Friday, May 13, 2016

Not idiots

It's easy and lazy to declare, proof notwithstanding, that elected representatives, especially those serving in county assemblies are foolish and stupid. Those that perpetuate this sentiment are in dire need of a hiding because they are the true enablers of political chicanery and perfidy of the most colossal kind. How could a man or woman who couldn't connect two separate ideas manage to persuade thousands of men and women of different age groups, professional backgrounds, academic qualifications, economic and social positions, to vote him or her if he or shew were a fool?

More often than not, these elected representatives, whether at the national or county legislatures, are anti-intellectual; they are not interested in new ideas when those ideas stand in the way of their self-aggrandisement. Also, more often than not, these men and women are highly intelligent. It is how they manage to persuade a large group of adults to keep electing or re-electing them or to acts of fealty, such as violence against rivals and the like. If it was, for example, as simple a transaction as the exchange of cash for votes or violent acts, how long would it last before the cost of such cash transfers, in true Economics 101 fashion, skyrocketed beyond even the means of the wealthiest politician?

No, it is time to put aside the lazy notion that elected representatives are idiots without a clue as to what they are doing or what they should do. Instead, we must examine why they are not incentivised to do what they have been elected to do and instead, focusing their energies in schemes and machinations that do not form part of their core mandates but generate displeasure among a core group of voters.

By now it is plain to see that the colossal sums lost to government perfidy would not be lost of the elected class was not more interested in lining their pockets as fast as possible. During the height of the NYS scam, it emerged that ruling party politicians had a hand in the award of tenders to the accused persons. So too, it was revealed at a political rally, were members of the elected class involved in the shady dealings that continue to surround the construction of the SGR. It would explain the attempts by the elected class to water down the separation of the Cabinet from Parliament, or the 47 county executive committees from county assemblies.

When these men and women seek elected office, they do not do so with the welfare of their constituents at heart; they do so for the sole purpose of gaining access to the billions sequestered in the Consolidated Fund. They have done their homework, and more often than not, they know which political and administrative levers to pull to ensure that a large chunk of the Consolidated Fund ends up in their personal and "business" accounts. These are not the acts of foolish or stupid people, but of highly intelligent and motivated sociopaths.

We must, therefore, conclude that when hospitals are not staffed or facilitated, when roads remain potholed for all years, when residential houses collapse, when riparian reserves are encroached upon, when NYS recruits remain unpaid, when garbage mounds grow unchecked, when anti-corruption crusaders are murdered, when wheelbarrows cost a million shillings and when sports anti-doping agencies fail to sanction sports cheaters, that it is all deliberate. These elected representatives want this sorry state of affairs to continue because in the chaos of it all, they are able to fatten their wallets in patently unlawful ways.

In all democracies, there are many elected representatives who are corrupt. In properly functioning democracies, the corrupt do not stay out of the clutches of the authorities for long. They may not be caught in time, but more often than not, they are eventually caught and their political careers are ruined forever. In Kenya, in contrast, political office, especially high political office, is a guarantee that one will never get caught, that one can rent-seek to great wealth and power without fear. It is a perverse incentive to join politics. It is an incentive we have singularly refused to discount. It is the reason why some perpetrate the notion that elected representatives are idiots. We are the idiots when we accept that idea.

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