Sunday, July 17, 2005

Big problem, obvious solution.

So the unemployed got beaten up again. I'm not getting into who is right, and what could've been, since most of you have reached your own opinions already. I will rather use my gift of common sense to identify the problem and propose a solution.

The Problem: We have a government that was afraid of getting pushed off the rocker for more than 30 years. Rather than investing in infrastructure, capital markets, labor market, and natural resources; it chose to buy bigger guns, hire more policemen from different countries, and smooched off money for security in case - god forbid- something happened.

The Solution: So the oil business (bapco), ALBA (aluminium), Batelco (telecommunications), Gulf Air (aviation), NBB, the sea ports, and pretty much most of the "private" sector is owned and run by the government. Since we dont have taxes in Bahrain (direct distribution of wealth,) why don't they cut out some government expenditures (like overstaffed police, fat government contracts, entities we dont really need like the ministry of "information," and sending paychecks to some folks just because they belong to a certain clan.) Its not as easy as I make it look. Now you're asking, how is the transition period? Here is the trick. Since all the money is still funneled through the government, the EDB or any other capable agency can launch ventures. Not necessarily profit maximizing, like real estate thats apparently selling like hot cake right now, but long term stability and growth projects. Something like the International Circuit or ALBA. The government's capital reserve can serve as an incubator until they start picking up, and then offered for public ownership by listing (selling) shares for people like you and me, for a PROFIT!! We own more of Alba and Bapco; they have extra money to re-invest in other projects and infrastructure to sell off, and more people are hired to keep these projects going.

By then no one will need to hire forces to beat up the unemployed, because they will be in a factory somewhere rather than throwing stuff at the parliment.


Blogger ES said...

What I don't understand is why Alba doesn't employ females, and if they're slowly beginning to, they're certainly not doing it with ease. There are hundreds of hard-working female students of Chemical Engineering in the University of Bahrain who are stressing over where they'll work, because Bapco can't possibly employ them all.

I think people need to learn how to be patient. We're not dealing with a small population. Projects like City Center and the new mall in Sitra are still in the process, and they will undoubtedly help employ a lot of these people. A lot of them are concerned with having 'decent' jobs, instead of anything that pays. For example, my cousin has been unemployed for 3 years, and whenever someone offers him a job, he laughs and says, "I'm not an Indian, I need something better," and he was offered a quite respectable position in some store in the Seef mall.

If they're not willing to gradually improve their status, then nothing will ever become of them, and they will remain unemployed. You can't just stick a college degree in people's faces and say "I want to be a bank manager or some chief's assistant."

I really hope this problem calms down. For the sake of our roads' stability, too.

6:49 PM  
Blogger Evil Odd said...

I didn't quite follow your suggestion - are you saying that the Bahraini government should treat its citizens as shareholders and let them work at the same place they 'own' shares in? And that that will eventually encourage 'responsibility,loyalty and productivity' ?

Sort of like introducing tax - so that citizens take better care of the environment because they 'own' it?

Or am I totally up in the air with this one?

4:24 AM  
Blogger The Joker said...

Not necesserily own shares of the place they work at, but having a free market where someone with a surplus of income can own. The problem is most of the revenue generated is in the government's balance sheet. Selling it off diversifies the economy; and by then owners take better care of their own business as you mentioned. By then ES wont worry about ALBA not hiring women, since its gonna be more like the banks and batelco (owners use their best judgement in the hiring policy.)

After we have a free market, then we can introduce taxes. Because right now, just like I told you, Oil and most of the revenue comes through the government, so the government cant tax itself. When they spin off the industries to the private sector, then they can start taxing. By then we would have a smaller, more efficient government, so it would cost us less in taxes than the overhead costs built in the current budget.

6:02 AM  
Blogger SillyBahrainiGirl said...

You make a valid point joker when u say that employed people have more to worry about and cause less problems than the unemployed.

i have a stand against the unemployed and very little sympathy for them because i strongly believe that in bahrain it is a matter of choice

if the unemployed are arguing that they are left out of jobs because of their ethnic background, religious inclination, etc, i say BULL!

they don't get jobs because they dont want to work, because they have no skills and ZERO work ethics

i get people barging into my office on a regular basis looking for work and when i do probe, i realise that they are fools with no real cause

if they really were concerned about their futures, they could have at least managed to pass school or learn a skill or a trade

there is nothing wrong with working with one's hands.. working is not a shameful activity... it is those parasites living off other people who are drain on humanity.

11:35 PM  
Blogger The Joker said...

Sillybahrainigirl, this is why I started off by saying Im not getting into what I think about them in particular. I know everyone already formulated an opinion.

I was telling someone earlier, I think the work ethic can change. You know how? After the Mackenzie deal is in place, lower-middle class folks can't afford live-in maids. The new generation will not grow up with someone picking up their trash and washing their ass. I believe by then, the Bahraini work ethic will change to the better, since folks will grow up knowing its my duty to take care of myself and noone else's. The more desperate foreign workers earn way less and live in inhumane conditions, its kinda hard to motivate someone else to do their job.

I honestly believe that the Bahraini work ethic can improve with labour market reforms, and when the unemployed are aware of options to develop.

6:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see what Joker is saying.
Here's why it won't work.
Bahrain is a small economy with a small population.Economic reform 'hits' the populus immediately and is felt almost at once.The moment an income tax is introduced middle class and upper class working Bahrainis will bugger off to surrounding gulf countries that don't tax.The effect of a brain drain of this magnitude will immediately plunge the nation into a depression,fiscally and emotionally.
I agree with you that the problem is the distribution of wealth, I further agree that a work ethic must be established, but how to do it? When we see with tragic clarity that our unemployed feel culturally bound to scream at the establishment pointing at their own cavernous mouths, like so many starving bull bulls.
They must learn that the proactive not the reactive are the real winners in society. They are accountable to themselves, they can change their own destinies it should not be the responsibility of others.
When I could not find work in Bahrain I did what most proactive people do and left to seek my fortune. I didn't find my fortune but I did find a job. I built from there.
I have no degree but I was of the opinion that it would not stop me getting what I wanted.
AT NO POINT did I feel the need to piss around with eggs and tomatoes.
I have never asked my government for anything, and I will continue to do what I can for them however irrelevent that may be in the greater scheme of things.
A final thought. When life is hard, and it has been for most of us at some point, we live on our wits. We use guile and savvy. We do NOT sit there wondering why nothing ever goes our way, basking in our own ineptitude.MOVE. MAKE. DO!

Peace Taker

11:10 AM  
Blogger Evil Odd said...

Amen says I to Peace Taker ;)

2:09 PM  
Blogger The Joker said...

Peace-taker, its very nice to have you here.

The only thing we disagree on basically is the tax issue. Being responsible for generating my own revenue (like owning a gas company or running the sea port) and then taxed is more proactive than waiting around for the government to spare my share. I believe that if privatization is at an optimum level, we will generate more, since we, as smaller units, are more efficient.

I agree that Bahrain is a small economy, and the effect is instant; but the way I see it is someone can maximize revenue to 100BD and the government takes 20BD is better off with 80BD than someone that just gets 40BD resulting from unnecessary costs.

The rest, I totally agree with you.

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