Saturday, March 24, 2012

WHEN SOME FAT YEARS COME AFTER SO MUCH LEAN YEARS, WOULD YOU SUDDENLY GROW FAT OR STILL STAY LEAN? PART 2


a general example of perfect elasticity. Credit: commons.wikimedia.org



During the day, I tried to look at the network service provider’s side of the brouhaha, wondering why they should want to bless me with so much bonus data?

I BELIEVE THEY WANT TO INFLUENCE THE CHOICES I MAKE

Every company wants you to choose its product when faced with myriad others. So does my network service provider. Because the income we all earn is not likely to be increased soonest, any profit making company wants you to believe that if it increases its price, it wouldn’t make even a little hole in your pocket.

But it would for this particular product: access to the internet based on a data plan. If they increased the price of the service, even by a naira, I’d go onto Google to search for the prices of competing products. They are aplenty here in Lagos. If so many customers do the same thing, then it would create a big hole in the profit basket of that company.

So they’d rather not think of increasing the price of the service. Rather, by blessing me with a huge data bonus, they want me to increase my spending such that if and when the price increases, (inflation is a given in life just as air for breathing is), I’d never notice. Why? Because I was over-satisfied and no other company can provide such.

Satisfied I was. Would they succeed? I thought they were succeeding. I had to watch it. If I played to their game and increased my spending, then I’d create a dependency on the bonus data that would become parasitic if long running.

I’d rather not fall into dependency when so many other substitutes are around the corner.

WHAT IT MEANS TO BE UNIQUE

I was at Trade Fair this week and someone told me he could surf the internet for free. I snorted. The price of the internet access was enough for my pocket. It was not free but I was content that I would not have to wonder if free came with a proxy or a dubious VPN network.

In a world where mobile Internet was becoming commonplace, quote or unquote me, I thought I would queue up for them, plus the bonus data, mind you, any day and anytime.

And ironically, if you’d ask me I’d have replied: “Yes, if they gave higher bonus data, I’d have preferred it, and could have used it, even if there was the trap of dependency around the corner.”

LIFE IS NOT AS SIMPLE THOUGH

Well, even if they wanted me to believe that if there was a little disturbance in the economy and they had to increase the price a little I wouldn’t mind, two or three months later, I might begin to notice. I’d rather they do not. I thought they would win the game if they increased my bonus data up to a point where if there were economic disturbances, my spending would neither increase nor decrease. Then, life would be simple for me.

But at what point is that? When I was supposed never to be satisfied? Waiting for when I might be asked to answer some survey questions: “Just a minute, please”, the next time I log onto my account?

Back to Part 1.


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WHEN SOME FAT YEARS COME AFTER SO MUCH LEAN YEARS, WOULD YOU SUDDENLY GROW FAT OR STILL STAY LEAN? PART 1


Can you perceive the legs of the praying mantis? Credit:Zoofari/commons.wikimedia.org.



If you were used to the monthly salary you earn, and suddenly your boss gives you more than fifty percent (50%) bonus, what would you do with it? It’s an unexpected bonus! So many of us would embark on a wild spending spree, buy all the luxuries that we were hungry for but could not afford, then save the rest when the urge to spend wildly has been satisfied.

You never know when another bonus will be coming.

IT HAPPENED TO ME.

I faced a similar situation recently. I surf the Internet using a WIMAX USB card. This week, Monday precisely, I was surprised to log onto my account and find that my network service provider* gave me some unexpected bonus. I was beyond joy. I decided to download all the pdf ebooks and open source softwares that were accumulating in my download manager which were being saved for the neighborhood cybercafé. But my data gulping urge had its limits. Up to that limit, I saved the rest of the bonus data for the usual surfing activity: fifteen megabytes (15MB) per hour, while restraining every activity to at least fifty megabytes (50MB) per day.

I believe that I acted like every other human being who wants to save for the rainy day. We all spend from our income based on a pattern that has been established for months, even years. You know Mr. Boss is always reluctant to approve that little raise, no matter how little. So we try to count how much we spend of our monthly salaries, acquire a pattern and then stick to that pattern.

SAVINGS COME AFTER YOU’VE CLEARED YOUR DEBTS

Even when we have an unexpected bonus. Yes, even for a fifty percent (50%) bonus. I bet you’d calculate all the debts you owe from so many years – to your shoemaker, your banker, to the supermarket for that LCD screen you wanted and craved – to a certain extent. The extent of how much satisfaction you think you derive from that bonus faced with whether the bonus will come again.

Bonuses are random events. I’d never place a bet on a consecutive unexpected bonus. So, I’d be wise and prudent like before and keep a major fraction of the bonus, after satisfying a wild buying spree, in a bank account.

MONETARY OR NOT, OUR BEHAVIOR FOLLOW THE SAME PRINCIPLES

Now, the bonus was not monetary, just some data. The astonishing part of what happened that Monday morning and before I sent a “Thank You” letter to network service provider’s customer service mailbox was that my behavior followed just what has been documented for so many household spending patterns, whether the household income is high or low.

I hate being another statistic. If I had known better, I wouldn’t have gone through the data gulping spree but would rather have done something else – maybe reject the data bonus? Some joke!

Because we all want to be rational, wise and satisfied humans – of the homo sapiens genre, I mean – that Google knows that some algorithm would find me out and ask me to spend that extra data searching for some ebook which would eventually lead me to a malware dishing site and eventually crash my Firefox browser. I was warned.

* network service provider name is withheld because of privacy concerns.

The second part of the blog or part 2.


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CASHLESS OR CASHLITE: HOW MUCH WILL WE LOSE IF TO SOLVE A NAGGING PROBLEM WE DISTORT THE MARKET IN QUESTIONABLE WAYS.


Those who are conversant with the news from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) know that one major headache it has is that there are too much cash in the hands of the public. I keep wondering how the CBN intends solving that generational problem.

The recent move to indirectly tax the rich by placing limits on cash withdrawals might result in unforeseen effects for the government that were not predicted.

THE TASTE OF THE PUDDING IS…

The demand for cash will not increase inexorably if substitutes exist. If we compare the opportunity cost of the touted substitutes with that of cash, which will be higher, for transactional and debt payment purposes? Laughable!

I do not see POSes all over satellite town where I live. ATM usage is increasing but should I have to walk to a bank every time I want to collect money, when I was doing that with cash? Where are the ecommerce websites? Even if you want to pay for services and products abroad, some banks still ask for domiciliary account.

Rather than place a hidden tax on cash, would it not be better the CBN carries out this experiment on themselves, with banks and other financial institutions rather than the non-banking public?

How? It should start a process of curtailing or rationing the amount of cash every bank and branch can release to the public. Above that limit, any customer would be made to realize that, “there are substitutes out there, why not use them?” Rather than force customers to bear the burden, we want the banks and the CBN to show they are sincere in its assertion that the substitutes are cheaper and easier.

If cash are rationed such that substitutes seem cheaper, would we see a queue behind ATM machines? That is the test. Would my mobile money account reflect my new bank balances, where I am forced to use them because “cash is not enough at the counter?” That is the test of the exercise. As people say, the taste of the pudding is in the eating.

Take away the cost from the customer and bear the cost, mighty CBN, so that the better bank will win and the loser banks will be at your doorsteps for carrying out a program that crippled its business.

FREEDOM TO CHOOSE IS CENTRAL TO THE SUCCESS OF A CAPITALIST ECONOMIC SYSTEM

If the Government and CBN fail to realize that freedom to choose is key to the success of a capitalist economic system, then it is playing a game which secondary effects we might never know until we are back to level zero. By taxing them from the word go, the people are not free to choose what payment method they want – cash or the touted substitutes.

Placing a limit on withdrawals affects no other sector but the public consuming sectors. Why not the banking sector?

Placing a price on withdrawals affects no other sector but the public consuming sectors. Why not the banking sector?

I wonder why the CBN should not bear the responsibility and burden for a program it wants and dearly seeks to solve; why throw it onto the public. Because she is afraid it might fail?

Fear thee not, CBN. Phase out the long drawn talk about cashless or cash-lite, give us substitutes and make them cheaper than cash. We’ve had enough burdens for one quarter.

Note before: I have not read the CBN document on cashless and think it is a waste of time. Six months from now, I might download it for reading.


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Saturday, March 17, 2012

I HAVE FOUND THE PRINTER AND IT IS SITTING IN MY ROOM


I tweeted yesterday that I bought a printer from Ikeja and on the way lost it. Sounds crazy right?

The situation was nerve-wracking and I spent quite a lot of money trying to figure out where on the way from Ikeja to Satellite town I left it on a bus.

How on earth could a man with a printer forget it on a bus?

Some of those reasons are: I had lots of luggage and lots of load on my head. It’s not easy trying to start up a small business in Lagos. The weight of trying to calculate how much it would take to buy a printer, buy stationary, do this and that – it just isn’t easy at all!

Thumbs up to all those who are running successful small businesses in Lagos. Hectic lagos!

But the story turned out well. The men at the Ikeja park, from Ikeja to Mile 2 were honest to a fault. Just hours after I reported my loss, I was calmed to -5 degrees centigrade. If the printer loss was on one of their buses and a passenger in the bus was not smarter than the driver, then I’ll have the printer the next day.

The next day is today and the crazy printer is sitting in my room.

I really do not know how to say “Thank you” to those God-fearing men at Ikeja. I think there are men we can trusteven though so much news from the political scene are disheartening. By the way, who cares about politics?


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Friday, March 16, 2012

NOW JUDAS HIS BETRAYER WAS ALSO STANDING WITH THEM



Credit: Marisane/Wikimedia Commons



Judas Iscariot made himself infamous for betraying his friend, our Lord Jesus Christ.

I wonder who wants that sort of fame attached to his name? Remember, Judas committed suicide for his evil plot; it doesn’t mean that instant punishment always comes to those who make it a habit to betray TRUST that has been given to them.

The idea of this blog came about when someone gave me some trust that I really appreciated. He allowed me free rein, unrestricted access, to his resources, without any price. On deeper reflection, I realized that trust comes at no price but the benefits, like air and water, are immense.

Until it is betrayed.

Air used to be free, until that adjective, “clean” was attached to it. Water was healthy until the adjective “polluted” was attached to it. Nature is a trust given to humans until we betrayed that trust. Then, the availability or the enjoyment of air and water came with a price.

You cannot have clean air without paying for it. You can no longer have healthy water without paying a price for it. If trust has been entrusted to you, you do not realize how free it is until you betray that trust.

I decided that those resources entrusted to me were better free than at a price. So, I sat down and asked myself: “What would or could I do that might make my friend unhappy?” I made a list of them, prioritizing them and the one of highest priority was: “Never to betray his trust. I will only stick to our agreement as to the use of the given resources and never go beyond that, no matter how tempting other course of action might seem.”

I felt a happier and more satisfied person coming to a determination to take that decision.

Although it was the least cost route to take economically, on the other hand, it was the moral and right course to take.

In an age of “everything-goes” when many people trample freely on morality and ethics, it was some comfort to discover that the moral way was the best way.

“Now, Judas his betrayer was also standing with them.” Imagine how those lines must have brought pain to the heart of Jesus Christ. I could imagine costing my friend some expense if I betrayed him. Who would then have to pay the bill? None but me. He’d have to restrict the use of that resource and then, it would no longer be free. It was not going to come at zero price and unrestricted. The resource would become scarce and attached.

I was resolved not to be standing like Judas.

I was going to keep that trust.


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Friday, March 9, 2012

ANNA LOVES HENRY, HENRY LOVES ANNA.DESTINATION NEXT: THE ALTAR, RIGHT? LIFE IS NOT AS SIMPLE AS THAT.




On a hot sunny day, the sky suddenly turns dark, very dark, as if storm clouds were approaching. What would you conclude? It’s going to rain. Often, we are disappointed when the rain doesn’t come. I have a friend who when he goes to his shop in the morning and finds water at the front of his shop goes instantly for a copy of his bible, because bad people are after his business all over again. “They have started doing incantations against my life,” he would argue. Fortunately for him, he still makes money at his business.

Often and on, when two things happen together, people believe and wrongly too, that the one causes the other.

Take love and marriage for example. When I was young and innocent, and stupid, I used to think that if two people love themselves, then the next step would be the altar. Does love cause marriages? Only the innocent would agree heartily to that. So many other factors cause marriages: money, self-interest, public acclaim or what we call fame, traditional family relationship and so on and so forth.

When one hangs his booths with the correlation is causation camp, he tends to believe in all sorts of superstition and is weighed down with fear, guilt and nervousness. A friend from Agbor told me that children should not be allowed to eat eggs when they are young because it teaches them to be thieves. Why? “Time and again, our elders have found that children, especially those from well to do homes, who are brought up on eggs, tend to take to stealing. It doesn’t happen once, not twice, but many times,” he retorted.

I did not have any data right then to throw his claims away, but I thought he was trying to say my parents should stop me from having eggs when we take tea and bread for breakfast? And then, I was still young. Just in JSS2. There was no way I could unstick him from his belief.

Because I had a bad dream this night and lost my work the next morning, it does not mean the witches who are after my life have begun gaining the upper hand? Nope. I always remember this advice: do not dwell on the bad events of your life, think of what you can make out of your bad experiences.

On the other hand, when two things go together, one can cause the other. Love sometimes causes marriage. Or when you have a good product with the right price, you are surely going to sell more than your competitors.

The caveat is: looking for correlation in everything and sticking to a fictitious, superstitious belief that when we find a correlation, then we have a key, a formula, for some problem that is looking for a solution.

Life is not as simple as that.

Like I used to remind myself: even the devil doesn’t put all his eggs in one basket.

content here.


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Saturday, March 3, 2012

WHY SHOULD I PAY SO MUCH TO REACTIVATE A PHONE WHEN SIM CARDS ARE SO CHEAP?


I was pondering this question when I lost the password to my mailbox. I had cheaper options, like opening a new box, getting a new SIM card for two hundred etc.
I decided to pay one thousand naira (N1, 000.00) to reactivate the sim card and also reactivate the phone. My mailbox was tied to the phone line.

It was all about trade-offs. We all bear something painful, like some cost, in order to enjoy a benefit, or some given pleasure.

Every year thousands of teenagers pay good money to sit for JAMB/UTME exams. Why should they? Because the gains of a university education far outweighs the gains of ignorance, of fear and superstition.

Look at it from another point of view. The more we enjoy meals that are rich in calories and sugars, the higher our risk of being obese, or even suffering diabetes. In a secondary fashion, we have to increase our exercise regime and increase our expenditures on exercise equipment and time for exercise.

A fool counts only the benefits and profits of any venture. There is an equal action or force that tends to be a drag on the benefits. We tend to call it costs, and when there are much of them, we have the option of creating a list and prioritizing them.

Take two parties who are haggling. The seller tends to set a high price, while the buyer expects a low price. It takes a balancing act, a-back-and-forth kind of exercise, before both parties agree to make the transaction possible, or not possible.

Every day, we tradeoff one gain for another loss. Why are you reading this blog? Why did you spend good money to be on the internet? That money could have been used for something else.

So I do not feel I was foolish to have paid a thousand naira in order to reactivate my email. Afterall, the mailbox is tied to a blog, an analytics dashboard and a blog monetization application. I might never be able to quantify these online applications, but I think they are worth one thousand naira.

So, I made a profit.


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