The New York Times paints a bleak picture. The rate of currency inflation has reached 914% and is still rising. (same article here)
Zimbabwe's inflation is hardly history's worst — in Weimar Germany in 1923, prices quadrupled each month, compared with doubling about once every three or four months in Zimbabwe. That said, experts agree that Zimbabwe's inflation is currently the world's highest, and has been for some time.
Public-school fees and other ever-rising government surcharges have begun to exceed the monthly incomes of many urban families lucky enough to find work. The jobless — officially 70 percent of Zimbabwe's 4.2 million workers, but widely placed at 80 percent when idle farmers are included — furtively hawk tomatoes and baggies of ground corn from roadside tables, an occupation banned by the police since last May.
By March, inflation had touched 914 percent a year, at which rate prices would rise more than tenfold in 12 months. Experts agree that quadruple-digit inflation is now a certainty.
Zimbabwe's decline has now taken it down to situation normal for Africa. Effectively all the positive influence of white colonial rule has been wiped out.
As a whole, the nation has only now sunk to standards common elsewhere in Africa.
Zimbabwe increasingly resembles scenes from Atlas Shrugged. No radiation therapy machines for cancer are left working in Zimbabwe.
The head of radiotherapy at Parirenyatwa Hospital, Dr Ntokozo Ndlovu, has confirmed reports that all three of the country’s radiotherapy machines are not working.
A report released May 2 compiled by the U.S. Foreign Policy magazine and The Fund For Peace has indicted many African states for not being viable. Of the 146 states examined, three African countries -- Sudan, Congo DR and Ivory Coast -- top the list of failed states, in that order. Zimbabwe (5th), Chad and Somalia (6th) closely follow Iraq in the 4th position.
A failing state is described as one in which the government is not effectively controlling its territory, is not perceived to be legitimate by a significant portion of its population, does not provide internal security or basic services to its citizens and lacks the ability to control armed groups or individuals within its territory.
Living standards are higher in Iraq due to the rising price of oil and US aid. So the extent of the deterioration of social structures is partially masked.
The picture is radically altered if the more-than 300 percent recent increase in the civil service wage bill is factored in. This is a straight increase in government recurrent expenditure totalling $60 trillion in the next eight months which can only stoke demand-pull inflation, coming as it does at a time when the economy has hit historic contraction. Thus the domestic tax revenue base is ever dwindling resulting in meagre tax receipts. To make matters worse, the local tax rates have for a long time been in that territory where the law of diminishing returns has taken over, which means there is very little room to manoeuvre.
Zimbabwe's government has begun rolling the printing presses to produce about 60 trillion Zimbabwean dollars. The additional currency is required to finance the recent increase in salaries for soldiers and policemen. The money was not budgeted for the current fiscal year, and the government did not say where it would come from.
The only way inflation could stop would be for the printing presses to either break down or get blown up. Imagine that. Bombs could bring sound money to a country.
"Look behind nearly every economic dysfunction and shortage in this country -- unavailability of fertilizer and fuel, underutilization of land, burgeoning corruption -- and you will likely find some impediment to a free flow of information or the freedom to act on that information," Dell said.
He added: "Such statist systems -- with their obsession to control political and economic information -- didn't work in 1930s Soviet Union or 1950s China, and it seems doubtful that they'll ever work elsewhere."
True enough. But Africa also needs some neo-colonialism where willing Western countries would take over control of some functions of government. Mind you, I'm not volunteering the United States for that job. We are quite over-extended with the Iraq debacle and if we intervened we'd get labelled as authors of all that is wrong with Africa. But Africa would benefit from some outside supervision. The Africans can not rule themselves well.
I do not see a return to colonialism as in the cards. However, an even more effective and cheaper way to help Africa is available and more within the realm of the possible. As Steve Sailer has argued, alleviation of micronutrient deficiencies would boost African IQs and eventually improve economic performance of Africa. Development of better vaccines would also help.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2006 May 04 08:53 PM Civilizations Decay|