Luck, Energy, Good Fortune And The Love Genome

My Very Good Man,

I am desperately sorry I cant join the rest of the gang in Ibadan this weekend if only to see what your dancing is really like. I would love nothing more than to experience the presidential suite of Ibadan’s finest establishments, the awesome wonder I have heard they are. Not that I believe the nasty rumours that you have to fetch your own water to have your bath in the morning of course.

To the point; I cant even pretend to have any useful wisdom to dispense. I am hardly anywhere near the kind of man I think I should be or is expected of me. I imagine Pastor P will do the honours when it comes to the exhortation before and after the event. So all I have are a few things to wish you most sincerely. You are less of a problem for society when you are happy, you know.

 

Luck

We guys like to think the choices we make, especially when it comes to finding a wife, are the result of deep prayer, careful thought and due diligence. BS. We dont know as much as we think we know and our decision making is nowhere near as great as we think it is. Without knowingly admitting it, we rely heavily on our God being a great matchmaker. Or luck.

Finding a wife is not the result of ‘market forces’ or competition picking the best person for you. Not at all. You find a person, you commit time, energy and emotions hoping they are the right one and you have no idea what the other person out there might have been like. Further, you are not allowed to be greedy.

Trust me, luck is good and very important especially because to a large extent you make your own luck. So I wish you luck with her, very good luck of course. I wish you very good luck in the times when everything will be out of your hands and you will need something good to come through to your aid. 

Pay little mind to those who offer to retool your engine without letting you see what is under their own hood. Everyone gets lucky everytime. But you cannot rely on luck to put you in the place to get good luck. That is entirely down to you. 

Get lucky. There’s no shame in that game.

Energy

It wont be a marriage if you dont wake up some days wondering why you are lying next to this person. Relax, it’s ok, she’s thinking the same thing too. But that’s never the whole story, actually it’s no more than a footnote in the story. You will get days like that just so you can have something to fix and not get bored. 

And this is why I wish you energy. Fixing things is hard especially when it’s another human being involved. You might need to put in a lot of effort for a long time without any rewards being apparent. I wish you the energy to do this. To get up again and give it another go even though the last time didnt work out like you wanted it to. I wish you the energy to give of yourself even when you might feel like you have absolutely nothing to give.

I wish you energy so you dont get tired especially when she is counting on you to be strong. The kind of strength that offers her a strong arm without squeezing her to prove its strength. You know, energy to open a ketchup bottle for her, not because she cant open it but because she wants you to open it for her. 

Good Fortune

No point beating about the bush here; when I say good fortune, I am talking about money. I am not wishing you money so your ego can be inflated to bursting point and you start causing havoc in town like deciding you have spare capacity for a second wife. Broadly speaking, once men have money they become dangerous and it could be for this reason that God carefully controls the number of billionaires on this planet.

But I wish you good fortune so your days are not filled with anxious and foreboding. I wish you this because when you dont have it, you will be grumpy and spend all your time thinking about it which, need I remind you, is terribly counterproductive.

So I wish you the kind of good fortune that will allow you to grab her and travel some place far at very short notice. The kind that allows you always have in your fridge the kind of stuff you want to eat and to afford Day Waterman College even if you cant afford Harrow. I hope you get promoted at work and exceed the targets they set you so you do things for her you know she really wants. 

But even in all of this, I wish you contentment because hammering is in fact an aberration and you should earn more at 50 than you did at 30 due to the accumulation of savings, investments and experience over your life. 

I wish you these things if only to prevent you from giving her a headache when all she wants is peace and quiet. 

The Love Genome

It was something like in 1989 when scientists started a project to map the human genome. The intricacies of what they were trying to achieve is above my pay grade but at a basic level it was to map out the human body in such a way that advances in medicine and technology could then be layered on to it. Or to put it another way, Apple building the appstore so that a company like Instagram could be bought for $1bn a few years later.

I dont know what the status of the Human Genome Project (HGP) currently is but I hope you get to map your own love genome with her. Afterall one of the more useful functions of a map is to help you return to where you once were after you might have lost your way. 

So I wish you the good sense and skill to map the songs and movies and books and places you like together…the things that return you to the place(s) where you both are certain you once found love. I hope you keep this map in a safe but easily reachable place. If marriage is anything like I know it to be, you will constantly need to consult that map to return you to the place where you both find safety. 

Getting lost is not too terrible a thing provided you can find your way back. This journey is long and taking a wrong turn is almost inevitable along the way. But always have that map of your Love Genome with you…the one on which you have chosen to build everything else.

 

And if all else fails, if you feel like you are at your wit’s end, if you feel like you dont know where to turn to and you feel like you have run out of luck, energy and good fortune, take my advice on this one – Be nice to her. You know, just be nice. God dont like ugly so be nice. Just summon whatever it is you have left and treat her nicely. Basically, just as you’d like to be treated.

I really hope you have a great day. I will be cheering you guys on from my quiet corner in London. And dont worry about supplying the gist, I will get it unadulterated before the day is over. 

Now go build something great with that wonderful woman you have been blessed with. Oju o ni ti yin.

Sincerely,

FF

P.S On the night of the 14th after everyone has gone home and you guys are alone together in Ibadan’s finest Hotel room, my guy, please do the needful. No excuses. As my English hosts here like to say – start as you mean to carry on 🙂 

Apropos of Nothing – How To Sell Poison

Been meaning to share this for a minute now. As the title suggests, this post hasnt been inspired by anything or any event in particular.

There’s a way you can package poison for sale such that the buyers will not only pay top dollar for it, they will kill for the chance to kill themselves with your product. 

One of the most fascinating things I have come across this year is the story of how racist South African unions campaigned for minimum wage laws at the height of apartheid as a way of keeping down black labourers in the construction industry. This New York Times article from 1972 sheds some light on the matter. 

What had happened was that white labourers were not getting jobs in the construction industry as builders because blacks were repeatedly underpricing them when it came to wages they were willing to accept. Given that blacks were poorer than whites at the time, their needs were probably more modest meaning they could support their lifestyles on much lower wages than whites. Bear in mind Mandela was in prison at this time and apartheid was in full force out there. 

Illustrating with some numbers – imagine the going rate for white labourers was say $10/hr. Also imagine that black labourers were willing to work for say $5/hr to do the same job. Now imagine a hardcore racist businessman who is building a block of flats or something to rent out for a profit and therefore requires 100 builders each day for 8hrs to do the job. 

If this businessman decided to ignore his economic instincts and go with being the racist he is, it would cost him an extra $4,000 per day just to be racist [100 labourers x 8hrs x ($10 – $5) ]. Bear in mind that being a racist does not confer any obvious economic benefit on him in this scenario, in other words he is only being a racist for his own pocket. 

Now you can easily see what will happen here – it is one thing to be a racist with your mouth, it is entirely another thing when it comes to backing up your racism with cold hard cash from your pocket. Afterall, it’s not as if the businessman will be able to charge a premium for his flats if he advertised it as ‘built exclusively with white labour’ or ‘no blacks were involved in the construction of this building’.

 

Now the South African unions were very clever because they knew that as long as this ‘free market’ prevailed in the labour market, they were never going to be able to compete with cheaper black labour. Furthermore, the more the blacks got jobs, the more skillful they were likely to become meaning their wages would inevitably rise as time went on. Sort of like double jeopardy for the white labourers. 

They of course tried to get businessmen to stop hiring black workers but that didnt work because even the most racist businessmen would always turn colour blind at the point of paying money from his pocket. Instead the problem worsened. In 1971, a South African newspaper called The Star, notorious for its racist views came out with the following as an editorial

Grabbing at loopholes in the labour laws has reached the stage now where most new houses are built almost entirely by black Africans. White builders are becoming a thing of the past. Even Inspectors from the Dept of Labour have thrown their hands up in despair and turned a blind eye to blatant contraventions

The last bit is particularly telling as an indication of how widespread the ‘problem’ must have been. It had evidently reached the stage where it was impossible to enforce a ban on the construction industry hiring black workers which the job reservation laws were meant to achieve. 

This is where the racists then came up with the idea of repackaging poison. The unions began to campaign for a ‘rate-for-the-job’ law in other words a minimum wage. What was clever about the way they did it was set the target rate at some sort of halfway house in between what whites were commanding and what blacks were getting. So going back to our example above, they floated a ‘rate-for-the-job’ of say $7/hr. 

Now looking at that, it does look like a pay cut for the white workers and a pay rise for the black workers doesnt it? I mean, this effecitvely meant that if the law was enforced, no black worker will get less than $7/hr again.

But the real trick was that this law eliminated the cost of racism that businessmen had previously avoided by hiring blacks. So in short, using our previous example, It would now cost you $5,600 (100labourers x 8hrs x $7) to hire a black or a white worker. Racism had been effectively subsidised and had now become affordable for all racist businessmen. It’s important to note that as long as this cost was the same for everybody, then the cost of labour would simply be fed through to the final consumer in terms of higher rents or property prices i.e no businessman could undercut the others by using cheaper black labour and thus increasing his own profits. 

I dont think there’s much need to tell how this all went down for black people after the ‘rate-for-the-job’ law was introduced. It goes without saying that it gave the whites who had been pushed out of the market a much needed lifeline and let them get back into the market. 

 

Back to the point of selling posion – it’s interesting that this ‘rate-for-the-job’ policy was supported especially by blacks who already had jobs enticed by the possibility of earning higher wages. It also got a lot of support from civil rights leaders in America who were happy with a policy that seemed to suggest ‘equality’ between blacks and whites. On paper it looked like a winner but aside from eliminating the cost of racism, it also crucially raised the barrier to entry for those who were not yet employed. Imagine you are an unemployed black labourer seeking work at $5/hr and no one will hire you. All of a sudden a new law comes in place and says you are now ‘worth’ $7/hr even though you are still unemployed. It’s hard to see why any employer will suddenly be attracted to you now that you are more expensive for him to hire. On the flipside, imagine you are an unemployed white builder who last earned $10/hr and have some experience on your CV. Now you cost $7 meaning you look like a real bargain to the businessman who is looking to hire. 

And this is why I love the free markets – it doesnt eliminate racism of course, it merely places a cost on it and any other kind of bad uneconomic behaviour. It’s the reason why free market policies are always resisted especially by incumbents in any sector and people end up always wanting to use government or any other means foul to protect themselves. 

Now tell me something; is this the first time you are hearing of a policy that promises one thing on paper and ends up having the complete opposite effect of what was advertised? 

 

FF

 

P.S Because you insist – relating this to Nigeria, given that we have a huge army of unemployed people, we really have no business with minimum wage laws. The minimum wage is useful for those who already have jobs but for those who are unemployed, the real minimum wage for them is a big fat zero. They either get it, if they are lucky, or they dont get anything at all. 

The correct approach therefore ought to be policies that make it easier and more affordable for businesses to hire people as much as possible. When faced with an unemployment crisis, the first priority ought to be to reduce the unemployment. After that, wages will rise by themselves when there’s competition for labour between firms and not just employers having their pick from a vast army of unemployed. In other words, pay is not the priority when unemployment is staring you in the face so boldly.  

But you knew that already.