Africa

Africa, Orgasms, and the Case for Globalization

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In his talk at the Cato Institute yesterday, South African political scientist Greg Mills shared a conversation he'd had with a Latin American government official, who observed that "complaining about globalization is like complaining about the quality of one's orgasm." This "there is no such thing as a bad orgasm" mentality has produced Latin American success stories like Chile and Panama. In his book Why Africa is Poor, Mills argues that the same approach could work in Africa as well.

He believes "a positive approach to competitiveness" could transform the continent, and is achievable through a "simple formula of policies." A lot of these are commonsensical and many are cost-free. Right now, it takes four weeks for Zambian copper to reach South Africa by train. Says Mills, "a border should be something you speed by at 50 miles an hour, not something you sit at for weeks on end." In Zambia it takes 33 government permits to run a certified tourism agency. As a result, the country has only a single developed corridor around Victoria Falls. The Zambian government has spent 50 years producing reports on how to diversify its economy and tap into global markets—none of which, according to Mills, have ever really been implemented.

Yet some of the most intuitive changes would be far from painless. Mills says Zambia could undertake the kind of sweeping regulatory reforms needed to build its manufacturing sector and attract tourism, things like purging its socialist-era civil service and getting rid of windfall taxes on mining and agriculture. But to do so the leadership "would have to signal the end to business as usual" in a country where "business as usual" is working out just fine for a foreign aid-subsidized government and a government-subsidized urban elite.

Behind the usual rent seeking lurks a deeper reason for African economic stagnation, and it's highlighted by what Mills called the potentially most important African political development since independence: the possible secession of the South Sudan. For Mills, the failure of states like Sudan, Ethiopia, and the Congo "illustrate the difficulty of extending governance over these large territories." A free South Sudan would kick off the process of political fragmentation and smart, pro-growth governance that he thinks Africa needs to overcome its economic ills.

Unfortunately, Sudan's Omar al-Bashir is ready to go to war to preserve the Sudan's oil wealth and prevent a third of the country from becoming a pro-western independent state. The South Sudan will likely become a reminder of everything holding Africa back, namely violent, rent-seeking governments that can act with almost total impunity. Mills realizes that this is a problem. "Colonialism gave you a sense that someone else was responsible for your destiny," he said, explaining why Africans seem willing to tolerate even the most self-isolating and incompetent governments. But in the Sudan, the Congo, and other large, dysfunctional countries, there are already violent and destabilizing anti-government elements at play—and no stable foundation on which a functioning, pro-globalization government could stand if those elements are ever victorious.

South Sudan aside, Mills' argument that stable yet under-performing states can lead the rest of the continent forward is appealingly optimistic without being overly utopian. If war-torn states like the Sudan are ever going to save themselves, the Zambias of the region—small, peaceful, resource-rich countries brimming with potential—must save themselves first. 

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  1. Did someone say ‘nation building’?

  2. This is getting ridiculous. These people need to get to the UN to resolve these conflicts and other issues before they get out of hand.

    1. Right, because the UN has done such wonders for Sudan in the past.

      Begging someone else to fix your problems has not, does not, and will not ever work. Incidentally, that’s something plenty of people in the US need to realize, too.

      1. Pretty sure that was sarcasm, Cortillean.

        1. Thanks, Tman. Finally some sense made from my post.

          As an aside, I got really drunk watching the Giants Braves game tonight and noticed as the night went on my urine got completely clear. I wonder, as a healthcare question, could I drink it to slow my dehydration somewhat, or am I pretty much fucked until tomorrow? I mean, it’s from my body and it’s running clear, right? I don’t wanna come across like Patches O’Toole or anything, but I imagine it’s sterile, isn’t it?

          I will anxiously look for replies in the morning.

          1. If you don’t have a UTI it’s sterile, though you won’t enjoy the taste. Unless you drink light beer, in which case it should be an improvement.

    1. Actually yes. Mills said Somaliland was proof that teeming failed states could (and should) be broken up into smaller, more governable pieces.

      1. So, when they break up and some of them prosper, we can expect apologies from all the statists that call Somalia our libertarian paradise, right?

      2. But many tiny states like Haiti and Togo are awful. Big countries like America are better off because one entity can’t take hold of the whole country in a totalitarian manner so easily.

        1. Wyclef 4 prez!

  3. “a border should be something you speed by at 50 miles an hour, not something you sit at for weeks on end.” In Zambia it takes 33 government permits to run a certified tourism agency. As a result, the country has only a single developed corridor around Victoria Falls. The Zambian government has spent 50 years producing reports on how to diversify its economy and tap into global markets?none of which, according to Mills, have ever really been implemented.

    It’s as if they took the regulatory democracy page right from the US govs playbook….all except that southern border control paragraph.

  4. So…Cato supports a new oil rich pro western state to secede in Africa?

    I’m afraid this story is gonna be easy pickings for the lefty “Cato is the policy arm of mega corps interested in raping the 3rd world of their resources” crowd.

    1. Otherwise, anyone who’s masturbated 10 times in a day knows there IS such a thing as a bad orgasm.

      1. I tend to disagree on your last point.

          1. crap, they pixelated it…

            1. Shouldn’t we be happy because of that?

      2. Did someone call for a compulsive onanist?

  5. So Cato is suggesting another Pinochet but this time for Zambia and the Sudan?

    Where is the news here?

    1. There’s one already!

    2. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    3. another Pinochet? Weren’t 8 seasons of Balki enough?

      1. Just watched his magnum opus Slappy & The Stinkers yesterday.

        Unimpressive.

  6. “complaining about globalization is like complaining about the quality of one’s orgasm.”

    Q: What’s the difference between a globalist and and orgasm?

    A: Nobody ever wanted to punch an orgasm in the face.

  7. “Colonialism gave you a sense that someone else was responsible for your destiny,” he said, explaining why Africans seem willing to tolerate even the most self-isolating and incompetent governments.

    WHITE POWER
    Here’s my not-so-fucking-racist theory: Africa is effectively more asshole-filled than most other places are, because a huge percentage of its non-assholes are out being nomadic and chillin’ in the vast spacious deserts and shit, so non-assholes don’t run the place, or even accidentally end up running any part of it, and so the assholery is unusually concentrated at its centers of population and power?pretty much like Utah in the 1800s.

    So, just wait. Don’t try any shit. In a couple centuries, they’ll probably be fine. Anything “we” do can only lock the place in its current state. And that’s asshole-y.

    1. Were you high when you wrote this?

  8. The Zambian government has spent 50 years producing reports on how to diversify its economy…?none of which … have ever really been implemented.

    Are you serious?

    1. Actually, it sounds a lot like Detroit.

  9. “complaining about globalization is like complaining about the quality of one’s orgasm.”

    Judging from their tendency to remove the clitoris from the females (usually done on non-consenting women, or girls too young to consent, thus violating their natural rights), I’d say the people in charge in many parts of Africa don’t like orgasms any more than they like globalization. So I doubt they will be convinced by this argument.

  10. Speaking of globalization, here’s the latest Democratic ad in the PA senate race. “Maybe Pat Toomey should run for Senate in China!”

    Remember, it’s right-wingers who are xenophobes.

  11. It really is that bad, my father in law is a geologist. Once he had the cross the border from Zambia to Congo, it took him 7 days (yes day not hours) to get through all the border post officials and all the bribes they demanded.

  12. “Colonialism gave you a sense that someone else was responsible for your destiny,”

    “Colonialism” is Newspeak for “low IQ”.

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