Conservative South African business paper editorial

Charles Brown CharlesB at
Sat May 13 09:06:43 MDT 2000

This was sent to another list by Russell Grinker . I didn't see it here.


This is from this week's Financial Mail, usually the voice of conservative South
African business.  Are all you closet and not-so-closet Keynesians listening?

New Deal, FM 12/5/00

SA is drifting. The conventional market economics adopted by the ANC when it dumped
nationalisation have not delivered more jobs or more investment, and the party is
vulnerable to anticapitalist agitation among its core, poor, constituency. The free
market is not to be taken for granted in SA. And then there is Zimbabwe, rapidly
disintegrating economically as the result of an inability over 20 years to bring a
union between poverty and profit to fruition. We, too, are in trouble in this country
unless the wealth gap closes. Resisting the temptation to exploit the gap is beyond
politicians. And the conventional policies and economics adopted by the ANC - however
courageously - in government are woefully inadequate to the task. So would be the
standard remedies of the business community. Here's the thing about SA: politicians,
business and union leaders - in fact, all of us - draw wide circles around our own
egos; then we play our own roles. The businessman is an untrammelled ca!
pitalist; the unionist is a Stalinist. To give an inch in argument is to throw away an
entire reputation. Nothing is ever really up for debate. SA business is stuck with
arguably the most antiquated and blatantly exploitative model of capitalism still
operating on earth. Labour is led by people who cling foolishly to communism despite
its catastrophic failure as an economic system. Government, trying to make headway
with the rotten free enterprise system it picked up locally, and holding on for dear
life to the frightened labour movement it betrays with every blink of the eye, is
barely treading water. The balancing act the ANC is performing is not sustainable.
Folk worried when the ANC was going to win a two-thirds majority in parliament. Watch
the panic when the ANC is struggling to get 50%. Somehow a way has to be found for
leaders to think our society through again. We need a new, unique and dynamic national
consensus. The answer may lie in the social democratic systems th!
at propelled Germany and Japan to such great economic heights afte
capitalism" that today find favour among even conservative intellectuals in the West.
We need a wide and efficient welfare net. We need to maximise the generation of profit
in order to maximise the taxes that pay for good public services. Should workers sit
as directors of companies? Perhaps government could simply give away its entire
property portfolio, free, to the poor or the unions and then rent what it needs back
from them. Why not? We are taking a risk producing this Cover Story. Any useful
discussion among other South Africans about a viable future requires that they do too.
The point is not to be right - there is no right - there is only what works for us.
The enemy is poverty: grinding, unfair and a menace. If we fix it, we all win.

The Editor

[The rest is at]

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