Paying Homage to Roman Grynberg April 8, 2015
For several years, Prof. Roman Grynberg has made our local papers much more interesting to read with more well researched articles RG. But they have probably not been rubbing all readers the right way, hence he is about to leave Botswana in a few weeks time.
There have been many revealing articles in the past about e.g. BPC versus Eskom, the BMC debacle, mining problems and coal export and the SACU straight jacket we have. This week we read one of his most interesting essays – ‘The working poor are getting poorer’ supplemented by diagram and shocking statistics. And as usual, he doesn’t hesitate to point out possible consequences and prescribe remedies.
Thus, he concludes that the government must recognize that we have a problem, undermining social cohesion and the peace of the nation. In my view (JW), this is the major reason for voter apathy and confusion in most political parties. Ruling party and government are currently trying the charity concept and the opposition parties is shouting for more jobs (i.e. wishful thinking when not telling us how to create them and postponing thinking unto next election).
The professor is suggesting steps to increase jobs by helping unions and employers to introduce productivity bargaining and sectors moving to a tax free export processing zone as they have in Namibia, where R G is going, soon. The ‘bargaining’ sounds to me very much like what they have in some countries where there is productivity, still – sweatshops and work done under contract with piece wages, often leading to stress and health problems if not firmly controlled. But, of course, it must be tried if it is reducing unemployment.
The tax free zone concept has in fact been proposed about 15 years ago for planned (and approved) industrial, commercial and housing portions of private farms east of Lobatse towards the border. To no avail, though – I remember the problem then, receiving power from BPC and I also suspect a SACU spectre. There is more for R G to investigate on this tax free zone issue, if he has the time.
In this recent article, R G is concluding in the end that “the conditions of the poor in the country can only be alleviated by sustained economic growth…(and that) workers world over know that it is good, productive and well paid jobs that is the only thing that will eventually drag them out of poverty”.
Yes, R G, US workers knew that but the jobs disappeared, outsourced. So it is in most post-industrial countries, today. Investors and entrepreneurs prefer lowest possible minimum wages and the most liberal regulations. And even a modest 3% economical growth rate is not sustainable in a world of diminishing resources, to be sure.
What to do then? Is it only charity, based on smaller gross income, or are we prepared to discuss the Steady State Concept for the long run?