While I think that the problems in South Africa are severe, they must still be seen in perspective.
I continue to believe we are much better off, individually and as a nation, than before 1990. As time passes I think we forget how intrinsically evil the apartheid system and its supporters were. Whilst we have many atrocities in SA, most of them are not committed by and for the government. How many apartheid era politicians, generals, police commissioners were ever tried and convicted, prior to 1990, except when they fell foul of the government.
While bad and getting worse, ANC politicians seem mostly interested in enriching themselves (a noble pursuit in the eyes of most libertarians), rather than imposing bad ideologies. We are not Rwanda, or Ethiopia, or Pol Pot’s Cambodia. Interestingly, I have a niggling suspicion that most wealth producing whites in this country have a better lifestyle than similarly placed Americans. Amazingly, it seems we are subject to fewer draconian regulations, do less work for more income, enjoy lower prices, have fewer threats to our economic survival, and suffer roughly equal crime fears. We lead comfortable lives, as evidenced by the relative surprise of most world cup visitors. Tell me if I’m wrong.
However, this is not the case for the unemployed, the poor and marginalised, mostly black in this country. I suspect that most whites are unaware of just how desperate most of these peoples’ lives really are. I live in the Eastern Cape, close to a squatter camp. Our town divides sharply at a specific road between stability, comfort and security and poverty, disease and death. And the majority of people, voters, live on the wrong side of that road. They live off the charity of the government and municipality, and the taxes that the largely white wealthy pay. Mostly, they are ordinary people trying to make something of life, in the face of huge obstacles. Many of them work incredibly hard for little return. Our taxes are well spent if they persuade these folk to stay on their side of the road.
What should we REALLY want, as wealth producing, tax paying, mostly white SAfricans? (I’m trying not to be racist, just realistic. Both you black people reading this, feel free to lambast me.)
1. I think we are entitled to expect less crime, better policing. By and large, we have purchased this through private security, technology, walls and fences. The police are largely a joke, more to be feared than anything else. (Watch this space for another technology based crime approach).
2. I think we should seek better economic policies from government, less regulation, particularly of labour. Organisations like Solidarity seem to get things done, even if some are misguided. The FMF should strive to have a greater voice. We might get richer, but most importantly, the desperate, revolutionary poor might get richer, stop relying on redistributed taxation, and start contributing to the economy. Do not underestimate the seething anger against the system that the current government must deal with.
3. I think we should seek to be included in the decision making that affects this country. Currently, we are the opposition, noisy, annoying, but ultimately powerless and pointless. The ANC is hugely racist, and should be attacked for this at every opportunity. Apart from one or 2 despicable remnants of the apartheid government, and Jeremy Cronin, how are the majority of taxpayers represented in this government, other than by their wallets? Our concerns about subtle issues like press freedom and property rights get drowned out by the overwhelming “what about the workers!” cry from the tripartite alliance. How do we get to be included? We must acknowledge the real crisis of the poor, sick, unemployed millions. We must get organised (the new Taxpayer Union is a start). We must seek cooperation rather than confrontation. And we must threaten to stop paying taxes.
4. I think we should seek to understand each other better, black and white, rich and poor, smart and stupid. Many continue to live in cocoons of white privilege, unaware and uninterested in the dire poverty we see across the township road. We skip over the raving angry bloggers, we snigger at the Malema’s, and we panic about press freedom. Did the French revolution come as a surprise to the aristocrats? Many good blogs on the internet help address this issue.
5. I think we should unite in order to enforce our constitution, perhaps along the lines of the Tea Party in the US. The libertarians started the Constitutional Freedom Foundation (CFF) several years ago, with this intent. Perhaps it is time for it to be revived. This is the most effective way for minorities to speak to power, and to be heard.