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Archive for September, 2007

A contemptible law

Three Mid Day journalists are sentenced to four months imprisonment for contempt of court.

It seems that Mid Day published articles alleging that

orders passed by Justice Sabharwal in the high-profile Delhi sealing case benefited the companies of his sons,

thus angering the honourable judges.

Contempt of court is a perfect example of a bad law. It is vague, sweeping, unnecessary and against all notions of equality and free-speech. Court directives can be enforced through weaker and more exclusive means, while there already exist laws against defamation. Letting a court pronounce a sentence of contempt is akin to letting the accuser adjudicate the case. Indeed, I cannot think of any other widespread law that is so fundamentally flawed. The fact that the judiciary is the cornerstone of a democracy is no argument; in fact that makes it all the more important that it be possible to criticise and question it without fear.

In the present case, the defendents state that they will appeal the decision on grounds of truth. I wish them luck, and if their allegations are true they should be freed and adequately compensated (and the honorable judge prosecuted). But even if they made it all up, is there any good reason why they should be prosecuted under the Contempt law and not existing laws against defamation?

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It took a long time coming but it is here at last. Hillary Clinton finally unveiled her healthcare plan this week.

The key feature of her plan is what she calls individual mandate. It requires that every American buy health insurance. A similar law already exists in the state of Massachusetts and is supported by the governors of several other states, including California.

However her clever choice of phrase does not obscure the fact that this is essentially a plan for individual coercion. Forcing an individual to pay money for a service which deals with the well-being of his own body -something that is no one’s concern except his- is wrong, in my opinion.

Most Americans agree that the health-care system needs an overhaul. Hillary Clinton, whose political career has been a mix of leftist righteousness and clever opportunism (displayed for instance by her history of voting on Iraq and her defence of it) realises that healthcare is the issue that will decide this election. Unfortunately she fails to realise – or worse, perhaps realises yet chooses to ignore for political expediency – that the American system is broken primarily because government interference and regulations over the last fifty years have driven insurance premiums through the roof. Plans such as Clinton’s or Edward’s are further steps in the wrong direction. They push health-care towards a heavy-handed bureaucratic system with more controls, apart from being an assault on personal liberty.

A much more reasonable and effective first step would be to distribute vouchers to families that they can use only for insurance, while simultaneously eliminating the regulations on private insurers and retaining one government-owned catastrophic health insurance program. The next step would be to formulate policy that would encourage – for the purpose of basic health needs – a paradigm shift away from insurance. On that note, read Milton Friedman’s excellent article on this subject.

Sadly, the most effective solutions are often not the ones with most political pizzazz.

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Karunanidhi reiterates his views about Ram. The saffron brigade howl in horror at the blasphemy and promptly immolate themselves. (Ok, I made up the second sentence. But wouldn’t that be great!) Meanwhile, there is a fatwa against Salman Khan for attending Ganesh Puja.

I laugh at the farce. Then I realise it is real, and grieve at the tragedy.

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A new start

When I look back at my old posts today I squirm at the lack of polish in the writing and sometimes the content as well. However I do not wish to lose them and so they have found a home here, thanks to Wordpress’ excellent import feature. 

Why did I move to WordPress? I wanted to blog again. After such a long hiatus, I needed to make a fresh start. I also wanted more control over my posts, such as tags and password-protection.

So I am back, and I hope to write more regularly.

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