This country could have been great. Ghana is black Africa, south of the Sahara’s, first independent country. Freedom offered hope to transform the people’s capacity to innovate and create wealth to ensure the mass of the citizens’ benefit. However, the failure to tackle the structure of the neo-colonial state after independence grievously damaged the independent agenda and worse still, failed to create a society in which individuals flourished.
The independence programme could not succeed because it did not address the major weaknesses of the Ghanaian economy. This country, since 1957, has been ruled by a narrow elite that have organised society on a distorted version of socialism, with borrowed money, for their own benefit, at the expense of the majority of citizens. This distorted version of socialism is very much alive today.
Our independent journey started on the wrong premise that government could solve most human problems through government planning, directing, and dictating, and that the resources and wealth of the entire country should be at the discretionary disposal of those in political power. Indeed, the freedom we now have concentrates political and economic power in the state, which makes Ghanaians mere agents and mere numbers in the population.
Ghana is in a vicious cycle of clientelism — taxes, and reckless public spending.We have squandered our riches away with subsidies, and reckless monetary and fiscal policies. Far from distributing the wealth as promised, our brand of socialism has accelerated poverty by throwing roadblocks that inhibit individuals from reaching their potential and increased corruption.
It seems the parties that claim property rights and the free market do not have the intellectual tools to fight back. Its vanguard activists now insists it is good to compromise with socialism, a view that retains immense political and rhetorical appeal. Presently, the remnants are in disarray, with the promises offered by Danquah and the UGCC in ruins. The socialist welfare state has produced a culture in which rights are asserted with little accompanying sense of obligation.
The state has taken control of the private sector and increasingly intervening in the economy and creating numerous new regulatory authorities. Ironically, the public sector is not controlled, as it should, with state institutions crumbling under the weight of corruption. Large parts of the country looked unusually run-down. The old local government system, and the abominable quality of many goods and services, make matters worse.
Meanwhile, tribalism is flourishing, the country is plagued by unemployment, critics go hungry, propaganda as news abounds, unchecked by mainstream media. The value of work, and personal responsibility, are replaced with honouring victimhood. Ordinary people across the political spectrum are increasingly concerned that the system is rigged against them. Trust in public institutions is near an all-time low.
Now private wealth is built on the back of public deficits. It is a spiral that is difficult to break out. Of course, bottomless public spending assures votes, while negative externalities are pushed to the future to be dealt with by the next elected government. Ironically, many critics and experts have overlooked the role socialist consumption has played in our poverty. Ghana is in a situation in which its capital is consumed as if the law of demand and supply does not exist.
Today, social mobility in the country is so low that the richest families at the top of the economic ladder are those in politics, form churches or are involved in criminal activities, especially drugs. Ghana hardly resembles the country our parents envisioned at independence.
A critical look at the informal economy reveals the true Ghanaian way of life. The Ghanaian way is independence, entrepreneurialism and liberty. These have been under socialist assault for decades. Still many people would want to believe that a key to growing the economy is income or wealth redistribution, but this view is a mistake. While, redistribution provides temporary relief for some of the poorest it stunts personal success for the majority.
The poor in particular, should know better because they had already experienced the pain caused by “big government central planning,since 1957. The CPP’s socialist policies closely mirrored much of what we have in Ghana today.
Unfortunately, the official class and their intelligentsia will turn up their noses at this, and the masses will not even listen if you tried to warn them about the missing opportunities in creating wealth in the economy. Without a proper understanding of the framework by which this country can escape poverty, we are doomed.
The path of “soft socialism” that is still progressing stealthily toward greater and greater government control is inevitably a slippery slope to ultimate destruction. Sadly, we are so distracted by social decadence, self-satisfaction, greed, corruption, and rejection of basic truths that we fail to notice our rights and liberties are being dismantled. No one remembers and stands up for foundational values. Our mind-set is making us vote for the ordinary idea of complete centralisation of the direction of economic activity.
We need clearer thinking about economic planning, and we have to stop using economic policies to buy political support. That should be the key for those who still claim to be classical liberals. Classical liberals have to bring something to the table. Classical liberals have to differentiate themselves. It is really time for the voting public to remember that democracy is essentially an individualist institution, which attaches value to the individual.
Ghana could develop. The country could overhaul, reform the way we organise the economy and conduct politics to innovate and invest, raise its productivity and do much more to ensure there are incentives for individuals who excel. We just do not have to put up with the bigger and intrusive policies in our lives. We do not need to put up with it! Citizens should not put up with the socialists of all the parties who come with a blueprint that requires a central direction of the economy.
The Commitment to Ghana is a bold, recognition of the concept of property rights to what is broken in our country. Indeed, the poor should reject the politicians that come in 2024 with the same old zombie parade of bad policies that have caused the damage to our economy.
To the uninformed mind, property rights is not just the registration of land and buildings. The system of property rights includes law and order, an independent judiciary and a police force that is free and fair.
Thus, our message is to those who by force of their intellect are able to apprehend the principles of independence and wealth creation. We call them the remnants. They work in the informal economy, unorganized, inarticulate, each one struggling along as best he or she can. They need to kick against the fiscally unsustainable path our politicians are leading us.
Presently, our debt has reached such high levels there is no level of growth that can solve the problem entirely. The dismal state of the nation is squashing people’s potential to prosper. Reforming entitlement programs or cutting spending would be the right policies to address the problem, but the political chance of both parties implementing these unpopular policies is extremely small.
Nonetheless, there must be a liberty-friendly, pro-growth approach moving forward, removing government barriers that have crippled wealth creation.
To achieve growth, our politicians should do three things: encourage competition and do away with top-down planning, prioritise monetary policy, and prevent partisans and cronies from capturing and corrupting the market process.This should include cutting government spending, taxes, and regulations to help quickly balance the budget, to stop fuelling government’s destructive policies.
Presently, Ghanaians cut to the core but the liberty tree has not yet collapsed. Defeating the socialists in our midst is in the end a powerful wake-up call for free people of character, conviction, and courage to stand up against the collective madness and together, pull Ghana away from terrible progressive policies.
Making Ghana a government-dependent and economically unfree country will not restore Ghana as the black star of freedom it once was, and must be again.
By Kwadwo Afari