Tuesday 3 July 2018

Liberalism for South Africa

Op-Ed – Number 1

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

Liberalism for South Africa

The social and economic problems facing our beloved country are not “new” or “unique” problems. Many countries have faced them in the past and at present. Some have been very successful and some less so. The problems boil down to slow economic growth, high unemployment, rising inflation and increase in inequality. The prescription you (the country) follow and will use depends pretty much on which “doctor” you listen to. It is also common practice for people to get second and third opinions in such cases.

In economics the same basic principle also applies. There is NO one magic prescription that can or will solve our social and economic problems over night. The people of SA are lead to believe that a centrally planned system based on a development state philosophy is the only cure. This is a politically attractive philosophy founded on the teaching of the very “famous” economist John Maynard Keynes. One simply has to ask if this system and philosophy has worked over the past number of years and if doubling the doses will achieve results any different?

However this is by no means the alpha and omega in economic thinking and teaching. An alternative view which is very seldom mentioned or advocated because of its political unpopularity is liberalism. Liberalism is a system and the ideological belief in organizing the economy on individualist lines, meaning that the greatest possible number of economic decisions are made by individuals and not by collective institutions or organizations. It includes a spectrum of different economic policies, such as freedom of movement, but it is always based on strong support for a market economy and private property in the means of production. Personal responsibility and private charity is amongst its key elements.

There is much evidence that countries that have followed the libertarian ideology have in general performed much better over the past 100 years in creating economic prosperity for all its citizens, including significant gains in social issues. Contrary to popular belief and arguments from socialists, economic liberalism and freedom are not crony capitalism, worker exploitation and monopoly power. Economic freedom is not based on insiders excluding outsiders from the economy as is the case in SA. The rules of the game must be such that all have equal rights to participate in the economy and that private individuals engage in voluntary transactions and are not forced to engage in involuntary transactions that they would most probably not choose.

Is it not time therefore that we get a second opinion on the economic system and philosophy that we so dearly are hanging on to? Is it not time to fundamentally change our thinking about economics in our beloved country and prescribe liberalism as medicine for the many non-market ills we have in our beautiful country. We must put our faith and hopes in the people of SA and the free market.

“The government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem”.

M Friedman

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