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An Open Letter to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Anglican Church, South Africa.
Dear Archbishop Tutu
I read with interest the appeal you made in the newspapers recently and more specifically, your proposal that “wealthy whites make a once-off wealth contribution to uplift the many blacks living in poverty in South Africa". Unfortunately, for reasons discussed below, your appeal falls on deaf ears.
I was born in 1948 – the year the National Party came to power -- without the benefit of a silver spoon in my mouth. In spite of arguments to the contrary, I never found their hate-filled message attractive. In the 60 years since then I never attended their rallies nor voted for them in elections. When the possibility arose that I might be conscripted to defend the country against the “swart gevaar” , I went overseas to study. So, apart from paying taxes, I did nothing to advance the cause of Apartheid. On the contrary I have done everything within my ability to do what you propose. In other words, apart from assuming the responsibility of raising and educating my own family, I have personally assisted others in various ways, which I will continue to do as I see fit. So I feel no guilt insofar as the upliftment of my fellow South Africans is concerned.
It was not always so. There was a time when white South Africans accepted the responsibility for upliftment of ourselves as well as the entire society. We accepted responsibility for the well-being and education of our families as well as the economic development of the country as a whole. When the inequities of Apartheid became apparent, some of us challenged the system. When the police mistreated our trusted servants, some accepted responsibility by suing the Minister of Police. When people had no food we accepted responsibility for ensuring that sufficient food was grown or imported to ensure that people did not go hungry. When our servants were ill we took them to hospital and ensured that they received proper treatment. Furthermore for the most part we did this willingly and without complaint. And when things did not go according to plan we felt responsible.
However I experienced a seminal moment when the error of my ways was revealed. At the time I was in charge of an R&D laboratory in Midrand. During an inspection of the facilities, shortly after Nelson Mandela’s inauguration, I was accosted in the corridor by a black female chemist I had appointed. Never short of words, she let me know what she thought of the schedule of public holidays in the country in no uncertain terms and demanded they be changed. Her aggressive approach threw me off balance and onto the defense. However clarity emerged and I replied: “I am sorry -- I do not accept responsibility for the country's schedule of public holidays”. “I suggest that, if you have a problem, you take it up with our newly elected President, Mr. Mandela”. Remarkably, in that instant the burden of responsibility slipped from my shoulders and, for the first time in my life, I felt free. I no longer feel responsible for the “takers” in our society – those who stand with hands outstretched and sad looks on their faces attempting to exploit my guilt. And I reject arguments by those who would have me believe I owe them something. On the contrary, while I will continue to give to those in need because of a generous spirit, because it is the right thing to do, I am not obliged to do so. Now is the time for all takers to stand up and assume the burden of responsibility I shouldered for so long.
However it would seem that many are unwilling to do so. For example:
• Anglican Church: The Archbishop of Cape Town lives in arguably the most expensive residential area in South Africa – i.e. Bishopscourt. Furthermore there are literally hundreds of churches in South Africa that, because of declining church attendance, are no longer used. I propose that such assets be sold and the proceeds used to uplift the poor. Yup -- it hurts when the shoe is on the other foot!
• Government Policy: Milton Friedman, Nobel Laureate in economics stated in his book "Free to Choose" that
1. The only legitimate function of government is to protect its citizens from external threats as well as each other.
2. In all other instances, the net result of government action, irrespective of how noble the intention, is opposite to the one intended.
Clearly the government does not fulfil its "...only legitimate function" – i.e. to fight crime, corruption, the drugs epidemic, safeguard our borders and so on. Furthermore, the social engineering (i.e., the "all other instances" mentioned above) associated with current government policy (e.g. minimum wage, affirmative action, employment equity legislation, black economic empowerment, etc) should be abandoned forthwith. Not because it is discriminatory insofar as white males is concerned – which it is -- but because the result will be opposite to the one intended. Counter-intuitively, it will ensure that white males become richer while everyone else becomes poorer. If those in government don’t understand why, I suggest they read Free to Choose rather than Das Kapital. In other words, our post-Apartheid government has trashed and continues to destroy the dream. Now is the time for them, together with their ideologically-trapped minions, to step up to the plate.
• Philosophy of Entitlement -- i.e. ideas such as (a) might is right, (b) anything goes as long as one can get away with it, (c) the ends justify the means, (d) the world owes one a living, (e) denial is a good way of solving problems, and (f) if anything goes wrong it is always someone else's fault. Such perspectives can and will lead to disaster. If you dont believe me, look at the state of play in the USA (US$16 trillion debt), Iceland, Ireland, Greece, Italy and Spain bankrupt and the Islamic world in an uproar. As a guardian of the moral values of our society, I suggest you speak out loudly against such heresy and shift the focus of attention from one's rights towards one's responsibilities and obligations.
In retrospect, it is time to call a spade a shovel. While I recognize the good works you have performed over the years, I am disturbed that someone in your position should make such an appeal. Frankly, until I see changes such as those mentioned above I will pay little attention. Instead I will continue to give to those causes that I deem appropriate because it is the right thing to do. However I will not react to pleas or, worse still, demands that I give more -- my generosity will no longer be abused. Now it is your turn to set an example by leading from the front instead throwing stones in glass houses. Sadly this is unlikely to happen and, as a result, South Africa's cause is lost. Cry the Beloved Country.
I spent the first 40 years of my life struggling against the ignorance and social engineering underlying Apartheid. I have neither the time nor the inclination to spend the rest of my life doing the same. And, given the number of skilled white males now living overseas, it seems many agree with me.
Dr Alan McIver
2820/2%Last update: 2014-03-10 11:23
Author: Alan McIver
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