Tuesday 3 July 2018

Economic Freedom as the Corner Stone of a Prosperous South Africa

Op-Ed – Number 2

Name: Clive Coetzee
Organization: Individualist Movement
Country: South Africa

Economic Freedom as the Corner Stone of a Prosperous South Africa

The Bill of Rights as contained in the Constitution of the Democratic South Africa enshrines the rights of all people in our country and affirms the democratic values of human dignity, equality and freedom. It further states that the state must respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights in the Bill of Rights. All of us therefore has the right to freedom and security of the person.

The great Adam Smith in his famous work “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations”, published in 1776 argue that free economies will be more productive and innovative. Smith further states that freedom is considered to be the ultimate incentive for the optimal utilisation of scarce resources, by developing a favourable economic and political environment for sound competitiveness and incentivising, and empowering human creativity and innovation.

Freedom and in particular economic freedom matters. It matters a great deal in that the evidence shows that Countries that pursue greater levels of economic freedom reap resounding benefits. The data could not be more clear. Citizens die, on average, 20 years earlier, suffer more from poverty, battle greater unemployment, receive lower average incomes and suffer higher inflation in countries with governments that follow policies opposed to economic freedom.

Friedrich Hayek so elegantly demonstrated in his famous book the “Road to Serfdom” that the road away from greater freedom will only lead us down the road to serfdom. In the book Hayek warns of the danger of tyranny that inevitably results from government control of economic decision-making through central planning.

Policies currently proposed by the governing party puts us directly on the road to serfdom. It carries all the hall marks of greater government control over our daily lives. The proposed introduction of a national minimum wage, the expropriation of land without compensation, the national health insurance scheme, the mining charter and many more are policies designed to take away some of our most basic rights. They are by their very nature contrary to the spirit of our constitution. Yes, we should be very alarmed about the encroachment of government into our private lives. In this way our society will mistakenly try to ensure continuing prosperity by centralized planning, which inevitably leads to totalitarianism. No country has ever achieved long lasting prosperity for all through central planning.

There is no evidence to suggest that it will be different in South Africa. In fact the experiences of the past 15 years cannot be blunter. Government has become bigger and bigger demanding ever more resources. Resources are diverted at an alarming rate from private individuals and businesses towards government programmes designed to improve the lives of ordinary South Africans. The results are shocking. Not only has the economic growth rate totally collapsed but unemployment, poverty and inequality has blossomed. Government in fact has become the biggest producer of misery sadly. All this is done on the premises that government how what is best and can do it the best. All in the name of the poor.

The only true solution my friends and fellow South Africans is freedom. Just ask yourself, would you rather live in Switzerland, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Ireland, Australia, Finland, Norway or Denmark or in Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Venezuela or Syria. Or, would you risk the lives of your family by taking a small boat across the Straits of Florida from America to Cuba. Or would you risk everything travelling across the Mediterranean Sea from Europe to Somalia, Iraq or Afghanistan? The answer is most obvious, No, No and No. Millions of people are risking their lives and the lives of their families escaping totalitarianism. Economic free countries are by far the choice of the poor, the desolate, the marginalized and the vulnerable for hundreds of years.

Our children deserves to live in a prosperous society. A society build on the principles of freedom. Not as serfs. Our choice is easy.

“I am certain that nothing has done so much to destroy the juridical safeguards of individual freedom as the striving after this mirage of social justice”.

FA Hayek

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