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Gresham’s law

Published Jan 28, 2013 12:03am

I AM sure many fellow readers are familiar with Gresham’s law which is an observation in economics that ‘bad money drives out good’.

An intriguing possibility popped into my mind. Is it possible to apply this principle to other fields like politics or the media?

It may come as a surprise to readers that over 2,400 years ago, in 405 BC, Aristophanes in his comedy ‘The Frogs’ refers to bad politicians whose prevalence is attributed to factors similar to those favouring good money over bad.

He laments that gold and silver coins are hoarded for their intrinsic value, while brass coins circulate freely.

Similarly, “with men we know for upright, blameless lives and noble names. These we spurn for men of brass...”

A former American vice-president Spiro Agnew used Gresham’s law in describing the American news media, stating: “Bad news drives out good news.”

By bad news, he meant news of a lurid nature. It appears that our electronic media, in particular, seems to be following this precept.

The present-day Pakistan makes an ideal case study for Gresham’s law, particularly our political scene and its prevalent ‘lota culture’ and politics of expediency. I wonder what your readers think of this?

HILAL AHMED Karachi