Big Business Should Reconsider Its Position on Policy Very Carefully

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Big business

Over the last two decades, the African National Congress’ socialist policies have wrecked the South African economy. Before the lockdown, South Africa hovered around 1-2% economic growth for 2020. With COVID-19 and subsequent nationwide lockdown, any talk of growth is moot. Despite the incredible damage that has been caused by the implementation of immoral and misguided social, economic and political ideas, it seems there are some in the public and private sectors who believe more socialism is the cure for South Africa’s woes.

Writing on the Daily Friend recently, Dr Anthea Jeffery drew attention to the ever-mounting possibility that South Africans’ pension funds may well be the next target in the government’s sights. While we expect insane policies and ideas to come from this government, what really drew my attention was the mention that big business is open to supporting such a move. That some of South Africa’s bigger businesses are apparently open to being complicit in this, a measure that would destroy pensions, should raise the strongest ire, outcry, and condemnation from anyone who values the proper moral nature of doing business.

According to Dr Jeffery, at the 17 April meeting of the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC),

“investment banker Martin Kingston assured the government and Cosatu that the business community was already identifying what ‘reserves were available’. The meeting also discussed how ‘funds from SA’s private sector savings (including pensions) and investments, which are estimated to be worth about R8-trillion’ could be ‘mobilised for the stimulus package’.”

Any business or organisation that supports policies that increase the government’s control over people, deserve the strongest moral condemnation. South Africa was already in a weak, compromised position before the lockdown because of the government’s systemic assault on individual and economic freedom, on people’s ability to earn a living, and on incentives to live and generate wealth in this country.

No matter what purported noble end may be suggested for these funds, for example a stimulus package for post-COVID-19 South Africa, the ends never justify the means when people’s wealth and livelihoods are at stake. Millions of South Africans have worked for years to save for their pensions, pensions which they deserve to enjoy when they are older. To even presume that their decades of hard work can just be rendered meaningless, by using those funds for packages or projects deemed necessary by some politician or bureaucrat, spits on any proper notion of individual agency and dignity. That some are even entertaining such an authoritarian move in the ‘new’ South Africa makes a mockery of over a century of fighting against the intrusive, overbearing state.

Exorbitantly high taxes, collectivist policies such as Black Economic Empowerment, and immoral labour legislation such as the National Minimum Wage Act, have destroyed many people’s wealth, driven productive people overseas, and made it exceedingly difficult for businesses to grow, and for people to find jobs. Simply looking for the next opportunity for looting, will not solve any of South Africa’s underlying economic problems. Those with the necessary political connections will enjoy using others’ pensions for themselves, and those who have been robbed will simply be told it is a ‘great injustice’ and ‘sadness’ and that the same mistakes will not be made in the future. Rinse and repeat.

Perhaps some of the businesses and organisations that support the taking of pensions do so because they think this time it will be different. This time the government will do the right thing, there won’t be corruption, and the funds they get through pensions will be used for a noble purpose. 

Any such thinking is already flawed from the start, because the taking of people’s property (wealth, land, assets, etc.) is immoral from inception.

In Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, Ayn Rand wrote that, “Every government interference in the economy consists of giving an unearned benefit, extorted by force, to some men at the expense of others.” While my target in this piece is the current government, a move of this nature by any government or political party would deserve the strongest condemnation and resistance. Here we are dealing with the proper, moral role of government – and the seizure of people’s pensions is an immoral act, regardless of who is in power.

To support any socialist policy is not in any business’ interest. The larger a government grows, the less individual and economic freedom a country has. Small businesses have no chance of surviving in such an environment. Only those with the necessary political connections will ‘prosper.’ Any individual, business, or organisation that supports evil, immoral socialist policies, such as the seizure of pension funds, do not deserve the label of ‘capitalist.’