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Opinions of Thursday, 15 December 2016

Columnist: Pobee-Mensah, Tony

Congratulations Ghanaians; you have a tax cut coming

By Tony Pobee-Mensah

Before I start, let me say, especially for the sake of those who will assume that I am NDC before they even finish reading this article, that If Mahama knew that the people he had appointed were corrupt and he kept them on the job, then he deserves the loss of the Presidency. You don’t wait to lose an election and then say that people you appointed were corrupt.

If you know people in your cabinet are corrupt, you ask all of the cabinet to resign and have a fresh start before election to show voters that you are aware that your appointees are corrupt. It gives you at least some semblance of doing something about. Nothing Mahama did shows that those same people wouldn’t be on the job if he had won.

Now, I guess third time’s the charm. Let me add my congratulations to the many that Nana Akufo Addo has received and to the NPP foot soldiers whose sustained anger at President Mahama and their vote propelled Akufo Addo to the Presidency. At the very least you have a tax cut coming. You may have to drive or walk through a mud puddle before you get to work when it rains but you will get a tax cut. If you have a road to drive on, it will be because your government borrowed money from China or wherever and not from your own country’s coffers but you will have a tax cut.

The tax cut economy advocates starting with Ronald Reagan used to call it “Supply Side Economy”. The age old creed of economics; “Supply and Demand” should be “foreign to Ghana. In Ghana, we demand and they supply. Ghana as an independent unit does not have supply and demand. We only have the demand side of the creed. How can we even attempt to dabble in supply side economy?

Ronald Reagan’s wonder boy, David Stockman, who was charged with the task of making supply side economy work its wonders as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget has in recent years written a book which he subtitled “The corruption of Capitalism in America”. He acknowledges in this book that supply side economy does not work. It wins elections though and those who still swear to its prowess now have a chance to show us that it works.

We will know in four years. And, yes, we will know in four years if Akufo Addo can make it work in Ghana but do we have four years to give?
(I cannot help but note here that I didn’t miss the parading of the elephant float in the streets of Ghana. I guess NPP is more Republican that the Republicans in America)

Akufo Addo has said he will rule by “conservative principles”. I wonder which conservative principles. Conservative as an adjective from to conserve, conserves traditional principles. The people who advocated that started with laissez-faire capitalism. They wanted the government out of the business man’s way to let him do whatever he has to do to make money.

It came to mean appointing judges who would interpret the constitution as the framers meant it. Today, in my view, seems to mean appointing judges who will overturn Roe v. Wade, allow the mixture of Religion and government so that people can use public money to pay for their children’s education in religious schools and force people to pray in public schools and so on (directly contradicting the separation of church and state in the constitution).

They also want to get rid of the Department of Education; a point Texas Governor Rick Perry was trying to make when had a “brain freeze” in his famous oops moment in past debate. They say the Federal government does not belong in Education.

In Ghana, we don’t have a Roe v. Wade problem, do we? We don’t have religious tensions and we do not aim to defeat any ideology. If we attempt to pay for education in religious schools, we will spend more money on Madrassas than these very conservatives in America would like and they will descend on us like hawks.

And given his penchant for “abrofo” and conservatism, I am sure Nana Akufo Addo will be happy to please them if they hopped on him. Is Nana Addo going to get rid of GES like Rick Perry and Reagan and other conservatives want to get rid of the Department of Education in America? Is this what Ghana needs? He is going to govern with conservative principles, remember?

My opinion, though, is that Nana Akufo Addo is a Conservative just as he talks to “Ghenaian” rather than Ghanaian People. Just as he seems to think saying Ghenaian makes him sound British (he doesn’t), so does he seem to think saying “conservative” make him sound like he is an astute politician who is with the times, just like American politicians. If Nana Akufo Addo knows what conservatism is, I dare him to write an opinion article and tell us what conservative principles apply to Ghana and how they will move Ghana from point A to point B.

He should tell us how his tax cut so that the business man can create jobs, is better than collecting taxes and awarding contracts so that people may be hired to pave roads so we may be able to move around on paved roads when it rains rather than in mud puddles. Tell us why collecting taxes to award contracts so that drainage systems will be constructed to help with flooding when it rains does not trump giving tax cut so that the business man can create jobs.

For those NPP people who may get emotional about my article and start insults, I will urge you to think before you act. Aren’t these questions worth asking for our country’s sake? How many years has it been since BBC asked Mr. Akufo Addo how he would pay for his free SHS? You would think over the years he would take time to think about it and know how he would pay for it by now.

What I see is, America has free high school so I will give free high school. To me this is simply copying blindly without understanding. For instance, does Nana Addo know that when I renew my car registration, I pay county tax part of which automatically goes to pay for people to have free education, and that the bill I get states exact the amount that is school tax?

Does he know that when I pay my mortgage, part of it is taxes that the mortgage company holds and pays to the state and local governments and it goes to provide education to school age kids both in college, high school, and elementary school? People don’t renew car registrations in Ghana. People don’t pay taxes on their homes in Ghana, do they?

America has free school up until kids graduate from high school. Their schooling is different. They don’t have boarding schools that government pays for. Will Akufo Addo pay for boarding schools which is our type of high school education.

I know how America pays for free education; with taxes that I pay. I don’t know how Akufo Addo will pay for free high school. He hasn’t told us despite his promises to do so. How can he cut taxes and then charge taxes to pay for free high school? This makes his promise sound hollow and for the sake of our country, we must ask the questions. I will ask at least.

If Nana Addo succeeds, Ghana succeeds and so I wish Nana Addo succeeds. Wanting him to succeed does not preclude asking questions if you have them. I continue to have questions because the President Elect did not answer them during the campaign and has not answered them since. I look forward to getting answers to my questions if Nana Addo takes me up on my challenge and writes an opinion article or maybe I will get answers when his promises come to being possibly at the expense of other things. For the sake of Ghana, I will continue to pray and I will reserve my right to ask.