with money, you bid with marks. People who did very well in year 12 win in this process.”
Even if governments were to drastically increase expenditure on higher education at the expense of all else, student demand is difficult to predict and having a centralised government doling out money cannot ensure everyone who is competent enough to complete a university course will get past the quota system.
So the high Commonwealth Supported Place entry scores you see are the result of a poorly designed system unable to cope with student demand.
This is where fee-places come in. What fee-places do is alleviate this problem by allowing universities to take in more students who, although intelligent, may have missed out by a few points. If we only had Commonwealth Supported Places to get into university with, there would in all likelihood be far fewer people going to university.
However, having a limited amount of full-fee places is not, in itself, a solution. What if we changed the rules of the game entirely? What if, instead of governments dictating financial arrangements to universities, universities were privatised and allowed to run like businesses—competing for fee-paying students? Experience with competition in other industries suggests fees would lower and quality would improve. With greater university autonomy and a complete removal of ‘red-tape’ in higher education, Australian universities will hone their education product in response to student demand.
We must allow universities to expand supply in response to demand. Students should be able to pay for undertaking a degree -- perhaps through a bank loan -- rather than being dependent on a limited number of government funded places.
Originally published in the 2005 edition of 'The Witherbarian'.
Chris Leithner’s book, The Evil Princes of Martin Place: The Reserve Bank of Australia, the Global Financial Crisis and the Threat to Australians’ Liberty and Prosperity not only has a long title, but is also extremely lengthy in number of pages. At 654 pages, a casual reader interested in understanding the recent financial crisis might wonder whether it’s worth buying Leithner’s hefty work. My answer is a resounding ‘yes’. Every Australian should read this book to understand how the government’s involvement in money and banking has diminished their living standards.
Leithner’s goal is simple: to challenge conventional wisdom in the field of monetary economics. Along the way, he also demolishes a variety of other fallacies surrounding the State and its interventions. Harvard-educated academics – the same people who did not foresee the crisis – have blamed the crisis on capitalism and greed, but Leithner is here to defend the free-market perspective against the Keynesian onslaught.
According to Leithner, government intervention, not market failure, is the underlying cause of recessions and depressions. Government’s interventions are manifested through such measures as fractional reserve banking (FRB), legal tender laws, and central banking. Leithner argues that these forms of meddling in monetary affairs create economic turmoil. Though few people discuss the merits or otherwise of FRB and legal tender laws, central banking is already prominent in mainstream debates.
Central banks are a relatively recent phenomenon. For many years, Australians prospered without a central bank in an environment where private banks issued paper currencies. The pre-1901 era in Australia was a time of free banking, i.e. a situation where government gave no special privileges to banks. ‘Australian banking was relatively free for almost a century from the establishment of the first banks until well into the twentieth,’ explains Kevin Dowd in Laissez Faire Banking, ‘and fully fledged central banking arrived only with the establishment of the Reserve Bank of Australia at the comparatively late date of 1959’.
Nowadays, central bankers are highly praised and government intervention is taken for granted. Leithner questions this naïve faith:
In Australia, economists, investors and journalists babble endlessly about the level at which the Reserve Bank should “set” the “official interest rate”…Alas, almost nobody bothers to ask why it should be set, or whether it actually can be fixed…[F]or reasons rarely discussed and never justified, virtually nobody baulks at the notion that a short-term money market rate of interest must be “set” by a committee of price-fixers and central planners in Martin Place, Sydney.