The Ugly Face Of Capitalism In Ghana

Mon, 22 Nov 2010 Source: Darko, Otchere

By: Otchere Darko

I am always the first to admit that the capitalist system is more efficient economically and, therefore, more likely to lead to business success, economic growth and prosperity. The concept of “profit maximisation”, which is one of the bedrock principles of Capitalism, encourages the constant search for, and use of cost-efficient technology to cut down on unit cost and help increase the margin of profit. It also encourages market research with the view to matching consumer needs with production and, thereby, avoiding unwanted products that go to waste, or excess output that can pull prices down in relation to unit cost. The concept of “free market”, which is another of the basic principles that underlie Capitalism, also allows prices to determine and drive economic activity and allocation of resources. In this way, the relationships between companies, businesses, industries, investments, skill training and deployment, labour, other production inputs such as land, etc, become completely directed by market conditions, whereby these market conditions set and control economic temperature, pressure and flow and, thereby, install within a capitalist economy an in-built self-regulatory, self correction and self-rationalisation mechanism. This last benefit of the “free-market” phenomenon makes some capitalists argue that the market is capable of controlling itself, and, therefore, there is no need for Government intervention to direct or correct a seemingly faltering micro-economy. *In Ghana, one may also add to the above benefits of Capitalism, the constant failures of State owned companies and other public business entities, whose such constant failures turn people against State participation in pure economic ventures. These phenomenal failures of Ghanaian public enterprises add extra weight to the argument by pro-capitalist agitators who want the Government to divest all such public entities into private hands. The failure of former Ghana Airways; the failure of its current successor, GIA; the failures GIHOC and most of its subsidiaries; the failure of Ghana Railway Company; the constant bailing of Tema Oil Refinery by the Government; and the numerous failures of other public ventures that cannot be listed here; are all ample proof that State-owned companies and other public investment ventures in Ghana can never succeed and should, therefore, not be encouraged. The arguments against “state ownership”, and in favour of “private ownership” are therefore compelling, when viewed from the analysis above.

On the other hand, in a country like Ghana where poverty is extreme and pervasive, and where also people are ignorant and powerless, Capitalism also tends to create harmful effects that constantly disturb the socio-political calm in the country and raise constant doubts as to whether this Western practice that has always found favour with all investors and businessmen, and which also has warm reception in the hearts of our greedy Ghanaian politicians is right for this country. It is said that “a dog that is left hungry goes ‘wild’ even in its own home.” On the other hand, one can also say that “a dog that is well fed is human-friendly and cooperative”. These two facts about the dog are also true about the human being. When people are well cared for, they become good, law-abiding and positive citizens. On the other hand, when people are left unemployed, badly paid, poor, hungry, uncared for, etc, as it happens in Ghana, they develop anti-social behaviours and become hardened criminals. If this fact is factored into the political, economic, business and social plans and agendas of all political parties in Ghana and all people responsible for business strategy development and planning, many of the negative social tendencies that take place in this country would not occur; or they would be vastly reduced, even if they would not completely vanish.

A Ghanaian proverb says: “Nsatea nyinara enntumi ennye pe da.” Literarily translated into English, this Akan proverb means “all [the five] fingers can never be equal”. This proverb underscores one basic reality in life, which that it is impossible for all people to be equal in any country.......not even in Communist China. * However, when a group of “laissez faire” politicians purports to pursue what it calls “property-owning democracy”, which its members claim is intended to promote the creation of a society within which there are equal opportunities for people to aspire for and work towards; and which enable citizens to achieve individual goals that include individual private property ownership; but, then, members of this same group keep enriching themselves and their close associates through constant “grabbing” of divested State lands, “looting” of furnishings in their former official accommodations, and “snatching” of their former official vehicles that collectively belong to all Ghanaians, while the poor majority whose interests they ought to be seeking is excluded; then the group members and their form of “democracy” are wicked, dishonest, and disgraceful. *When Chief Executive Officers and other Company Directors and Managers in control of companies and other establishments pay to each member of themselves a remuneration that is equal to, or more than the total of the combined incomes of say one hundred or five hundred or even one thousand ordinary workers whose physical sweat and mental stress mostly help to create the wealth these companies and other establishments generate, then such executives are gluttonous, exploitative, insensitive, and cruel. *When, in times of economic adversity, those who are more likely to be worst off, as a result of the said adversity, become the same people who get thrown over-board to “save the sinking ship”, then the system that advocates and permits this form of bias and unfairness is regressive, irrational and inhumane.

I personally do not believe that some human beings were created or born “criminals”. Instead, I do believe that situations create these deviant behaviours in some people. Most of these situations relate to poverty, excessive income inequality, economic and social injustice, abuse of positions of trust, and the insensitivity of those who have had the privilege of being in charge of the political, economic, business and other decisions that affect people in workplaces and in a free country. *It is said “a mother who does not care to get up from bed at night to breastfeed her ’crying baby’ never gets the opportunity to close her own eyes to sleep”. No proverb could be a better forewarning to our Ghanaian business executives or political leaders about the consequences of neglecting those they manage or rule. Let all be forewarned, therefore. *Until Ghanaian Chief Executive Officers and others who are privileged to take corporate decisions that affect the general and individual wellbeing of their workers realise that an unhappy worker is a bad worker; *Until Ghanaian politicians who have been voted to rule us control their own greed, and put in place mechanisms that remove or curtail the excessive socio-economic inadequacies, disparities, abuses, and injustices in this country..... including: the absence of lawful employment opportunities, the excessive and widespread poverty, the excessive income inequality, the naked cheating of the economic and social underdog, the “grabbing and grabbing...... and then work assiduously to remove or curtail these underlying causes of discontent; *Until other powerful Ghanaians, who are in positions of influence and control, do act to stop the on-going “mass rape” of underprivileged Ghanaians by powerful business executives and politicians in power, instead of them sitting aloof and watching, or condoning with these “manipulators”, “cheaters” and “treasure hunters”; *Until all these participants who play, or need to play various roles in Ghana’s political, economic, judicial and social development learn to install and use mechanisms to direct, manage and control affairs properly and fairly, criminality in Ghana will never go down. *To the privileged class of Ghanaians...... the big business executives who are seen “bloated” with wealth, while their workers are “emaciated” with poverty; the political class who have accumulated power and wealth and are living majestically, at the expense of poor moaning Ghanaians; and other powerful Ghanaian on-lookers, who can act to stop unfairness and injustice but are conniving or condoning...... I say to you verily: it is “YOU” who will become the worst victims of rising criminality, if you fail to take realistic steps sooner than later to attack it by dealing with, and removing its “root causes”, instead of leaving these root causes to stay as they are, while worrying security personnel to chase, on the spur of the moment, crimes that are consequential to, and inseparable from these “root causes”; and only after they have been committed, and lives and property have already been sadly lost.

Source: Otchere Darko. [This writer is a centrist, semi-liberalist, pragmatist, an advocate for “inter-ethnic cooperation and unity” and a community-based development protagonist. He opposes the negative, corrupt, and domineering politics of NDC and NPP; actively campaigns for the development and strengthening of “third parties”; and opposes a two-party only system of democracy in Ghana.]

Columnist: Darko, Otchere