Monday, 11 May 2009

Freakonomics: Reason to Live



Rahul said...

Pessimistically being Optimistic?

Well I don't know for sure, but no matter how we get rid of the poor - by helping or by killing - there will always be "poor".

The Poor used to maintain a balance I think.. but this balance is going.. The Rich are getting richer, The Poor, poorer..

Getting rid of the Poor now, sounds good, but then, it gives rise to the next set of poor.. think of it on a scale of 1 to 10.. 1 being richest, 10 poorest.. below 7 (8,9,10) is poor..

Now getting rid of that 8,9,10 by killing, well 1 to 7 will end up dividing from say 5.. 6,7 will be the new poor..

HOW? - The balance being maintained goes.. we will have poor among the rich.. the prices will rise, making the just rich, backward, poor..

Getting rid of that 8,9,10 by help, well that's Economics and Government.. that depends on the people we select.. but then again, we really don't know whats happening up there do we?

The poor have a reason to live - To Maintain A Balance

About - The bigger the number, the lesser we care - we'll I'm more with the bigger number.. I never followed the kidnapping story blah blah.. but I was always wondering about the bigger number death..

When the media dies down on "Bigger The Number" I simply had to "Care Less" by thinking - Maybe it was meant to be - My Hope was gone..

When it was an isolated case, there was still some Hope.. I saw Hope, people saw Hope, people held on.. but seeing people holding on too much, I felt it as Hype and thought it should have been left out, and I left it ( Personal Opinion )

And you perhaps held on ( Like me holding on to "Bigger The Number" ), and unlike others, wondered "why?"

Everyone is Unique - You are Unique, just like everyone else - The Unique-ness of You( We ) being Unique, Disappears..

Ethan DeSouza said...

You know what's even funnier?

We need the poor people. Because if there weren't any, there wouldn't be any rich people either. There will always be poor people because of the comparison factor. Today's level of poorness(?)is that of not having a home or food to eat. Tomorrow, when we get rid of the today's poor people, the new poor people will be today's middle class. So if the poor keep disappearing, the earth will have only the richest person ever. Kinda boring.

Ethan DeSouza said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kertz said...

Ehm... so this is what you were talking about. Tell you what, you are stuck in a maze kicking and screaming! You are asking questions for which you already know the answer!

What are you intending, a juicy brain shake?

Anonymous said...

Since you speak of economics, I noticed that your post followed a certain basic assumption followed in economic theory- cetiris paribus. The sagacity of this in a sociologican context for the post in question? Debatable.

Despite the strongly satiric words (or what I hope are strongly satiric words), I sense you truly believe that the poor people have little reason to live. Amongst the numerous assumptions you make through the course of your post, you have assumed rather unequivocally that the poor people are acutely unhappy. I beg to differ, some of the most free spirited and imaginative people I have met have been people living in absolute poverty. To call them unhappy would be unjust, for I think the simplicity in their lives makes them a whole lot happier than I am. That's not to say they aren't in need of significant social development.

The human being is quite frankly, unworthy and unappreciative of life. A crime that he compounds by indulging in hypocrisy.

Interesting post, showed more depth to your writing, what with metaphors and satire, something not ostentatious in the previous posts.

And oh, these questions you have for famous economists?

They have answers, you know. Welfare economics. A certain Indian won a Nobel Prize for his work on the same, as your HSEE preparation would have no doubt told you. I suggest you read his papers. There are numerous case studies of the economic theory behind Grameen Bank, another concept that should interest you.

These people, amongst several others including Guha, Sainath and a plethora of journalists and economists spend their time trying to prevent the need to answer your question.

kicking.and.screaming said...

No internet. Will be back when I can.

Sushant said...

Good post and great comments as well. To me poverty is just a metric available to compare certain people at any given point of time. As many readers correctly pointed out that poverty is very relative and is very fluid. A person who is rich may not remain rich forever and similarly a poor person may grow rich. So Lets not decide how to get rid of people ..there is this big random machine at work and it is pretty much good in whatever it does..

dolly said...

there is nothing like the best solution here.

serious issue.
put down in practical words.

education is the only solution for them, which is a mere impossible thing for people in dire poverty.
they are poor 'cause they don't are not far sighted.
now, how do we give them the brains !

if we try help them with a little money, they spend it on 'daaru'
who does it lead to?
they are the ones who are responsible for they being poor.
except for a very few !!

rest,our sweet mother earth turns around and sweeps away people in thousands and more.

naturally balanced.

do we get anything with arguments?
nothing but a mere satisfaction.

Debby said...

Your Sunfeast civic letter will appear tomorrow. I was just checking your blog since you mentioned it in the mail.

Debby, TOI

kicking.and.screaming said...

@ All,

Hello! Im back. Briefly and uncertainly.

Thanks for the comments. Ill reply when I can.

@ Sushant and Dolly,
Where'd you come from? Just asking. Mail me maybe?

@ Debby
Ah. I searched every square inch of the paper on the 2nd and 3rd. Didnt find the letter. Any clues?

kicking.and.screaming said...

@ Rahul

That we have the poor, to maintain the balance, is a little startling, to say the least. To draw that as the conclusion saddens me.

You can have no balance by having an excess of the lower limit. And in this case, when we're talking about human lives, its even more inexcusable.

I do understand what has been said, that getting rid of the poorest will only make way for the poor who will become the new poorest. Its all relative and maths then?

kicking.and.screaming said...

@ Ethan

Please. We need The Poor just so that we can have what is called as The Rich?

Where is my Robin Hood. Come save me.

I think you and I can both do just fine without the rich. Shucks, im sliding down that abyss of a dream, to that utopia place again.

kicking.and.screaming said...

@ Kertz

Sorry Kertz, you always lose me. If you'd like to rephrase perhaps?

kicking.and.screaming said...

@ Shogun

Of course this post of mine is hardly a sensible moral argument to be making. Im sure, someone of your astuteness already knows by now, which side of the fence im on- personally and ideologically.

Yes Sho. Satire. I know you understand that.

Can we put aside some of the condescension now?

As for the issue of the poor's happiness-
There is an underground movement which has been around from the 70's, carried on through the 90's, and I have evidence of it conducting itself even in the 00's. - Will blog on it once I get my internet in place. - This movement seeks to place a lesser importance on money, and a greater one on skill and resource sharing. These people, I do understand are free spirited and actually happy with the path of life they've chosen. Call them hippies, call them whatever, I think they're great.

When it comes to the poor, being voluntarily happy, due to, as you say, the simplicity of their lives, I beg to differ. There is nothing simple about carrying bricks and babies, sweeping roads, getting drunk out of depression, cleaning tables to support a family of 10, leaving your village to work in the city and coming back at harvest time only to go back once the harvest is over and go back to the grind. There is nothing simple about that life. And we both know, there is more that goes on in the hovels, than what I have just mentioned.
Anyway, I dont think simple is the right word to use. A rudimentary life, would be more appropriate. Of course, I agree too, on the need for significant social and infrastructural development for them.

And yes, I personally think that -I- would be happy with a regression to pre-historic days, but I doubt these poor, who dont have the CHOICE that I do, are actually happy about it. Theyre living because they cant die.
I infer that you talk from a place of feeling, yourself. So maybe you should re-think what you said.

Thanks for the critique on the writing. This is an old write of mine. More soon, maybe.

I am aware of the personalities you mentioned, in your slights. I am also aware and humbled by the fact, that everything I think off, has probably already been thought up, be somebody before me. I'm learning and trying and honest about it.

kicking.and.screaming said...

@ Dolly

Ill write about the education issue you raised.

But err, surely youre not saying that poverty is linked to intelligence?!

' they are the ones who are responsible for they being poor.'
Tell me more.

@ Dolly and Sushant
Somehow I dont buy the 'leave it to God/fate' explain-aways. Unless youd like to elaborate.

Anonymous said...


Was I really? If you did detect any condescension, I must assure you that it was most definitely not intended to be such. My apologies.

As for your comments, all I can say is that there never was, is, or ever will be an egalitarian society in this country.

Less emphasis on money? Please. Not in the current global scenario. Its simple- money buys material comfort and more often than not, long life. Maybe a century or so later..

Kertz said...


Forget about what I said, it makes no sense.

Amol said...

Your post reminds of the last stanza of Robert Frost's A Roadside Stand :

I can’t help owning the great relief it would be
To put these people at one stroke out of their pain.
And then next day as I come back into the sane,
I wonder how I should like you to come to me
And offer to put me gently out of my pain.

Rat said...

Beautiful post. I think your words reflect mangled thoughts that many of us have concerning poverty. It also makes me guilty, somehow, that I have done so little to make the world *I* live in a better place. This is a very selfish motive, I am aware, but every human being is selfish, and needs to be if he wants to stay human.
Getting back to your views, I don't know how far I agree. I see your side of it, but I have no side concerning this issue, I'm too confused. Of these few points I'm sure though:
1.The poor is certainly present to maintain a balance, there would be no world without opposities.(By this I do not imply that I would like it to be thus, but it is a natural phenomenon, an axiom of living which we cannot escape.)
2. Everything is relative. How can poverty be quantified? Only, and only through comparison.
3. Most of the poor, are poor becaose they are poor because they are poor. They are apathetic and so do not *choose* to climb out of their holes, they are almost comfortable in their position and know or rather prefer to know no better. Ignorance is bliss maybe?
Of course this is actually a cycle- apathetic due to conditioned poverty and poverty due to the condition of apathy. Only very few are even interested in educating themselves and in experiencing a different way of life (most amongst them being children)So, I do agree that a person is never "poor" if he really REALLY does not want to be.(this may seem rather philosophical and it is but belief is more important a tool to success than most)
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