mweiss

"Capitalism" in Ghana

8 posts in this topic

I read this interesting comment in a discussion about jailing debtors on NakedCapitalism.com:

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2010/06/jai...#comment-125526

"I just came from a trip to Ghana, which has implemented a majority of the “Propertarian” ideals (flat tax, no property taxes, limited gov’t regulation, etc.)

The country is the embodiment of “free-markets” run amok. On a busy street, one can’t even breathe the air b/c of no emission standards for cars; I can only imagine what lung cancer deaths are going to be like in a few years.

People build houses where ever they want, sometimes in the middle of roads. But because *everything* is for sale, all it takes is a market-clearing bribe to change the property line or road. Many roads are unusable, so people drive on the sidewalk (you think I’m joking?). The traffic system is non-existent, leading to an inordinate number of horrific traffic accidents. People will straight refuse to drive to parts of the capital city, simply because traffic is a disaster, & isn’t coordinated at a higher level. Traffic cops will literally come up to your car asking for a bribe to let your lane pass.

If you want to see Propertarianism in action, go live in a developing nation (not the tourist areas), and see how you like it."

What I think may be the problem with this scenario above is that property rights might not be enforced or protected by the government. I certainly saw this living in the Philippines years ago. People would build right up against your house if you didn't stop them physically.

The posting above seems to be the standard de factor argument against Capitalism and laissez-faire.

Can anyone posit a good counter argument and demonstrate in clear terms how the above analysis is incorrect? Property rights, individual rights, etc, seem like the direction that argument would take, but can anyone elaborate?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The person has no understanding of rights nor what Capitalism is, so I would offer that you are wasting your time attempting to have a discussion with the person that you quoted. For example, under Capitalism there are no government bribes to be bought as under Capitalism we have a government of laws not of men. The men that are in the government are there to protect rights through their actions not destroy their citizens rights.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would also offer that what is quoted above sounds like anarchy which for those that have studied history know almost always leads to tyrants gaining power.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Calling a third-world hellhole like Ghana capitalist is like calling Soulja Boy's "Pretty Boy Swag" classical music. A capitalist country is one where you can't build a house in the middle of a road because the owner of the road won't let you and the cops are busy protecting people's rights, not robbing them. The only time in history that a country ever came close to true capitalism was the United States in the 19th century; the closest example in recent history is probably Hong Kong. If lefties want to argue against capitalism, let them argue against those places, not Ghana.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Indeed, this is libertarian anarchy. Nothing new there. Leaving the use of force to the market always results in those best able to administer it gaining power and running large swathes of the country (this has been particularly true in Iraq, and in Somalia, which now has financial markets to fund pirate expeditions!)

The only place where this has close to worked was Moscow in the 1990s, where 8000 mafias coordinated a system of contract enforcement (administered via old dogs who had done prison time and whose views were respected), the cost to a company for protection being around 30% (much lower than the state's 90%). I have heard this system has been mostly dismantled as the Russians are trying to attract investment into the country and are beefing up the "proper" way to enforce contracts, via the state's justice system (although I have also been told just yesterday by a guy who works at a very senior level there that it is still necessary to grease the system continuously to get anything done).

Ayn Rand stated that it was necessary to have the state run justice, police and the army, and history has proven her right many times over, and never wrong.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wonder if it is possible to post an answer to this kind of "analysis"; possible in the sense that one can make a case that will be considered by a person amenable to reason. Or is the "other side" already so sold on their erroneous "definition" of capitalism that there is, as a practical matter, no hope.

I hear the word "capitalism" used incorrectly so often, by those on all sides, it doesn't seem hopeful to spend a lot of time correcting people.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I wonder if it is possible to post an answer to this kind of "analysis"; possible in the sense that one can make a case that will be considered by a person amenable to reason. Or is the "other side" already so sold on their erroneous "definition" of capitalism that there is, as a practical matter, no hope.

I hear the word "capitalism" used incorrectly so often, by those on all sides, it doesn't seem hopeful to spend a lot of time correcting people.

It seems to me that most of the people that write articles like the one linked to have no understanding of capitalism nor a concern to rethink their premise when a proper definition is given. So, as their mind is shut to reason and logic I do not care to waste my time having a discussion with them. What I think a person can do is to exemplify their moral code which can draw the attention of the good while letting the evil waste away in the pest hole they create for themselves.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I wonder if it is possible to post an answer to this kind of "analysis"; possible in the sense that one can make a case that will be considered by a person amenable to reason. Or is the "other side" already so sold on their erroneous "definition" of capitalism that there is, as a practical matter, no hope.

I hear the word "capitalism" used incorrectly so often, by those on all sides, it doesn't seem hopeful to spend a lot of time correcting people.

It seems to me that most of the people that write articles like the one linked to have no understanding of capitalism nor a concern to rethink their premise when a proper definition is given. So, as their mind is shut to reason and logic I do not care to waste my time having a discussion with them. What I think a person can do is to exemplify their moral code which can draw the attention of the good while letting the evil waste away in the pest hole they create for themselves.

I agree about not trying to argue with those who won't listen to reason, but there are many misconceptions about capitalism even among those who are more honest, so I think it's important to keep pointing out the correct definition for their benefit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites