Thursday, May 23, 2024

Family and work undergird economic prosperity

In our quest to find paths to economic growth and prosperity, we are understandably inclined to focus our energies on promoting macroeconomic stability, a conducive business environment and good infrastructure. While these are without a shadow of a doubt prerequisite, they are always going to be insufficient unless our society is also undergird by strong family units, celebration of work and a good education system. 

The family for example, is the primary unit of society and whatever initiatives our government conjures, will bear little fruit unless they are based in a setting that promotes strong families. This used to be widely accepted as a good foundation for prosperity but over time, political leaders of all stripes caved in to political correctness. Promoting two parent families for the good of children, is now seen as bigotry and our political leaders have been cowered. The fact of the matter is that two parent families are more likely to enjoy stable incomes while single parents on the other hand, dominate the bottom rungs of income earners. However to duck out of the issue and still expect prosperity is illusory. 

The Church leaders especially those of the Roman Catholic used to steadfastly promote marriage and families as the bed rock of society. Unfortunately, they too have succumbed to the spirit of our age. The church of Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI is becoming but a shell of its former self. It is now mesmerised by fashionable temporal affairs of climate change, globalism and gay marriage.  As if it could not get any worse, just this week, the pontiff caused even more confusion and division among the flock when he went against the traditional teaching of his church and endorsed homosexual unions. One wishes that he could just follow in the footsteps of his predecessors, forget the Hollywood crowd and promote marriage for the sake of economic and spiritual progress.     

Political leaders on the other hand now run for public office by promising to expand the welfare state as well as offer more freebies than their rivals.  Consequently, our political discourse is now defined by the notion of whom among the contestants, could spend other people’s money the most. In the process, capitalism as the greatest system that man has ever known for producing wealth is turned on its head and destroyed. 

Instead of extolling the virtues of labour and dignity of work, politicians flaunt freebies.  For example, former president Ian Khama spent a lot of valuable time distributing free blankets and soup to the poor and would never spend a moment to promote the value of work to earn a living. That pernicious posture has not ended after his departure. Instead of free soup and blankets, President Masisi is busy handing rams for free.  This is unserious because no country has even made the leap to high income on the back of free stuff and welfare packages. 

Deep down their hearts, politicians know that handing out free stuff encourages idleness. They also know that the only proven way for people to break out of poverty is when welfare is replaced by work. However this is not an easy message with which to win votes. So instinctively, they sell a message of free stuff, get elected and repeat it all over until a rival who promises better free stuff comes along.  The priority is therefore not to   promote a robust system to enable people to help themselves. It is about politicians pursuing their own narrow personal interests to ascend to office. Were it otherwise, the politicians would be preaching tough love of work and raising children in two parent families.  They can’t because all they are after are just votes. 

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