About ten years ago I had heated debate with a casual friend on the economic prospects of our dear nation. His pessimism was frightening. He concluded without any equivocation that Ghana will forever remain poor. I must say, in return, he received a serious verbal dress down. As a constitutional optimist, I could hardly see eye to eye on the premise of his argument. After a passage of a decade, I can probably, now, see what crystallised his beliefs. Where in the world does a nation take a loan for consumption expenditure? This can only happen in Ghana, and I don?t blame the government, but the World Bank for granting the loan. And I wonder how fat the brown envelop they received in return. This is shameful, and I am making my voice heard for the rest of the world to know that not all Ghanaians are stupid.
Initially, I felt it was a waste of time to get into this debate due to the amount involved. But they say little drops of water make a mighty ocean. It also dawned on me that the sleep of reason, according to Francisco Goya, produces monsters. Besides, I thought those who negotiated for this loan would hang their heads in shame, but they keep throwing dust with flimsy reasons from all corners. What actually prompted my take, after all the numerous articles from men of sanity condemning this act of insanity, was a piece I read on ghanaweb entitled ?NDC guru lauds gov?t supply of sanitary pads?. In addition, some ignorant person with a doctorate before his name tried to justify the sacrilege by arguing that research has been conducted to show the need for it. Research! You can literally conduct research to prove anything. You can even prove that Hitler, Pol Pot Stalin were all good men. There have been countless researchers who have come up with their own incontrovertible proof that Neil Armstrong did not land on the moon. There are numerous research proving that the white man is superior to the black man; how about that. Will you accept the latter hogwash?
Education is very important, and I can?t over emphasise this fact. And any Ghanaian worth the salt knows this. I must say there are some pockets of people who are, otherwise, stewed in cultural ignorance, yet to catch the education fever. Nevertheless, in this day and age, if there are people who place the education of their children second to other priorities, in my candid opinion they should be left to rot. On the other hand, I don?t understand our obsession with education that it should be obtained at the cost of economic fundamentals. I have to stress again, what is this madness with education that both major parties are prepared to wreck the nation?s economy to achieve it? To spend even a pesewa on sanitary towels for girls is a misplaced priority for the government when children are educated under trees, schools without teachers, uncompleted school structures sitting as death traps. It is only a government without a vision that will do this. I would have even applauded them if the loan was taken to line their pockets.
What really sent a knife through my heart was the half-hearted effort of the opposition in their condemnation. They couldn?t mount a coherent position, and they diluted their argument simply because they were afraid of being seen to oppose a project meant to help the poor. The basis of their defence should have been predicated on the notion that you don’t borrow for consumption.
Sanitary pad is a modern creature comfort. Girls have been educated in Ghana, effectively, at least, since independence. What have they been using? When you are poor your coat must be cut relative to your size. If they cannot afford pad they should use the old and tested cloth. This is the insanity of socialist when they pontificate about equality. We cannot all be equal. If you go to the meat section of a supermarket there will be packages of chicken breast, drumsticks, thigh, wings and offal all with different prices. Some people can afford the chicken breast others can only do with chicken wings. This is a fact of life; we cannot escape from it. The sort of legal service that Bill Gates can afford will be a fantasy for a person like me to think about.
I am really intrigued about the calibre of people who whisper into the president?s ears. What kind of economic advisors pump this silly ideas into his mind. What really shocks me is that President Mahama has an economic advisor with a doctorate degree, besides political advisors who draw salary from the sweat of Ghanaians. If those so called economists at the presidency don?t know the definition of economics I will do them the honours. It is the allocation of scarce resources, which have alternative uses. The money we spend on health can be used to build houses and ultra modern infrastructure for schools. The money set aside for law and order can equally be used for roads. The import of what I am driving at is that we cannot use all our resources in just one area of our national life. The nation already spends more than 8% of GDP on education according 2011 statistics. We spend more than South Korea 5%, United States 5.4% and UK 6.2%, and these are some of the leading economies in the world.
Can a parent argue that education is so important it should be obtained at the expense of health, nutritional needs or recreation? Furthermore, because nutrition is paramount to human existence does it mean that one has to allocate all his resources to buy food? What about shelter clothes and all the basic needs of human existence. I am not used to quoting the bible to support secular discourse, but the temptation is too dainty a morsel to let go. Develop your business first before building your house says Proverbs 24:27. There are certain basic fundamental that needs fulfilment before any other superfluity. Private primary schools in Ghana are much better than government schools. However, as a parent if you don?t have the means your children will have no choice, but attend a government primary.
It is the sensible allocation of scarce resources that determines the standard of life whether poverty or affluence.? The ignorance of those bleeding hearts socialist is that they don?t know it is impossible to remove poverty. No matter the amount of resources you throw at the poor in society there are always going to be people who will fall through the net. Even in the land of billionaires, a millionaire is considered a poor man. Their so called socialist paradise of Cuba couldn?t stamp out poverty it rather worsened it. The hermetically sealed North Korea is a land of misery and they preach equality. Jesus said to Judas the poor will always be with you. Of course, most of them don?t believe in Jesus anyway. They take after their High Priest who said, religion is the opium of the people.
You cannot build a sustained strong economy on the back of high inflation and perennial depreciation of the national currency. Within a year the national currency has depreciated by more than 40%. A parent with a hypothetical modest budget of GHc100 has now a purchasing power of only GHc60. This indirect vicious blind tax, devoid of their holy word progressive, is what will prevent a serious parent from being able to provide sanitary pads for the child. No amount of education can make a Ghanaian rich when the macro economics had not been taken care of. You can be well educated and be ridiculously poor.
If you want the nation to produce the Edisons, the Fords and the Teslas of the world build robust economic fundamentals ? low inflation modest interest rate and the people will produce the magic. Some will be quick to ask, how do you reduce inflation? It is simple. The root cause of the horrendous economic hardships is the prodigious and unproductive government bureaucracy that rather makes life hellish for the productive members of the society.
Nicola Tesla was not born in America. He migrated there so that he could benefit from the prosperous American economy. It is the rich that the socialist hate who provided the capital for him to embark on his experiments. The alternating current that he came up with is both enjoyed by the rich and the poor today. Other than that the dreams of Tesla would have withered in his hands if the robust American economy had not provided him with funds to experiment. Could their so called equalisation mantra provided Edison with the capital to do his experiments?
In my candid opinion, this is socialism gone bonkers. When you practice that accursed system irrespective of the nobleness of your choice someone will always find it distasteful. These are some of the social engineering that breeds alienation, if I will be allowed to borrow the word of their patron saint Karl Marx. What about those who are barely surviving to provide for their children. You create bitterness in the hearts of those who are equally poor, but do not make the threshold.
Any conscientious Ghanaian voter should be worried. This is the launch of their 2016 campaign. In other words they are already buying their votes. They know where the votes are. The beneficiaries will be singing silly praises that President Mahama is good, but the reality is that the hypothetical GHc100 parent above, GHc40 has been stolen away silently from his budget for this paltry gesture. Do you remember when that political hack trumpeted that the depreciation of the cedi is caused by dwarfs breaking into Bank of Ghana vaults and stealing dollars? What kind of educated person believes in dwarfs? Of course, she doesn?t believe that. Many derided her for saying that; I thought she knew her audience. It was tailored made for them to sympathise with their poor performance. Now, if dwarfs are ransacking government coffers what can an ordinary man do? Meaning it’s not their fault, and for that matter you cannot blame them for the mess. These knuckleheads are playing politics with the future of our dear nation.
Poverty is not a crime, but it is a tragedy to be born poor. And the poor need a helping hand
While the poor needs to survive, on the other hand, for a nation to borrow in order meet basic necessities of life is a sign of absolute incompetence. Well, if we borrow for capital investments like schools that is wonderful, but not this silly blind copycat. If Kenya is doing it good for them; it doesn?t mean that we have to follow their stupidity. Teach the poor how to fish. You don?t do them any good when you provide them with fish.
Philip Kobina Baidoo Jnr