It’s always great to see African artists from across the world collaborating. Music is one of the most dynamic and organic of human expressions, and it’s through music that we can usually feel and see the commonalities which exist between black people around the world. When we go to a club, we’re so used to dancing to African sounds from across the diaspora that it is wholly unremarkable to us. Music traverses all of the borders and divisions that we have put up between us. And it’s a beautiful thing!
Recently, some Uganda artists have released some top-quality collabos. In early 2013, dancehall giant Bobi Wine released a couple of tracks with fellow dancehall veteran from Jamaica, Mr G (nee Goofy). And just this month, Uganda artist Navio teamed up with Keith Sweat of all people, to produce the infectious On and On. Enjoy!
Came across this interesting article written by Sam Bowman on the Adam Smith Institute blog:
“The public is ignorant about politics and lacks even the basic facts that it would need to make sound judgments about political issues. A new poll by Ipsos-MORI
shows just how deep this ignorance is. Among other things, the poll found that:
- 29% of people think we spend more on JSA than pensions, when in fact we spend 15 times more on pensions (£4.9bn vs £74.2bn)
- 26% of people think foreign aid is one of the top 2-3 items government spends most money on, when it actually made up 1.1% of expenditure (£7.9bn) in the 2011/12 financial year. More people select this as a top item of expenditure than pensions (which cost nearly ten times as much, £74bn) and education in the UK (£51.5bn)
- the public think that 31% of the population are immigrants, when the official figures are 13%. we greatly overestimate the proportion of the population who are Muslims: on average we say 24%, compared with 5% in England and Wales.
- people are most likely to think that capping benefits at £26,000 per household will save most money from a list provided (33% pick this option), over twice the level that select raising the pension age to 66 for both men and women or stopping child benefit when someone in the household earns £50k+. In fact, capping household benefits is estimated to save £290m, compared with £5bn for raising the pension age and £1.7bn for stopping child benefit for wealthier households.
These are not just little mistakes, they’re absolute howlers.
This ignorance is perfectly rational and understandable. The problem is that these are the people who decide who runs the country. How can you choose the best set of welfare policies – ‘the best’ being what you would choose if you had all the information available – when you know absolutely nothing about welfare? How can you choose which of the two main parties is offering the best immigration policy if you haven’t got a clue about immigration?
Obviously, you can’t. And giving more power to well-informed elites seems even more foolish. Political psychology suggests
that that the more information you have about something, the more resistant to new, contradictory information you are – or, in other words, the more dogmatically ideological you are.
That ideology is often dressed up in terminology that sounds neutral but makes significant assumptions about the role of the state and its ability to effectively solve society’s problems. Anyone for some ‘evidence-based policy’?
This is a problem not just for elections, but for any kind of administration of the state that gives experts decision-making power. If they are inherently dogmatic then giving them power may be even worse than putting every policy issue up to a referendum may be the lesser of two evils (while still being very unappealing).
The choice we have in a democracy appears to be between open-minded ignoramuses or well-informed ideologues. There is no reason to think that either will choose anything like the ‘right’ policy for any given problem. And, as Jeffrey Friedman has argued
, unlike when you buy the ‘wrong’ flavour of ice-cream and can immediately buy a different kind next time, the feedback mechanism in politics is weak and difficult to discern.
The answer may be to recognise these crippling limitations of democracy and, wherever possible, prefer decentralized market mechanisms. We cannot solve the problem of ignorant voters or dogmatic elites in democracy, but we can at least try to take as much power out of their hands as possible.”
Pambazuka News recently published a report on how the Rwandan government is using harassment, force and imprisonment to clamp down on street vendors in the capital, Kigali. It is a classic demonstration of the predatory, violent and parasitic nature of the State which deserves some comment.
Street vendors are a ubiquitous presence in African cities. While walking or driving along any main street, you will pass a multitude of men, women and children offering all kinds of items, from water, juice, sweets, gum and savory snacks to shoes, clothes, newspapers, and mobile phone credit. These traders don’t wait for you to come to them, they go to where you are, and will even run after your car or bus to complete a sale! This mobility gives them a major advantage over stationary businesses (although obviously the latter can offer a wider range of stock). It’s clearly hard work with long days, and it can’t be good for them to be breathing in those exhaust fumes on a daily basis. But this activity provides them with a means to generate a valuable income which they can then use for whatever they wish.
However, many ‘development’ experts view these people as a problem, mainly because they do not give any money to the State coffers. They form part of the ‘informal’ sector which employs a large chunk of Africans and which due to it’s ephemeral nature, States are unable to control and exact tribute from. In the UK, we would call this ‘cash-in-hand’ work as distinct from the wages system that most of us are under whereby our earnings are processed by payroll departments who to siphon off 30-40% in taxes on behalf of the state.
Largely in order to deal with this ‘problem’, the Rwandan government has opened several designated markets in the capital city, Kigali where vendors have to pay a fee in order to sell their wares. But of course, the government is not relying on persuasion to encourage vendors to use these markets. With the typical zeal of bureaucratic, top-down planners, the government has declared it illegal for anyone to trade in the streets, and sends its armed men (police) to hunt down and any of these ‘illegal’ traders. Those who are caught have their goods confiscated and are sent away to camps (it’s not a prison though!) for unspecified periods for ‘development’ and ‘rehabilitation’.
This is a classic case of how states get in the way of people using their initiative to make a living. They are not happy to simply provide a framework in which people can find their own independent solutions to the challenges of poverty such as street vending. Instead, they want to control peoples’ activities so as to take money from them in the form of taxes, no doubt to then use for ‘poverty-reduction’ and ‘development’ schemes dreamed up by its ‘experts’.
As Charles W. Johnson points out in his provocative and powerful article Scratching By: How Government creates Poverty as we know it: “the one thing that the government and its managerial aid workers will never do is just get out of the way and let poor people do the things that poor people naturally do, and always have done, to scratch by.”