Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Somali Economy and You

Ladies and Gentlemen, it seems every time we turn on the news or open the paper, we find another report of yet another naval incursion by Somali pirates. We shun Somalia; we question their lawlessness. In actuality, however, we should encourage Somalia. After all, the nation has been devastated by internal struggles since it gained its independence in 1960 (along with many other African nations). It's been plagued by one ineffectual government after another. In fact, Somalia's GNP is less than the net worth of at least eighty individuals on the face of the earth, including Bill Gates. That's right. Bill Gates could buy Somalia if he felt so inclined, and still have enough money left over to buy all of its neighbors. In fact, research shows that a large percentage of Somalia's money comes from Somali ex-patriots wiring money to friends and family in the motherland.

What does this have to do with pirates? Thank you for asking, hypothetical reader. With a sizable portion of Somalia's GNP coming from outside of the nation, the country clearly lacks for reliable exports with which to locally sustain its own economy. Somalia does have some agrarian capabilities--bananas are one of their major, one of their only for that matter, exports. These farms, however, provide only 40% of the nation's income. That's forty percent of 5.7 billion dollars, or roughly 2.28 billion dollars from these crops. Somali needed to explore new potential exports. As a coastal country, the fishing industry was a possibility and were it not for the incursion of foreign ships, may very well have been a lucrative one at that. However, being outfished by foreign nations, Somalia had to turn its eyes to the only other logical potential aquatic export: pirates.

Historically, England, France, Spain, China, even the U.S. (or the colonies, to be more accurate) to a lesser degree all possessed markets for pirates. It seemed a wise investment. They could start a pirate industry and sell their pirates to these other countries. Unfortunately for Somalia, the global demand for pirates has dwindled in recent centuries. Upon trying to export their pirates to other countries, Somalia often found foreign nations actively refusing to import the pirates, driving them away at the borders of their waters with large gunboats. Somalia, being thus discouraged, set out to prove the quality of their pirates as both a commodity and an investment.

Currently, Somali pirates control between ten and twenty foreign vessels and several hundred sailors with an average ransom of two million dollars. They're attempting to show the safe return on an investment in Somali Piratestm. After all, these pirates have secured over one billion dollars resale value of merchandise (20% of Somalia's GNP), which can then be resold, adding to a nation's exports, or these ships can be ransomed for a net gain of upwards of fifty million dollars! It's a remarkable return for one's investment in piracy, considering the costs of conducting piracy operations are considerably lower. It's a safer investment than the stock market! Further, cultivating a national pirate industry not only creates jobs and alternative export possibilities, it also promotes economic growth in related industries, such as ship and weapons manufacture, and adds hostages to a nation's list of profitable exports. It's a huge growth industry!

The international community is putting a lot of pressure on Somalia for its pirate industry, but really, we should admire them. They're a country that's truly looking outside the box during these hard economic times for unexplored, reliable means of generating income. Demand may be down for their products and services, but at least they're trying. Further, with the popularity of pirates in film and television growing, it's only a matter of time before demand also rises, which will increase the price for a good pirate. We, as a nation, should invest now before the price per pirate becomes unreasonable. We should encourage this sort of creative problem solving by demanding our senators push to help a struggling third world nation out by purchasing Somali Piratestm of our own. France and England can join suit and we can shake it up like the old days. After all, when was the last time we had a really good naval battle? Fifty, sixty years ago? Too long.

Invest in pirates. They'll turn this economy around.

You have been informed.

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