Monday, March 18, 2013

Life is what we make it. Is that so?

by Richard Mellor
AFSCME Local 444 retired

Life is what we make it.  If you work hard, you can achieve anything, riches, fame, lots of superficial relationships and sex.  We are in control of our own destiny, the dominant ideology in society tells us.  I was watching an ad on TV yesterday for A black guy was telling us about how he found his father I think it was and that he was “born a slave and died a businessman.

This propaganda is designed to show us that if you believe, if you work hard and don’t let the world get you down, if you persevere, you will make it. If you don’t, the responsibility is yours and yours alone. It’s the individual that makes things happen. In this case above, the mass collective struggle of black folks up to and including the civil rights movement had nothing to do with his father moving from slavery to the business world, wasn’t the main factor that opened some cracks in a brutal racist system. You see, you can't be successful as a worker, as one of the vast majority, the millions of people that go to work every day providing a social service whether it be delivering produce to a store or water to a home, or health care to the elderly or education to our children. Being a buyer of Labor power, a capitalist, as opposed to a seller of it, is success.

My mum left school at 14 and died at 84 still working. She wasn’t a businessperson but a homeworker most of the time, unpaid labor power.  Women's unpaid labor in the home amounts to trillions of dollars globally each year.  Like most women, my mum also worked for wages outside the home to supplement the family income, low wages.  She was still basically a carer up until the time she died of exhaustion basically. If she’d have been smarter and worked harder she’d have been somebody I suppose.

I am driven to comment on this as I happened to read about the huge oil reserves that are believed to be under the earth in Africa. Kenya’s Great Rift Valley is the new hot spot and could make Kenya a major player in oil production.  One of the companies involved in oil exploration on that continent is Tullow Oil.  Tullow is a small town near Dublin Ireland. Tullow Oil is one of Europe's largest companies and one of the world's largest oil exploration companies as well.

The founder of Tullow Oil, Aidan Heavey happened to be talking to guy in the bank in Tullow about the small oilfields in Africa that the major producers were abandoning as not profitable to develop, especially as North Sea oil production was going full steam ahead.  This is where the idea to form Tullow Oil came from.

In Heavey’s own words, “I contacted another friend of mine in the World Bank who told me about a project in Senegal. They had some small gas fields that they were trying to get people to develop, so I setup Tullow Oil to rework those old fields. I knew nothing about the oil and gas industry at the time, which made it more challenging. No one thought Tullow would succeed because of my lack of knowledge of the industry, no major backers and I was starting a company in a country with no oil industry.”

See how easy it is.  If my mum had not been so busy feeding, clothing and raising two kids while working outside the home at the same time, she could have called her friend at the world bank.  What a loser.

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