Monday, July 31, 2017

The Magic of Personal Time

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

We no longer have any more personal space.  Our phones, computers, work, home, driving, shopping, walking and whatever we are doing including sleeping is on a clock or on a timer.  Someone is monitoring or watching what we do, even if we are unaware.  Our whereabouts and our habits are recorded and available.  Not that we should worry, but our every moment is there to rewind and review.  Despite the ever-increasing archiving of our every action, some of us (many of us) are beginning to constantly update our every moment.  What was at a time the life styles of the rich and famous, is now the same for someone on Facebook or Instagram.  Personal albums no longer are that, but on the net for everyone to see, and perhaps reminisce and criticize.  Our daily routines are common updates.  While a personal space is on a constant update, the same is also being exploited by the fanatics and politicians.  For whatever it is worth our life is out there in the cyberspace and updated and archived as we live it.
The more we advance technologically (which is now only beyond our imagination) the less we can claim to privacy.  The judicial system and educational system certainly have a great amount of difficulty in pacing with the technology advancements.  We can’t be complaining about our ability to talk, text, google and be in touch; all with relative ease and claim to privacy.  The disappearing private space (time) of one’s life is a common aspect of today’s advanced (and continuing) communications.
Do I really want to know everything?  The breaking news, instant communications and 24/7 monitoring that is a part of everyday life, and do I really want this? All while keeping every waking moment as a constant update all in as many channels of communication as possible.  The real-time news and analysis (mainly geared to the negatives), even the weather update every 10 minutes, really makes good listening for about 15 minutes, then becomes repetitive.  Even when referenced as breaking news, what we hear is simply repeated and again, until something else becomes breaking news.
We combine personal updates as much as we can and then we get network coverage constantly, and everything is breaking.  On a lighter side, recently Trump’s white house spokesman had said that Trump’s tweets should be considered as official presidential pronouncements.  This man is no longer working for Trump and the white house, and Trump is quick to change his positions as fast as he can type.
Life and technology is what we have made for our self.  We can be inspired by what it could be and how far can we imagine and innovate.  There should be no doubt that we will continue to discover and dream of unimaginable facets of our mind.  There is absolutely no limit to what the human ingenuity can do.  There is no contest or there is no poll that determines the next innovation, and what comes with the next generation of technology is first the invention, then the after effects.  We neither have control of our ability to innovate and invent, nor the ability to foresee the after effects of our inventions.  As is with everything in life, the good and the bad (sometimes ugly) goes with each aspect, and technology gets no respite with after effects.
Imagine the days of solitude and life uninterrupted?  No longer the case, even on the space station.  What would it be to get on a motorcycle (a huge Harley Davidson) and just drive coast to coast.  No plans, no GPS, no one else; just drive until the next stop, and keep driving and visiting the grand and welcoming nature.  Leave the mobile behind, and no internet to follow, just you and the Harley and the wonders of the nation, and just keep riding, and just enjoying the nuances of the nation’s beauty and diversity.  Irrespective of how long you ride, nothing is going to change in the world.  The breaking news will continue to break, will be the same when you log back in.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Focus on People’s Agenda

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

Although the negatives get more (constant) coverage, the direction of a democratic government is driven by the election manifesto and the actions after a victorious campaign.  The people who voted (for the winning candidate) and the press will pay attention to the results of the pre-election manifesto.  Actions that follow the promises prior to the election will always be appreciated and rewarded with continued electoral victories.

It is given that poll promises are voice against the opposition and to attract votes.  Promising handouts is common and playing to the audience.  People love to hear the candidates of their party talk of how well (better) their candidate will cater, comparing to the other party.  To win an election, candidates will kiss babies, shake every hand, eat at McDonalds, sleep in motels and do what normal people do; and they will speak to everyone and promise to do what their party’s manifesto displays.  Nothing changes with each election, except the candidates.  Every candidate promises everything their base electorate wants to hear (sometimes much more) and at every opportunity criticize the opponent.  In an election, you got to promise the moon and you must tell people what an idiotic choice your opponent is.

Incumbent has an advantage in elections, especially when the party followed thru on the campaign promises of the past electoral victory.  As the electoral promises are tailored to their base vote banks, it is easy to tout the promises kept.  The electorate is any way highly polarized and party specific, leaving a few independents.  The victory depends on getting the people to vote.

The democratic elections continue to embark on party specific deliverables to cater to their vote bank.  The elections them self are close contests, barring a very few elections where there is a blowout.  Every candidate is carefully chosen to represent a party, funded to go through a long and arduous campaign, spend hundreds of millions and appeal to their vote bank, and after all this get people to get out and vote.  We can track the elections and notice that the ideal representatives of any party have become difficult to choose, difficult to get elected and when elected it is almost impossible to deliver on the promised agenda.

People have increasing access to information (good and bad and in-between).  The media coverage (constantly) is focused on finding holes in the day to day affairs of the politicians.  The head of the state and every word (action) gets scrutinized with expert analysis, and there is always positives and negatives in the same space.  Today archives are instant and constant, and easily attainable.  The information is easily retrieved and referenced.  It is impossible to make a statement and ignore or retract it. Emotional outbursts, impromptu statements and reactions, humor and sadness, family and friends, work and vacation and everything that is done, said and written is constantly recorded, archived and retrieved; and all very easily accessible.

A clear case of media verses leader is on full display in the USA.  It’s not just Trump, but every elected leader (anyone) is under the microscope in the USA.  Even the common man who is on social media, their following and comments and activities; everything is available for scrutiny.  The media analysis is brutal.  While the elected officials often struggle to keep their promises, the press is always looking for inconsistent statements and actions.  While it sounds contentious, the checks on politicians is constant.  The voter gets only to cast the ballot once in an election cycle, the media focuses on keeping the politicians accountable.

There is little doubt in the power of democratic process, but the elections are held on a rigid schedule and they are evenly divided with the electorate.  The margin of victory is slim, and the impossibility of accountability of elected officials adds to the overpowering the administrative challenges of elected governments.  While accountability is constantly questioned, the focus on people, their needs and respect to their reasoning is that is needed.

Monday, July 17, 2017

An Uncivilized Society

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

For centuries, the human behavior has evolved into what the dictionary refers to civilized.  Simply put being civil (nice, respectful, mindful, attentive, caring and many of the words and actions) that are consistent with a lawful society.  Whosoever makes the rules, the entire society follows the, thereby all citizens in the society become a civilized society.

From small groups of people, to congregations, colonies, villages, towns, cities and countries; whatever type of living we belong to they have a set of rules to follow, and we follow them.  Democracies, dictatorships, communists, whatever the ruling constitution of a nation, people simply choose to follow the rules, and if not, they mostly migrate to some other place where they believe the rules of life is more conducive to their liking, and make a new life.

The last part of the 20th century has been an age of communications and information technology, which has driven more relocation of people as it offered a separate set of competence and people who were ready to learn the recent technologies, and relocate to find employment.  It also afforded remote working environment that allowed people to stay where they are, and contribute to the business requirements on a global scale.  Remote support, work from home, offshore support, temporary relocation, and various technology related work forces have become a part of the IT industry, and continue to drive the global workforces.

The 24/7/365 cable networks, email, texting. Internet, mobile communications and various mode of instant communications have quickly evolved and very quickly have become standard tools to work, communicate and connect the world.  In fact, the technologies have evolved faster than the human reaction to how to use them, and the communications tools being developed at a rate, we simply are unable to learn the etiquette of how to use them in a civilized way.

Many of the social media platforms allow us to connect with thousands, if not millions of fellow netizens, and with a few clicks say/share/opinion/simply throw stuff at them.  Certainly, the new ability to mass communicate has not put everyone in a tizzy to start blasting the user groups with nastiness, but you only need a select few to start the net frenzy.  2016/2017 has reached a new frenzy in bots and fakes.  You can simply create anything you want to say, and start spreading it to the www.  Within minutes someone who likes the crap, will pick it up and start spreading it a sources fact.  In the olden days (before www) it took a lot of time to spread rumors, but with www, only a second.  Nasty stuff also gets more attention, as people like dirt.

People have politically forgotten to respond to each other in an organized and civilized way.  Although we don’t see politicians throwing punches at each other (this is quite common in many places), they are more than insulting to one another.  A definition of a civilized society is no longer existent in the 24/7/365 age of TV and instant internet.  Moving away from just the morning and evening news for 30 minutes, now someone is covering the happening 24 hours, and our leaders are ready to provide sensational material; constantly.

With each election cycle, all people get to hear is how bad the other administration is, and offer nothing of consequence with the new administration.  The only constants are growing debt, failing infrastructure and SOS.  The latest fad is to simply divert the issue to the opposition and how obstruction will not allow policy.  Whenever we think we have seen the worst, something worse comes into the view.  And we are really at a point that anything that transpires in governance and how the society is accepting this as a norm will continue to be normal.  Although our history recorded uncivilized and barbaric societies, we are not far from going back in ages.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Taxing Decisions

Vasu Reddy from Chicago

India passed the GST (Goods and Services Tax), on the last day of June 2017.  It joins a group of nations that have implemented the same (supposedly select group) simplified and uniform tax code for selling goods and services.  If we look at the geo-political scape of India, GST begins to simplify the massive and multi-teared (sometimes excessive and unfathomable) and facilitate an easier tax collection system.

While BJP government has been able to garner support to implement GST, India had been contemplating streamlining GST for many years.  Modi and his determination on financial reforms is commendable in negotiating and pushing the legislation on GST.  It certainly has political risks, but Modi has demonstrated that he is willing to take them.

GST is only a portion of the tax code.  It certainly covers all good and services sold in the country, and the nation can start to account for every aspect of the transactional economy.  While people might disagree on various rates for different good and services, the uniformity is important and enforceable.  For every product and service there will no longer be challenges of consumption and tax associated.  The government can adopt different tax rates as needed and appropriate, but the accounting is defined irrespective of the tax rate.  In GST, it considers everything sold; goods and services in India.

Implementation of GST in 2017 is the first major overhaul of tax code in independent India (1947).  As the process of simpler tax code comes into effect, India has begun to first streamline and close the loopholes to the production and delivery to everyday needs.  Now that a national GST is in place, administration is manageable and accountable.  For many years leading into adoption of GST, India’s businesses and people have been prepared for the overhaul, and as it shows in the first couple of days after the new GST, it has no public opposition.  The acceptance and implementation in such a diverse economy shows the need for uniform GST and people’s support for reform.

Indian economy is vastly informal.  GST allows for bringing the informal economy into proper accountability.  The Indian consumer just like any other is used to price changes (mostly pricing up) and a variation in tax to shopping cart is not going to be a sticker shock for the buying behavior.  People will buy what they need and if markets price items beyond affordability, the buyer will find alternatives.  There is no need for the government and the public to panic with new tax code.

For the record France was the first nation to adopt GST, while India joins the GST group, nations such as Canada and Brazil have dual GST.  While the European nations and the nations with high per capita income adopt GST, and is a across the board tax for all its people, India has a major disconnect with income and GST suddenly imposes the same tax rate for the very rich to very poor, and everyone in between.  While the tax rationale is addressed, Modi (for a fact any leader) can start to fix the income and opportunities for all the people.

While the public tries to make sense of taxation, almost all the countries on earth are managing their national budgets on deficit.  Borrowed money adds additional burden on budgets, simply adding an interest line.  This line takes away otherwise available resources for nation building and well-being.  In most cases the borrowing is expanded (politicians love to argue about national debt, but always vote favorably to increase the debt ceiling) and each passing year, the debt only increases and interest goes in hand, reducing the resources for public needs.

As individuals (specially the middle class) aspire to be debt free, so should the nations.  It is perhaps in Modi and his political audacity to make India a debt free (zero deficit) budget nation.  India starting (new) in 1947 with Nehru, has continued to expand the GAP between its receipts and spending.  Every leader has promised but never delivered a debt free nation.  Modi has already taken on the decisions on back money, demonetization and now pushing GST, along with his constant search for India First agenda, can push for a nation with balanced budget.  He can even drive a constitutional amendment that can’t be overturned by simple majority on a balanced budget/debt free nation.

If we leave the political agenda aside, a combination of uniform taxation, scam free (minimize the public coffer looting); all of which translate to better tax collection and better handling of public’s money.  Modi has nothing to lose by pushing the nation first agenda.  His party or any party will have to follow the path of public money, public trust and public support.  When public sees that their coffers are appropriated for public needs, their support will be unanimous. What nation would not want to be debt free, tax compliant and scam free?

Past Perfect

Vasu Reddy from Chicago It has already happened. Past is already on the books, recorded, and can’t be changed.   It ...