Trough Warfare

pigsPolitics has been getting rather base and ugly of late.  Ok, its always base and ugly, but in South Africa recently the political pitbulls have been running rampant and the divisions are getting more stark and the disagreements more aggressive, if not rabidly vicious.

There’s jostling within the ruling alliance, petty public put-downs of prominent leaders by prominent leaders, a resurrection of racial sloganeering, spitting venom at capitalists, death threats, and everything in between.  It’s like a chaotic WWE smackdown cage match – ANC vs ANC, ANC vs COPE, ANC vs DA, DA vs everyone, left vs right, left vs sort-of-left, black vs white, white vs Neo-Nazis, Malema vs world, and Zuma vs no-one.

16 years into our ‘free’ democracy the political wheels seem to be falling off.  There’s no clear leadership, no clear chain of authority, failing public services, and the presidency has basically degenerated into a laughing stock.

Why now?  Well, the answer is actually quite simple… South Africa is experiencing Trough Warfare.

Let me explain: South Africa’s political class is mostly completely unskilled in any other sphere of human expertise other than, well, politics.  During apartheid influential blacks were either imprisoned, banned, exiled or killed – not exactly a conducive environment for becoming ordinary functioning members of a free and productive society.

After 1994 these people who now not only had political freedom but also political power, also felt entitled to economic power.  With greatly stunted abilities to acquire wealth through productivity, the new ruling class quickly realised that politics was the key to easy living - In other words, leaching off the productive sectors of the economy.

Politics is the trough and politicians are the dirty pigs huddled snout first in the fodder.  You and I, the people who actually produce stuff and make the economy work, stock the trough with our taxes.

In recent years South Africa experienced its first real economic recession since 1991 and the deepest downturn since at least the early 80’s.  That means the current crop of pigs has not experienced any such thing as lack or scarcity at the trough until now.  Fat, bloated pigs don’t take too well to a shrinking trough.  But the supply of food has indeed shrunk and may not recover easily for a long time.  The pigs are getting angry as space begins to run out at the trough.

Yes folks, the political angst is directly proportional to the economic distress we are facing, for economic hardship means lower taxes and levies and regulated cream taken from the real wealth creators.  This means less new food being dumped into the trough, which means very unhappy pigs.  Unhappy pigs become angry pigs and angry pigs fight.  Hence the latest outbreak of trough warfare.

Watch and see.  As the South African economy recovers you can be almost dead sure that political tensions will subside.  The scoffing pigs will once again be placated, for a time.  But pigs are greedy, and there’s always more pigs willing and happy to join onto the end of the trough.  The current tax intake will never be enough because there’s always just one more pig waiting in the wings to gobble up your taxes and mine.

The trough warfare has been ugly.  If the global economy keeps ‘recovering’ the slings and arrows will subside.  But if the dreaded double dip plays out, expect the blood to keep flowing.

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