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Opinions of Thursday, 7 February 2008

Columnist: Agbodza, Kwami

Free Market Morality of Economic Agents in Ghana

The violation of human rights is not an aberration in free market economies. It is the heart of it; the engine of its very existence. Take the story of MTN?s Cyril Ramaphosa and Anglo-Gold Ashanti?s Sam Jonah as reported by Ben Otoo in Feature Article of Wednesday, 30 January 2008 ?MTN Milking Ghanaians Excessively?.

Ben Otoo reported ?when I saw the face of the South African business magnate, Cyril Ramaphosa, ?I knew Ghanaians were in for a deal that would milk them excessively for the cow master.? Similarly Ben Otoo says that ?Sam Jonah ran AGC down but was able to mobilize millions of Rands in an investment in South Africa.? He adds ?he is just at the thresholds of having his own mine. He is the member of Thabo Mbeki?s Economic Management Team?and today, South African Blacks are worse off economically and socially??

This sad and poor state of affairs is an indictment of a free market microeconomic theory that asserts that greed, private greed, is not only good, but also the only good. Indeed, by free added to market is meant the freedom to indulge "greed" because free market economics believes that greed is good. And if greed is good, then if the economic agent can use deceit, false propaganda and so on to maximise their utility, all the better. Free market economics is not interested in whether what gives utility is good or bad; that it gives utility is all that matters.

What does free market economics mean by ?utility?? Utility is ?SATISFACTION?. So ?Utility? in free market economics is not subject to ethics whatever the source of that ethics. This means that there is no behaviour that in free market economics can be classified as not providing ?utility?. In any normal society in which normal human beings live, certain behaviours, we would think, cannot and must never be classified as providing ?utility?. This is not so in free market economics.

Even if it is a lawless, maniacal or psychotic act makes no difference. If in carrying it out the inhaling of illegal substances is required, it makes no difference. Western free market economics subscribes to this behavioural assumption and has infected our body politic with this science. Some claim that is human nature.

We must understand then why few African economists ever attack the wholesale destitution ? economic, cultural and social - of Ghana and Africa; or even form a movement to rescue their beloved nation or continent. There is an ethical rationale that has been planted very deep in their subconscious in the psychological laboratories called classes and universities. It is a form of psychological violence. They sometimes glory in the absence of morality as it leaves one free to act with impunity. To do that they are prepared to set aside constitutional rules.

In the pursuance of greed in public life Development Partners or the Government of Ghana or the Free Market Intellectual elite along with their private sector directors are free to indulge any and every greed they can dream. So they impoverish the majority of the people, privatise public assets at rock bottom rigged prices (its called divestiture), poison water sources, unfairly dismiss workers, turn our roads into killing fields, undermine national education, undermine the rights of children, corrupt democratic elections with money amongst others.

All and any perverse and sick behaviour as long as they give private utility are okay; not only that, but policy makers must even maximise this in their utilitarian calculations. Furthermore, their maximisation is the whole purpose of life. For example, businesses are about maximising profit and as in the case in our mining areas in Ghana, profit must be maximised even if the water sources of the community that own the land are poisoned. It also matters little that our young girls from the north have been reduced to beasts of burden in Accra. And these and more evil are going on in free market Ghana!

Only the protection of liberal and conservative private property rights appears consistent with free markets. The economic, social and political rights of the majority are excluded - e.g. the rights to clean drinking water, the right to a democratic life and human happiness.

The anarchy of poverty in Ghana is the creation of free markets. The Central Business District of Accra with its smell, litter and uncleaned gutters must rank anywhere as a spectacular indictment of free market anarchy in Ghana. Ironically, the AMA directors have their own offices there.

The procreation of children that in any normal society will be greeted with singing and dancing is rewarded in Ghana with hospital detention.

The free market economic life of Ghanaians is truly a Hobbesian Jungle: nasty, brutish and short. The Private greed of Free Market Economics says, do not worry, it is all-okay!

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.