Why Africa Should Worry Less About Income Inequality

Early this week, the South Africa Daily Maverick published an op-ed titled, “It’s not Zuma that we need protection from, it’s the market.” While the author rightly calls out the role of cronyism in destroying ordinary South Africans’ economic mobility, she doesn’t seem to make a distinction between economic freedom and crony capitalism.

This spotlights a crucial misunderstanding in the ongoing battle against capitalism in South Africa, and across Africa.The values of freedom will continue to take a back seat as anti-market forces demand more state control of the economy against “corporate” interests.

The Benefits Seem Unattainable

How is it that perceptions of the market are so negative on a continent with such a rich tradition of economic freedom?

It can be alleged that the arguments for capitalism have become too utilitarian to appeal to a continent that has been ravaged by the effects of slavery, colonialism, kleptocracy, ethnic genocide, crony capitalism, and extreme poverty. Indeed, in his 1999 book “Development as Freedom,” Harvard Professor Amartya Sen argued,

The discipline of economics has tended to move away from focusing on the value of freedoms to that of utilities, incomes, and wealth. This narrowing of focus leads to an under appreciation of the full role of the market mechanism, even though economics as a profession can hardly be accused of not praising markets enough.”

Read more at FEE Online 

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