Saturday, February 17, 2007

Are there any freebies in life?

I believe in life that there is at least a chance to raise the standard of EVERY individual within that society. This, no doubt, reflects the fact that my outlook on the world is more socialist (African socialist to be precise) than capitalistic. The tenets of capitalism would have us believe that capitalism, as a way of life, will eventually be able to address social ills (mainly poverty) because that is an area that its ‘marketing forces’ cannot overlook; no doubt its founders underestimated the great extent to which profit would be pursued (as an end) by entrepreneurs for generations to come. Therefore, addressing social ills from a capitalistic position has had to take a back seat.

Communism does not offer adequate solutions to the problem either, because it unfairly limits people’s ability to profit from their individual hard labour simply because it tries to place everyone at exactly the same level in life.

African Socialism is the only true way by which poverty eradication (aka wealth creation) can be achieved at the broadest level; this is because it is the median position between communism and capitalism – first and foremost, it seeks out the wellbeing of the people, yet also allows them the freedom to reap the benefits of their hard labor. Once people understand this, as pertains especially to Kenya, leaders and policy makers will understand that it is essential that development be spread out throughout the country such that even villagers are not isolated from its reach. This is the best way to battle congestion in the cities; rural-urban migrations are driven by people’s perceived notions that life in the city is a panacea that will somehow deliver them from the unemployment and levels of destitution experienced throughout the country. What usually follows, however, is the discovery of a severely strained job market that offers few, if any, possibilities; these people find themselves stranded in the city, where they lack even the chance to grow their own food (something that they took for granted in the villages), and without any money to provide themselves with decent living conditions. The culmination of this frustration is the development of slums and similarly affiliated problems (prostitution, increased incidences of crime, environmental degradation and outbreaks of disease).

At least in the aforementioned case, a viable solution still exists. It would involve decentralization of industry, wise development of housing schemes outside city limits (taking care to minimize the usu. skirmishes) and a large amount of pro bono work. This would not all be done for free because in this case we are presented with a bunch of individuals who can reciprocate the gesture by working to “pay back” the generosity they have received; this would be in line with the type of sponsorship whereby someone foots your bills for your further education, knowing that you will eventually work for his company. There is another case that is worth mentioning, however: those people who could have no possible way of paying back the money you would invest in them. People such as severely mentally handicapped individuals, autistic people, the disabled (particularly those that are very old and cannot be taught useful skills)…

If “market forces” were anything to go by, it does not appear feasible to help such people. There is no way to adequately recoup the large amount of funds that would have to be spent on these disadvantaged groups (even the free PR stemming from “Corporate Social responsibility” might not be enough incentive). And in all cases, since these people have probably never put down money in form of social security, all this money would have to be brought in externally. The only outlook that could adequately address such a situation is that of African Socialism; the saying “I am because we are” could never be elucidated much clearer. Stemming from this, the solution appears to be that a lot of this work would have to be done pro bono – for no profit at all – but done for the good of the members in society.

No comments: