Morris dancing and peasant millionaires
In his BD article “May Day was a fierce battle won by the workers” Mr Pallo Jordan acclaimed the official Worker’s Day holiday of May 1st.
There is a ragtag irony in how it came about that an ancient Northern hemisphere spring festival which celebrated the fecundity and fertility of the earth with Morris dancing, became a holiday in honour of violent attacks for higher wages and fairer employment standards.
The question is as follows: “seeing that the root cause of South African workers being dependent on employers for their living has vanished will there now be a return to a celebration of the earth’s fulsomeness?”
The vanishing Act was No. 108 of 1996(Constitution of the Republic of South Africa). There, for all to wonder, is the extraordinarily liberating sec 25.5 right to property: “The state must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources, to foster conditions which enable citizens to gain access to land on an equitable basis”.
This can mean only one thing: there must be no landless in the land and so there need be no dependency on the landed.
Extraordinarily, this one sentence pronounces the end of the involuntary proletarian condition of wage reliance which started with the closure of the commons and the industrial revolution in the UK and their South African equivalent, the 1913 Land Acts.
This new law is a world first and widely admired. Two things are missing: firstly the State has not met its terse obligation to make a hectare, or thereabouts, accessible to the unemployed, the underemployed and those wanting to flee the life threatening existence in the townships and the rusty corrugated iron squatter suburbs.
Secondly South Africans are still skeptical that one can be far better off without a wage than with one.
Back to the Morris dancers and nature. It goes unnoticed in the towns but the land out there is so throbbing with orgasms it makes one blush. Land is now de jure the unemployed’s factory floor where the pin ups are fluffy not glossy: one female rabbit and her offspring can produce fifty thousand more in three years according to Dr. Dana Krempels at the University of Miami.
There is a world of difference in working with the sun and working for an employer who has some sun.mThose celestial sparks yield the same Kwh over South Africa in one day as all Eskom generates in a year. Its rays inject manual work with steroids. Its richness means that working for less than two hours a day and using low input (organic) methods on a 500mÇ arable plot,an unskilled person can produce three tons of food annually plus a thousand litres of artisanal wine,all enough for four adults.
Spending the rest of the day hand-building a solid three bedroomed mansion and a wine estate will take two to three years.
This phase is therefore the poor man’s university where no money is earned but skills are instilled, food is grown and an estate is developed on which a living will be made. This can be a one million rand asset, exceeding the earnings of unskilled miners and farm workers by many times.
Owners will become millionaires or live the life of country gentry. But where is the land? There is a legal case against the government by interpreting sec 25.5 as follows “The state must take reasonable legislative and other measures” means just what it says.
For certainty’s sake “within its available resources” means that no State funds at all need be deployed for the purchase of any land for redistribution.
Instead the “foster(ing) of conditions which enable citizens to gain access to land,” by making land affordable for all simply requires, as Robert Solow Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics 1987 explained, that: “the user of land should not be allowed to acquire rights of indefinite duration for single payments. For efficiency, for adequate revenue and for justice, every user of land should be required to make an annual payment to government equal to the current rental value of the land that he or she prevents others from using.” This is a rates and taxes surcharge, a land use levy to replace all income taxes and vat.
“On an equitable basis” requires that title deeds must not be disturbed and that the gainers compensate any losers by protecting after-tax income for a few years.
So will the red ‘millionaire’ unions and the blue ‘mechanised’ employers come dancing?
03 May 2013 by Peter Meakin
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