After sixty-five years of independence, this country needs to change the structure of the Guggisburg colonial economy with its roadblocks that inhibit individual citizens from reaching their potential. The poverty of the majority of the citizens are the results of these roadblocks that has consigned far too many people to the level where most often they have less to eat, use, or save for the future.
Increasingly, inexorably, the State our leaders maintained continues to be more random in the economic and social justice it seeks to dispense — more suffocating in its effect on human aspirations and initiative, more politically selective in its defence of the rights of its citizens, more gigantic in its appetite for corruption —and more disastrously incompetent in its handling of the economy.
There is no freedom where the State totally controls the economy. Ever since independence, our politicians have adopted policies that make it harder, not easier, for market actors and the poor who largely operate in the informal economy to create wealth in order to move out of poverty. Our leaders have indeed wasted time taking care of political opponents and protecting their power, not the economy. Indeed, policy prescriptions, over the years, have destroyed what they swore to protect – the poor and alleviating poverty.
Excessive government spending, entitlements checks, incessant restrictions against private wealth creation, in addition to higher taxes, higher inflation and a bludgeoning national debt. Many years after independence this country still depends on donor money, which in effect retard the growth of the local economy. Politicians have built all sorts of walls to protect their control over the local economy and yet evade responsibility for their failures.
Our biggest challenge is our mind-set and truth telling. Sadly, most of the Ghanaian media have simply become “stenographers with amnesia” who believe, promote censorship and oppose free speech. Ghana’s media consists almost entirely of lying, corrupt, self-serving, low-IQ cheerleaders for partisan politics, for entitlements.
Our journalists talk of freedom of speech but deny the right to speak freely. REAL journalists are professional Truth-tellers – a professional journalist who opposed free speech was long ago considered a logical impossibility, because the whole idea of a free press depended upon the absolute right to be an unpopular pain in the ass. Without Truth, liberty and prosperity in a nation quickly wither and die.
The question is— are we surprised to see where we are as a country? Most of us are not. When we look around at our political culture, we see darkness. A political culture made up of people who have little regard for truth telling and with myopic economic ideas that make politicians profiteer in the growth of the state.
When Kwame Nkrumah opted for socialism with its entitlement programs shortly after independence, wiser men and women warned that such programs would build walls and empower bureaucrats, waste vast sums of money, create generations of dependency and destroy the Ghanaian economy. Unfortunately, broad masses of Ghanaians took the bait and now we struggle in the snare.
Nkrumah asked the common-man to just ask for the political kingdom and everything would be added. A false proposition. Presently, almost all our politicians claim they represent the common person. Why not? It brings in the vote. What we see in the political arena is the most intense pillow fight on earth. All talk and no action is how we could describe the political show in Ghana.
The sad story was that the call for the political kingdom left us with no tangible economic direction. We knew where we were, but knew not where we were going. Our leaders’ desire for power and money trumped the needs of the people and derailed our economic progress. Our leaders became playthings in the hands of the East and West who used them as pawns in an ideological war — a war in which the role of the state grew and trapped individuals in poverty throughout the country.
After seeing the counter-productive results of the activist state-led distributive economic policies and greed advance among the political elites, some people have become more convinced that our country is in desperate need of a major course correction. Real thinking is required. Course correction must take place in each home, the church, the workplace, and within all political parties.
We have lived in chaos and crisis for a long time and change seem to be the only future. The failure of state redistributive policies should wake us up, and remind us that populist redistributive policies rarely result in good ends. It is just a ploy to win political power. It is always more difficult to get out of it than to avoid it in the first place. Citizens pay an awful price down the road if economic policies are not based on core principles that are rooted in what is right, not necessarily what is populist, or if we toss policies because we want to win an easy election.
On the most basic levels, our leaders have not only failed to pursue good economic policies, but it has become clear they do not care about the economy whatsoever. Ghanaians need to change. Not just within the political class, but also among the wider electorates, whose views and support shape the greed and bad policies. Without an informed electorate, our politicians will continue to use the poor merely for photo opportunities, rather than pursuing real development.
The change we seek is an environment where ordinary citizens can achieve their potential and make the most of their abilities and other resources in the economy. People must take control of their household and begin effectively leading their families and teaching their children the benefits of hard work, right from wrong— what is good and what is evil.
Many people are frustrated, angry, and tired of voting for change and getting more of the same false prophets who corrupt politics for personal gain. Honest men and women must be leaders in this country — not just leaders but moral leaders whose desire for power and money may not trump the needs of the people, but leaders with integrity.
Lastly, citizens must be engaged in the electing of moral individuals to serve in government. Taking their entire household to vote for those who know right from wrong and are not afraid to speak the truth.
Disengagement is a tool of the enemy.
By Kwadwo Afari