Economies of western developed countries are not suffering from Great Depression like the one which followed the New York stock market crash of 1929. They are, however, not in the best of times. Neither are we since when the West sneezes developing countries catch a cold.
In 1963, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected Democratic Party president of the United States.
The Great Depression was at its apogee. Instead of wasting time looking for scapegoats for the national calamity, Roosevelt and his advisors set about a scheme for improving the economy and providing welfare services to those who were desperate.
Not every American welcomed the New Deal. As always, there are a few people who prosper when most of them are suffering. When there are shortages of anything, its prices shoot up, the profiteer has the field day.
That the majority of the American people were happy with Roosevelt was evidence by their giving him four terms instead of two to serve them as their president.
In 1944 just a year before his death in office, Roosevelt issued what he called Economic Bills of Rights with a preamble which read: In our day, these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race or creed. Among these are:
2.Â Â The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation.
3.Â Â The right to earn enough, provideÂ adequate food and recreation.
4.Â Â The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living.
5.Â Â The right of every businessperson, large or small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopoly at home or abroad.
6.Â Â The right of every family to a decent home.
7.Â Â The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health.
8.Â Â The right to adequate protection from economic fears of old age, sickness, accident and unemployment.
9.Â Â The right to a good education.
Clarence B Carson from whose book A Basic History of the United States these citations are called denounces these statements as not natural rights for they give the right to some people to make claims against the products of those who are more active.
Because rights are not natural does not mean they are less important. I suggest that we should think of incorporating these rights into our own working documents or manifestoes.
Rights, however, should go hand in hand with obligations. In return for enjoying these rights what is the citizen expected to do for society or his country.
Reverting to the traditional method of calculating civil servants pension is retrograde and regrettable. A court interprets the law as it is but does not command government to perpetrate the law even when it has lost its usefulness.
One of the greatest weaknesses in our African attitude towards earnings is the propensity to spend the whole of it rather than to save some.
Read about the newly-industrialised countries of the Far East and you will learn that they engage in a good deal of savings, at least 20 percent of their earnings.
Asking civil servants to contribute five percent towards their pension is not an infringement of their rights but enhancement of their social security.
The alternative to the two arrangements is to make contribution of five percent voluntary.
Let those civil servants who are prepared to make this contribution do so and attach some privileges to the contribution such as bonuses. Where people do not make voluntary savings, governments make them compulsory.Â Â
When Admarc was a monopoly (sole buyer) an element of compulsory saving was practised and it accumulated a lot of cash which it invested in several state corporations.