The state is too big, and it must be shrunk. Horrible as it is, jobs must be shed in the public sector, the unions must be confronted, and the labor laws which violate equality before the law between employer and employee must be repealed.
These are things beyond voting, that are crucial to the survival of South African society.
Most would agree that the state should not be people’s parents. I say most because there are some who genuinely believe that bureaucrats and politicians should fulfil the roles played by family members and immediate community members in taking care of individuals. Imagine a parent who takes money from their children, gives back half to them after using it for their own sustenance, and then turns around and said they are providing for their family. That is the paternalistic state for you! This state is a parent that provides by taking from their children!
I mention this before making a case for the drastic shedding of jobs in the public sector to preempt the rebuttal that the state does a lot for ‘the masses’. This would be tantamount to the father we described above telling the child what he does for them when the child contemplates breaking off any relationship with him. So, what the government does, through its agents in the public sector, for the people, is nothing the people cannot do for themselves!
The South African public sector must be decreased in size and cost to citizens. South Africa is a country wherein tax cuts for individuals are never even considered, due to the near guaranteed increase in government expenditure thanks to the bloated state. The end of lessening the public sector wage bill and its size in general is the decrease of taxes for South Africans.
Less money going towards taxes, means more money to spend or do anything else with in the economy, thus growing it, thus creating the environment that will absorb the workers that will be seeking employment. Therefore, firing the scores of public sector employees who eat up a large portion of any departmental budget – although disadvantageous to the employees themselves in the short term,- will be beneficial to the entire catallaxy/economy in the long run.
I can already predict your mind and heart thinking about those job losses and the pain of unemployment for all those people. For that the father and child analogy should help. It will be admittedly difficult for the father when his child cuts him off or stops him from taking his money since his sustenance will be in jeopardy. Yet, cutting the father off in the long run will be beneficial for both parties. The child will learn independence and the consciousness for self-determination with their own resources, and so will the father.
The public sector in South Africa is staffed with people who make citizens dread interacting with their government, from professions to civil service and bureaucrats. If you do not have a horror story with a government service, you may need your ‘South Africa’ credentials checked. Getting these people absorbed in the private sector will be difficult, but that is no rebuttal of the fact that their continued leeching off of private citizens is unjust and should be arrested.
The solution is for that state to decrease in both size and scope. Part of that includes firing a whole lot of people currently in its employ. “You’re fired” is what South Africans should be demanding their political parties say to the public sector they may administer should they come to power in 2024, lest the country continue its march down the road of serfdom it is on.
Zakhele Mthembu BA Law LLB (Wits) is a legal researcher at the Free Market Foundation. The views expressed in the article are the author’s and not necessarily shared by the members of the Foundation.