Re: Millennial socialists want to shake up the economy and save the climate

Oluseun Onigbinde
3 min readFeb 17, 2019

In response to The Economist article:

Source: Mary Scully Reports

Two weeks ago, I arrived in Maryland from New York, a routine weekend journey to see my wife and daughters in the last six months. As I ran in the cold out of the Amtrak train (still too slow for a post-modern economy such as the US, just exactly what you ride from Abuja to Kaduna, can be as high as N60,000 (188 USD) on a single trip), I saw a human being sleeping in the station elevator. I mean in a blistering cold that hardened my skulls, a US resident was finding warmth in an elevator, fast asleep.

Capitalism has always been broken and as FDR (I’m a lifelong fan despite his imperfections) saved it in 1933, the developed world needs another rethink. For example, why are Universities parking billions in endowment but students loans are rising? What’s the big deal in universal healthcare if it works in France and the UK? What’s the problem with a 70% top tax rate when we had 92% in the 1950s? What’s the deal on offshore tax havens that allows the likes of Amazon and Apple to park billions in Ireland, paying zero federal taxes? It is easier to get tax cuts for the rich than add an inch of welfare to the homeless and vulnerable class. What you hear loudly is socialism, like we are adulating another Stalinist collectivisation ideology.

The rise of the left is a response to the rising tale of inequality, well stated by Thomas Piketty in his seminal book — Inequality. He stated the rate of returns on capital has largely outstripped the increase in wages, stagnating upward mobility over the years. I also believe that years of centrism of Blair and Clinton has not allowed a distinguishing factor with the right wing ideology. How would Blair and Clinton have advanced 70s kind of leftist ideology when the Iron Curtain tumbled and the End of History was declared? Capitalism won.

The left — Labour and Democrats — would have to sound high on issues of inequities to prove its traditional base that they are finding their path after straying. The return of the Left as the banner party for the working class as concentrated in labour unions would not be like the “good old” Left. It is all about narrative and introspection of the unequal world that’s emerging and needed pragmatism to make amends.

Where does this leave Nigeria? I believe in Conditional Cash transfer but Nigeria lacks a quality citizen register. We should actually do more. However, using Presidential jet to sell a loan disbursement scheme state by state is attaching a political weapon to it. It is unnecessary. More importantly, why is the Bank of Industry (Industry) trying to take the place of Microfinance banks? The problem of MFBs is the cost of funds. Why not resolve that through a few banks that meet certain guidelines, set a cap on onward lending?

Nigeria needs more depth in private investment (an article coming this week) and that should be our first focus and we all need to do more for the vulnerable among our midst. If we see a solution in every problem as government, we have failed to make Nigeria bigger than it could.

I have learnt not to be a prisoner of ideologies, let pragmatism based on context have its way. China has lifted over 400m out of poverty by embracing some form of capitalism. The Scandinavian countries run large state programs that pass it off as socialism in the current realm. Germany allows employees to sit on corporation boards, advancing fair compensation. A few persons have called it “ethical capitalism”.

This awareness for humanism, antithetical to the sharp edges of brutal capitalism, is what is throwing a lot of questions around, that right-wing media now call socialism. That sight in the US still haunts me and this has nothing to do with ideology, it’s just being human! This is what we should all understand.

We are not millennial socialists, it is the emerging loud humanism in us.



Oluseun Onigbinde

God's Unfinished Sketch. Policy & Data Wonk. BudgIT Lead. Ashoka, Aspen Voices & Knight Innovation Fellow