Sooner or later, just like the world’s first day
Sooner or later, we learn to throw the past away
History will teach us nothing…
— Sting, ‘History Will Teach Us Nothing‘
India’s coalition government, the United Progressive Alliance, has pushed a quasi-socialist employment guarantee through Parliament:
Parliament on Wednesday night approved the historic Bill for providing employment guarantee to all rural households in the country with Rajya Sabha passing the legislation by a voice vote. [Link]
The National Rural Employment Guarantee Bill, 2004 promises wage employment to every rural household, in which adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work. Through this Bill the government, aims at removing poverty by assuring at least 100 days’ employment. [Link]
Like most government handouts, the entitlement was expanded from its original means-tested form to include all rural households, even the relatively prosperous. India needs to build plenty of infrastructure, her villages are very poor, and so I’m all for the UPA’s WPA for a limited period of time. But you do that by first fixing which roads, flyovers and airports you want to build and then figuring out manpower requirements. What you don’t do is guarantee a paycheck regardless of the availability of work, able-bodied individuals in a household or the individual worker’s performance.
The Congress returned to power in last year’s general election largely on its promises of giving the country’s economic reforms a human face and making the process more inclusive so that it benefited the poor in rural areas…
“This bill has been tabled in Parliament without proper preparation. The government does not know the exact number of unemployed people. There were six such schemes earlier, but they all failed due to the same reason,” said Singh, who is chairman of the Parliament’s standing committee on rural development. The bill, when enacted, will cover all rural households, not just those below poverty line, as had been provided earlier. [Link]
p>It’s no surprise that the scheme was designed by a Belgian, backed by an Italian-Indian (Sonia Gandhi) and passed by a coalition which includes communists. The price tag for adding yet another layer of pork and guaranteed corruption atop the Indian economy: Rs. 1.4T ($33B, or ~$100B PPP). It’s just a grander form of the vote-fixing handouts and subsidies which already choke the economy.
p>This isn’t how you get villages to share in ‘India shining’: handouts rather than actual jobs, fish rather than fishing lessons. One only needs to look a few hundred miles north of Delhi to see what happens when you try to suspend the laws of economics. Seriously, doesn’t reading this make you just want to bang your head against a wall?
Bend over and grease up!