The making of a handicapped economic system
By MILAN KIPLAGAT
Times are changing, technologies are advancing, societies are both evolving and revolving and with this come its fair share of challenges and problems. Cognizant of this, challenges especially those of an economic or even technologic nature must be resolved based on the current dynamics at play. This may arguably be the reason why Ruto’s strategy of economic empowerment has been referred to as ‘archaic’ and offering ‘analogue solutions’ for pertinent issues. Unfortunately, there are those who have failed to see the deceptive logic revolving the issue of handouts and wheelbarrows which has been packaged as a bottom-up economic strategy and largely sold in the Mount Kenya region. An economic blueprint that borrows largely from the Great depression when societies literally survived on hand outs - Ruto has boasted of its newness in resolving current economic problems and sold to a majority of youths and leaders in Mount Kenya. A section of them have failed to realize its deceptive nature and its likelihood to handicap many of its adherents to a sterile economic life pegged on dependency.
Lasting from 1929 to 1939, the Great Depression has been described in History as the worst economic downturn in the history of the industrialized world. In literal sense, it was a time when banks collapsed, unemployment sky-rocketed, many were rendered homeless with housing prices also plummeting even as international trade collapsed. Poverty was no longer avoidable for millions. And for those who had ‘something’, cash became scarce, leaving them unable to pay their taxes and make essential purchases. It spelled doom for many businesses, investors, families among other groups who saw a bleak future with nothing to hang on to.
Blamed on the then President Herbert Hoover whose campaign echoed a culture of handouts as opined by his rivals, the Democrats had alleged that President Hoover had promised voters a chicken in every pot and two cars in every garage through a press statement ‘A Chicken For Every Pot’ during the campaign of 1928. However, this was disputed by critics including the New York Times who claimed that this was from a local committee. But whether this was true or not, by 1932 the United States was already deep into the contraction which was rapidly spreading across the globe. Streets were reduced to queues of citizens in search of food. People could not afford basic needs such as food. Lines for Bread and even soup was a common affair in the streets. Many people lived entirely on handouts that yet created a new culture of dependency that was already curved out even after the Great Depression came to an end.
This is the culture that Deputy President William Ruto has largely driven to his support base in Mount Kenya region through his hustler narrative. Issuing of handouts among his critics has been seen as a way of disempowering the youth in the region and others who agree to his ideologies. How does a wheelbarrow empower the youth to seek income generating opportunities and how sustainable is it? Again, the DP through his economic blueprint has openly indicated that individuals will have money hand outs to improve their living standards. But this is detrimental as it will highly disengage the society in innovating or inventing any income generating business opportunities. Openly unsustainable, how will the government sustain itself if resources are given out freely despite the country being capitalistic economy.
Are we ready to see the country full of individuals who shun making a living for themselves? Are we ready to see the economy retrogress into oblivion as we eat up the country’s assets through handouts? Already, many youths in Mount Kenya have become accustomed to handouts from the Deputy President who utilizes this as his manipulation tool in driving his agenda. But as expected, in return many have turned to alcohol and drugs depleting the little money handed out even as they wait for another visit as such to feed an endless appetite of handouts.