The kids on Snapchat have been talking about a chap called DJ Khaled a lot lately. [Note that I do not know what Snapchat is or what they do there]. As with such things, however, what starts with the kids ends up in the mainstream.
You can read a primer on DJ Khaled here. The gist of what has made him popular is that he taps into the proclivity of people to believe conspiracy theories and adopt a siege mentality as a result. That is, it is not very hard to get people to believe that someone is against their success (sometimes it’s true). But he then goes a step further by having a really infectious and positive attitude to life. So, even though ‘they’ don’t want you to win, DJ Khaled is not like ‘they’ are because he wants you to be successful and will always give you the 🔑🔑🔑 to do so. DJ Khaled is on your side and that’s why you should listen to him.
All of this got me thinking about Nigeria and all the ways ‘they’ conspire to hold you down. My concern is typically the economy so I often try to look at ways ‘they’ hide the truth from you. What is clear to me is that the way ‘they’ achieve this is by getting you to focus on other things and wear out your brainpower while doing so.
I’ve identified some of the major things they do so let’s list them below in a way that DJ Khaled will approve of.
They Want You To Spend All Your Time Thinking About The Exchange Rate of The Naira To The Dollar
If you log on to social media on any given day, you are bound to encounter this national obsession. Everyone talks about it including those who are not directly affected by it. It is like the most important topic in Nigeria everyday.
Yet, they want you to focus on this because if your brain is freed to think about other things, you will find the 🔑🔑🔑 to success. Ask yourself — are young people in America or the UK or Japan worrying themselves to death about the exchange rate of their currency to other foreign currencies? That is why they have time to invent things like Facebook and Twitter.
They achieve this distraction by getting you to believe that the exchange rate is something that must be controlled by human beings and not the market. They make you believe that a ‘strong’ currency is the same thing as a strong economy. Therefore, the naira cannot be left to market forces because the country will not be able to control it.
Yet, every day we see thousands of migrants fleeing to countries where politicians have no control over the exchange rates. Curiously, all rich countries have market-determined currencies. The more they try to control the currency, the more they cause you stress and make you spend all your productive time thinking about how to injure Emefiele if you can lay your hands on him.
They Want You To Focus On The PPPRA Template
Another one. They get you to spend all your time focused on the landing cost of petrol and other such things because they have made you believe that petrol price is not something that can be determined by market forces. They make you believe this is something that must be controlled using thePPPRA Template.
But while you focus on the PPPRA Template and worry yourselves to death about the landing cost of petrol and how much subsidy is being paid to marketers, what are your mates in America doing? They are building self-driving cars in their garage. They make you believe that if you leave petrol prices to the market to determine, the price will go to N1,000,000 per litre and you will not be able to ‘control’ it. Yet, if own a petrol station here in the UK, you will be lucky to make £60,000 per year and that is only if you sell a lot of sweets and coffee as well as working ridiculously long hours.
As you can see, the government is even the biggest ‘marketer’ in the UK. Whatever the market price of petrol is, the government simply applies a tax on it and consumers pay. This fuel duty pulls in a cool £27bn yearly and that money can be used to fix roads and other things.
Nigeria is now at the point where subsidised fuel (where available) is what the government has been reduced to providing as a sign they are ‘working’.
Once again, the people risking their lives on dangerous boats or clinging to trains are trying to get into countries where the governments don’t control petrol prices.
Imagine what will happen if all the brain power spent worrying about something that the market can take care of is freed to think of other things? Someone might even come up with a solution that reduces the amount of petrol consumed! Every day you spend thinking about petrol, your mates inother countries are getting closer and closer to cracking the nuclear fusion code.
They Want You To Worry About Electricity Tariffs
And another one. Electricity tariffs are now so political that earlier this year before the elections, NERC reduced them as a ‘gift’ to the last government to help them win votes.
But it had taken about 4 years to arrive at those tariffs and numerous battles. Models had then been built to allow investments to flow into the power sector — investments which will then drive down prices in the future after some pain. There is no other way to do this because for many years, military governments in particular, did not invest anything in power in Nigeria. So you need higher tariffs today to attract investments in a way that will be profitable for them.
Of course, this will be painful in the short term but what other option is there? Except you are thinking of handing this same problem to your children to solve, it is better to take the hit now and guarantee them a future with more electricity.
Pick up the phone and call your friends and family in any rich country. Ask them to tell you how much they pay per kilowatt hour of electricity and see if they can tell you without checking. And I bet you they always have electricity and even ‘waste’ some of it. They don’t spend all their time worrying about fixed and variable charges. Instead, high electricity costs frees up the brain to think up all sorts of energy saving solutions.
In America, people continue to add more and more electric gadgets to their homes and yet energy consumption is not increasing as you would normally expect. Every new model of television consumes less electricity than the previous one. Do we even need to talk about energy saving bulbs? Energy efficiency is a badge of honour. In other words, even when electricity prices rise, the market comes up with ways to mitigate the impact in all sorts of ways that allow life to go on as normal.
But in Nigeria, every politician wants to have a say in how much people pay for electricity and we know that politicians usually don’t have a clue as to how pricing and markets work to spur investments. But they do this claiming to be ‘protecting’ the people. From what exactly? That Nigeria might develop, horror of horrors, into a market economy?
Everywhere you look in Nigeria you find someone actively trying to stop the development of markets and preventing the price mechanism from doing its work. One egregious example recently was the NCC unbelievably determining a price which broadband prices were not allowed to go below in Nigeria. As usual, they did this claiming to be helping Nigerians because if prices were allowed to fall too low, one person might dominate the industry.
What manner of ‘help’ is that? Look around the Nigerian economy, you will find the fat fingers of government everywhere making a mess of things in the name of helping the people. Even when they claim to deregulate (like diesel), they still hand out import licences to favoured people which then makes it easy for those favoured people to collude against consumers.
In countries where they don’t hand out import quotas for rice, the people have cheap and abundant rice to choose from. If you go to Tesco or Walmart to buy rice, the biggest challenge will be to decide which variety to buy.
Moving to a market system is the major 🔑🔑🔑 to success for Nigeria. This is what DJ Khaled teaches us. But they don’t want you to know this because if you do, you will win. And they definitely don’t want you to win.
As we move into a new year, let’s start to direct efforts to get politicians out of the business of fiddling with prices and markets everywhere. Let them focus on providing security and infrastructure.
The agricultural revolution was painful initially because it drastically reduced the number of people needed to produce even more food from the farms. But this then freed up people to do other kinds of work like manufacturing where they could be more productive. The same thing has happened in the West with manufacturing where people now work less in factories and more in offices. These are the things that a market economy makes possible.
A state without the means of some change is without the means of its conservation — Edmund Burke
It is young people who pay the highest price for this kind of system because by occupying them with thoughts of exchange rates, power tariffs and landing costs of petrol in their productive years, they are unable to develop the kind of critical thinking skills that might allow them to invent the future.