Thursday, August 27, 2009

The response to all those comments

Normally I save the serious shit for my other blogs and allow this one to be a canvas for some flippancy. My last post too was one such half-assed rant that I hoped disguised how passionately I really feel about several issues. It did, however, draw from my long-time sparring partners, comments that were longer than the post itself.

@Mohan: "All we need is the common sense to use the public transport." With all due respect, I believe that disseminating common sense to 6 million denizens is far tougher than raising a few taxes. But I do agree that without the Metro in operation, punishing car owners is a bit draconian.

@Shreeni: I'm sure you notice my change in stance from the times we used to discuss this issue in the 5th floor pantry. I'm suddenly all for Singapore-style despotic enforcement. The libertarian in me is still active when it comes to Censorship and Art, but he is well and truly dead when it concerns wealth distribution and traffic management.

@Sats: Just like you apologized for the NRI-snobbishness, I'm going to ask you to make allowance for my holier-than-thou preaching. I think every citizenry gets the government it deserves. We definitely deserve ours. I don't consider the government to be a separate creed of people that have nothing in common with us elites. We could stand on the sidelines and pretend that we have nothing to do with the uneducated, the disenfranchized, the corrupt, the indifferent, but let's get real. They ARE us. I know thousands of people who keep complaining about everything wrong in this country and pathetic few who can honestly say that they have used their 15-yr education or their relative enlightenment to influence anything. I am done waiting for the gory beast of a government to attain nirvana on its own to turn into a gentle genie who will repair all infrastructure. The "system" will transform if enough people ask for it. I have embraced the fact that the administration will not reach ideal state any time soon.

Here's what I was really addressing. Consider a man X driving a Toyota Innova and a man Y who travels in the city bus. I won't grudge the former his "success". Good for him and I hope he sees more of it. But consider that

* X uses a lot more of a public asset, the road, than Y.
* X pollutes a lot more of another oft-ignored public asset, the AIR! Tragedy of the commons?
* If there are 50 Xs and 50 Ys on the street (picture that , 50 Innovas and ONE bus!), it is fair to say that the Xs are responsible for the Ys spending a lot more time in traffic.


From Y's perspective, X is eating into his time, space and air. For me it seems like straightforward justice to make X pay for it. On the other hand in our system, X is more righteous and he feels he is not being served enough. By virtue of his "success" he also happens to be more influential. Which explains why the city administration is pandering to him by chopping all the trees and making the roads wider.

I could go on, but I think I'll save some material for my book.
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