Some of you think that I have suddenly turned socialist (or I am probably revealing my true self now) because I think that free vaccines against covid for everyone is a good thing.
Yes, I can afford popcorn at a multiplex, I can even afford the most expensive multiplex tickets in India. But that’s not the point here. The pricing strategy of vaccines is not about me or you for that matter, it is about the nation at large, and that is the context in which my writing on vaccines should be seen.
Economics to me is not mathematics as it is to many people. I believe in looking at the context and then writing what I think is right. And a free market doesn’t work in every context.
I have explained this in my pieces in great detail (you can read them here, here and here). Those interested in an informed argument can read the pieces. Those who aren’t, well, you have already decided which side I am on. And any amount of reading won’t change that.
Last year when the covid epidemic broke the Indian economy’s back, I suggested increased allocation to NREGA and money being put in Jan Dhan accounts, in the very first piece I wrote on rebooting the economy.
This is not something a firm believer in free markets would suggest. But I did. Because I thought it was important in the situation we were in. The government implemented these steps (not for a moment i am saying that they did it because I suggested them). Later on, I also suggested that India needs an urban NREGA.
I also suggested that the government should cut the GST on automobiles by 10% and cut the rate of income tax, so that people would be incentivised to spend more (the government didn’t do anything like that). These would have been seen as pro-market moves.
But all along my thinking was how can more money be put in hands of people, irrespective of whether it was socialism or capitalism. The brackets don’t interest me.
Over the years, I have also believed that rates of taxes on all forms of incomes should be the same (for which the stock market guys have really abused me in the past).
When covid broke out, the government decided to put a price cap on airline tickets. I didn’t see any of you free market guys saying anything against the government limiting the price of airline tickets. Why should that be done? Who travels by air in India? Do I need to specify that? All the talk about incentive now. Is incentive only important for Serum Institute? What about Indigo, Spice Jet, Go Air, Air India? Unka kya?
But a vaccine can be sold at any price.
The point I am trying to make here is that if you thought I would be doing free market free market all the time, then I didn’t lead you there. You only saw the things that you wanted to see.
It is easier to understand someone once you have bracketed them, identified them to believe in a certain kind of ideology. I get that. But then that’s not my problem. You thought I was the right echo chamber for you, clearly, I am not. There are lots of echo chambers on the internet, you can easily find one, where you fit.
I believe in what the former Bank of England and Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney, writes in his new book Value(s): “ideologies are prone to extremes, capitalism loses its sense of moderation when the belief in the power of the market enters the realm of faith“.
If you don’t understand what this means, I suggest you read the third volume of my Easy Money trilogy.
I can only say that any of the isms of economics are not an ideology for me. We have all seen what strong ideological beliefs can do to any country.
If you still don’t get it, again, that’s not my problem.