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Between ‘The Animal spirit of capitalism’ and the petroleum subsidy debate (2)

THE NNPC which was set up to prospect and explore oil like its counterparts in Iran, Libya, Venezuela, Brazil etc, suddenly became a net importer and distributor of imported fuel.

Taming the “the animal spirit”

One fundamental problem with the Neo-liberal school of thought is its persistent attempt to ignore the sanctity and superiority of other arguments but using intimidation and brute force to impose its will.

The debate on subsidy on petroleum products is a throw-back to the Neo-liberal tendencies that promoted corporate greed and the animal spirit of capitalism which is the source of the global outrage today.

The Neo-liberal doctrine has promoted “the animal spirit” of capitalist ethos of survival of the fittest against the Keynesian philosophy that government should protect the weak and vulnerable. The global economic crisis that started in 2008, have manifested these two tendencies.

Their “the trickle down” theory which began with Thatcherism and Reaganomics of the 1980s, collapsed in 2008. This was the doctrine that came with the proclamation with the global political and economic system being centralised and controlled by a few elites, who should be at the pinnacle of global power. \

It is called the New World Order, Nous orde seclerus, which has a historical antecedent that dates back to 1777, just about the time Adam Smith wrote the Wealth of Nations (1777). This power centre in the Metrople is linked with some of the most powerful occult groups that manipulate the media and the intelligentsia. The intellectual backbone for this line of thought was provided by the likes of Kenneth Waltz.

For them government should be run like big businesses where profit should be the bottom line. As far as they were concerned this group was concerned everything in life should be turned into a product to be sold for profit. They argued that government has no business being in business, rather government should be the friend of big businesses. Government should grant tax relief to the rich, while it should cut down its spending on social programmes, especially in health, public education, etc.

Lady Margret Thatcher earned the sobriquet, “The Iron lady” for breaking the back of the labour unions who were opposed to exclusion of social content in governance.

Lady Thatcher went ahead to stop the supply of milk to children in public schools. It was an era that promoted unbridled laissez affaire, far beyond what Adam Smith postulated in his Wealth of Nations (1777). They jettisoned the Keynesian doctrine of state intervention.

The entire global economy as at today is afflicted with the failure as the cabals that run the global financial system are in disarray. The Neo-liberals are reluctant to admit this failure.

The Nigerian experience

We in Nigeria who are on the periphery of the global economy must make these connections before embarking on the quintessential Neo- liberal rococo that is associated with the debate on removal of subsidy on petroleum products.

There is a social cost in governance and the fundamental law of opportunity cost cannot be re-written by those who believe that government exists only to take care of the interest of those who use wealth to access power and patronage of the state. The reasons are more political than economic because local refining will increase capacity, create jobs, and reduce wastages.

The proponents of no subsidy have failed to tell Nigerians why the quality in public health care, public education and public infrastructure have decayed. They have not justified the quantum leap in public sector corruption and the brigandage in political system.

Mr. HUGO ODIOGOR  is a staff of Vanguard Newspaper.


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