Resources are nothing without productivity

Chris Chenga Open Economy —
The value of resource ownership seems a simple grasp; the productivity value from resources within a globally interconnected capitalist economy seems less pervasive subject matter.

Political criticism of capitalism has traditionally been based on the interpretation of inequitable dividends from the exploitation of resources.

The disparity of dividends was correctly perceived as beginning at the actual allocation of resources before value exploitation.

In Africa, Asia and South America, indigenous political motivation has been principled on the indisputable fact that resources themselves were forcefully expropriated from native populations and beholden to imperial ownership.

Hence, serious effort has been exerted across these regions to attend to greater parity, or rightful ownership of resources.

Indeed, whether through hot confrontation, economic warfare, or more desirable mutual progressive settlement over time, numerous mechanisms of resource distribution have been tried and tested with various results — others proving more successful than some in ownership transfer, whilst others vary in their proven economic growth sustainability over time.

The cases themselves are as diverse as their outcomes; South American oil fields such as those in Venezuela, Falkland Islands in Argentina, mineral conflicts across the western strip of Africa, sea and marine port disputes in Asia, and a more relatable land reform in Zimbabwe.

The best implementation of ownership redistribution, an emphasis being on who owns the actual resources, is subjective.

It remains open to diverse strategy and dispute resolution.

Discretion is often incumbent on elected governance, adopted from the civic pressures applied by their constituents.

Perhaps a less subjective context of resources, however, is that national resources are not exploited at the same rate!

As much as developing nations can subjectively continue to ponder on implementation of ownership, there is pressing need for their maturing younger indigenous constituents to apply their minds and harness thorough understanding of how exactly capitalism functions to extract “productivity” from resources.

The value of resource ownership seems a simple grasp; the productivity value from resources within a globally interconnected capitalist economy seems less pervasive subject matter.

In what is now acknowledged to be the information age, should this not be the core of political modernity?

If prior demographics of political representation stood for the ownership of resources, perhaps then present and near future political classes should be identified through query and mental exhaustion on how to exploit productivity from resources?

Consider the modern case of Israel, a nation that has more than 55 percent of its land area covered by desert. It exports fresh water within its region, even to nations that have rivers and lakes.

Moreover, Israel is an exporter of fresh produce such as vegetables and fruit annually bringing in more than US1 billion in exports.

This is a case of productivity discernment.

An alternate instance is Saudi Arabia’s announcement last year that Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company and Saudi Arabia’s corporate crown jewel, would go public.

The Saudi government is content with retaining a minority stake while listing the strategic asset on a public exchange.

This challenged conventional ideological perceptions of where the productivity proposition of resources lay in the modern capitalist global economy, and it may pose a question of equity stake versus capital injection.

This must not be interpreted as creating an open window of foreign ownership of national assets.

Saudi capital markets retain certain investor caps, yet as they function efficiently they remain a vibrant centre for local wealth creation and continuous evolving distribution.

Comparative to the aforementioned varied approaches of fixing resource ownership disparities, Zimbabwe has been overwhelmingly successful in terms of redistribution; for example land reforms and mines consolidation.

Of course, continuous deliberation and strategy reflection is ongoing with regards to empowerment legislation. However, we’ve entered an age where productivity of resources is due.

There is a need for a conversation shift from mere ownership to productivity at globally competitive rates.

Preceding productivity, however, is a need for elevated social consciousness by those entrusted with economic governance and political representation.

Developing nations may attain envied ownership of resources, but modern capitalist architecture places greater pressure on widespread distribution of value extracted.

Without competitive productivity the benefits of ownership are minimal.

Furthermore, without socially conscious economic management strategy the benefits of ownership may not be well shared amongst indigenous masses themselves.

This is a double thronged threat to heed.

Emphasis must be placed here. We must excel in productivity, simultaneously striving to derive widespread distribution of benefits.

As evidenced by increasing wealth disparity in developed economies in North America and Europe, developing nations assuming ownership of resources must conduct their economic management with a social consciousness behind productivity.

Consider the banking sector.

As profitable as many banks were in 2016, their socio-economic contribution hardly reflects much material substance as even premised by lowering national output of GDP.

The resource owned and occupied in the form of land requires capital equipment and mechanisation for greater yields, yet this may come at the detriment of the role of hundreds of thousands of general farm labour.

In urban commerce, professionals in financing, aviation, railways, mining are all susceptible to the alternative of technology.

The underlying narrative is the influence of the same technology needed for competitive productivity if mismanaged can be a threat to national welfare if structured without heed and caution.

Without social consciousness guiding the productive exploitation of resources, resources may become incompatible to a prosperous future for the majority!

Conclusively, what we can appreciate about the modern political landscape world over is that resource ownership in itself is inadequate.

The global economy has become fiercely competitive the more is has intertwined.

Resources are only as valuable as they are made productive.

But, even in the instance of productive exploitation of resources, a social consciousness must precede technical grasp and economic foresight.

Otherwise the gains of resource exploitation will not be as widespread as hoped for.

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