Poverty in the Midst of Plenty: the Paradox of Liberia!

By Alfred P. B. Kiadii

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
June 4, 2016



Throughout the epoch of social existence in the ecology of the world, social structures and societies have been transiently in motion; primarily as a consequence of contradictions-internal and external. This outlook of society has not been taken into consideration by individuals imbibed in the defects of conservatism. These conservatives’ outlooks underestimate the potency of the people’s consciousness.

After the demise of the Berlin Wall, proponents of private capitalism have asserted with all of the ferocity and frenzy at their disposal that economic emancipation of society can only be achieved by using the lopsided capitalist methodology. Though this argument cannot survive in the context of objective analysis and realm of truthfulness, this assertion is made simply because their ideas run in contrast to the dialectic- the science of the change in nature.

Dialectics serves as a mortal hazard to the proponent of private capitalism, in that it is premised on change in nature. While the proponent of private capitalism subscribe to the current outlook of society as being the most natural form. The truism of the efficacy of the dialectics can be traced from the origin of society and the transformation of society, in the context of the emergence of China, Botswana, South Korea, etc. as superior economic powerhouses of the world.

With the growing trend in the emerging market, taking into consideration china as one of the tectonic plates of industrialization and production, the break with private capitalism is gradually taken root. The fractured edifice of private capitalism, as the means to accelerate Third World countries in the emerging market, is being discarded by conscious masses of the people in those countries. The masses of the people are beginning to understand that change of regime cannot guarantee economic transformation, unless it is tie in with torpedoing the economic status quo.

‘Voodoo’ and ‘romantic economists’ will argue that the capitalist system tend to encourage freedom and give rise to the advent of the private sector. But we are the first to reminisce on the fact that most developed countries the world over that have transcended the cesspool of poverty, backwardness and illiteracy did so because they used protectionism and interventionism to stimulate micro economic stability and engender growth. In this light, the public sector participate in setting the agenda for the private sector. With that pattern, growth is enhanced and infant industry in those nations started to make a ‘great leap forward’.

To understand this, one has to reminisce on the famous Marshall plan that was used to revivify the crumbled economies of European countries after the truncation of World War II. This plan was initiated to end hunger, stop unemployment and revive the economies of Western Europe. The essence of the plan was that it allowed the public sector to set the agenda for the private sector. It was short, definite, and decisive.

But today in Africa using such panacea to revive our economies and change the standard of living of our people who lie in ruins and crystal destitution, is considered as a sacrilege or taboo. They want us to experiment a system that has never worked before in any emerging economies. Yet they continue to franchise these absurdities under the canopy of the structural Adjustments Programme (SAP), Aids, etc. but the lives of the African masses, especially Liberians are no better. The irony and tragedy at once, is we continue to allow the Bretton Woods institutions to mislead us that our economy can foster, amidst the exogenous shocks form the global market.

We live in a country whose investment portfolio surpasses 16 billion dollars, yet we are the fourth poorest county in the world. The standard of living of our people is dastardly appalling and abhorrent, in the face of the resources our country is endowed with. We live in a country where 66 out of 68 concession agreements cannot withstand scrupulous cross-examination of Liberian laws, yet we have lawmakers who claim to be performing oversight responsibilities, but in true they are actually visionless and sadistic misleaders, with no vision for the masses of the people. We live in a country where the national shrine and consecrated areas in the countryside were evaded and desecrated under the veil of bring job opportunities to our people, but the true is, our people are making starvation income at those concession areas. They are appendages of the machine and classic example of man’s inhumanity to man.

It is tragic to see average Liberians striving to eke out a living on a daily basis. It is sad that prostitution has skyrocketed in Monrovia and its environs simply because of the poor economic decisions our leaders make in the state, coupled with the despoliation of the people’s resources to achieve unrealistic ends. It is therefore safe, for developmental commentators, who are schooled in the typology and dissection of political economy to assert that our country is in stasis, and we are experiencing the paradox of plenty.  

After the free fall of the American economy, during the Great Depression, as a result of recession, there came a man called Franklin D. Roosevelt who revived the American economy and placed it on a path of irreversible progress. He did that by using empirical step to eviscerate the scourge that reduced the US to a battle ground of riot and anarchy. When Franklin Delano Roosevelt was catapulted to the echelon of the executive magistracy of America, he introduced a socialist-prone policy called the New deal, which primary underpinning was the initiation of the progressive tax system, a system that allowed rich people to pay more tax and encourage them to abandon the selfish act of profiteering to employing Americans who were unemployed. The policy rapidly set the American economy on a buoyant pedestal and mitigated inequality to a larger extent. Today the social security system that distinguishes America from other countries was initiated by him, so as to allow the state to aid its aging, physically and medically challenged population. The policy allowed the state to participate in the development of the private sector.

Not too long ago when the American economy suffered the worst shock of recession since World War II, President Obama introduced a terminology called the ‘economic stimulus package’ to cushion and bailout companies such as General Motors and Chrysler that were under the negative receiving end of the economy nightmare. The US that is the chief purveyor of economic liberalism and neoliberalism did not wait for the invincible hand theory to put their economic on path. They took empirical practical step by giving subsidies to those companies that were victimized by the economic shock, as against the Structural adjustment programme (SAP) that frown against such action. Unto us they franchise this concept that is not workable but they compel us to use it.

Our people hope has been dashed; the future of their children ruined; their aspiration unfulfilled; their interest in governance of the state dissipated. They are now beginning to show contempt for the status quo. Evidenced by the low turnout of voters in the 2014 Senatorial Elections, especially in Montserrado County. In a country of equal citizenship, the people cannot fathom why they are living horribly. They are now beginning to lose the taste for elections, because it do appear to them that the status quo, with its bankrupt economy, continues to circumnavigate with them in the visual cycle of poverty and misery.

Yet our leaders want us to believe that the current status quo is the “natural form of society”. Some even quote scriptural references to solidify their flaw logic and misguided tautology, without understanding the exegesis of those scriptural citations. They also want us to believe that the reason why the vast majority of Liberians who are poor is because they are lazy and lack innovation, which is a sadistic veil to shoehorn their diabolical spree of pillage and plunder.

Aid has been the newest frontier that the current status quo has exploited to bring about change in the material condition of the masses of the people, in an attempt to end the nightmare of poverty that is receding the republic in the abyss of paralysis. Since 2005, this republic has received aid in quintuple and quadruple forms from bilateral and multilateral entities, totaling or surpassing a billon United States Dollars.

Tragically, the grant, loans and other monetary assistance we have received from partners of goodwill have done little or nothing to change the material condition of the masses. Our people are constantly stampeding themselves unto the streets of the city-center and other economic hot zones such as the Redlight, Duala, in order to find a living. Even though, consumption of their products by consumers is dismally and decimally low. They take solace in plying their trade in such a way so as to alleviate themselves from the scourge of lethargy.

It is a truism that our investment portfolio is approximately 17billion, but the people live as mendicants in their homeland. Their existence is shameful; their standard of living is deplorable; opportunities in the republic is bleak.  

Gini index which is the measure of economic inequality in a state. Liberia score is 100, which means we have… inequality in the republic. Suffice it to mean that we have either very affluent people or dirt poor people.  Even our current state architecture manifests this in its salary regime for public officials. Some elitist individuals in the status quo earn between 30,000 to 15,000 USD while ordinary civil servants walk home with chicken fees as emolument. 

Beijing took minimum year to catapult itself to be the second most powerful economy in the world. Botswana, a country nearly experiencing extinction as a result of the endemic nature of HIV Aids, has posited itself as the beacon of hope in Southern Africa, and a shiny example of interventionism and protectionism.

What those who support the free market economic system have refused to enlighten our people, is it is a fact that 10% of Americans controlled 90% of the opulence, while, paradoxically,  90% of American struggled for 10% of the wealth. The purveyor of liberalism cannot help itself in reversing the current backward economic trench it is treading on. Yet they are franchising this model to developing countries.

Essentially, the United States of America can best be describes as the “tyranny of the power elite’’ from the context of political economists. As envisaged by Thomas Piketty, head of the Paris School of Economic, argued intelligently that the United States is on a time bomb that is waiting to explode. He argued that inequality will be so pervasive that the people will topple the status quo and establish the “dictatorship of the proletariat”, which will end wage slavery and establish a pattern of economic model that propels the public good.

Nowadays borrowing is also another frontier our current government is exploring under the canopy of wanting to accelerate growth and garner resources for transformation of the country. What is not true about this is the fact that such justification does not jive with the actual implementation of this plan. Instead of the funds borrowed from these financial institutions use to engender growth in the productive sector of the economy, they are used to line the pockets of greedy public bureaucrats whose contempt for the people is unimaginable. As a result, and as M’baya succinctly and bluntly put it:” Debts entered into for the purposes of financing development were transformed into debt for underdevelopment.”

The Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAP’s) or the Economic Recovery Programmes (ERP), which has been introduced into Liberia and Africa by the Bretton Woods institutions following the ‘Washington Consensus’, as the gospel for the annihilation of economic paralysis in Liberia and Africa- which in turn will lead to a savvy economic boom of African countries has failed to achieve a positive end. The reform measure contained in the SAP have brought untold suffering to the rural and working poor people of the homeland and Africa. As a result, social unrest, chaos, rioting in these countries are becoming very common.

The general assumption of the SAP is that reform will increase saving hence investment, export and productivity. This in turn will topple the income earnings of the working poor masses of the people.  But this strategy is logically barren and economically imprudent in that the assumptions is more of a political tool to cow least developed countries such as ours into submission and continue to exploit our natural resources. And thereby making our economy to be a primary sector driven. It is indeed a non sequitur.

Interestingly, the chef architect of this burlesque or farce dubbed as policy, Professor Joseph Stiglitz, reached his moment of epiphany and thus tendered in his resignation from the World Bank. He now realized privatization, unhindered trade, lack of government intervention in the economy of states have not helped to alleviate poverty. No study has shown any dramatic transformation of countries that have used this model.
Since 1979 China has been able to obtain the highest level of economic transformation without the use of privatization. Studies have shown that the state-owned steel industry in South Korea is one of the most efficient in the world. Botswana has realized that the essence of state-ownership that is the reason why it is a shiny example of economic prosperity in Africa.

But our Liberia prefer to be exporting raw materials for little or nothing to western countries, while we paid whooping sum to these countries when the raw materials are transformed into finished products. We prefer to continue with this absurdity unabated then to have a paradigm shift in our economic model.

The irony here is that we are been told that our country is either a postwar ‘success story’ or it is gradually becoming a ‘success story’ but this is yet to be felt in most households. So we allow these ‘romantic economists’ to pacify us with these very outrageous economic indicators that do not show any improvements in the livelihood of our people.

Amidst this tragic state of affairs in the homeland, the current opposition is the reflection of the status quo. Their disagreement with the regime is perfunctory and cosmetic. They disagree with the regime on mundane things and agree with it on fundamental ideological issues. That is the reason why we think they are no different from the regime they want to unseat.

The masses are beginning to realize that their current nightmare can only be pulverized by the emergence of a vanguard movement that will subsequently be catapulted to the echelon of the state. Such movement will then initiate programs and policies that will be a break from the current status quo. The Chinese did it in 1979 and it is working for them. The South Koreans did it and it is working for them. Singapore did it by electing Lee Kuan Yew and it has worked for them. Botswana has done it and they are shinny example in Africa. The Scandinavian countries have done it devoid of the Bretton Woods institutions and they are making tremendous progress. Let us do it so other civilizations can begin to understand that we are a thinking people!

Author's Statement: Alfred P. B. Kiadii is a student of the University of Liberia who studies Political Science and Public Administration. He is an ardent disciple and follower of the philosophical and Pan-Africanist ideological constructs of Dr. H. Boima Fahnbulleh, Jr, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, Mwalimu Julius K. Nyerere, Gamal Abdel Nasser, and Dr. Edward Wilmot Blyden.

Furthermore, he is the Director of the Bureau of Information, Press, Outreach and Mobilization of the Liberia National Students Union (LINSU). He is a convinced young man who believes in the potency of the people to make history. He can be reached on +231 770135042/888995870 or bokiadii@gmail.com

Sylvester moses
In the last decade, Liberians have experienced poverty in the midst of plenty because of corruption and massive stealing. For instance, little is heard of the precious minerals industry. But allegedly our diamonds and gold are transported to Brussels by special couriers, and sold for the benefit of few. Simply put, if the funds from natural resources and taxes weren't misused by the powers that be, pervasive poverty and hunger wouldn't have been a curse for millions of people. And as long as we keep on electing dishonest individuals and crooks, the situation won't change.
Sylvester moses at 05:11PM, 2016/06/04.
Sylvester, the social system operates on a production relation which breeds corruption. Even Jesus Christ can do nothing under such a system. We do not only need men of reputable character and good intension;by extension, we need people who understand the dynamics of happenings and are willing and able to spearhead a revolutionary change of the present system, thereby reorganizing it's productive forces for the collective good. Without this, one's good intention will be swallowed in the abyss.
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