We are all robots, and as robots we are mastered by reason . All reasons have a parameter of pleasure and pain. If we abide by reasons there would definitely be a pleasurable experience, otherwise the experience is painful.
The problem with human beings is that sometimes we perceive the pleasure/pain ratio and sometimes we do not. Sometimes we dwell upon this hedonistic calculus and other times we choose to ignore them due to higher reasons. Our perception is limited by our cerebrational capacities and preferences.
The problem of petty crimes
A thief steals a loaf of bread and a piece of jewellery in under an hour. For him a loaf of bread is important to sustain his own body, and the jewellery to sustain education of his children.
This both falls under two great reasons, one that was his hunger, and the other was the pursuit of education.
With or without knowing the reasons, you might have been compassionate enough to decide the thief can be excused for the bread as whatever he stole isn’t of much value to you, however he might be wrong the second time.
When this case reaches the court, and the jury or the judge gets to hear the whole story of his life, how he was unable to make a living, how badly his children needed education, his innermost desire that his children do not have to face what he faced in life, everything falls in place. Maybe the story gets so real that one of the jury members can relate to this, and he might be the only one to to claim “not guilty”.
The problem with this is that it’s not practical. Theft however small or big has to be dealt with, maybe with ingredients of compassion, maybe proportionate to the value stolen, but certainly.
Why should we deal with petty crimes?
We tend to get swayed by our subjective emotions, the justice can be done only by reason. Thus, we put in maths.
Let’s take all crimes happening in the country as a variable of unauthorised consumption of resources or C.
Now this C is directly proportional to the amount of population, as prima facie more the population – more the probability of crimes.
Now crimes are of different levels:
Y – Corporate Serious Fraud
X – Political misappropriation
W – Fraud, murder, rape, robbery, etc.
V – Dishonesty: skipping railway ticket, not paying for food at stalls, shop lifting, etc.
The lower the level of crime, bigger the populace who commits to it.
If we were to take the total crimes committed by the country – all reported, unreported, serious, petty, minor, major, lies or fraud, everything which decreases the common output of a group of people, everything bad – it would be evident that the total negative output (TNO) of the number of people (N) who commit to the crimes of a specific level, balance the TNO of the people who commit crimes of other levels.
i.e. Y*N1 = X*N2 = W*N3 = V*N4
Therefore, theoretically all types of crimes irrespective of the nature of it have the same effect to the society at large.
Most probably this piece of information doesn’t affect most of us.
After reading the equation above you wouldn’t want others to commit crimes but what about you?
This knowledge that all types of crimes affect us equally – however serious or petty – is not likely to move us or affect us in any way towards non-commission of the same.
Let me delve into the graver reasons for us on not being dishonest.
Delhi v. West Bengal
While coming by train to Delhi, I met a co-passenger well into his sixties. During breakfast he saw me reading a book on management. He asked me in English, “Are you a management student?” I replied conclusively to that.
Normally I don’t reveal my ideal thoughts to anyone unless she is visibly sophisticated or due to interactions I come to know about sophistication in her thoughts.
He reverted back that he had an MBA, but in the practical life all that matters is intuition and personality. I was agitated with this statement; we stirred up this conversation about how Delhi is worse off than Kolkata by living standard.
He told me how he cannot trust his own employees at Delhi with his trade secrets, and thus though he had a degree in management his theoretical knowledge is of no use in practical life, and according to him this was uncannily contrary to his experience with employees in Kolkata, in Kolkata employees are far more trustworthy and they never seem to have selfish interests.
I was quick to put in my opinion that in Delhi when people work, they work for themselves, everyone is a master of their own lives, and that is why they think they are authorised to do anything and everything which can increase their personal profits. But in Kolkata, people are not that ambitious and therefore they don’t have to disobey their ideals, they cannot create (or do not have) selfish interests which overpower the common interest.
People in Kolkata can be satisfied with a lot less, and at the moment when one has a house for himself or when his children graduate, he tends to give up all pursuits of excellence. They stop working efficiently and all perceptions of incentives are gone, that is why the Bengal bureaucracy is famous for being excruciatingly slow.
Whereas there are inefficiency among people at both the places; people in Delhi work still more efficiently because personal interests are always more conniving than social interests.
But that efficiency comes at a cost of overpriced and largely inflated CPI (Consumer Price Index). Everyone inflates the price of their service, because of self-importance.
The man told me that his profit margins per sale at Kolkata is around and lesser than 5 to 6% whereas in Delhi his profit margins per sale are higher and more than 12 to 13%. I asked him isn’t it good for him? I suggested him to operate out of Delhi only and in a larger scale.
But he gave me an answer which I am trying to sugarcoat in this whole article.
He told me how his employees of higher responsibilities one after one moved out of his office and started their own businesses, he told me how he receives most of the complaints of employee harassment from his Delhi office, and that higher profits of business mean greater costs of running for him, and the ultimate profit margins (amount that can be saved or safely withdrawn) at both the places is almost equal and not more than 5%.
I realised that there would be people who would make higher profits in Delhi, but that profit was to be consumed in their higher lifestyle costs.
We also referred to the housing problem in Mumbai and the several crashes in the real estate market due to its artificial pricing; one of the severest being the latest in September ‘13, compared to none in recorded history in Kolkata.
The growth which comes associated with crimes is definitely higher than the one in a regulated market in the short run, but markets crash and people lose out on money in the long run, whereas a far more regulated and immaculate market may have a slow growth rate in the short run, but the long run growth rate is higher, inclusive and without busts.
For practical facts the latest economic growth rates in India by States are as follows:
West Bengal grew from 6.29% in 2005-6 to 17.06% in 2011-12 without any busts.
And Delhi grew from 10.05% in 2005-6 to 11.34% in 2011-12 with multiple business cycles.
(WB is second only to Goa by growth rate, it definitely has more GDP and population than both Delhi and Goa)
It can be true that people in Delhi earn more but it is also true that they pay more.
Delhi could have been a far more better place with a talent pool from all over India, they can be very efficient but they turned out to be more selfish. As always nature balances itself in multiple ways.
The main problem lies in the fact that artificial pricing will never do good to any market of any city. When we put in self-importance we tend to charge more than the value of our services, thus it is nothing different from artificial pricing. And as a law of economics thus whenever you are charging more than you deserve you lead yourself to a market crash.
A better explanation
My job is to make human sciences relevant for all (even the one who is a hunter-gatherer). I might fail but that doesn’t mean I stop pursuing it.
The analogy is that if you are living inside a pigeon coop, the more you struggle the more you would hurt yourself.
The world is similar to a pigeon coop, here you have specific tasks and you are given pleasure and pain to guide yourself to the commission of those tasks.
Some people do not agree to that and they try to free themselves by spirituality or by business. And while trying to free themselves they struggle a lot, and they hurt themselves.
People who realise that, can keep calm and therefore their productivity is highly increased, they hurt themselves lesser, and die a peaceful and honourable death.
It doesn’t matter if both of these people do not do their jobs, or even if they do it imperfectly, it matters if they inhibit the fruition of labour or do they contribute towards it even negligibly.
Whereas Total Income by CPI almost always remains constant across cities, states and countries, the question arises that what matters at that moment, struggle and injuring oneself, or living peacefully?
And when doing crimes and taking shortcuts (Delhi) can be compared with laziness or inefficiency (West Bengal), a rational person would seek laziness.
The reason is that crimes actually have a TNO, they reduce the fruits of your and others hard work; while laziness doesn’t utilise resources and doesn’t reduce others’ efforts. It can be said with confidence that though inefficiency is bad, crime is worse.
While all crimes happen due to presence of an incentive and shortcuts, everytime you take a shortcut for an incentive it is quite probable that you are doing a crime.
You would quite require reasons for not doing a crime, and more so if the enforcement is impotent on such a minute scale. For the purpose of this hypothesis we reduce being human to two objectives.
Let’s take two axes X and Y we put ability to achieve on one and ability to recognize goals on the other.
What we see here is that those who have lesser of both are lower organisms, insects and other mammals. While humans can do both and thus is a higher organism. But it’s quite plausible that there can be existence of organisms on both sides of the median, i.e. an elephant or an insane person who can put in a lot of effort but doesn’t recognise their goals. Then again there would be people who are very smart who can recognise their goals but are unable to work towards them.
Individualism and failure
Individualists do not care about others’ losses and they keep on being committed to crimes, later to realise that their own crimes indirectly hampered their own lives. Whereas the socialists do not want to affect others worse off than they can profit, they most probably remain away from majority of crimes.
For e.g. there are lots of stories of millionaires who struggled more than the necessity and went bankrupt incurring losses to themselves caused by them. One of them is Vijay Mallya.
Another example of selfish reasons is of the dust bowl, when frenzied people did agriculture to such an extent that they destroyed the whole ecology of the place, leading to human misery and famines.
How does it affect when only one common man out of a huge population travels to office, steals trade secrets of another company and comes back, gets a bonus at the end? What if most probably he can’t even be detected?
The problem with this example is as we tend to travel towards unity (individual) the result gets more protracted though not uncertain.
It is certain that there would be a result of his theft, but the question is where and when.
Maybe the man creates a sudden growth in his lifestyle which he couldn’t have otherwise, and this growth being unsustainable in the long run makes him to run for more stunts, and eventually get caught – that is one. Probably, he is raised to such a position in the company which he doesn’t deserve thus leading to the collapse of the company.
The unlikelihood of any loss to himself is as much as this situation in reality.
When a considerable populace goes to their offices, commit certain breaches and get bonuses, it creates a growth spurt in the economy which is soon followed by a market crash due to asymmetric information and moral hazards.
The problem with individualism is that when it’s spread across a whole population as in the reality, it works in selfish interest and thus against the mutual gain of other identical units. While socialism spread across a wide population tends to create interdependencies and thus mutual gain is higher.
My co-passenger was amazed the way I explained it to him, he gave me compliments and told me I will go a long way. That is when I thought that comparing Delhi and Kolkata might be regionalism but this is a realism too and it deserves a mention among hypotheses.
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