The following was originally published on a personal blog, creating an allegory of accountability in society.

It is a quiet day in a little country village, a day like any other. The sun has just broken past the horizon and cleared the hills, painting the valley in warm sunlight, heralding a day of good weather and hopeful productivity. Billy exits his house clutching his head in agony while trying to seek refuge in the settling sight of fresh morning dew.

He had been up all night drinking and playing cards with his friends and was now worrying that he wouldn’t be able to accomplish his job as a baker, the worry compounded by the fact that he may lose customers as a result. Now Billy is in bad condition due to his choice of nightly activities, this predicament has given him two choices. He can either: go to work and try accomplish his set task or stay at home, willing to live with the consequences of not being paid. Billy knows that if the bread isn’t baked, he will receive no income, but he feels that he is willing to stay home and live with the consequences of not working.

It is the same time in the capital (of this fictitious nation that I’m using as an analogy) and the President has just been awoken by his attendant. President Coot has served for two terms, being elected due to his claim that he will build houses for those below the poverty line. That is all well and good, but in the six years he has held the office, he has never fulfilled any of his promises.

Coot gets out of bed and prepares himself for his daily routine of conferences and hollow promises. It is at this time that he realizes that he has a headache due to a late night drinking. Grinning slyly to himself, he goes back to bed; the houses had waited for six years to be built, they could wait a little longer. Coot’s paycheck would keep being cashed like every other day that he continued to prove his promises false.

Coot made a promise to build houses; is that not different from a business contract or a job? In fact, that is his very job. A President’s job is to raise the well being of his nation. So what if he doesn’t do that? He still gets paid. Billy the baker was not paid when he decided that he was not in any condition to work and he accepted that. He knew that if he didn’t do his job, he wouldn’t be paid and was willing to live with the consequences of missed income. Coot however, gets paid regardless if he accomplishes his job or not.

Does that really sound fair? Both undertake a job, but only one of them has to live with the consequences of shirking that job. I will answer that question for you: no, no it doesn’t sound fair. When one has to work to live and another can shirk their responsibility, something has gone drastically wrong. In my opinion, we need to start healing this festering wound in our government.

Too many politicians are paid for doing nothing, elected to that position through promises that no one expects them to keep. I don’t know about you, but to me that is one of the saddest facts. We, as a people, have become such pessimists that we expect politicians to take our money when they do nothing to earn it. To me, we need to start rewriting this stereotype.

Politicians need to be held accountable for what they do or more importantly, what they do not do. The times of empty promises as dusty mandates must be brought to an end and the glorified bureaucrats known as politicians must be brought down to what they really are, people; and like all people, must work for a living.

We must bring in a new era, an era when politicians are paid for doing a job and not holding a title. It must be made law that a politician or government figure is only paid once they have fulfilled at least part of their mandate. If we can begin a new era of accountability we will see a great deal more progress and much fewer hollow promises. Politicians will be forced to only make promises they can keep and will keep them if they want to see a dime. Aid us in fulfilling this dream of a fairer system and start feeling better about your vote and the money you are forced to pay to your government.

 

Nicholas Woode-Smith is co-founder of the Rational Standard and its Technical and Marketing Director. He is a student at the University of Cape Town, with majors in Politics, Philosophy and Economic History. He is the youngest council member of the Institute of Race Relations in history and the Regional Director of Southern Africa for African Students For Liberty. He also writes science fiction – prominently, the Warpmancer and Cape Zero series.