Kerala’s Riches & Rapes

God’s Own Country

If God is a superstition, so is the mystique of the benevolent state. Plain men who are blinded by envy, ignorance and resentment do not love the truth. But, they do not want to be left groping in the dark either. They want something to latch on to. They long for substitutes for the truth. Superstitions are such substitutes.

For centuries, the brightest minds have rejected God. But, it was ear in and ear out for most men. For thousands of years, the best economists and political philosophers have argued against government tyranny. But, it was ear in and ear out for almost everyone. 

Why? Most people are innately predisposed to hate liberty. They are the sheep. They have no self-respect. They need someone to lead. Is it surprising that even high IQ academics like Paul A Samuelson wanted to believe that the Soviet Russia will overtake the United States? Many apparently intelligent men of his generation believed just that.  When their grand experiment collapsed like a house of cards, they had to swallow their pride and admit meekly: “But, we need not go too far.” Prejudice is a disease that cannot be cured by education.

Throughout their lives, people try to prove that the world is a vindication of their adolescent fantasies.

Amidst the dullards who hate the truth, there are, of course, men who are intelligent and articulate. When they spout nonsense that the masses want to hear, the masses march behind them with loud hosannas. Their middle class readers scream on Facebook and Twitter, “You said it. You have the courage to say what dare not admit to ourselves.” But, this was precisely what almost everyone wanted to hear. Weak-hearts. They should have the honesty to admit that. They should have the courage of their own malice.

Is it even surprising that they love to believe that government-induced growth has led to vast human progress in Kerala? But, for decades, Kerala was ruled by many illiterate gentlemen from the Church of Marx. It would be an understatement that they do not have a fairly complex understanding of economic, political philosophy and allied sciences. They are Luddites. They can barely read. Is it even plausible that they have some magic formula that the developed countries are yet to grasp? It is obvious that progress is a result of complex knowledge, of having the right political framework and institutions. Empty slogans do not get anyone anywhere.

The arguments against the Kerala model were always based on what economists call “data”. But, we do not have reliable data in India. Even the best empirical studies in economics are not as good as the best arguments. But, it is clear that there can never be government-induced growth. This is not mere expert opinion. The reason is simple. The government does not produce anything. Dividing a pie does not make it any bigger than it actually is. And the pie is way too small to do anything good to the masses who might come drooling after the divided crumbs. There is no room for creative expression when you tell people what to do and what not to do. The government just creates mischief.

This is not new, but here are some interesting facts from Swaminathan Aiyar’s article in The Economic Times.

“Kerala has the highest crime rate of 455.8 per lakh people, over twice the national rate of 196.7 (see table). India’s crime capital is Kochi (817.9) followed by Kollam (637.3). Crimes against women in Kerala are shockingly high. The rape rate in Kerala (2.9) is almost one and a half times the national rate (2.1). The rate of assault on women with intent to outrage their modesty is 10.7 in Kerala, thrice as high as the national average (3.7). The rate of insults related to the modesty of women is 1.4, against the national 0.8. Kerala does far better than India overall in dowry deaths: its rate 0.1 against the national 0.7. Yet cruelty to women comes in at the rate of 15 per lakh population, almost double the national 8.8.”

But, there is something wrong here. The income levels in Kerala are higher than that of most other states. If that is true, Kerala cannot be the most criminal state in India. I studied in Cochin. The real estate prices in Cochin are much lower than it is in the metros, but they are higher that anywhere in the state. Cochin cannot be India’s crime capital irrespective of what the newspapers and government sources say. As Economist Bryan Caplan says:

“Turn off the news. Cancel your newspaper subscriptions. If you want to really understand your city, all you need to do is take a look at housing prices. If your house is worth a million dollars, then life in your neighborhood is excellent, and will continue to be excellent for a long time. The problems you keep complaining about are minor drawbacks for people who live in cheaper areas. If your home is worth a million dollars, these problems barely affect you at all. What makes me so sure? People don’t pay a million dollars to live in a hellhole. They don’t pay a million dollars to live somewhere that is going to be a hellhole in ten years. If popular opinion and local media imply otherwise, they’re wrong. In fact, they’re so wrong that they don’t deserve your time.”

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