Dear Cllr. Brumskine
As we move towards a very pivotal period in our country’s existence, I am one of those in the youth and students’ community who elected not to dive into superficial political debates. This is because they are immaterial to the poverty and misery of the mass of Liberians.
In these ensuing elections, I have always stressed that the debate in our political theater should always highlight candidates’ history of service and the ideas they bring to the table. If this is inculcated in our political culture like in other democracies in the region, it will bode well for us as a nation and people.
As part of my aspiration as a young man to attain education, intelligence, and universal knowledge, I read the May 1, 2017, edition of the Daily Observer. In that edition, I scanned through a caption that read, “My Gov’t Will Pay Vulnerable Liberians.”
This headline sparked my curiosity to read further. It did so not only because it met one of my criteria which I think should be at the zenith of the political discourse in Liberia but it also portrays the idea of establishing a welfare state which in my mind will benefit many vulnerable Liberians that are victims of inevitable poverty and deprivation.
When I read about your idea, which according to the paper, was expressed in Grand Bassa (my native land), a second thought came to mind. Where will the money come from to pay vulnerable Liberians when we have a budget that according to the IMF is more than 85% covered by recurrent expenditure? As I read through, the story quoted you as saying you will reduce taxes to enable your vision and mission of providing monthly money for those you consider poor Liberians.
My encounter with your recipe for a welfare state brought another thought to mind. Tax in all its spheres along with donor funding has been the backbone of our already recurrent expenditure dominated budget. How will the reduction of taxes boost our revenue purse to provide paychecks to poor Liberians who have not been considered in past fiscal regimes? Is tax reduction an injection or a leakage to our revenue generation drive?
The last time I checked, no welfare state has been able to survive by reducing taxes. When welfare was firstly introduced by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the US, during the Great Depression, through his New Deal Policy, he increased income tax for people with higher income. He also increased taxes on the big corporations in the U.S. economy. With that, he mobilized enough capital which enabled him to provide weekly and monthly paychecks for the unemployed and dependent Americans.
The Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland), with their Nordic model in Europe, are considered some of the most successful welfare states globally. Their welfare programs are dominantly funded through what economic scholars call redistributionist taxation where resources are taken from those who have more and given to those who have less.
Cllr. Brumskine, your idea of reducing taxes to provide welfare programs for our people is not only absurd, but it is also a scheme that is meant to take advantage of our gullible voters who get carried away by political charades.
You are like Donald Trump, who is cutting taxes on big corporations in the U.S. under the pretense of bringing back jobs to America when in reality he is protecting the corporate interest of the American “corporatocrats.”
You are no different from Trump, who as a surrogate of American capitalists, is fighting to repeal the ObamaCare, a healthcare policy that has provided healthcare insurance for over 10 million poor Americans at the expense of taxes paid by wealthier Americans.
Cllr. Brumskine, we are aware! We are in the know that such idea is not in the interest of the people and one needs not a Ph.D. in Economics to determine that no program of the kind you proposed will be implemented for our people.
What you seek is tax flexibility for corporations like ArcelorMittal, Firestone Liberia, and the soon to come Dangote Group of Companies.
See you at the ballot box!
Moses Uneh Yahmia
Featured photo courtesy of FPA