Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The Funny Thing About Destiny & the Sherman Mind

The concept of destiny, fate and inevitability is one philosophers and religious folks tend to struggle with. On one hand, the inevitability of life happening to us allows us to premeditate the very existence of an unseen power, an unseen hand- far powerful and mighty that directs the affairs of men. While this augurs very well for the spirit minded folks, it also puts us firmly in the realm of dependency in our every day lives. If this is true, then perhaps we are not prone to do right or strive for righteousness because we were not destined to be. It also puts the Supreme in the inevitable position of wickedly deciding those that will succeed and fail, preserving good fortunes for some and bad fortunes for others.

To the sociologists that study the fortunes of men, destiny could as well be race, education, birth place, genes, economic class of parents, choice of schools made by others (especially parents) and above all peer pressure. They reason, you can't possibly be born to an Harvard attending parents and end up flipping buggers at the nearest BK Joint. Life's fate inevitably are decided at conception..the home you were born into. It determines your likely family status, marital history, your life income, even your health and what disease will likely spell your inevitable end. 

Some Philosophers have forged the idea of second nature, that men while predestined for a specific end, will have their path towards that end charted by their decisions, choices and will. Though somewhat comforting, and somewhat a palatable hybrid of the polar concepts of will driven, it feels more like a comfort pill the more one chews on it. So Mr. A is inevitably ended for an unhappy, bankrupt ending but he can chart a more comfortable path to that by becoming a Ponzi Schemer succeeding like Madoff for years and living the good life because of choices (bad to some good end in this case)until he is caught and then he goes bankrupt and dies miserable. Sounds familiar?

Oh well, speaking of Madoff..I'm I the only one not buying his wife's crocodile tears on TV last weekend? Please.

Book Review- Mindset of a General

This book in a series focused on America's Generals reveals the mind of General Sherman from a somewhat judgmental perspective. Like many reviews of war leaders of the civil war era, the authors somewhat could not help but slant the readers' views of this Great General based on their own biases or the biases of the modern reader against total warfare which General Sherman implemented against his Southern Cousins during the civil war. Of course, further cherry-picking the General's strategy by emphasizing his obvious racist nature (something shared by 99% of White Americans of his era..) to further abuse the readers' mind of the Great General exploits versus his person further the blurs the line between this biography and an opinion. While the book is rich in details, it would perhaps be best to have focused on the strategic underpinnings of the decision maker which such books in this series have tend to focus on. Was he a great warrior? I bet he was! Then what else matters? 

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

RE: Simon Kolawole on fuel subsidy fraud

Saying, we the people should pay for our government's corruption and inefficiency, by accepting higher fuel prices which translate to:
  • Higher cost of goods and higher inflation
  • Indirect taxation on industries since the same corrupt government cannot provide electricity that we provide through generators
  • Direct destruction of jobs as businesses will need to reduce staff or pass on the cost to their employment
  • Increased crime since the poor becomes poorer and the rich will only get richer under this regime
  • And then what? the government spend less on subsidy, and the politicians have more to steal! It doesn't even translate to more money for the important stuff they are now lying about! 
Is simply..cutting our nose to spite our face. Kolawole's argument is an elitist one. The solution is to wash and hose the government down of corruption starting with the Corrupter-In-Chief in Aso Rock (and I have proof, if you need one). The second solution is designing a system that will minimize corruption. I laid out such system in my article here; which is:
  • Commercialize the 4 refineries into 4 independent companies. Hire fresh management for them using the international HR firms (Nigerians and foreigners alike..let the best men win). Take them public, selling 51% on the Nigeria Stock Exchange and London's Alternative Investment market (AIM)..Duration: 6-18 months
    • On one hand, you get new companies
    • On the other, the 51% raised can be used for capital expansion and improvement by the new management
    • Lastly, as commercial companies now majority public owned they'll act in the interest of their shareholders in London and Nigeria. Indeed, as 49% government owned, Nigeria will still benefit from the upside of the reforms and government can still have a say in how they are run..but as minority holders. This is the arrangement in Brazil, India, Egypt, China ..etc. I can go on & on 
  • Once commercialized, 
    • Continue the practice of selling crude oil to the refineries at below international market rate i.e. indirect subsidy, which allows the refinery turn profit; while putting a lid on the domestic pump price through a regulated system of tariffs similar to electricity.
    • Allocate excess refine products demand to the four operators: allowing them to organize importers to meet this demand beyond what they produce, while disbursing subsidy directly to them to meet the regulated pump price.
    • At the same time, the new regulatory regime should not allow these operators to import directly or through any subsidiary or joint venture, rather they’re to source their imports from the open market, paying market price for such while bridging this with government paid subsidy.
This system essentially means that as a commercial operator, they’re giving up certain margins to the middlemen importers in so far they don’t produce domestically; encouraging them to eliminate these middlemen quickly. Also, the fewer players feeding at the government trough of subsidies will also mean less corruption. As public companies responsible to shareholders, these companies will only act in self interest to continue to expand production to meet local demand and eliminate the middle men. At the same time, government incentives for new refinery builders including tax holidays, a capital expansion fund that provide up to 51% equity funding or loan guarantees to these builders at the Central Bank will be a more efficient way to spend $6billion than giving it to the President’s buddies. Of course one of these incentives might be a bite at the juicy oil blocs that the majors always want: no refinery no, crude oil concession, no deal. It is called negotiation.

In any case, if the PDP government knew deregulation was the right thing to do, why didn't President Jonathan campaign on this issue when he was running? I dey laugh! In any case, the man is getting is priorities wrong. He should listen to Governor Sanusi, and figure out how to get money away from the overbearing federal government into the states, reduce overhead of the federal government and begin discussing how to reconfigure the country into viable units.



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