Franklin Cudjoe, editor of African Liberty, a CATO-sponsored african libertarian platform offers us yet another of those convulted long essays mixing up a bunch of different arguments in order to attack some government policy. The policy, a plan to directly give $8 to $15 every month to the poorest Ghaneans, is described as a “centrally-planned waste”.
See, as far as I know, the libertarian critic of central planning is that markets, the sum of individual decisions, are the most efficient way to allocate ressources. And that’s why, if there has to be social policy, poverty-alleviation measures, direct cash transfers are usually prefered to more market-disrupting measures. School vouchers, for instance, are considered a better way to provide education to the poorest than public schools. After all giving vouchers or money directly to the poor is trusting individuals to make their own decisions instead of governments inefficiently allocating ressources. That’s why I’m confused when I read:
How much of all the money sourced above and the one for merry-making every other month will go into agricultural reforms? Would it ensure secure land tenure for farmers to enhance large scale production? Train agric extension officers to advise farmers on best farming practices, provide soft loans, reduced prices of agricultural inputs, support infrastructure to facilitate storage and movement of goods, so that our energetic rural youth will not flock to the cities in search of absentee jobs?
My guess is not much. But then again, that’s because I’m one of those socialist/collectivists/statists Cudjoe is supposed to rant about. One who think that government intervention, via infrastructure, via education, via fertilizer subsidies, would work faster and may be better than market-based allocation. However if you value freedom, liberty and all that, why would one be concerned about how the money is used. And why would one think the energic rural youth would flock to the cities and not use their cash to buy agricultural inputs, build storage facilities, roads or invest in training ? Isn’t that the magic of the market ?
So yeah, I’m disappointed. Can’t the western libertarian network find smarter and more principled writers and thinkers to promote their cause in Africa ? May be, we’d get some interesting debates and may be one or two good policy initiatives could be squeezed out of it.
PS: to be fair, most of the article is dedicated to describing make-work schemes, utilities subsidies and other programs that are more deserving of libertarian attack but I did call it a “convulted long essay mixing up a bunch of different arguments” for a reason.