South Africa

Letter to the Editor: If we address poverty, inequality will take care of itself

By Sara Gon 9 January 2018

The political and economic environment, which addresses education, health and unemployment, is what changes inequality. By SARA GON.

Stephen Grootes (Analysis: We must address inequality in South Africa, now’, DM, 8 January 2018) wrote an unsurprisingly naive article about the crucial societal and political need right now to reduce inequality. He strangely says it’s maybe more important right now than dealing with poverty.

Like many who espouse the dreaded mantra of inequality, Grootes makes no specific suggestions as to how to address inequality. The reason is because “inequality” cannot be addressed. It is intangible. The political and economic environment, which addresses education, health and unemployment, is what changes inequality.

If the inequality gap in South Africa has grown in recent years, we all know it’s because of the policy paralysis and the destruction of state institutions by the African National Congress (ANC) under Jacob Zuma. They know it, too.

The obscene gap between executive management salaries and the poor may anger us, but better tax collection could put some of that money in the fiscus. Imposing a state-determined cap on these amounts would amount to government control in a sector it has no authority or business interfering in.

Those executives who are really worth what they earn would be able to earn it elsewhere. If they are globally competitive, they would earn high salaries anyway. What will the government do after a cap is put on salaries? Some of these people have grown their businesses – MTN and Shoprite did go into Africa and earned well, but nothing is static in business. Without risk-taking, nothing happens or changes – just ask the ANC.

Anyway, the executives we are talking about are a very small minority who have an immeasurably large impact on the welfare of South Africans. This is more than can be said for the ANC, even if, until the Zuma presidency, the ANC in government did provide much to people.

Expectations rose, therefore, just at the time when corruption and non-delivery were becoming the new growth industries.

As has been said recently, if we address poverty, education, crime and health, then inequality will take care of itself. DM

Sara Gon is a Policy Fellow at the South African Institute of Race Relations (IRR)


Want to watch Richard Poplak’s audition for SA’s Got Talent?

Who doesn’t? Alas, it was removed by the host site for prolific swearing*... Now that we’ve got your attention, we thought we’d take the opportunity to talk to you about the small matter of book burning and freedom of speech.

Since its release, Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s book Gangster State, has sparked numerous fascist-like behavior from certain members of the public (and the State). There have been planned book burnings, disrupted launches and Ace Magashule has openly called him a liar. And just to say thanks, a R10m defamation suit has been lodged against the author.

Pieter-Louis Myburgh is our latest Scorpio Investigative journalist recruit and we’re not going to let him and his crucial book be silenced. When the Cape Town launch was postponed, Maverick Insider stepped in and relocated it to a secure location so that Pieter-Louis’ revelations could be heard by the public. If we’ve learnt one thing over the past ten years it is this: when anyone tries to infringe on our constitutional rights, we have to fight back. Every day, our journalists are uncovering more details and evidence of State Capture and its various reincarnations. The rot is deep and the threats, like this recent one to freedom of speech, are real. You can support the cause by becoming an Insider and help free the speech that can make a difference.

*No video of Richard Poplak auditioning for SA’s Got Talent actually exists. Unless it does and we don’t know about it please send it through.


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