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I = S - M

The modern way of thinking about economics has been I = M - S Where I is the I as in me, M is what is 'mine' and S is what ...

11/2/13

Adam Smith, Father of economics, talked in glowing terms about the Division of Labor. He thought it was the engine of wealth. I think many of us are familiar with his visit to the pin factory where he observes stupendous increases in productivity by the simple fact that each worker does one very small part of the overall production process. One worker sharpens the tips of the pins all day. Another puts them into paper wrappers all day. And so on.

Division of labor has expanded exponentially since Adam Smith's time. We are all mostly engaged in tiny aspects of highly complex tasks most of which are related not to producing anything at all. That is how we earn our income.

Think about it. What does division of labor mean? Labor is an abstract concept. But it is actual people who do the work not abstractions of people. There is nothing like labor separate from the people who actually do work. If you are dividing labor conceptually, the result of that very practically, in the real world, is that you are dividing people. My family members, brothers, nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts, children are all being divided up as people. That causes productivity to skyrocket but what does it do to them? It takes away their wholeness, their humanity.

The problem with economics is that abstract concepts may be a lot of fun to think of and manipulate but when applied to real people--to you, your neighbors, your children--they have the chilling effect of dividing them up, splitting them.

Don't you think it is time to look for wholeness and let go of all this nonsense?

The tragedy is this: though I grew up speaking several Indian languages I am unable to communicate substantial ideas in these languages. These languages are beautiful and they are mine as no others are. But they are only for saying hullo and how is it going and getting the round of local gossip. Beyond that my facilities at my own mother tongues fail me. I can not even begin to express myself the way I am expressing myself in this blog.

English was the language of my education. I was sent to what were considered the best schools and colleges in India and while I was fed a mountain of facts, I learned very little about myself. In fact the use of the English language was exclusive because we were punished for speaking our own languages.

This may be the experience of many others growing up in India. I do not know. What this enforced inability to express ideas in my own language did to me is split me into two. These pages are my attempt to find wholeness using the language I have to express ideas, while shedding the mindset that the language brings almost automatically. That was what Gandhiji was so brilliant at doing. He could use English to communicate but be at the same time tapped into the Indian consciousness. To me Gandhiji is Indian consciousness and he is my friend and guide.