Africa and Its Success
In different parts of Africa there were different types of governments. The majority of them were similar and led to the same thing, and only one was different that led to the best prosperity of the people.
First we will talk about Zaire, one of Africa’s countries. Zaire was governed by a man called Mobutu Sese Seko from 1965-1997. Now, Zaire had the benefit of having rich copper mines, and in that time the prices of copper were raised, so there was an economic boom. This made Mobutu one of the richest men on earth, an amount estimated to be $3 billion. This was because the wealth of Zaire was used to build Mobutu eleven palaces and many other monuments for him. He bought off his enemies, and he made his friends into instant millionaires. Now, instead of putting all of his money in Zaire, he placed it in European banks. He told everyone to replace their Christian names with African names, you couldn’t wear western clothing, and he canceled Christmas with instead placing his portrait in the churches. He grabbed $500 million worth of foreign business property, and drove out Asian merchants and Belgian technicians and businessmen. What happened next? Well, the copper prices fell in the 1980’s, so the economic boom ended. So, this time, Mobutu had to invite the Belgians and Asians back, there was a high price inflation, the transportation system broke down, and there was a heavy debt.
Tanzania another country in Africa was governed by Julius Nyerere from 1961-1985. He said that his country would have no army, he would have a narrow gap between the rich and the poor, and he would receive no outside aid. Nyerere didn’t believe in capitalism, he wanted to show how the country could become wealthy through the government. Well, it turns out that he wound up toppling three neighborhood governments. No dissent was allowed, so the newspaper was controlled by the government. There was also only a one-party state, and he received more foreign aid than any president in black Africa. He nationalized the economy, and raised taxes in order to redistribute wealth. In result, there was very poor economic performance; Tanzanian socialism did not improve the standard of living, and he destroyed every incentive to produce, because anybody who earned more than $30,000 a year was in the 95% tax racquet.
Let’s contrast this now with what happened in Kenya under Jomo Kenyatta who ruled from 1963- 1978. He did not socialize the economy, so capitalist incentives existed. Kenya had no significant mineral resources, and less than 20% of its land suitable for farming. Kenyatta did not drive the Europeans out; there was tourism and foreign investment, and still a one-party rule. Even with a one-party government, and all the things I’ve stated, Kenya was one of the places where the people were the most prosperous in Africa.
In conclusion, we see that in a place where there is less government involvement, and more capitalism, there is more freedom and prosperity.
In the government there is a public choice view that says that individuals are self-interested, and when they enter the government they remain self-interested.
The government cannot be expected to be a dispassionate instrument of the public good. The government we have today is very different from the fantasy, comic book ones we are told. Today we have politicians who want to maximize their vote total in order to ensure reelection, bureaucrats that want to maximize their budgets with income and power, and voters who want to maximize the material benefits they receive from the government while minimizing what they pay in.
Now, why are people poorly informed about political issues and candidates? There are various reasons, some people don’t have the time to dedicate time into acquiring knowledge about voting, others prefer using their leisure time in earning more money, doing exercise, resting, spending time with their kids, etc. Doing all these things in your leisure time have a positive effect in your life, but your one vote has essentially no chance of changing the outcome. It’s true that the government will tell you that your vote is the one that makes the difference, but the truth is it doesn’t change anything. That is why a voter will not spend a whole lot of time trying to decide who is the best candidate by gathering information about them and their rivals, if their vote is not the decisive factor.
Then why do people vote? First of all it is a personal satisfaction, it makes you feel good. You feel you’re participating in something really important. There will be a new governor and you want to feel part of it. It’s nothing but a way to feel important and with an identity. Also, others may do it for fun. I mean, if your vote is not the decisive factor, then why not just go ahead and vote for a random candidate? I’m not saying that’s the right thing to do, but that it will really not have a great impact or effect in your life.
Candidates are like a pre-filled grocery cart, they will have things you like and want, and others you detest and hate.
Front-Loading and Political Engineering
What is front- loading and political engineering? Long-time observers of military acquisition, acquisition of weapon systems, planes, etc. have noticed two patterns. The first one is front-loading.
Front-loading is when the military firm will concentrate costs or benefits in an early period of time. It is where they will overpromise what a certain weapon or utility can deliver. For example, they make a gun and they tell you that it’s the newest thing, and that it can shoot three bullets at the same time, and will only cost you 10 bucks. It turns out that there is a better and newer gun out there, and that this one doesn’t shoot three bullets, but only two, and it will cost you 100,000 dollars. So obviously, front-loading is going to fail, but that’s when they have their second strategy.
Political engineering, this is where the military firm makes sure that the project is spread around to as many political and congressional districts around the country as possible, where the congressman is an influential committee chairman. That way, no congressman, no one will ever stop them, and it will become impossible to turn the faucet of the tax payer off.
There are many examples of how this has happened so many times. For example, when they design a weapon against a specific enemy, but it turns out that, that enemy doesn’t exist anymore, yet they keep producing that weapon, so it takes enormous efforts to turn that taxpayer’s spigot off.
So, the government has, and is being used to benefit one particular group at the expense of the public.