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But if I was asked, and Nigeria absolutely had to choose an ideology, it will continue to be a ‘market’ economy. In fact it will keep advertising its ‘market’ orientation, while doing the needful and using commonsense to do right by its people. ..Tope Fasua

Is it important for a country to have a nameplate economic ‘ideology’ which it pursues, or for which it is known? I have heard arguments to the effect that one of our core problems is that we lack any particular ideology. There are merits and demerits in the argument. My thesis is that ideology in economics, as in the days of socialism, communism, capitalism or market economics, is long dead. Off the cuff, I would wager that what obtains, or should obtain around the world, is commonsense economics. I also think commonsensical economics is what is responsible for the success of the few successful economies around the world – like the Scandinavian countries, or China, to name but a few.
But this is not that easy to explain away.
The questions are: Is it not important for a country to at least present to the world an organized point of view; to the left or right? Is the absence of a certain economic position not responsible for opening up the system to haphazard looting because there seems to be no rules? Does having an economic ideology help in organizing a country and setting the rules?
The problem I am seeing here is that these economic ideologies are seeming like decoys in themselves. What is USA? A capitalist economy all would say. But not only does USA has a huge social security system that protects the weak and vulnerable. It offers food stamps and free housing in the projects. The USA even annoyingly nationalizes companies when they run into financial trouble. But the USA is also the home of super-capitalists who make as much money as they can, unhindered. Is it meant to be a decoy? Does the USA profess on the outside to be a core-capitalist country, in order for people to go out there and work hard, make money, while it taxes them by taking almost half from the top earners? What’s the deal? That country even subsidises it’s farmers heavily, pays them sometimes to produce more and buys off them, helps them to guarantee prices. It also almost fully protects many of its industries, including the steel industry.
The USA does not encourage the exportation of processed food into its territory. It prefers you send raw tomatoes – if you think your tomatoes can ‘compete’ with that produced by its own farmers – rather than put the tomatoes in a can, preserve and seal it. For doing that you get slammed as high as 45% tariff. The USA jealously guards its people’s jobs, protect companies set up by its citizens abroad and even helps them aggressively in opening up new markets. What more? If the USA gives aids to some struggling country, it is known to disburse funds for the aids – or even loans – through a company registered in the USA and known to government. That country has a policy to NEVER give business to any foreign company when and if there is a US-based company that can do the job. I interacted extensively with officials of the US Department of Trade, as well as the Small Business Administration Department (their own version of SMEDAN). Welcome to USA, the world’s fiercest and principal capitalist country, where the government, not the market, determines who gets what… at least when it matters most.
What is China? A communist country? At least it never denounced communism or socialism openly at any point in time. When the 2009 financial crisis hit, many predicted that China will go into a quick meltdown, but I thought otherwise, because even though state capitalism, or social capitalism had taken hold, and the 9 million bicycles in Beijing had been replaced by at least 3 million fast cars, I knew the government still retained its ability to cap salaries and manage the expectations of their people. Contrary to what some western economic analysts predicted, wages did not rise astronomically on the back of unending demand from workers whom they assumed would bite the western bug and demand the American dream.
China, under Deng Xiaoping, did what it had to do. The country became essentially the global capital of efficiency. The people take themselves seriously. It was a product of commonsense and vision, as in, projecting into the future to determine what will work, and what will not work, for your people, and choosing to vigorously pursue the right choices. A lot of talk goes on in China everyday, about privatizing State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs), and they get a lot of prodding in that aspect, from the ever-so-wily westerners, who by now must have realized that they have met more than their match in the Chinese, when it comes to matters of strategy. They complain about China’s funny type of state capitalism in global conferences, but you cannot accuse China of inefficient socialism. As a matter of fact, on a per capita basis, and even in gross absolute terms, the USA and most of Europe spends more on freebies and social security, than China, with 1.4billion people, could ever imagine. The USA alone has more programs which even the Chinese will snigger at, for making people lazy and pampered. So who is socialist?
Russia. Much-vilified by the West too. And when the USSR collapsed, economists documented how Russia, among other nations who spun off from the old sickle and hammer country, were forced, cajoled or conned into adopting something called “shock therapy”, which meant that they should sell off all public enterprises without thinking and that by so doing, ‘foreign investors’ wall climb over themselves to come into the country. The exact opposite happened. Poverty increased ten-fold, the few investors that came in only stripped assets of public companies and sent the proceeds to Europe, where some like the Chelsea FC owner, became darlings of the Queen. Commonsense. Putin the Dreaded came in later to try and reverse some of the anomalies, and he gets a very bad name for his efforts.
It could only be about commonsense. Countries that have taken their eyes off the ball when it comes to equality and wellbeing for a greater number of their populace, have seen their fortunes dwindle. Ask the UK, that decided to only support Canary Wharf and the City; I mean bankers, who make loads of money while the majority only manage to eke a survival. Countries like Norway, Denmark, Germany, Finland and to an extent Australia – as well as many in SouthEast Asia – have managed thus far to prevent economic and social disasters, because these are countries that did not forget that the majority are poor and vulnerable and that economic policies have to consider such people. Germany has always had a policy where workers are part and parcel of companies’ management structure (e.g. Volkswagen and BMW). This assures that workers continue to have a say, and their rights are protected. As I write this, I realized that Nigeria has always chosen the wrongest policies. It has always being, for example, all about the rich cornering government and protecting their own interests.
But if I was asked, and Nigeria absolutely had to choose an ideology, it will continue to be a ‘market’ economy. In fact it will keep advertising its ‘market’ orientation, while doing the needful and using commonsense to do right by its people. Just as USA had done in the past, and probably continues to do. It’s the way of the world. Profess one thing, do something else. Market economy, is the only refrain the world wants to hear right now

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