One of the best things about blogging is that you get to interact with your readers, unlike most other forms of writing. A good friend, and one of my favorite Devil’s Advocates, had some great perspectives on my last post about the Land Grab in South Sudan, and I thought it was worth sharing our conversation here since many people don’t make it to the comments section.
I love being around people who don’t agree with me. I think it is dangerous to always be surrounded by like-minded people that never force you to stretch your view of the world. Mike is one of those friends that I love hanging out with because he makes me think.
If there are others of you out there who ever disagree with what I write, don’t hold back – I love it! And feel free to dive in on this conversation, too (especially if you disagree with Mike ;-)).
Here it is:
Therefore what? Emailing the investment fund or Nile Trading will accomplish pretty much nothing.
Since the article doesn’t mention anything about payoffs to officials (in defiance of US laws), we can’t project that the US firms did anything illegal. If there is proof or even allegations to the contrary, I can’t find anything.
Therefore, I’m left with the thought that the outrage should be the bad deals the South Sudanese government officials entered into. Whether the company is in Texas or not is irrelevant.
If I’m a gov’t official and I took a bribe, that’s bad and the company (US or otherwise) is wrong to pay. But, assuming that’s not the case, then I as a gov’t official want the maximum amount because why wouldn’t I? It’s not in my interest to take anything less (assuming no bribe and they never mention one) unless I just want to unload it and go home early. Therefore, I put the land out to bid on the open market for firms or governments from many countries to compete for.
Let’s say everyone emails Nile and the investment company and are successful in restricting their and any other evil US corporation from buying land rights in South Sudan. Does that mean the selling stops? Of course not, it just means the Chinese (or other large buying interest in Africa) get it and at probably a lower price because there are less potential buyers at the auction. By removing the US buyers without putting the pressure where it appropriately should be placed (South Sudanese officials), how did this change anything?
I appreciate you clarifying. Close, but not exact, but since our conversation morphed in many directions, it’s my fault as my points were getting swallowed up but sub-points.
It’s a hierarchy of choices.
If the choice is between
1. Irritation and pressure on a US company vs. Sudanese cooperative, I choose the latter (although the first might make you feel better which I’m not interested in)
2. Having a US Company deal with Sudan vs. a non-US company, I choose the first, although not having the US Company deal at all might make someone feel morally superior, I think the unintended consequences are greater and I’m not interested in how someone feels. It’s not about you it’s about the ultimate action you want and the world is a dirty place
I think you’re just more negative on companies than I am. For every example of a misdeed in a private company filled with imperfect people, I can give an example of a misdeed of a government entity filled with equally imperfect people. But, that is definitely another conversation.
- Macmillan ordered to pay $17m for corruption in South Sudan (guardian.co.uk)
- South Sudan – a Subsidiary of Texas (wildugandablog.com)