In a speech to the nation recently, the President bragged about the Liberian economy being “fundamentally strong” and experiencing robust growth! Yay, that’s wonderful news, Madame President! (Re “Economy Fundamentally Strong”, Daily Observer Online)
But (a really big BUT) can the President explain why a “fundamentally strong economy” can’t produce enough jobs to reduce poverty and the high unemployment among our youths?
[“Da my area” music plays while President thinks about her answer…♫ ♫♫…♫♫♫…♫♫♫]
Madame President, your time is up! Here’s the correct answer:
Youth unemployment remains high because of our government’s regulatory and fiscal assault on job creators!
Here are three examples…Drum roll, please:
#1) The Motorbike Taxi Ban: In November 2013, the Liberian National Police, in its infinite wisdom, began enforcing a ban on privately-owned motorbike taxis (phen-phen), the main mode of transportation in Monrovia, to make the streets of Monrovia safer!
But guess what happened?
Because of the ban, thousands and thousands of poor Liberians were forced to walk to and from work and school. Another 12,000 young entrepreneurs lost their only source of income!
But here’s the kicker: Youth unemployment is a major threat to the peace and stability of our country, but the gasbags in our government insist on enforcing the ban on these privately-owned motorbike taxis because it would make our streets safer! They say it’s all about safety! Really..?
But we all know that “safety” is not a free lunch. You have to pay for it in one way or another!
The price of our “safety” is that more than 12,000 young men have now lost their jobs or have their working hours cut!
And how do you expect these jobless young people to get out of poverty when they are being hampered and prevented from doing so by the big shots in their government? Begging? Stealing? Prostitution etc.? Shouldn’t you help those who help themselves?
Look, you have to hand it to these men in government: They will do any dumb thing to threaten the peace and stability of 3.5 million Liberians for the “safety” of a few!
#2) Registration Fees for Foreign Exchange Bureau: In July 2012, the voodoo economists at the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) imposed a hefty registration fee (US$1,500) on Money Exchangers to solve the “high exchange rate problem”.
But did the hefty registration fees solve our “high exchange rate problems”, Mr. CBL Governor? Oh wait, the Governor says it’s the Ministry of Finance’s fault that our exchange rate is soaring!
But unintended negative consequences of CBL registration fees (US$1,500) prove disastrous for the little people (youths) like Melvin Eskill and Bia Williams (small foreign exchange business owners) who can least afford it.
Is that the way to help young people get out of poverty?
License laws, such as hefty registration fees, that prevent young entrepreneurs from hair braiding, operating taxis, selling old clothes, selling pig foot and operating a foreign exchange bureau stifles competition and keep them in poverty for a longer period of time!
With our nation’s high unemployment, particularly among the youth–it’s morally offensive and downright unacceptable for our Central Bank to deprive young people of their right to an honest living! But you know what? Most of you CBL people don’t know a damn thing about honest living!
#3) Decent Work Bill: In April 2014, Liberian lawmakers passed the Decent Work Bill, setting the minimum wage at US$4 per day for domestic workers and US$6 per day for other skilled workers! But you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that this monstrosity (Decent Work Bill) is job killer!
Common sense economics (law of demand) tells us that the higher the price of something, the less people will take it, and the lower the price, the more people will take it. It applies to EVERYTHING, including prices and wages!
But our good-for-nothing lawmakers say this Decent Work Bill means better wages! Better wages for whom? Of course it will benefit a few workers, but thousands and thousands of jobs, especially among our youths, will be destroyed because of this monstrosity (Decent Work Bill)
Look around the world. If you believe that this Decent Wage Bill addresses our country’s wage problem, then standard of living in places like Haiti, Ethiopia, and Bangladesh could be instantly elevated simply by these country’s legislators mandating a minimum wage! But we all know those countries are among the poorest in the world!
You don’t have to be a Harvard-trained economist to know that a country with the greatest economic freedom produces wealth and the highest standard of living! By the way, being a wealthy nation has nothing to do with a country’s natural resources!
For example, the United States is rich in natural resources and it’s also a rich (wealthy) nation. But the U.S isn’t wealthy (high standard of living) because of its natural resources. It’s wealthy because of economic freedom! People come to the U.S with little or no money (and little understanding of English) and make it big time!
The same can be said for Hong Kong and England. Both countries are poor in natural resources, but are very wealthy nations! Why? Again, because of economic freedom! If you don’t believe what I’ve just said, google the Heritage 2014 Index of Economic Freedom rankings!
On the other hand, Africa and South America are the richest continents in natural resources, but yet they are home to some of the world’s most miserably poor people! Why? Because their citizens lack economic freedom and access to better education!
If you want to create jobs for our youths, you must STOP the regulatory assault on job creators, and start promoting policies that give citizens and investors greater business freedom, trade freedom, fiscal freedom, monetary freedom, financial freedom, investment freedom, private property rights and less government interventions in the economy, hence access to higher quality education!
In other words, government must remove ALL barriers to our economic freedoms and get the hell out of the way!