Spending other people’s money

South Africa’s taxpayers finance our welfare system, but as the list of recipients keeps on growing, is it sustainable?

Peter O’Halloran - Tax advice

Margaret Thatcher once said that the problem with socialism is that, sooner or later, you run out of other people’s money.

It’s an observation that applies to South Africa, where the welfare recipient list seems to grow year-on-year and taxpayers are expected to foot the bill, while true development languishes.

A lack of water and electricity, for example, hampers the kind of economic growth that will reduce the number of people dependent on government grants.

Yet, instead of trying to resolve these issues, government seems content to ‘reward’ people who have children they cannot support.

It sounds harsh, but there’s no point in talking about ‘saving the environment’ and ‘creating jobs’ if the country’s ‘carrying capacity’ (to use a term familiar to farmers) is in very real danger of being exceeded.

Common sense tells us that to pay people to have children under the circumstances that prevail in South Africa is creating a vicious cycle of poverty, which leads to more people in need of government grants. Currently, 11 million people receive child support grants.

An unsustainable pattern
Amid all the hype surrounding conservation and ecological issues, there is no mention of the true threat to the future of the country: too many mouths to feed.

Surely it’s time to provide serious funding to initiatives that promote the benefits of planned parenthood and smaller families?

These are manifold. For one, having fewer children means families are better off financially. But it doesn’t end there.

On a broader scale, smaller families mean less welfare, less pressure on natural resources, and more funds available for infrastructure.

You will have a better educated workforce, more opportunities for work, and better capital savings due to less tax.

Indirect spin-offs include increased industry and tourism due to a better ability to attract investors and visitors, and higher productivity generated through lower taxes and increased capital savings.

It might be that those who currently run the country don’t understand the correlation between overpopulation and poverty.

Or perhaps they have a vested interest in ‘supporting’ the underprivileged, who are then less likely to question government policies.

Meanwhile, South Africa’s taxpayers will continue to be punished for the irresponsibility of others.