Socialist Lunatic of the Day

Mark Braund:

And it is the structure of the economy that has enabled those who go to Davos to make their fortunes.  I\’m not saying the poor are poor because the rich are rich, only that under the current system, the means by which the rich get rich necessarily reduce the life chances of those at the bottom, be they in rich countries or poor ones.

There is a rapidly growing band of African millionaires, but this has led to no change in the situation of most Africans, and nor will it.

Lessee. Mobile telecoms in Africa is an industry that is creating many of those African millionaires. Does this system, whereby capitalist pigdog bastards grind the faces of the poor into the dust on their communications costs reduce the life chances of those at the bottom?

Hmm, given that we are told that a rise of 10 per 100 of the population having mobile phones leads to (and it is causation, not correlation) a 0.5% rise in the trend growth rate of the economy containing that population I think we\’d have to say that no, this isn\’t true. That the means by which the rich get rich is that in fact they provide a service that the poor want, one that increases their life chances. Which is why said impoverished peasants scream with rage when they are not allowed to hand over their cash to their exploiters in return for the life changing opportunity to communicate.

Thus I think we\’ll have to regard the original statement as unthinking socialist windbaggery, something dreamt up rather than anything which relates to the reality of our watery planet.

Pity, Braund\’s usually better than that.

9 thoughts on “Socialist Lunatic of the Day”

  1. But are the majority of African millionaires mobile phone network builders, or spivs who steal money from the government? My guess would be B.

  2. I don’t know if this is still true but in the mid 90’s when I was doing some mobile phone licence bid work in India there was a World Bank report that showed that for every $1 spent on telecommunications $2 was generated in the economy.

    BTW, I agree with john on this one as I also suspect their are more millionaires through corruption than anything else. Still if we can show other ways to make money it might help.

  3. Ouch. Damned with faint praise. Tim, you do me an injustice (socialist windbaggery!)

    I spent a lot of time in Africa. Indeed I was in Mozambique when Frelimo threw out Marxism-Leninism and embraced the free market almost overnight (a good move by and large). The result was one of the least regulated economies anywhere in the world, and the upshot, an influx of white South Africans who couldn’t (even during apartheid) make a go of it in South Africa so they came to Mozambique. Most of them have gone now of course, their places taken by the same indigenous clique who ran things in the old days.

    The crux of the question is whether you get much trickle down in a millionaire-creating market economy where access to economic opportunities and resources is concentrated in the hands of a tiny elite (and where the government fails to collect sufficient taxes to invest in the public infrastructure which the private sector won’t finance). In my experience you don’t, although you do end up with the absurdity of people with insufficient food getting hold of mobile phones and having access to digital TV.

    Incidentally, the first mobile I have ever saw was outside Maputo central market circa 1992 in the hand of a black-marketeer.

    Anyway, rant over, how about a reciprocal link to my new blog? While I often disagree with you, I remain an admirer.

  4. Mark isn’t even close to being the socialist lunatic of the day. Alan Bennett wins. He is reported on the BBC site today as saying “Buying advantages for your children over and above their abilities is wrong.” and that “… quite plainly the public school should be abolished.”

  5. As well as the obvious telecomms benefits of mobile phones, money can be transferred much more quickly and cheaply than hitherto by buying phone credits for other phone users. Also farmers and traders can access market information to get better prices for their goods. And is private sector spivvery any worse than kleptocracy?

  6. Neil,

    You write,

    “Mark isn’t even close to being the socialist lunatic of the day. Alan Bennett wins. He is reported on the BBC site today as saying “Buying advantages for your children over and above their abilities is wrong.” and that “… quite plainly the public school should be abolished.”

    According to his Wikipedia page, Bennett,

    “attended Leeds Modern School (when it was a state grammar school), learned Russian at the Joint Services School for Linguists during his National Service, and gained a place at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. However, having spent time in Cambridge during national service, and partly wishing to follow the object of his unrequited love, he decided to apply for a scholarship at Oxford University. He was accepted by Exeter College, Oxford and went on to receive a first-class degree in history.”

    State grammar, high end duties on national service, both Cambridge and Oxford…and to what end? Plays about cream crackers starring Thora Hird.

    Nuff siad.

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