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Why we should allow mothers to buy beer with a child support grant

It’s about the bigger questions.
Social grants should not be seen as a perpetual answer to any problem, argues the author. Image: Moneyweb

Sometime last year, I was in a small town in the Platteland. It was dry, dusty and hot. I needed beer.

I found myself in the queue at the liquor store behind a woman who was buying two six packs of flavoured beer. She also had a baby on her back. And when she came to pay, she produced her Sassa card.

My immediate reaction was indignation. After all, that was my tax money being spent to buy alcohol.

That was followed by disbelief. Was this really the best use of the child support grant meant to take care of this woman’s baby?

At R420 per month, the grant is already too meagre to fully cover a baby’s needs. At R150 for her two six packs, she had just spent more than a third of it on something that seemed entirely frivolous.

In those first moments, I considered what an indictment this was on South Africa’s grant system. If this was how a child support grant was being spent, then it is surely a waste of taxpayers’ money. There is no reason why we should be supporting this woman’s drinking habits.

The alternatives

However, in the hours that followed, I realised there was far more to think about here. What I had just witnessed might not have been the best use of my taxes, but the alternatives are possibly far worse.

Even if you ignore that this woman might be an exception – that the vast majority of grant recipients may in fact be using their grants to cover the basic needs for which they are intended – her decision to spend the money on beer raises important questions about economic choice.

If we want South Africa to be a free market country, where the state does not impose its will on every aspect of our lives, then is it appropriate to regulate what this woman does with her grant?

It may not be the best use of the money, but how do we stop her from exercising the choice to buy it without also accepting the risks in limiting anybody’s economic options?

One might say that it’s easy enough to rule that Sassa cards can’t be used at liquor stores, but there would be nothing stopping this mother from drawing the cash and using that at the liquor store instead. All that we would have done is made her incur additional bank charges. Alternatively, she could have eschewed the beer and bought herself a few bottles of wine from the supermarket next door.

Denying any grant recipient the ability to shop anywhere would also almost certainly introduce the law of unintended consequences. If somebody wants to buy beer, they will. If they aren’t able to buy it from the liquor store, they will go somewhere else, and probably pay more. That would leave even less money for their child.

The state would also have to consider an entire list of where grant recipients could shop and where they couldn’t. Should the state really be making those kinds of decisions for people?

Letting the state decide

Perhaps an alternative answer is some kind of stamp system that provided mothers with credits to buy nappies, formula, clothes and other essentials, rather than cash. This might even have the benefit of making the money go further, since the state would now be the buyer and have enormous purchasing power that could force the prices of these goods down.

However, can the state really think of everything that a child support grant might be needed to cover – from every piece of stationery that a child might need for school, to medicines, and to educational toys? Do we really want to limit a mother’s choice, when the best use of her child support grant might be to hand that R420 to someone else for them to look after her son or daughter?

The state cannot anticipate what needs a child might have. The person in the best position to make those decisions is the mother, or the child’s carer.

If we are going to empower people, then we have to give them the freedom to make those choices for themselves. That does mean that, unfortunately, some people will make bad decisions. That is, however, a consequence of a free market economy.

Final thought

There is also one final consideration – that this woman was not buying the beer for herself. It is quite possible that she intended to sell it.

Perhaps fostering entrepreneurship is not the intended use of a child support grant, but if it can empower someone in that way, do we really want to prevent that from happening? If someone can turn R420 into R500, then they should be allowed to do so.

The reality is that South Africa is a complicated place, full of contradictions. It is also full of examples of the state trying to solve certain problems, and only creating others.

Social grants should not be seen as a perpetual answer to any problem. They are a stop gap – a temporary solution that should protect the country’s most vulnerable citizens.

However, the more rules we impose on their use, and the less flexible we make them, the more recipients will be tied into the cycle of using them. It is only if people are empowered to make their own choices that they have the opportunity for economic mobility.

And that means that, no matter how galling it might be to witness, that woman in the Platteland should not be hindered in buying her beer.

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COMMENTS   74

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It’s all very well to be imbued with a 2020 spirit of libertarianism. However, the long suffering taxpayer had no choice in the matter. No choice whatsoever. The tax monies were extracted by the state using force or threat of force. The current economic framework has made this woman into a parasite dependent on others for her survival. The questions we should be asking are: why is this woman not gainfully employed yet having kids? what impediments to job creation exist including AA, EE, minimum wages, labour laws, tax laws etc? Most MW readers will get harder questions at the drive through.

My farm staff used to take their daughters of child bearing age, ie 14 years old and tell them to go and have children to get the grant. Needless to say there are now a whole lot of HIV orphans running around about to do the same thing.

Makes me wonder, were you paying your employees enough to take care of say 3, 2 or even one child? Or at least enough money with hours for them on the side to educate themselves? Ask not what …

Well paid, school for free up till std 6. Fathers ran stock with me and had a unit trust based pension scheme. After matric varsity paid by me. 2 Bsc Agrics and one BCom to date.

Watch your words boet, I am a proud farmer, my staff have been with me for decades.

-My farm staff used to take their daughters of child bearing age, ie 14 years old and tell them to go and have children to get the grant

-Well paid, school for free up till std 6.

-Watch your words boet, I am a proud farmer, my staff have been with me for decades.

You’re not paying your staff anything to go write about on Moneyweb and brag about young man.

@HankSonX the saying goes, if you cannot feed them then don’t bread them.

Realised I cannot feed more than 1 so then I stopped.

The question is what’s more important a child’s morality or a parents human right.

One of my workers have a daughter. She has 3 kids. Different fathers. None of them around. My worker looks after them all. I just wonder about the breeding habits of some people.

I wonder, I wonder. Wonder I do.

Seen this happen too many times as well.

Ja Chris – I sometimes wonder how they can cram so much stupid into one head.

Ja – I sometimes wonder how they can cram so much stupid into one head.

Social grants were intended as a temporary stopgap. To support the less fortunate until they can support themselves.
On power it seems great. The reality though is that the dole system may arguably be the most disempowering force in modern democracies.
It creates dependencies. Shields people from accountability. And removes motivation or incentive.
The real question is the existence of the grants themselves.
And also consider ruthlessly and practically the consequences of women having babies they support via the dole. Should a single mother who cannot support herself be allowed to raise a child at all? What kind of quality of life will that child have? Does this not merely perpetuate the cycle of poverty?
SA law allows abortions. And we have adoption, foster care. Yet the mere raising of such a discussion is unpalatable to everyone but is this not one of the actual primary reasons why unemplomeny and poverty cycles in SA cannot be broken?
We are the products of our environment after all.
There are other, tougher, questions to consider about social grants than whether a woman with a baby is allowed to buy beer or not.

But to be fair to the question raised in the article — personally i support the woman’s right to freedom of choice in how she spends her money.

Only it is not “her” money, as she did not earn it.

The truth about this matter lies in this fact :
“Social grants were intended as a temporary stopgap. To support the less fortunate until they can support themselves. The reality though is that the hole system may arguably be the most dis-empowering force in modern democracies. It creates dependencies. Shields people from accountability. And removes motivation or incentive. The real question is the existence of the grants themselves.”

This child support grant together with the Road Accident Fund is the most abused and corruptible schemes of socialist ANC government.

I would be hugely in favor of making the receipt of child grants conditional upon receiving contraceptive injections. If you have proven than you cannot act responsibly and expect the taxpayer to fund your irresponsibility, the taxpayer has every right to take steps to ensure your bad behavior stops. This would also go a long way towards solving the number one problem in Africa; overpopulation. Most other issues such as poverty and unemployment are direct results of irresponsible breeding.

A better system imo is to allow tax deductions instead of handing out grants — single mothers, foster parents, people csring for disabled relatives, etc. Can be allowed a deduction from their tax instead.
And also a system where sassa cards can be credited with vat per income levels rather than zero rating items.
Which means they will have to work first.

A massive assumption with regards to unemployment is that these are all people willing to work.
I do not believr that to be true (evidence of my own eyes over 20 years. For every person who genuinely wants long term employment there are at least 2 others who only want to work about 2 weeks in a month and then be free to booze cruise until the money she is gone).
This is never mentioned in employment debates and is hard to measure yet the hardest question about grants is whether its existence doesnt directly facilitate high unemploymeny numbers as well.
There is no motivation to stay employed so long as sassa stands ready.

There are (conveniently) no stats available what SASSA recipients do with their grants. Dawie Roodt, however, mentioned on a radio programme that the correlation between the annual SASSA increase and the increase in localised Platteland liquor sales is uncanny. Also, PnP Smart Shopper can track what I buy but SASSA is unable to track their electronic transactions, like in this case? Lastly, T.I.A. — This Is Africa

If only our tax could be used by the government on a massive and succesful family planning campaign for the masses. I don’t have children, inter alia because I can’t afford them, but without my contribution to mankind, we should still be ok as I have heard that humans are off the endangered species list. Such a family planning program would truly be a gift to the overburdened taxpayer that keeps on giving…

This is a country where free stuff is given away for votes. That’s all. SASSA is pert of that.

The intention has never been to assist people but to keep the corrupt ANC in power so they can steal more.

Its like having X-Mas every month. Is this not maybe a way for women in the platteland to make some money? No jobs anywhere.

A good friend of mine works at a local police station. She confirms a marked increase in alcoholism / alcohol abuse amongst aged black women who are minding toddlers. All as a result of ” every man and his dog” being paid a grant.
Unintended consequences ?

This debate can keep us busy for quite a while, and it is guaranteed to cause some skirmishes along the way. So, let’s try to keep emotions out of it and focus on cold scientific facts. Capitalism, property rights, rule of law and individualism evolved spontaneously in specific groups of people, and they spread that idea and message through their religious texts.

Before this development, and in all societies where this system did not develop, it was the forces of nature, namely famine and disease, that controlled the population size. Property rights evolved as a mechanism to ensure the availability of food and firewood during times of need and severe scarcity, specifically during the long, harsh months of winter. Individuals who did not provide for themselves simply died of hunger and exposure. Darwin’s rule kicked in and those who believed in property rights prospered and multiplied, while those who were collectivist simply disappeared from society.

Now humankind developed this peculiar strategy called socialism, that takes the property of those who believe in property rights, to distribute it among those who don’t. Collectivist societies are not willing to accept the normal repercussions of their system, namely hunger and disease, so they use their power over the legislature to escape from the consequences of collectivism. They use the law to plunder the property of those individuals who made provisions for winter, and then they spend the proceeds on beer.

This is why they say that socialism invokes the Malthusian Trap, it enables and incentivizes unaccountable, immature and irresponsible behaviour patterns. It leads towards decivilization, it destroys job specialization and leads towards generalization and eventually, it turns industrialization around back towards subsistence farming. “Socialism en Decivilization” – Huerta de Soto

The social grant has a huge positive impact on the lives of certain individuals. We cannot, and should not dispute that, but is it sustainable? Sustainability is the crux of the matter. The short term benefits are obvious, but what are the long term(hidden) costs of socialist policies on all of society?

This process merely postpones the inevitable. The laws of nature are patient. Hunger and disease are patiently waiting for socialism to cannibalize the property of those who provided for winter, before they appear out of nowhere to restructure the size of the population and bring equilibrium between the political-economic system and the population size.

Venezuela and Zimbabwe are there already, we are slow to reach this destination because we still have some people of high morality who are ceaselessly trying to provide for winter.

Obviously the grant system is not sustainable especially with our soe’s running into massive trouble and corruption drying up what’s left. For the life of me I can only speculate as to why the DA, or any other party for that matter, don’t emphasise it? Imagine a campaign slogan “TO PROTECT YOUR GRANT, VOTE DA”. Because they would not be lying. And because, like you mentioned, the ANC putting pressure on property rights and the free market, the fundamentals of what is making SA work are being eroded away. Surely voters can see that. But the question again – why doesn’t any opposition party uses it? And stuff like: if like no electricity vote anc. If you like no service delivery vote anc. If you like zero sassa vote anc. If you like poor roads and education vote anc. If like us to become Zimbabwe and Venezuela vote anc. I mean this is everyday stuff and you won’t be lying. It’s like our political system are being manipulated to not have an effective opposition with the end goal being socialism ie communism. That’s the only explanation I am deducting from the current situation.

Your analysis is correct, but your conclusion is wrong. Our society is mostly collectivist, so, any political party that wants to gain votes needs to play into the socialist narrative. A political party has to sell what voters want to buy. The fact that the average voter is overindebted tells you that they have a high time preference. They don’t care about tomorrow, they want stuff now. Therefore, any political party that promises to deliver stuff tomorrow, and not now, is dead in the water.

Quite funny how “debate” slides from right and wrong to what can be justified by verbal contortion. A very recent visit to a friend in a rural area confirmed Patrick’s observation. In their view, social grants keep the Pep, Spar and Tops owners wealthy as well as those doing hair and nail extensions. Even better is that mother can get child support while gogo gets a fostering grant and both get BIG and pension respectively, usually costing R100 a time to the local SASSA oaficial. There is also the bonus of no school fees being payable by these children.

Absolutely fantastic for the economy. Sustainable? Methinks not for much longer.

I prefer to keep things simple, and not to rationalise this inexcusable behaviour. You wouldn’t hand her two six-packs if she were begging on a street corner with a baby in her arms. You also wouldn’t give her the cash if she told you it’s for buying and selling beers.

Why do millions of people in SA have children that they cannot afford? Is it not criminal to have children without enough resources?

Where is the family planning, which was declared a human right by the UN in 1969? Are this government 50 years behind the times?

Why should those people who plan their lives and families pay (taxes) for those who do not?

BB, What’s YOUR answer to that question?

Mind, boggled.

Perhaps the child would be better off in an orphanage that is paid by the State.

Oh, wait. We tried that with the mentally ill patients.

Patrick, I reckon your first reaction / indignation / anger was a better judgement than your subsequent rationalization. The mother is a “trustee” of the taxpayer’s grant, for the benefit of the child. Until we have proper controls and consequences that we can enforce – a mother who doesn’t care for the child appropriately will be discovered and dealt with, we need controls in other forms.

Making a weak argument that perhaps she was buying the beer to resell it at a profit and exercise her entrepreneurial acumen is nonsense.

We have the technology to make it work. We can load wallets onto SASSA cards with different values in different pockets in different currencies – KiddiePoints that only allow you to buy infant food and nappies, etc., and SchooliePoints that can only be used for books, stationery, school fees, etc. So it can’t all go on cellphones, airtime, and liquour.

I saw a woman recipient of SASSA money pay a large amount from her card on Lotto tickets and cigarettes yesterday ay Pick n’ Pay Perhaps the government shroud hand out coupons valid only for certain items such as food etc.

The IRR proposed this system, I think. While I still have issues with the general concept of perpetual welfare, I would agree that a coupon sytem is infinitely preferable.
Same with student loans actually — stop stuffing kids cash in hand and issue them with a university card they can only use at specific places.

This country only has one problem: too many people.

Too many people, do you know what too many people is?

@ Boombang. No, but please inform us, educate us if you don’t mind.

Not difficult to quantify. The unemployment rate is about 40%, therefore there are 40% more people than the economy can support.

@ Chris Stoffel, 1,3 billion is a lot of people.

Our country is failing to create jobs for 20 million adults what happens when we are 100 million adults? remember those who are not of working age are about twice of the number of employable age adults.

@ Boombang. I agree with you 100%.

Well for starters when a person has children and he/she is unable to provide in the most basic needs of that child, then someone else i.e. government, welfare, NGO’s or churches have to fulfil those needs. But that is the sophisticated way of looking at it. We all know that people just copulate and don’t consider the consequences. That is one reason why we have a catastrophic AIDS epidemic which once again becomes someone else’s problem i.e. government, welfare, NGO’s or churches.

When the grants are paid in our town.(The coloured people call it “All Pay”) That is the day our little town is a Dronk Nes as they say in Afrikaans.

Ever since I read the 10 Commandments I have struggled with the notion that the iniquity of the fathers is visited upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. Since then, I have come to realise that life is like that, very often our choices affect the lives our children and grandchildren will lead. Fairness or justice is not part of life — why are some children born deformed or retarded through no fault of their own or even of their parents?

It seems that as society we have to choose between two extremes: the nanny state, where citizens are not trusted and Great Leaders (often a self-appointed vanguard→nomenklatura) decide for them or a minimal law-of-the-jungle, neo-Darwin, survival of the fittest and the Devil take the hindmost state. No democracy is at either extreme, but lie on a continuum between them.

I prefer not to live in a dystopian state where the weak are neglected and support individuals having choices. If this means that some make bad choices — including having fetal alcohol babies — that is the price of freedom and (ir-)responsibility. And I valued the sacrifices my parents made for my education and the chances society gave me.

While some mothers do spend state grants irresponsibly, others do their best to give their children a better life than they had. It would be a shame to punish the latter because of the former, especially when for some drugs or intoxication is the only escape.

The consequence is that in future the children of bad parents should blame their parents, not society or WMC for their situation. Having done so, they must take responsibility for their own lives.

Unfortunately Patrick Cairns, the writer amplifies the one example that is so dark… We know so many that use this grant money for good deeds, they are the ones to be applauded, those who fall off the cracks are just a sad story and we cannot give them acknowledgement.

I concur with Boombang.

Responsible behaviour patterns and accountability are inherent to the capitalist system. These personality traits are foreign to the collectivist system. The collectivist mindset and idea, that “the accountability lies with the collective”, enables, incentivises and rewards immature, irresponsible and exploitative behaviour. Patric witnessed this in the bottle store.

This situation has natural and predictable consequences. A system that enables and incentivises irresponsible and exploitative behaviour patters cannot be sustainable. The instability of the system manifests in the form of famine and waterborne diseases like cholera and typhoid fever. Nature selects for sustainable systems and therefore acts against the collectivist mindset. This is why individualism and capitalism will eventually populate any country. People who accept responsibility survive and multiply, while those who don’t become extinct.

Socialist systems merely postpone and exacerbating the inevitable.

Why did you not asked her friendly if she was drinking during pregnancy?

That would answer all other questions … … …

And yet, Patrick, while you are suggesting that this mother should be free to spend her grant as she chooses, you have written many articles about Reg 28 of the Pensions Act and how it serves to “protect” investors by having strict guidelines as far as asset allocation is concerned. Reg 28 is costing SA retirement savers billions in lost profits by virtue of not being more fully exposed to world markets, which to me is a much more serious problem that the Sassa-grant/beer issue.
Let’s take 2019 as an example. Several fund managers have been crowing about the +-10% returns the JSE gave to investors, but conveniently omitting to mention that the DOW was up 26%, Nasdaq up 35%, Eurostoxx around 25% and even Emerging Market index up 18% in US dollar terms.
This underperformance is not new and has been ongoing now for 10%–yet we have the asset management industry in cahoots with the regulators deciding that 30% exposure to offshore assets is enough.
So people can buy and drink what they want but dont have the same freedom when it comes to to their pension funds. How bizarre, how bizare….

Regulation 28 is the shearing pen and the combination of the tax regime and the rate of inflation is the shears that fleece the sheep who own assets. The rise in administered costs(electricity, water, property tax etc.) is one blade, the other blade is the bracket creep that follows inflation. Savers lose their wool between the blades of the shears. This wool goes to line the nests in Luthuli House.

We are naive to think that the ANC voters want land to farm on. They are farming already……with us!!!

The way I see it is the ANC regime is behaving irresponsibly by adopting socialist polices (amongst numerous other egregious sins). Markets punish the irresponsible. In this case the punishment is that the ANC is forced to pay higher interest rates to borrow money than it would if it behaved. Since the regime must spend more money servicing debt, there is less moola for the cadres. From the ANC perspective this is a bad thing. The solution is decree (fiat) in keeping with socialism which relies on compulsion for its existence. Prescribed assets are a form of compulsion that create artificial demand for for SA government bonds. This increased demand lowers interest rates allowing the regime to “borrow” artificially cheaply. The difference between the market yield and the artificial yield is the money transferred from the investor to the regime.

I am not sure when Moneyweb will place this comment after their intensive and time consuming moderation process, so to all, I wish you a Merry Christmas 2020 and a Happy New Year 2021.

Lol. They have become VERY zealous with the whole comment moderation thing.
Or maybe there is just a whole army of us added to the naughty database?

2020 has to be better. Just a little bit would do.

Heheheh. good one Danie!

This article raises many important questions. I know an individual who receives a State disability grant of approximately R1600 per month. He bought a Samsung S9 cellphone on contract for R800 pm. The phone was subsequently stolen. The writer repeatedly emphasises the need for a free market economy without State control. How does this align with a situation in a country where the number of individuals on grants exceeds income tax payers? Isn’t that State control? On another point, the lower class always have children whom they cannot afford. In subsistence economies, children were needed for work. Today, excess numbers of children are a drain on the family’s resources. I certainly believe there needs to be some control on how grant money is used by the recipients. A few years ago an individual in Umtata received a State tuition grant for university. In error, she received a R14 million credit in her account. She did not report this, but proceeded to spend the money. This came to light when she was seen sporting a Peruvian Weave (a hair piece, I believe). Interestingly, she managed to waste only R800 000 in 3 months before the error was discovered. Handouts of any sort will always be wasted be some individuals. The State needs to manage the use of its handouts.

Any opinion on how the state can manage the use of its “Handouts”?

Providing “charity” without putting in place a quid pro quo for exercising “responsibility” by the recipients, only fuels the problem, and is irresponsible because ultimately, it directly causes greater harm to society.

“Do-gooders” have to take responsibility for the unintended consequences of their acts. Just like everyone else.

What brand of beer @Patrick? We need to know!

“Rainbow Larger”, its the only one you can buy with a SASSA card…

Why does it matter what brand it is, Dude?

I understand beer better than I do socio-economics, thats why!

On a more serious note, you see this happen all over the world. E.g. in the US, people have been spotted buying lobster with EBT/SNAP cards

There is a general theme in these comments that South Africa has a high birth rate. Recent research shows that South Africa’s birth rate is 2.3. At 2.1 a population stops growing. The collapse of our birth rate down towards stability and eventual shrinking has been one of the fastest such changes ever recorded. We will have a stable population size in a few short years.

https://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140-6736(18)32278-5.pdf

As the birth rate in a developing country stabilises, at the same time as basic health services and education improve and happens with urbanisation. In this case don’t have high numbers of dependents as the comments suggest, you have a huge bulge of healthier better educated productive workers and very low numbers of dependents relative to this group. This rockets the economy to and past middle income. In sociology this phenomenon is called the demographic dividend.

However South Africa, due to the ANC, cannot create jobs, industries or markets to absorb these young people. South Africa will be the first country in the history to throw away the demographic dividend. It will be a fascinating experiment.

The 2.1 birth rate argument is a valid one. If a country does not procreate in 25 years you have more old citizens than the employable age group and this means a country must invite foreigners to do the jobs the seniors have vacated and the too young cannot take up… but in South Africa its the reverse. there are not enough jobs to even sustain the working and economically potent citizens. Job creation should be a forceful undertaking by the country, not only the government, but all willing entrepreneurs who have the risk appetite for doing business, with all its setbacks. Our fear to fail or face legislative red-tape is the number one issue that holds this country back. We should do business even though we have to comply with BBEEE, AA, strikes and a plethora of industrial issues. That is the South African context, these should not stop us. Each country in the world has its own to deal with but business continues.

Boombang, I enjoy your comments. Entrepreneurship is a tradeoff between risk and reward. Local socialist policies lower the reward while it increases the risks. Nothing, not even the ANC, can stop entrepreneurs when there is money to be made. Nothing, not even the ANC, can motivate entrepreneurs if losses are guaranteed.

If you don’t see an opportunity, my brother, then there is none. How can we then expect some foreign investor guy to throw his money into this bottomless pit? These special envoys of pres. Ramaphosa who have to invite investors are nothing but highwaymen, who are on a mission to lay an ambush for ignorant investors.

You need to cross-check the credibility of the stats you quoted.

Google the chart of SA Population Growth for the individual population groups since the turn of last century.

Now tell me where in that EXPLOSIVE trend of population growth so unavoidably visible in this chart, is there ANY indication of a “levelling out to stability”?

Please post a link to this data

Birth rate is births and population size or growth of population size, is births less deaths plus emigration less immigration.

Our population will continue to grow so long as lifespans keep increasing, the timing of the improvement in basic health outcomes coincides with the slowing of birth birthrate. So yes our population will continue to grow for a while.

@Raymond
Your explanation ducks the worrying magnitude of the reality.

The trending increase in longevity is actually quite slight, and is slowing down. So no comfort from there!

The real problem is the relatively unchanging fertility.

It’s not coming down anywhere near as fast as the you (and certain Economists) would have us believe!

For example, 32% of the population of the E Cape are under 15. (Stats SA 2019).

Mike Schussler did article for MW a few months back also highlighting that we don’t have the population growth that people seem to think we do.

If I remember his article correctly our birth rate was over 4 in the 90’s and has now dropped to just above 2.

Although most commentators seem to think that a declining population is good, it is very bad for the economy, but perhaps good for the environment.
Fewer people means less economic activity, i.e. smaller GDP, less profits, less income redistribution to shareholders.
Another aspect that most people have not realised is that after 2050 the global human population is going to go into terminal decline. i.e. the population levels we see today are going to disappear and never reappear.
Economies that will in the future do well are those that can draw immigrants.
An example is the expanding SA economy after an influx of Africans and Asians after the fall of Apartheid.

There is a belief growing that population numbers alone equals economic strength.
Tanzania is embarking on this experiment of breeding themselves to prosperity so should be interesting to watch.

But the size of the economy is less important than people admit. What matters more is GDP per capita and the age demographic (older populations are more prosperous. Younger ones may well be best avoided).
USA is one third the population size of China and India but their economy is much bigger. Because their GDP per capita is much higher.
Australia has half our population but gdp per capita of 55 thousand usd per person. So their economy is “bigger” than ours because each individual person has 10 times more spending power than we do.

For an emerging country with high unemployment, fast growing young populations guarantee the cycle of poverty will never be broken.

Yes the state really should itemise everything that a child support grant might be needed to cover and yes it should exclude beer. It is the responsible thing when spending citizens money.

Best way to change behavior is incentive message.

Give every woman who reaches age 25 without any children a lump sum of 400pm x 12m x 9y = R40,000. If it avoided 100,000 pregnancies a year it would be the best R4b a year this government has ever spent.

Reduce the child grant by half for second child and again by half for each subsequent child.

We cannot in a sane society imagine that it is fine that child grants are spent on Whatever. We have free housing, free water, free electricity, free health, free school, free university soon free data. Now free beer????? Maybe we should start with free Pill or that longterm contraceptive injection and free baby food.

they aren’t social grants – they are payment for votes.

Patrick I have never read such a (refrain from using the words I am thinking) than in your article.

I know you like to be controversial @ times but this is a different level.

I have been in Uniondale (western cape) @ the bottle store and seen the individuals you seem to praise in your article making some very poor life choices and I am not even getting upset that it is my tax paying money funding it, it is dehumanising.

Go hang out at any bottle store on the 1st. Busiest period and most people are paying with SASSA cards.
Go to the grocery stores and a lot of people are buying sweets with SASSA cards. A lot of them are for more well off than the average.

I think the abuse needs to be stopped. Coupons for necessities only. Sure, choose what you NEED to a certain value of a preselected list. But if people have the choice to buy booze, then we should have the choice not to pay for it.

These freebies are surely a privilege, not a right.

The endemic lack of responsibility of the indigenous is not even recognized. The witnessed abuse of this aspect of the un-affordable, counter-productive and myopic socialist fix is excused away without any consideration of the underlying authority-made catastrophe.
As such I see that the lack of responsibility has become contagious and fashionable.
Dementia rules. But it is not sustainable.

Let me just summarize yr whole essay into one sentence :

Should stupid people be protected from themselves?

…… And that prompts a second follow up question of should the rest of us be protected from the fallout of the stupid peoples desions?
If u answer yes to the second question, u forced to say yes to the first aswell.

Amongst the population that is economically productive, employs people, is educated and pays most of the country’s taxes, there is a general consensus that grants should be tailored to incentivise having fewer children.

As we know the poor can exist on very little, so the attraction of multiple grants with multiple children works for those with no work and no chance of work because our economy is not large enough, for just one thing.

This directly and immediately creates more poorer people, greater health problems and even fewer job opportunities, in an already highly stressed economy and society that harbours enormous hatred, distrust, crime and desperation.

My message to SA is have a sliding scale of grants to try to get a grip on this problem, which is fast becoming orders of magnitude larger – one look at the population growth curve tells you that.

Even someone with no math skills, understands social pressure and basic home economics. I have no doubt that social education can instil acceptance of the notion of smaller families – so to afford them each a better life and opportunities rather than the abject poverty they are self-promoting by having larger families. But for this to really work, grants should be limited.

End of comments.

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