Brighter moods

hView of NJ from the commuter ferry on the Hudson at sunset

There are some days in our lives that end so perfectly, that one gasps at the audacity of hope. One heads home from work having been engaged all day, in solving some deliverable at work. Having made some good progress, one is even able to take an earlier ferry home. On the commute the view of a glorious sunset, is an added bonus from our universe. The vistas of lower Manhattan and the other boroughs, are best viewed from the harbor level. With Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty one really gets a historic view, of what the original immigrants saw, as they arrived at these shores. Many moved westwards from NJ on the trains, into the hinterland. This was the melting pot as millions of refugees arrived over the centuries, and somehow became Americans themselves. They then welcomed millions of others, as the lands continued to open up, and the World Wars helped push employment higher.

 The latest growth is largely related to technology, innovation and services. Wealth is still being created in America at a steady pace, and that in itself is good. The problem is that the distribution is flawed and leads to serious inequality. In no way am I advocating universal Income for all, but am merely stating that if we let an enormous section of the population fall below poverty lines for long periods with no hope for improvement, it is a problem. Meeting basic human needs is within our reach, and we must reskill and educate our population, for the future.

The future with driverless transportation and smart cities is already shaping, a brave new world. Green energy holds promise and technology with IOT and AI, will be everywhere. From being individual knowledge repertories, human brains are going to become social animals again. With social media and personal information already on the web, each of us will have our own unique digital halo. We have finally become part of these terabytes of data, which humans are creating at an unprecedented rate. Each minute creates more than the previous century, or some such crazy number, and it continues to grow exponentially. As more things become tracked and measureable, they also open opportunities for improvement of their performance, and interactions in our society.

On the more hopeful days one crosses the Hudson in a brighter mood. The buildings seem to look more remarkable and shine brighter in the light it seems, with our heightened awareness. The glass and steel towers reflect the sunshine, and depending on the angle turn to gold and dazzle the spectator into awe. The view is breathtaking and oftentimes the only sound is the waves hitting the ferry, as it plows steadily upriver to deliver its load of tired passengers. On days like this, other fellow passengers feel the joy of their existence too. They march forward to the front, some already wearing their sneakers, and ready to break free, into the arriving dusk. They cross over onto the land in more determined strides, with a new purpose of life discovered. Go forth I say and create a unique life, and experience for ourselves. Life is a precious gift and I bow down and receive it, and then look up at the view again, and wonder how I became this lucky. To all of us I simply state that let us remain blessed in our present, with rising hope to build a more compassionate and realized future for all.

randomness of colliding universes

Swans at dusk, rest their necks, as the day, darkens towards night

We start a new chapter in life, when we realize; that life just doesn’t get any better, than it is right now!!

Every moment is a joy, and all happiness is just a passing phase; as we go from tears to laughter, and back again. Days are long and followed oftentimes, by even longer nights. Dreams are often worse, than real life, when one was always taught, that they are real. There is no great meaning to this existence, as the randomness of colliding universes; cannot be explained away, as just another cosmic planned event. We have life and consciousness and as we raise our consciousness, we become even more lost; in the rhythm and pulsating energy, of this universe. Music is often a way into a trance, or an awakening; for some, while others sit and chant silently. Sway and dance with your loved ones, as if nobody is watching you. This is our world and we own it, as it was made only for us. We have earned it, and our existence itself states; that we are this, and this is us.

When we value each new moment, as it arises in our mind; and then let it go, as to desire, and to cling; is the source of all misery. Our bubble of consciousness can be expanded, and when awakened remains, the beauty of this life. Come out of the coal mines as a new energy has arisen. Description of the perfect state of Nirvana has failed to be put on paper. It is just an experience and one does not even try to explain it. One just bows ones head in humility at this great ocean of compassion around us. We awaken to that eternal lake where knowledge and energy play with the waves and we dance on the waters. It is tough to explain that one is soaring through an immense space and yet one returns back to the next morn. I am the Atman and remain eternal. Today is just a day when we walk through the labyrinths of life, into the one haven of peace. It is all meaningless in the end, but man what a trip and the hindmost can keep His Grand Plan!

Happy midterms everyone!

Image result for midterms 2018

We are living in such a strange world as things appear to be going so wrong. Any normal human would shy away from the news around us. Shootings, #MeToo revelations, Class and Gender warfare, seems to come alive in our daily news, in an unending display of terror and anxiety. We are numbed by the atrocities posted of torture, and death on some of our fellow humans, at the hands of other humans. Our society appears to have lost its way even while we struggle to make a more perfect union.

Capitalism on the other hand is doing quite well. As per the latest figures the US economy grew at 3.5% in GDP, in the latest quarter. Why do I not hear bands playing on Main Street, just as Corporate Profits hit new records, on Wall Street? We are the richest nation in the world and we continue to grow so everyone should be very happy. The riches of our land should be making our citizens happy. Yet by many measures of education, health, children’s health and general wellbeing we find our measures falling.

It is a sad fact that real income for a vast number of Middle Class citizens, has not really gone up since 1971. Civil rights enactment had a backlash we still suffer till today it seems. While corporate profits reach dizzying heights, the ordinary American, is living on the edge of a financial default. Now the top 10% control 84% of the stock market shares, which continues to rise because of the liberating moves, made by this administration. Animal spirits have been let loose, and corporates are openly squeezing, more out of their customers, or the ordinary American. The lack of upward mobility and the continuing squeeze from housing costs, health care and just plain everyday living like childcare and education; continue to squeeze, Jane or Joe Daily.

People are taking up two jobs to make ends meet, as minimum wage has not kept up with inflation. There’s no wealth effect for those at the bottom or middle of society, as they do not own the capital to grow. In a capitalist system the growth is unfortunately largely going to the top, causing more despair for the ordinary American. We hear about an Opioid crisis ravaging the heart of America. We hear of rising suicide rates amongst the great soul of this society, the wonderful American churchgoing hero, of yesterday. Why is there so much fear and anxiety amongst the middle class, and why does the divide continue to deepen? All are equally effected in this downward spiral, whether they be white or black, as poverty has no color.

Sometimes I wish that things had been different and the predatory practices of the vultures at our economic feast, could be controlled better. There is no sin in profit and neither is it a sin to be poor, and certainly not one, just because one is rich. We have to find a more equitable way, and make society larger and better, to improve living standards all around. We have the means to do so, and just need the right policies, to be put in place. The great debates in our Senate, and the House of Representatives; should become living words, of our constitution. All men are created equal…….. Get out of this depression which seems to hold us all back, and rise to vote.  Happy midterms everyone!

Mass unemployment in developing nations

It is well known that in our 21st century there is currently huge mass unemployment in the less developed and developing economies. The more developed economies on the other hand have severe human capital shortage looming in their future, in Japan, Europe, China and the US. Due to this demographic divide between the have and the have nots, the future of a nation’s economy and civilization, may be thrown into peril. Currently there has been a huge urbanization in the developed economies, with mass movement of labor from the agricultural interior, to the large urban centers. World civilization lives and works in these new Mega urban clusters, formed by modern cities. Shanghai, Tokyo, Mumbai, New Delhi, London, Paris, Frankfurt, New York, Toronto, Mexico City, Brazil to name a few, have continued to grow bigger.

India has the greatest potential for mass unemployment, or mass growth on a scale, which can drive the world economy. The consensus from even Nobel Prize economists is, that India has to grow its Industrial base and urban centers, to provide employment to the million young people, who will join its workforce every month. This trend is likely to continue for a decade or more, as the young population enters its work force.  The new arrivals are just the tip of the iceberg, as there is a mass underemployment in its half a million villages. Most statistics indirectly say that almost 80% of the rural population, is engaged in “agriculture”.  This disguised unemployment leaves a vast labor force, available for taking up the new services, which the world will need.

Indian history does not show a goods exporting nation, but one of ideas and aspirations. The new Digital revolution suits India well, as a first mover, in the computer services industry. The Independent nation of 60 years, is finally throwing off its colonial past, and getting into its stride. There is resurgence of public works which will truly benefit its hinterland. More people are getting Highways, connecting their remote regions to the rest of the world, in this decade, than has happened in the history of the sub-continent. Similarly more people are getting electricity, sanitation, education, health services in the coming decade, than in the many decades since Independence. There is a remarkable will to overcome the past and leapfrog into a green future, and to provide services to its citizens,especially in its undeveloped areas.

On the other hand we have the economic sceptics, who question every move, and state that the implementation of truly global and far reaching reform, is beyond the capabilities of India’s people. They will plod on at their usual uneducated, undeveloped, unhealthy pace and the promise of a bright future will come, but not now, they claim. They question the competence of its democracy and the will of its public and private sector’s ability, to provide the productivity and investment needed, to provide employment at scale. They fear that a state of mass unemployment is coming, where lack of Industrial growth will hold back employment, and bring untold misery to its farmers and urban poor.

To all these naySayers I can only advise that it is time to read Indian history again. For most of human history till the 18th century, India had the highest GDP in the world. Whenever its people had a stable just and fair society, its people have prospered beyond expectations. The producer of Buddha,Ram, Krishna and the Vedas is a land steeped in time and evolution, of humans themselves. It has reinvented itself many times and still kept its culture and belief system intact. There is a secular society that has prospered in its diversity, from the time of the Greeks at tIndus. Chandragupta who was Alexander’s contemporary and ruled a huge empire left his throne, to seek salvation. His grandson Ashoka the Great renounced his prosperous empire, and started to serve humanity. His edicts and efforts spread Buddhism across the world.  The most dangerous ideas that promote all life, like non-violence, vegetarianism, salvation arose in these lands. These ideas and aspirations come only, after the basic human needs are met.

The service industries will be India’s savior, as our world moves into a new era of prosperity for all. The basic hypotheses is changing as the solution is no longer in Industry, but in the new world of communication and service. Industry is required and China, Germany and the US have mastered it, and other nations will also catch up; based on their investments, and needs. It is in the new world order of ideas, compassion, health and love that change will come. Once the basic needs are filled for the developing world, it is then that India will play its part. Whether it is in providing basic services or in art, music, philosophy and the striving for a higher life, India will have a role to play.  Its demographic dividend will become the world’s greatest asset, as the developed world will welcome Indian’s help, to become better. Currently only about 53% of India’s young people are employed, and the rest are a lotus bearing gift, which will open, when the light shines and the world opens its arms to welcome them. I say the Phillips curve shown above, is going to be severely tested in the future for the good or bad of humanity, based on what steps we take today. India is the diamond in the rough, getting ready to shine (at least it has the diamond cutters, to do so for the world)..

It is in the very nature of the capitalist mode of production to overwork some workers while keeping the rest as a reserve army of unemployed paupers.

Marx, Theory of Surplus Value

Solitude’s lifer

Marlboro Man and I were sitting next to the fire pit at the hotel in Moosic, PA. He was drinking Bud and I had Yuengling light as we sat there smoking our cigarettes, and I thought of him by his brand. I introduced myself and we got to talking. I asked him finally what he did, he looked at me with his blue eyes and denim jacket, and said he was laying a pipe. My interest peaked as we were sitting on a huge stretch of shale rock from recent geological research, where gas was just waiting to be tapped. I had read recently in Bloomberg that the new gas pipelines being built across this land, are a modern marvel. American ingenuity is at work as miles of terrain is cleared, for these new pipelines. John told me that he was indeed working on one of those pipe lines and I sat there amazed at this modern Marlboro man. He was no longer herding cattle but gas. This is the turning of the tide for these regions, as gas instead of coal is the future. Cheap shale gas will feed these giant pipelines. This in turn will make large modern cities possible, and make it possible for us humans, to enjoy a new energy boom.

We stayed over for a few weeks at the hotel and I would see him now and then, along with the rest of the crew; loading into two pickup trucks, early in the morning. They would assemble daily at the crack of dawn and would load all their gear and head out, in their work boots. They were a hard working crew and some of them would have a friendly beer at the fire pit, where the smokers and drinkers gathered in the evenings. They were carving a huge path through these mountains, blasting their way through granite rocks and other natural obstacles. The team was building the veins, of a future greening of America. Will the fracking crowd of drillers rise to be able to fill these huge demand of gas? “Hell yea, sure as the Pope is catholic,” reported Bloomberg. Modern Marlboro Man had seen the bounty of gas from the fracking boom, in his home district, and had gladly joined this band of red necks after high school.

The Petrochemical and energy field is changing fast, as the US emerges as the next generation producer. The rise of shale oil and gas is no longer considered a phenomena, but is now an accepted fact. There is boundless energy for another revolution, just waiting to be piped for human use. Three large new Petrochemical plants are being built in Huston, by foreign investors, who believe in the US and its world trade. They are counting on the supply of long term contracts for the gas they need, from the American hinterland. These pipelines being built now, will last for the next generation. The work of these teams of men would lead to a mature market, with predictable pricing, for this natural commodity. From a net importer the US is going to become, the largest exporter of oil gas and Petro Chemicals, once the new plants become operational. This is of course near the new Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) export terminals, from where the outflow of commodities and bulk petrochemicals made in the USA, will flood the world.

The ingenuity and planning of these teams is extremely good, as they were able to constantly overcome obstacles in their execution, of the construction design. They have an inane comradery and readiness, to try new methods, but not compromise safety, or environment standards. These pipeline will be laid and monitored and just get forgotten, not long after they are built. They will just become a part of the nation’s infrastructure like power lines or railroads, as gas becomes the energy of choice. In Lackawanna County the new power plant being built is all gas fired, and will help the county reduce its carbon footprint. They have also put up wind power but it is miniscule, when compared to the coal rich power plants. The new gas plant is designed for the future and is racing towards the pipeline completion timeline, I think. Two major projects showing a stubborn, “never say die” attitude amongst the Americans, in the forgotten interior of the America. It feels good to be back in Pennsylvania, and our Nittany Lions are headed back to the Fiesta Bowl, in this annual rites of Fall Football celebrations. .

It is strange to be in the land where oil was discovered, and witness the next shale revolution becoming mainstream. Nothing like this was even imagined just three decades ago, when I was last here. Since then Carter and the oil embargo and its disruption, changed American thinking on energy. My life has taken many turns and it is amazing that, I am back again in this land. The people here live hard lives and a brutal winter, is sure to arrive soon and Deja Vu about Mill towns dying a slow death is all around me in Scranton. They cheer on their State Team and Beaver Stadium is filled to capacity of over 106,000 for major games. The white and blue crowd bring alive the seats, as the cheerleaders goad the fans to frenzy and the lion rumbles on. There is an elemental joy in these college events, and such harmony and beauty thrilling for the beholder and a very strong community spirit here. The athletes come from such poor white Communities, throughout the state. The program makes them into great young men, who can go out and conquer the world.. The Alumni of Penn State are great givers and have kept many programs alive, for the needy around them. Will the renaissance in energy ever peter down to these people struggling in their everyday life? I am highly skeptical as the trickle down economics is going to flow sweetly through these pipes, and head right on out of here; into the giant multinational corporations, and disappear into their annual profits

John (modern marlboro man) and I saw some amazing sunsets and finished a few cases of beer, over our stay. We were alone in our thoughts most evenings, as others took the stage around the fire pit. As I have remarked some of them were great individuals, bring a color to drab evenings, with yarns of their past. This individual spirit is still alive and well in America and each one had his own tale to spin, around the gas flames in the pit. Sometimes the talk would turn to the loneliness of this existence, away from friends and family.  Then a wise crack would turn the talk to lighter moments, or spin tales of old ball games and summer joys with the family and friends. Then it was back to the lonely night in the hotel room, and the realization that I am all alone.

A profound unmitigated loneliness is the only truth of life. -R.K. Narayan, novelist (10 Oct 1906-2001)

Syrian peace hopes!

Mr. Putin embraced President Assad of Syria, before talking to President Trump for an hour, to come up with a peace settlement in Syria. It will be an important step in stabilizing the overly volatile Middle East, of recent memory. The whole region and North Africa, has gone through repeated wars and coups and there has been too much destruction in major cities like Raqqa and others. Millions of refugees have been created, which are a heavy burden, on host countries. It is time to try and return normalcy and growth, which can only come from a lasting peace. Old leaders and new thoughts can lead to a long term solution, to a region’s problems. Let us work for a future which brings a sensible peace.

Wall Street Father Day Remanence

Driven out of the office by the extraordinary work pressure of downtown Manhattan, I was pleasantly surprised by a pleasant cool summer Friday afternoon. The ferries were leaving from Pier 11 or Wall Street, in regular sailings and awaited my departure to NJ, this evening. The Hudson River was full of traffic and the helicopters from the heliport were also busy, as the helicopters came and left, with their Wall street clients. I was reminded of the recent pair of the huge green machines, which had ferried our President and the PM of Australia; some time back for a historic joint outing, to the Intrepid Aircraft carrier. New York has always had a mercantile culture, from its early founding by the intrepid Dutch; who settled permanently on this great harbor, at the mouth of the mighty Hudson River.

I was at the old slip near the First Precinct Police Museum and walking on Water Street towards Wall Street. I passed Governor Lane and found myself at the intersection of Wall and Water and gazed at all the magnificent temples to commerce and finance, all around me. It is truly a great time to be living in this land and have the honor to live and work in one of the most vibrant cities on this planet. The big banks were back after Dodd Frank, much stronger than ever, recapitalized to a great extent, and far less dangerous for the public. Risky leverage and irrational exuberance had been largely controlled, as the PEs of Large corporations and Banks have improved since our Great Recession. A Large hearted President and government, had bailed out, numerous large private institutions; in Finance, Industry, and Insurance. Our deficits soared in the greatest expansion, of our nation’s balance sheet in history. Worried working class Americans voted for Trump in droves, hoping a new self-made capitalist; will finally turn the tide, in favor of the distressed middle class.

Nobody can deny that Wall Street will greatly participate in the remaking of America. A New New York Bridge is being built, after over 6 decades of use of the old bridge.  The Bayonne Bridge has been raised, to allow the new bigger container ships, and other giants, that can cross the enlarged Panama Canal, from across the Pacific, to sail right into Port Elizabeth. The port is expected to get even busier in the coming years, to feed the demands of the citizens, settled in the great valleys of the Hudson and the Empire and Garden States. New York City is poised for a recovery of mammoth proportions, if we just use the abundant resources of nature and manpower available in the United States of America. Wisdom is the need of the hour and public policy and private enterprise must work together, to bring about the digital age and the new economic revolution, based on better technology, logistics, communications and research..

As I stood in the middle of Wall Street I read the plaque posted for us residents and tourists. I was at a historic site I noticed. Between Water and Pearl Street a slave market flourished in this very place in the 18th century. Before all the other markets there was this slave market, that thrived and became the hub for the residents of New York, to traffic in humans. The population of the new colony under British rule was growing rapidly and they needed slaves from Africa, to tame this hostile land. Forests and land had to be cleared to make the new roads and homes for the colonialists and clear the fields for agriculture and animal rearing. In fact the wall that had to be constructed to protect the city was built by slave labor. This road along this wall came to be known as Wall Street and today is the symbol of American capitalism. 40% of New Yorkers owned slaves and almost a third of the working population, was represented by them, making New York the biggest slave owner at the time, in proportion to its population.

The Anglicans had come to supremacy in the town and the original Dutch houses, had to coexist with the new arrivals. The Anglicans needed a new Cathedral to pray to their Lord and Trinity Church was built using slave labor, to rise to the heavens. The small settlement continued to grow into a large town, at the tip of Manhattan, then known commonly as New Amsterdam. Without the slaves most of the progress in the growing city would not have been possible. It would take almost a century to finally abolish slavery and another century, to bury their contributions into history.  The construction growth and the agriculture boom that followed in the upper regions, would not have been possible without able bodied men and women from Western Africa toiling in the fields and homes. The slave market was eventually replaced by the growing trade in Grains, Meats and other commodities, which the rich land produced with the help of slave labor. The market, housed between Pine and Water Street became a center of commerce for New Yorkers. America was well on its way to prosperity built on the backs, of these forgotten people.

Today as I walk down Wall Street I see the great houses of the large Banks, Bank of New York and others from around the world, housed in the towers on both sides of the street. Trump’s major source of wealth is housed here in the Iconic tower at 937 feet the tallest at that time, built by the Manhattan Company which grew wealthy supplying water to the new city.  JP Morgan’s original office from where his house financed modern capitalism and governments, stands across from the Federal building, where George Washington became the first president of the new Republic. I walk past 1 Wall Street near which the first reputable journal of commerce was published, and lives on today as the Wall Street Journal. Modern journalist and accurate reporting for a new era of mass communication of financial health of companies was born here. The New York Stock Exchange stands in all its neo classical façade of Grecian columns rising to the heavens, and traders walk in and out, as machines have slowly taken on more of their roles, as market makers to the world.

The New York stock exchange has a sculpture of ‘Integrity Protecting the works of men’ carved on its face. Mercury the God of Commerce presides over toiling men and women on her left, representations of mining and agriculture and on her right, symbols of industry, science and invention, all sources of American prosperity. We owe a great gratitude to the men who worked so hard, to leave us a nation today, which continues to be the beacon on the hill for the rest of the world. On this father’s day I wandered the streets and took in the sights and paid my remembrances, to those who had come before me.

I cross Broadway and enter the quiet dignity of the Trinity church. I sit in the front pew and look at the hymnals and Holy Bible. I stare mesmerized at the stained glass windows depicting Jesus and his disciples. I close my eyes to meditate and am troubled by the thoughts, that if I could look through them, I will see the ghosts of the twin towers rising, even higher than this great church. I close my eyes and pray to “Our Father..” My thoughts rise up to the heavens for all the slaves, who helped to build this church and this great land. I think of the fathers who saw the advertisements, selling their daughters to slavery, and am deeply troubled. History may have forgotten them, but on this Father’s day, I say they were as much a founding father of this nation, as George Washington who owned them. The remains of Alexander Hamilton the father of modern Banking and Commerce and many other foundational breakthroughs, for our new nation, lies in these hallowed grounds.  While we remember George and Alexander in our history as founding fathers, let us also pray for the forgotten fathers of American black citizens, who died and are lost in unmarked graves of this great city.

Happy Father’s Day to everyone – the weary, the tired and the forgotten, and remember to be grateful and joyful for all that we have!

The longest day must have its close — the gloomiest night will wear on to a morning. An eternal, inexorable lapse of moments is ever hurrying the day of the evil to an eternal night, and the night of the just to an eternal day. -Harriet Beecher Stowe, abolitionist and novelist (14 Jun 1811-1896)

The coal story

India has come a long way since 1774 when John Sumner and Suetonius Grant Heatly of the East India Company first commenced commercial exploitation, in the Raniganj Coalfield along the Western bank of Damodar river in Bengal. Today India is the fourth largest coal producer in the world with Coal India Limited being the biggest company in the world, producing around 500 million tons of coal annually. The East India company rejected the coal and continued its dependence on British coal.

It is great to see that with the removal of corruption in the coal mining allocation sector, there is a potential windfall awaiting the consumers. Through the efficient selling off of the coal blocks, to gather immediate revenue, the government has set itself up to substantially reduce coal imports, and costs, in its energy sector. The new policies are bringing greater productivity and transparency. The introduction of modern mining methodology to the huge reserves of Indian coal, and its transportation and logistics, can be a huge boost to Industrial growth. It remains the cheapest form of energy, albeit, at an environmental cost. Carbon emissions will increase in thermal power plants, until less polluting green energy sources or gas from neighboring countries arrives via pipelines, to meet the need of a billion people.

In a surprising news Indian ‘Power consumers are likely to gain to the extent of Rs 69,310 crore (693 billion Rupees)  from the reduction in electricity tariff enabled by the auction of nine coal blocks to power sector firms so far,’ power ministry said in a statement today in the Economic Times. The Indian coal ministry also informed the production of raw coal in the country during April-November 2016-17 was 391 million tons as compared to 385 MT during the corresponding period of previous year, an overall growth of 1.6 per cent. “The coal ministry has given special focus to decrease coal imports. Government has saved about Rs 20,000 crore in the year 2015-16 and about Rs 4,844 crore in the first four months of the current year. The efforts on this front would lead to a further replacement of 15.37 MT of imported coal by March 2017,” the statement said.
On another note Rajiv Agarwal, Secretary at Indian Captive Power Producers Association (ICPPA) asked for rationalization of tariffs in the sector. He also said, assuming the government agreed to forego entire tax on coal, the cost of coal will reduce by 50 per cent and the corresponding electricity cost by 40 per cent. This will turn all the discoms profitable. “Prices can be reduced by further 50 per cent if CIL is able to bring its manpower costs to International norms. Power cost will further reduce if costly NTPCBSE 0.50 % purchase pacts are rationalized,” he said. The greatest threat to efficient and stable power and energy distribution in India lies in the hands of undercapitalized discoms who give away free power to large groups of constituents. Pay for use must be instituted as a fixed or metered approach and costs to all the consumers, and only the poorest should be subsidized.

India sits on the cusp of an energy revolution as it moves from chronic shortages, to a more stable policy after centuries of inefficiency. Enormous work still has to be done, but as far as I can see carbon energy will continue to grow for decades. Till ambitious plans for nuclear, solar, wind, biogas, hydro, tidal come to fruition, coal remains the king of a dirty heap. As the economic conditions improve, the government has to remove current subsidies to agriculture and other consumers, and come up with a rationalized tariff and subsidy policy, which maximizes revenue, and minimizes hardships for the poor. The coal and thermal energy sector is showing that the more India invests, the higher chances of increasing productivity and growth, in the short to medium term for its people.

Human contentments

edgard_farasijn_human_contentments

Contentment is a vexing question as I have not had anyone ask how much, is too much of it? There just appears to be a huge shortage of it, in the modern world. The accompanying painting depicts, what may today be an old man, with his iPad, and wine with a curious grandchild. Can only the old be content, or is it a trait, that can be inculcated into 5 year old monks, who have just entered an order. Buddha said contentment came from within, and we should not look outside for it. Yet our constant contact with the external universe, is unavoidable, and we have to confront our hostile environment, and still survive and prosper.

Marcus Aurelius wrote “Live with the gods. And he who does so constantly shows them that his soul is satisfied with what is assigned to them.” The concept of plenty and a world of cornucopia overflowing, is some people’s idea of contentment. Others believe that giving up everything external, is the way to contentment (the naked saint).  It is only when all our base needs in Maslow’s hierarchy are met, can we even strive for the next state, according to others. Yes the laughing young Tibetan monk has become so rare, and times have changed, as the world around us has changed. We have a belligerent China seeking its place on the world stage, or as Zhuang Zhong said to find its place in nature. We have a burning middle east, where war has displaced millions of refugees, needing humanitarian assistance for food, health and education. Countries in Africa and Asia are recovering from decades of misrule and economic backwardness. Contentment is slowly dying across our world, it seems.

For those who claim that money is the source of happiness and contentment, “There is also the concept of the diminishing marginal utility of income (DMUI), which is that money has no effect on happiness, once a certain income level has been reached, and which represents wealth and happiness as having a curvilinear relationship.” Veenhoven, Ruut (1991) stated in “Is Happiness Relative?” We have to move into a world of greater economic parity, where wealth is more broadly shared, to meet humanity’s basic needs. There is much mistaken talk of different races and religions to divide us. The last I looked there is only one human race and we are all in it together. Shared prosperity is the easiest way to increase contentment in our world, as greater wealth does not buy greater happiness

‘This is because happiness is really a state of in-and-out flow of one’s energy. Using or giving money is an expression of out-flowing of one’s life-state. Attempt to just hoard more and more in the belief that it brings more happiness can lead to the opposite result if only because the means – that is the pursuit of money for happiness – has unwittingly become the ends. (Wikipedia)’ There has to be a better way and that way was shown by the thinkers and philosophers over the centuries. I want to be that man sitting in that chair, with my communicator in hand, contemplating the state of our universe, as my body slowly turns the red wine, into me .Yet my true leisurely activity will be in playing with that grandchild and passing on all my wisdom, through her, into our future. Contentment is a state of being and having a healthy body helps.

Good and bad news

productivity

The good news is that the US Gross domestic product, a broad measure of goods and services produced across the economy, expanded at an inflation- and seasonally adjusted 2.9% annual rate in the third quarter, the Commerce Department said Friday. It is good that our economy is growing and credit goes to President Obama who brought us back from the brink of the Great Recession, into continued growth in employment and exports. Energy rich America is looking a lot stronger, and can afford to spend more on its infrastructure, to provide even more investments and employment.

The bad news is that Hillary Clinton’s supporters expect her to carry on progressive policies, for the US economy and trade.  She will push Federal policy makers to bring their long-term fiscal house in order, invest in infrastructure, and enact policies that make America a great place to do business. Hillary, May and Angela will make the new alliances, post Brexit and TPP. We can hope to return to a time, where higher productivity will also raise median incomes, and average salaries will rise higher. We could raise the living standards of the middle class tremendously, by just increasing hourly compensation, and steadily increasing productivity. In fact wages should grow faster than inflation for quite some time, as the economy continues to expand, driven by cheap energy.

We need to spend money to create an educated population, pools of skilled labor, have strong investments in infrastructure, and greatly increase basic R&D. To lead the emerging innovation economy, we need massive amounts of clean energy, computing power and technology. In the SMAC revolution, massive investments need to be made, and trillions to be gained from the new economy. Productivity as I describe it, is the art of making something out of nothing. It makes the middle class and the rich richer, while lifting up the poor. Electric cars, green energy, smart cities, eco living will all transform our future, at a faster rate than in recent years.

 

The relative stagnation in hourly compensation since the time of Carter is due to the new progressives, who took over from the greatest generation of leaders. American inequality has gone through the roof, in these years as the rich have just gotten richer. The top 1 % earned most of the income and the bottom 50% made a pittance in comparison. Wealth inequality grew tremendously in the past decades. Wide spread poverty in Asia, Africa and the Middle East is talked about, but the hidden poverty in America is growing. There are more people falling through the safety net, as the economy progresses and there is a resentment, that things are not as good as they appear. Clinton can reverse the “WELFARE STATE FOR THE 1%, by ending welfare for the poor, attitude,” which her husband glorified. Instead she has to spread the safety net, and start a virtuous self-sustaining period of rapid productivity and wage growth. The aim is more and better employment, and the solution is Infrastructure and alternate energy spending from the Government. The Private Sector will also expand on the back of a growing middle class as less income equality, means more demand for goods and services.

Business and government must combine their efforts to take steps to build a skilled workforce, ready to do tomorrow’s jobs. Massive R & D will, upgrade local suppliers, foster innovation and reinforce education. The productivity gains enable firms in the U.S. to win in the global market place, while also help in creating jobs, which lift living standards. The government and business need to work hand in hand, to more equitably distribute the fruits of productivity. We need to return to the policies which encouraged a more evenly distributed income, as seen in the chart from 1948 to 1973. Median wages and productivity rose together, to make the great middle class of US consumers, who in turn drive our economy forward.  In 2017 we will have a new president, a new vision and a growing GDP.

Happy Diwali and wishing a very prosperous and healthy year ahead, to everyone!