African History 7.1 Poverty and Development
Ah, neoliberalism and Africa...they go together like peanut butter and yeast infections.
|World History||African History|
The original liberals wanted companies to be able to do whatever they wanted without [Rousseau stood in front of a busy city]
the government nosing in to regulate things.
The government just got money for infrastructure like roads, schools, and emergency services [Man holding up dollar bills]
by taxing income.
The idea is that this encourages companies to build lots of factories, which then makes [Factory appears]
lots of jobs. [Workers begin going into the factory]
And everybody goes to work whistling a happy tune.
It might sound good on paper…especially to big money guys…but there are some holes
in this idea. [Holes appear in the 'plan' paper]
This free-wheelin’ approach was abandoned during the Great Depression, the massive economic
collapse that showed to many that maybe the free market couldn’t always make it on its own.
Afterwards, some felt like the free market was like a dog that’s fine running around [Dog running around]
in the yard, but needed an electric fence to keep it from running out on the road. [Dog touches the electric fence and is bounced back]
Government spending bailed the US and the World out of the Depression. [Government uses money to get US out of prison]
But things still weren’t working quite right.
After WWII, the stock market was still feeling a lot of ups and downs there, which caused the government [Stock chart going down]
creep back to liberalism.
This was called…neoliberalism.
Most conservatives in America today would probably call themselves neoliberals. [Man wearing a republican party shirt]
Neoliberalism is the theory behind every point in the Washington Consensus, a blueprint that
can supposedly help developing nations, like in Africa, successfully get on the capitalist bandwagon. [Africa gets on a horse and wagon]
The theory is that investors are happiest doing business in countries with the following [Business people talking]
things on their resumes…
Market-determined interest rates…
And low worker protections…
But things don’t always work the way neoliberals wish they would.
For one thing, real-world investors don't only look at a country's tax rates and stability [Man holding a piece of paper that says 'tax rates']
and go…Yeah, this country is good enough. [Man stamps the U.S.]
Actual factory-builders take into account a whole bunch of other stuff when deciding [Men in suits and hard hats at a building site]
whether to build a factory in a given country…
There’s the level of education of the population, poverty rates, crime rates, homelessness rates, and
most importantly, public health.
No matter how great interest rates are, no factory owner wants to build in a town of [Factory owner looking for build locations]
sick dying homeless uneducated criminals.
A big problem with neoliberal ideas is that they don’t take into account…ya’ know…people.
Let's say there’s a cobalt miner and a single mother.
The market has declared that her wage is $2 a day.
The market has also determined that food for her and her kid is $4 a day. [Woman and child smiling]
According to neoliberalism, she and her child should starve rather than introduce inefficiencies [Woman hits neoliberal man with a hammer]
to the market.
When many Africans saw these kinds of scenarios play out, they were like… [Group of African people]
How bout we not do the starve-and-die-plan?
But, like we said, companies don’t want to build in places where people are starving
So where’s the money to pull a country that’s been ravaged by colonialism out of its slump? [Money falls onto destitute person]
In reality, neoliberalism can actually cost the government of a developing nation a ton
The governments of developing nations have to foot the bill for infrastructure projects, [Government member with a pile of bills on his desk]
pay down massive debt, and all kinds of other stuff to get their countries prettied up for investors.
If a country, like Gabon for instance, actually could afford it, then it'd work out great.
In Nigeria, the oil industry is booming, so awesome. [Woman with thumbs up in front on an oil refinery]
Low government regulations have made Kenya a major corporate and banking center, so that
worked out too.
But most of Africa after independence was just too poor to make neoliberalism work. [African slums]
And touting the wonders of Neo-Liberal free market development was like talking about
how great it would be if unicorns rode in on spaceships and gave everyone pots of gold. [Pots of gold fall out of a UFO]