Saturday, October 26, 2013

Robbed by the Indian Customs Officials

On 26th September, 2013 I ordered five books from Mises Store in USA. The books were on their way to my home when the Indian customs department detained my parcel in Ahmadabad foreign post office. I was waiting for my book parcel to arrive, but instead I got a letter from the postal department informing me about this detention. The letter gave no reason why Indian customs detained my book parcel. It just said that they have detained it, and I have to contact them for release of my parcel (see figure 1).

Figure 1
In past also I have ordered books from Mises store, but my parcel was never detained by customs. I called customs office for clarification, and the custom official told me that he doesn't know anything about why they detained my book, but I need to send them some documents (purchase invoice, PAN card copy etc.). The very next day I sent everything to them. They released my parcel a day after, and feeling happy, I waited for it to arrive at my home. Next day when I was in office, my Dad called me and said, that the postman, who came to deliver the parcel, is asking for 3,356 rupees!!! I went rushing back home knowing I was ripped off by the Indian State customs officials. I came back home and the postman told me that I have to pay 3,356 rupees customs duty (better call it extortion) on my books! My book purchase bill was just US$76.85, and I had to pay roughly US$50 duty (see figure 2 below).

Figure 2
I asked for explanations, but he had none because he was, as usual, just following his orders. I called Ahmadabad F.P.O. customs office again for an explanation. What happened next was no surprise to me. The customs official gave me an evasive answer when I asked which "rule" they used to charge this duty when in past the customs office always wrote 'duty free' on my parcels! He never cited any rule or Act. He said, that it is individual customs officer's discretion to decide whether to impose duty on books or not! Some customs officials may let go the books through while some may not! That means, customers are at the mercy of arbitrary decisions of customs office thugs. There is total lawlessness in this country, as I have repeatedly said in my past articles. When I pushed him for clear answers, he started threatening me by saying, that never tell anyone that in past your book parcels went through without paying any customs duty because the government officials can re-open your record and charge duty retrospectively! I was not surprised because I know the Indian government is bankrupt and it is resorting to all evil means of looting its citizens e.g., Vodafone tax case where they are playing this same absurd retrospectively taxing games. He only told me, that because I didn't have IE Code (Import-Export Code), they charged 41% import duty on my books! I knew I was never going to get any coherent answers, so I hung up the phone.

I also knew that going through the bureaucratic mess was futile and a waste of my time, so I paid the duty and released my precious books from the nasty hands of government officials.

I am not sure about this, but because the Indian government is so bankrupt, they are now taxing even books, which are being declared as 'an item of cultural value' by UNESCO/WTO, and thus should not be levied any duty on. Fundamentally, the real issue is why the government is meddling in the Free Foreign Trade in the first place? Why they are imposing customs duty on any imported items? I know the answer: The State is a gang of criminals, and so they want to use every means to exploit us. The idea of 'free foreign trade' or 'free markets' is an anathema for the State. They will continue to loot us as long as we allow them to. As long as people don't understand the true criminal nature of the government, they will continue to rob and pillage us. 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Is Gold a Problem?

The Indian government has gone so insane over the issue of current account deficit and gold's share in it that they are now taking help of absolutely lunatic methods of filling that gap. The head priest, Shobhan Sarkar, of Uttar Pradesh Unnao temple had a dream of 1000 tonne gold hoard buried under the temple ruins. He saw this dream [sic] because he was troubled by the deteriorating health of the Indian economy - due to widening current account deficit - and wanted to help the Indian government mitigate this problem via this gold hoard. Working on the government's directives, the ASI (Archeological Survey of India) team has started the excavation work few days back. I know the whole situation looks like a dream itself, but sadly the matter is serious (recently ASI has started downplaying the whole matter). In fact, the Unnao temple ruin has become a favorite go to place for surrounding area people and media journalists!

What does this whole situation signify? The way the Indian government has waged a war on gold, it looks like that the hunger for gold of Indian people is responsible for the deteriorating health of the Indian economy; as if gold is responsible for the widening current account deficit. But, as I have wrote in past, rising demand for gold by the Indian buyers is not the cause of poor health of the Indian economy. It is, in fact, one of the signs and a result of already highly inflationary Indian economy. People are buying gold because they want to safeguard their hard earned wealth against rising inflation. And this inflation is not created by gold buyers themselves! RBI (Reserve Bank of India) is wholly responsible for this inflation. RBI is printing and creating money out of thin air since its inception, and that is inflation. What people are doing is only protecting themselves against this central bank and government depredations; people are just reacting to this situation. It is government's habit to always blame the public for their own shenanigans, and the same is happening in India.

We also need to understand that gold itself is not important for the better health of the economy. It is important today because it is money whose purchasing power no central bank or government can easily dilute. Gold, in its monetary role, is just a common medium of exchange, and we demand it only to use it later on for purchasing those goods which we ultimately want to consume. No one is demanding gold for its own consumption. Even if the ASI team finds the 1000 tonne gold hoard, that itself won't solve the problem of current account deficit once and for all. Deficit is widening because of RBI's inflationary policy. As long as RBI is creating inflation by creating money out of thin air, inflation, CAD deficit etc., problems are going to remain with us. At the most, that 1000 tonne gold hoard can kick the CAD deficit can down the road to some distance, but it won't cure it totally. Only when RBI stops its inflationary policy and government starts rolling back itself, the Indian economy can recover and progress again.       

Friday, October 11, 2013

Vote or Don't Vote?

The great “democracy” drama is about to begin in India. The election commission has announced the dates of state assembly elections for five states – viz. Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram and Delhi - beginning in December, 2013. Many are calling this election round as a semi-final before the finals of Lok Sabha election in 2014. India is world’s so-called biggest democracy [sic], and voting is the main ritual of democratic religion. Voting’s symbolic power is tremendous as it keeps the slave population deluded in believing that they are the real owners of the government, and that the government officials work for their welfare! It keeps the Lincolnian myth of government of the people, by the people, and for the people alive. Millions of voters will go to polling stations to elect their so-called representatives thinking that doing so will change things for better. But, is it so? Is voting going to change anything for better? We have seen Indian public voting one election round after another since last 67 years, and still the same problems which persisted in past continue to persist today.

So, does voting make any difference? Should you vote or not? Before we tackle these questions, let's discuss some arguments which people are making for voting. Many people, mostly Modi's deluded fans, are arguing that those who do not vote are responsible for electing corrupt politicians!!! I don’t know how, but that’s what those who vote are alleging! The reality, in fact, is that those who vote are responsible for electing corrupt politicians. Those who are not voting can't elect any politician let alone corrupt ones. And, the use of word 'corrupt' with 'politician’ is redundant because all politicians are corrupt. They belong to the 4% sociopath population of human society. Lord Acton said that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This statement should be reversed: only those who are corrupt to begin with are attracted to power! Politics is a cesspool which only attracts criminal personalities. It attracts those busybodies who think that other people are just cogs which they need to fit into their fantasy societal plan wheels.

Many are also repeating the same old boring tirade, that if you don't vote then you don't have any right to complain. But this logic goes in other directions too (see figure below). In fact, this argument is design in such a way that no citizen will ever be able to complain! It's a propaganda tool of the Statist people.
Statist Voting Propaganda

Similarly, another argument that those people who are voting are giving their voluntary consent to the elected government is also flawed to its core. Nothing can be farther from the truth. Lysander Spooner exploded this fallacy more than hundred years ago in his monumental work, No Treason. Nothing can better Spooner’s arguments. He said:
 “In truth, in the case of individuals, their actual voting is not to be taken as proof of consent, even for the time being. On the contrary, it is to be considered that, without his consent having even been asked a man finds himself environed by a government that he cannot resist; a government that forces him to pay money, render service, and forego the exercise of many of his natural rights, under peril of weighty punishments. He sees, too, that other men practice this tyranny over him by the use of the ballot. He sees further, that, if he will but use the ballot himself, he has some chance of relieving himself from this tyranny of others, by subjecting them to his own. In short, he finds himself, without his consent, so situated that, if he use the ballot, he may become a master; if he does not use it, he must become a slave. And he has no other alternative than these two. In self-defence, he attempts the former. His case is analogous to that of a man who has been forced into battle, where he must either kill others, or be killed himself. Because, to save his own life in battle, a man takes the lives of his opponents, it is not to be inferred that the battle is one of his own choosing. Neither in contests with the ballot – which is a mere substitute for a bullet – because, as his only chance of self-preservation, a man uses a ballot, is it to be inferred that the contest is one into which he voluntarily entered; that he voluntarily set up all his own natural rights, as a stake against those of others, to be lost or won by the mere power of numbers. On the contrary, it is to be considered that, in an exigency into which he had been forced by others, and in which no other means of self-defence offered, he, as a matter of necessity, used the only one that was left to him.
“Doubtless the most miserable of men, under the most oppressive government in the world, if allowed the ballot, would use it, if they could see any chance of thereby meliorating their condition. But it would not, therefore, be a legitimate inference that the government itself, that crushes them, was one which they had voluntarily set up, or even consented to.
“Therefore, a man’s voting under the Constitution of the United States, is not to be taken as evidence that he ever freely assented to the Constitution, even for the time being. Consequently we have no proof that any very large portion, even of the actual voters of the United States, ever really and voluntarily consented to the Constitution, even for the time being. Nor can we ever have such proof, until every man is left perfectly free to consent, or not, without thereby subjecting himself or his property to be disturbed or injured by others.”
As we can have no legal knowledge as to who votes from choice, and who from the necessity thus forced upon him, we can have no legal knowledge, as to any particular individual, that he voted from choice; or, consequently, that by voting, he consented, or pledged himself, to support the government. Legally speaking, therefore, the act of voting utterly fails to pledge any one to support the government. It utterly fails to prove that the government rests upon the voluntary support of anybody. On general principles of law and reason, it cannot be said that the government has any voluntary supporters at all, until it can be distinctly shown who its voluntary supporters are.
On the other side, we also cannot say that those who are voting are necessarily doing some immoral act. As Spooner explained above, most people who vote are voting under duress; voting is not a voluntary choice. It is foisted upon us by the State. We don’t have any other choice but to try and reduce our burden via voting. Helpless Indian public is trying to improve its lot since last 67 years via voting, but all in vain. We can say that there is some choice when we can have no government for next five years because majority is not voting. Non-voting is not without reason. Non-voters are frustrated with the government apparatus, and they want to get rid of it or they don’t bother whether governmental system is present or not. If we see the voting percentage then majority public is non-voting. That means, according to democracy’s own logic of majority rule, we should have no government for next five years! Do you think that politicians are going to leave us alone for next five years? No chance. Without the body politic, the State parasites will die immediately. They will continue to suck our blood as long as we allow them to do so. 

Murray Rothbard said that most of the voting public is not doing anything immoral. Yes, those who are voting for more government loot are indulged in an immoral act, but those who are using vote in a purely defensive way are not acting unethically. Here is Rothbard:
Many anarchist libertarians claim it immoral to vote or to engage in political action–the argument being that by participating in this way in State activity, the libertarian places his moral imprimatur upon the State apparatus itself. But a moral decision must be a free decision, and the State has placed individuals in society in an unfree environment, in a general matrix of coercion. The State—unfortunately—exists, and people must necessarily begin with this matrix to try to remedy their condition. As Lysander Spooner pointed out, in an environment of State coercion, voting does not imply voluntary consent. Indeed, if the State allows us a periodic choice of rulers, limited though that choice may be, it surely cannot be considered immoral to make use of that limited choice to try to reduce or get rid of State power. (footnotes removed).
After exposing the Statist arguments for voting, now we see whether your vote is going to make any difference or not. You will frequently hear many people saying, your vote is precious and even one vote can make a difference, so you should vote! Is it true?  Can one vote make any difference? In the below video, famous public choice school economist Dr. Gordon Tullock explodes this myth of one vote can make a difference. No, your one vote is not going to make any difference whatsoever.

More importantly, instead of focusing on the ritual of voting, we must focus on the religion of 'the State (aka government)' itself. The fundamental question is, what is government? why vote for it? Is democracy and its ritual voting good or bad? French classical liberal economist Frederic Bastiat defined government as, "the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else." Great  H L. Mencken put this same definition in slightly different form. He said, Government is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of advance auction in stolen goods. By voting you are willy-nilly going to participate in this advance auction of stolen goods. Why participate in this robbery?

In the end it all comes down to whether voting will actually make any difference or not. History has shown that voting won’t change anything drastically. Voting is a ritual of democratic religion, and as Emma Goldman said, if voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal. So, go and vote if you are trying to reduce the weight of government off society's back, but don’t expect any miracles. Go and vote if Dr. Ron Paul is running for the Indian Prime Minister position in 2014! If you decide to vote then you should be voting for a candidate who will try and make the government smaller or dismantle it totally like Dr. Paul. Do we have any such candidate in the Indian politics? No. This is the reason why it is futile to go and vote in elections. I leave the final choice up to you.

P.S. Anyone who is interested in further reading on the issue of why you should not vote can consult this non-voting article archive on Lew's website.