Sunday, November 20, 2016


Dear Peter Bruce,

          In your Sunday Times column this week you proposed an idyllic solution to what you describe as South Africa’s “single most pressing social threat - land.”
          You told us that “everyone knows South African capitalism is Victorian. It makes only a few people rich.”
          You are making us out to be unique. Isn’t that what happens all over the world, whatever system is in place?
          After first telling us that capitalism is the only answer “to poverty and inequality because it creates wealth” you suggested remedies that are the antithesis of capitalism.
(If anybody knows how well capitalism works it's Warren
Buffett capitalism needs overhauling )                                                                           
       Handouts never made anybody rich except for those who corrupt the system. They certainly don’t encourage people to work hard and make a prosperous life for themselves.
          Your idea is to give every person who has nothing a 1000 sq m plot from the country’s unused land, as close to “an existing town or city as possible.” Imagine the in fighting and bribery there would be to get the plots next to the big cities like Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban. A further complication would be that the value of the plots would vary enormously and a lot of well off people would suddenly claim to be poor.
          Your other pie in the sky idea is to have R20 000 deposited into a bank account in the name of every child born. The money would then be invested by our asset managers for “at least a 10% return” until the child could access it at the age of 21.
          Anybody who has had a retirement annuity where they are forced by law to have the money looked after by an insurance company will know how much the returns suffer from the amounts that are creamed off in fees. Mine has grown well short of 10% in the last 10 years.
          You go on to say that about 1.1 million people are born every year and by the time the first children turn 21 there would be more than R20-trillion in the kitty. You add more wishful thinking with, “The state would claim its investment back from their estates when they die.”
          Much like the current student loans scheme, no doubt, where they are supposed to repay their loans once they have a job, but many don’t bother and the Government doesn’t make much effort to collect what is due either.
          “We would never have to entertain a ratings agency ever again,” you claim.
          It’s as simple as that. Only you don’t say where all this money would come from; where you would find the people honest enough to look after it for all those years and so on.
          Your Communist type, master plan would produce different “pressing social threats,” like protests from people who urgently need their money paid before they reach 21.  Then too we would have abandoned plots of land all over the place in areas where people don’t want to live.
          You also told us that your dream scheme depended on the impossible, certainly in South Africa that is …. “clean, efficient government and brave politicians to make it happen.”
          The real answer surely is to reform the capitalist system itself. It can’t last in its present form where so few people have more money than the rest put together.
          There should be a ceiling on wealth. And once that ceiling is reached you pay say 90% of your income in tax.
          Of course that will never happen because the power is in the hands of the rich.    
          A French Revolution type revolt is the only way to placate the destitute and give the rich the fright they need. But that won’t solve anything either as most people, particularly the masses, will then be far worse off than they were before.
          It wouldn’t be long before man’s greed would produce a new crop of super rich once again.
          Can you imagine Julius Malema and his cronies choosing to ride around in an old bakkie instead of a top of the range Mercedes Benz or BMW if your plan became a reality? 
          Thanks Bruce for this idea that was no doubt conceived to convey the message that the Sunday Times has the welfare of the poor of our country at heart. It was a bit of light hearted reading on a par with Zapiro’s cartoon which was on the same page. Luckily the poor can’t afford to buy your paper otherwise they might soon be clogging our cities with marches when they don’t get their free bit of land.
 P.S. Note to readers: Apart from being a regular SundayTimes columnist Bruce is also Editor-in-Chief of Business Day and the Financial Mail in Johannesburg, so he won’t be needing a free plot. He’s already a very healthy CAPITALIST.  But no doubt any additions to his immediate or extended family would qualify for that R20 000 nest egg.

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