Warmest congratulations to Amit Varma, winner of this year’s Bastiat Prize. A libertarian outfit called the International Policy Network gives this annually to a writer who “wittily elucidates the institutions of a free society”. Amit writes a column for Mint, a business paper based in Mumbai, and publishes a blog, India Uncut. He is a champion of the new India, and fits the award’s rubric perfectly. He gives a good impromptu acceptance speech too, as I learned at the award dinner in New York on Wednesday. More power to him.
Bastiat is best known, of course for his candlemakers’ petition—a classic satirical assault on arguments for trade protection. I am an admirer, but for the moment at least I’m thinking that satire is best used sparingly. My FT column this week ended with a modest proposal: namely, that the best way to create more equal societies is to slow or stop technological progress. I’d thought people would view that as a patent absurdity in the “let them eat roast babies” class, but more readers than I would have guessed took me seriously. Several wrote in for clarification. And one correspondent who did get the joke drew my attention to this post at The Register. I looked to the comments for consolation but didn't find much. Some argued solemnly that halting technology was a really bad idea, some that it was an interesting concept but harder to implement than I was letting on, and some that I might in fact be on to something. Resolved: to make my meaning plainer.