by Mahmud Tim Kargbo
It’s the clean truth that creating decent livelihoods in the modern age will require massive investment in public goods. Generating the revenue to pay for these investments in a poor country like Sierra Leone is not an easy political task, especially with unpatriotic nationals in social positions of trust partnering with rogues of neocolonial institutions (World Bank, IMF, European Union etc) in the thick of formating and effecting such policies. While the rich too often find ways to dodge taxes, the poor cannot afford to pay them. The middle classes, feeling abused by the “self-serving elites” and the “entitled poor,” are in open revolt when subsidies are removed in essential goods. This is the political reason why the tax burden must be shifted from labour to capital.
In the current Sierra Leone political economy, however, the suggested policy shifts will certainly be an uphill battle. Whether the political economy of modern capitalism will be more conducive for the Human Economy is an open question. On the one hand, Government, IMF, World Bank, European Union, etc know with distributed technologies across Sierra Leone and network the economy with our huge mineral deposits we have the potential to democratise the means of production. On the other hand, the unprecedented concentration of power in the hands of a single individual with very weak independent institutions to fact check the Executive Arm of government points to the opposite direction. But if the IMF, World Bank, European Union say they are in Sierra Leone to promote democracy and they are the ones providing the funds to sustain the democratic institutions, why are they tolerating such undemocratic acts? Is it because they are equally deceitful and more corrupt? Why are they plotting to further punish our poor people by asking for the removal of subsidies just to squeeze the government to pay their rogue debt considering the current deplorable standard of living of the suffering majority? If the United States, Britain and other advanced countries are increasing their subsidies on essential commodities why is the IMF pressuring our government to remove subsidies on essential goods? This is no longer an issue of the government, but the majority of our people are currently sleeping in abject poverty.
Bizarre we were last told an IMF, World Bank, European Union and government alliance around basic income schemes indicate a window of opportunity. Modern days capitalism is reshuffling political fortunes, and progressives should go out of their way to build coalitions around the need to boost demand. After half a century of supply-side economics and cost-cutting politics, putting incomes back into the centre of economic thinking is an opportunity our government, IMF, European Union and World Bank must not miss.
The government must have understood by now that building the Human Economy is not a technical task, but the outcome of political struggles. Only a broad societal coalition will be able to implement the necessary policy shifts. To build this transformative alliance, we need a platform on which as many communities as possible can come together. This platform cannot be a smorgasbord of policies, but a narrative that explains how we can make the modern age transformation work for everyone.
What could this narrative sound like? Amidst the conflicts over rogue IMF, World Bank and European Union policies and the government, identity and distribution transformation, we need to strengthen the foundations of solidarity among all members of the society. This can only be done through a new social contract for the SierraLeone modern society. This social contract needs to be brokered around a compromise between all stakeholders.
The Human Economy offers such an inclusive compromise. In essence, it transcends the conflict between capital and labour by making human capital the engine of the economy. For capital, the Human Economy offers a solution to the existential threat of collapsing consumption demand. For the working population, the threat of mass unemployment is mitigated through decent livelihoods. And for political decision-makers, the looming threat of social unrest is relieved.
The Sierra Leone social democratic path to development, in other words, creates the necessary demand to sustain the modern economy, the social security our people need to embrace permanent change, the political stability required for the implementation of disruptive reforms. The social contract for the digital society, in a nutshell, is to provide full capabilities to everyone who is willing to contribute to the common good.