FOOD FOR THOUGHT “Economics of election”
By DR Zafar Altaf
The common man has had it. While the pundits are saying that the economy will not be able to bear the stresses of election and that Pakistan will fail to pay its debt and will therefore default that is not my concern. My concern is about the common man. During election time the poor used to gain. They were feted and they were the prime concern of the politicians seeking votes. I daresay some money used to pass into hands not below the table but above it. Everyone knew that if you were to win the elections then you had to pay the owner of the vote. What is wrong with it? Yet the news is out that anyone who does this or that will get this or that-usually 3 years and fine to boot. My concern is that the functions that an invidiously honest person creates is much worse than what a devil incarnate does. This is the only time that the poor gets some importance and that has been taken away by a very upright and decent election authority – why? The poor shall only have the kingdom of heaven after they die. Why cannot they have some of the conveniences that the others are enjoying in this world. How will the poor elected personnel of the last regime who were so dutifully collecting money do with it now that ways that money was to be spent has been taken away by the said institutional organisation. What a waste? The rich have again managed the system to their advantage. This was the season for income distribution. This was the season for free launches and this was the season for free rides. The taxi drivers are happy. I asked one and he said that he was hired by a local and I am to be paid 30,000 rupees for displaying and shouting via the electric system the candidature of the person that hired me.
The patrol and other repair works is his headache – a distinctly happy taxi driver. He enquired whether the elections were going to be postponed and when negative statement was given he was disappointed. Likewise the indigenous degwala is sitting with empty degs. The demand of other ancillaries has also lost market. So what are we up to? The caretakers were bad enough the economy has now become hostage to their awesomely atrocious behaviour. It is learnt that the greats in the system have received names from the Lahori mirasis. I cannot give these names for the take-over managers are after all great people. What are they likely to achieve in the period that they are there. Might it not be better that the people already in power continued with the government as they thought fit and if they were found guilty of interference they would go to jail. The answer is simple and the answer follows from the way we have done work not just in the last few years but ever since 1947. Trust is non-existent, courage is frowned upon by the political system especially if it comes from the ministers own responsibility. The bureaucrats are expletive deleted the only saints are the politicians or so some of the ministers would have us believed. The tug of war is based on I am powerful and what I have said and done no one can be allowed to stand in the way. All and sundry are busy in telling the people that we are not to blame for we have done everything excellently. Yet with all this excellent work the country is in the pits of the world. The common man suffers all the way. Economics of the common man has already collapsed. The houses are now experiencing penny pinching and petty thefts but the worst in inflation timings is yet to come.
People will get to each others throat for petty things. The next big crime wave will come. As Keynes once reflected as human being by saying that ‘inflation will cut into the very vitals of a society’. The local production systems have already been hit hard. The goons who are working in high places as they are linked to the powerful need to be examined for their atrocities in damaging the economy in general and the poor in particular. Take the examples of certain personnel in high places and their influence on the food security of the country. Milk is adulterated and expensive, beef and mutton have galloping inflation and the meat occasionally at least is of dead animals. It was at Karachi when the then PM asked me why I had imported Australian sheep (same happened this year or was it last). Two things happened: the meat came down to Rs 45 per kilo from the abattoir at Landhi which became operational. In an enquiry I stated that the dog population had drastically come down in Karachi. Out came some outbursts but the PM was more pensive and said ‘I have noticed that the number of pye-dogs has come down’. Who eats what is another matter. In Karachi during better times a cricket team went to a particular restaurant for leg roast but it was after considerable time that they realised that the leg roast was that of a baby donkey. Tasty my foot. The honestly invidious secretaries were remarkable. They would spend a lifetime in filling the car travel book. For them that was honesty and yet they were in the habit of checking things that did not matter. Annas 8 per person was for tea at meetings and the balance of excess be taken from the participant. What rubbish. So we are in a quagmire and nothing can be done about it. The next government will take at least two years if not more to make sure that the economy comes back to normal. Please do not talk of ninety days or so to change the world. It will not happen. Meanwhile the mafias have started taking things into their hands. The social system is to their liking. With the caretakers not knowing anything and no one in subordinate position taking them seriously there is absolute lawlessness. Mafia and miniature ‘Dons’ have come to challenge the poor and take away whatever assets they have without any compensation. The powerful might get away with it now but they will not be able to get their due in the hereafter and now. Should the local system react to this? How can that be for with the disturbance that Musharraf did when in power, the results are out? Chickens have come to roost.
Musharraf’s lawyer was manhandled and the men of law became the men of lawlessness. Does he not realise that what he did to the service structure would not have these consequences. No matter which way the matter is examined the subject is likely to come up in the manner that has been stated. The disturbance will always been detrimental to the agriculture sector. Inflation here is dependent on loss of productivity and on the increase of transaction cost in bringing agricultural produce to urban areas. Growth through urbanisation must be a joke. Pray gentlemen and ladies for how else you and others can subsist. As matters stand if we get into a wage-price spiral we will be in for a lot of loss. But what will happen in the alternate. Theft, robbery and dacoit and the criminals have all these tools in their armoury. Seriously the nature of governance has also been lost. So be it. Elections divide and seriously damage the social structure. The system is not mature enough to handle the difficult paradoxes of elections. That’s it. The poor shall remain poor till we reach a crescendo and the poor will lose out on hope. The caretakers should also not play second fiddle to the past masters. But then have we known the poor and how they seek the advice from the saner elements. Source Business Recorder.
Published: Zarai Media Team