Archive for April, 2006

Michael and Kasturi’s Beach Party

April 26, 2006

A few weeks ago we attended Michael and Kasturi’s re-dedication of their wedding vows.

It was held at Oudekraal Beach, which I must admit I have never been to. It was a magical day, the waves gently lapping at our feet, the mist clearing to reveal splendid sunshine. As usual, the couple had lain on a feast, both of food and effect: Musicians, a priest, a guru, and a Buddhist nun orchestrated proceedings. Even a babysitter was on hand! And the food!! See the attached pics. Click on it to get the full view.

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Now the question is, after the parties at Christmas, Dirwali, Shae’s birthday, Yuri’s birthday, Kasturi’s 40th bash, Michael’s birthday, the Beach Party, what are they going to do next to better this? Well, Michael?

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April 25, 2006

BreakThru Consulting will be presenting its solution for the electricity distribution industry at the African Utility Week, 8-12 May 2006 at the International Convention Centre, Cape Town.

The topic is 'Beyond On-Line Vending', to be held on 10 May, Track 3, 09h30-10h00.

Words to live by

April 20, 2006

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink;  or about your body, what you will wear.
Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"

Matthew 6: 25-30. (who would have thought a tax man could come up with such eloquence?).

I'm trying to increase the number of hits by adding a religious dimension. If it doesn't work, God help us…

The Political-Economy of Cape Town

April 19, 2006

You know what I like Western Cape politics? That it is so 'divided'. The power is diluted, and that is a good thing. There is also the element of competition that comes into play. So what if it cannot last? Then another group takes over for a while. This shifting of political power will allow the development of a class of officials immune to such actions, who are focussed on the duties of office. They, along with the citizenry, will become gatvol of the politicians, and leave them to their chambers of hot air.

Our president says we do not need a strong opposition, yet he is a champion of the "free market". So economically, we must have strong competition, but not politically?

Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone…

April 18, 2006

And so he did. Again, and again. From first to last.

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Yup, folks! That’s Jody for you. 

Until the bottom of the pool was covered in the reddish-brown mini-boulders that used to ring the tree. I am, of course, referring to Jody, or “Chuckles”, as he is less well known. I guess he is living up to the name.

His brother joined in with much glee, all the while trying to blame his sibling.

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more pictures at: https://the1rod.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&post=237

SANE

April 13, 2006

 SANE ViewsVol. 6, No. 14, 12 April 2006   South Africa's Misunderstood 'Dual Economy' Norman Reynolds and Johan van Zyl  Part 1

During his 2003 State of the Nation address, President Mbeki acknowledged, for the first time, that South Africa is a dual economy. Since then that fundamental policy insight has, regrettably, degenerated into a piece of trivia, yet another politically correct phrase: the Second Economy'. For many, it is simply a new name for the  'informal economy'.

Government still has to reflect on what a dual economy is, how it came about and is structured, and what such economic duality requires in policy and programme terms. How can such an understanding promote economic activity for all South Africans? The promise of a new insight has ended up as further justification for more-of-the-same state delivery rather than asking, Why delivery contributes so little to the transformation of the historically poor areas of the country? Most citizens still live as virtual economic prisoners of the still non-working, marginalised local economies of township and rural areas.     

President Mbeki has presented a picture of the First and the Second Economies as a double storey house. On the top floor are the rich, living well. Stuck in the bottom floor, with no ladders to access the top floor, are the majority of South Africans who are poor. This depiction calls for investment, for more delivery’, in education and skills, in economic infrastructure etc. that creates the ladders the poor to join the rich on the top floor. There are two problems with this analogy and its solution. Today, the global economy that provides for the rich on the top floor can no longer provide employment for all. Under globalisation, in order to compete, there has to be highly capital intense production that displaces labour and rewards internationally privileged capital, distorted exchange rates, subsided exports, or exploited labour. There is simply no employment highway to the top floor for all South Africans. As the respected British commentator James Robertson, has recently stated, "Full employment, as we knew it in the past, will not return".

Government’s R240 odd billion annually spent in the marginalised areas generates very little local economic activity. The developed first economy of South Africa has indeed been growing. It mainly rewards capital and international corporate investment and is wedded to cheap energy. This growth’ is seen in rising profits and tax revenues. Meanwhile, our overall unemployment and poverty problems continue to worsen.  An appropriate depiction of the dual economy starts from the fact that the bottom floor of the double storey house contains the historically marginalised (and recently re-marginalised by globalisation) majority of the population whose dependence on the global first economy for jobs, goods and services remains almost total.

Money does not stay to work, to stimulate new economic activity in these poor areas. Incomes are almost immediately 'spent back' into the global economy of South Africa. These areas are characterised by not just high levels of unemployment (the national average is some 40% which here translates into 50% to 70%) but very high levels of overall economic inactivity. 

In two recent surveys in Sekhukhune and Soweto, some 80% of families reported no significant economic activity by unemployed adults.[1] At present, these communities are so economically dysfunctional that they are incapable of self-generated growth and development. Hence, the recent urgency to provide a comprehensive social welfare net – even if that 'solution' only treats the symptoms of poverty and digs a big expenditure hole. It also, at great cost some 70 billion a year – increases basic economic dependency and inactivity.

The main difference between the two economies can be simply illustrated via the concept of the local 'income multiplier':  R100 that enters Sandton or any other part of South Africa’s global economy 'stays to work': it circulates some 7 to 10 times (higher amongst Jews and Muslims) before it 'leaks outside' to pay for imports or is sent by government to pay a teacher’s salary in a village. That R100 of new income generates some R800 or more of additional economic activity in the global economy.

R100 that arrives by way of income, remittance or pension in Soweto or the Transkei leaves almost immediately on a taxi to buy global goods and services in the nearest town or shopping mall. The local income multiplier in these poor areas is around just 1.3. That means that it generates only R30 of new local economic activity. Small wonder that there is little or no local production in the townships and rural areas!

They are cash deserts for 20 or more days of each month. There is simply no regular, effective local demand to stimulate, reward and sustain new local economic activity. The dual economy is what it says: two separate economies that operate differently. Consequently, they require two different sets of policies and programmes to stimulate their internal development and growth. This basic policy insight has remained unrecognised by the government and its advisers.  

The emerging truth is that the global first economy cannot, on its own, achieve high levels of growth and stable development for all. The marginalised second economy must also become a major driver of the national economy. What should be a vast mass market for locally produced goods and services serving some 30 million poor citizens currently limps along at, probably, just 25% of its potential. Crime, poor health and schooling hurt the global economy and might yet undermine it.

Today it is realised that the dual economy model requires a set of 'localisation' policies and programmes that focus on the non-functioning nature of South Africa's many marginalized local economies. It is only once these marginalized areas become economically active, and over half the population can enjoy rewarding local economic activity, that the national economic potential can rise to the point where our major poverty and unemployment problem would finally be eliminated – not just alleviated.     

A more appropriate economic model for the marginalized areas would start from the amended proposition, not as per Say’s Law that Supply Creates its Own Demand, suited to the closed economies of 19th Century Europe, but that here we must learn to aim for 'Demand Creation that Calls Forth Local Supply (Production). This will take special measures to ensure that such production remains substantially local. These local demand and production creating measures include a variety of specific new instruments. The second article explains these. They are part of a new framework for Local Economic Development that government is currently examining.    

The Jacob Zuma Affair

April 12, 2006

I am getting confused by all the media reports and people questioning me about this matter – The JayZee Affair.

I thought it was a one night stand…?

NAiers

April 12, 2006

So Grandma and Grandpa came round to sleep at our house last night. We fed them, connected the TV aerial for them, and bid them goodnight. We even bought a new bed for them that doubles as a couch by day. They will be making this one-day per week stop due to the need for Grandma to be at the nearby Vincent Pallotti hospital, were she is undergoing treatment for cancer. It's radiation day today.

This week they showed me a letter from the Department of Social Services, justifying why their pensions had been halved. It turns out that my father has been earning R20 000+ per year for the past while. Not only does he not know about this, but the records are at least 10 years old. So I suppose he must be grateful that they are not claiming back payments from him! This kind of nonsense is the short stick of the GEAR policy of our political masters. How many other pensioners are subjected to this? The onus is now on my parents to prove that it is not the case that my father has an income of R1800 per month. Incidentally, my mother's pension was halved at the same time, as well, for good measure. The National Austerity Indexers (NAIers) must be so glad.

Margaret Legum wrote that globalisation for us means that our workers are forced to accept atrocious conditions because the Chinese work under such conditions. Meanwhile, our business executives and public servants are paid exorbitant salaries and bonusses because we must compete with the West at that end of the scale. How about if we import some Chinese politicians to replace the ones we have, at half the price?

No Comment

April 12, 2006

What's with the dear readers of this blog that they do not find it fit to comment, as though they were politicians avoiding foot-in-mouth disease? Shall I find a way to make it all anonymous, or will that not make a difference at all, since I might, as Bernoulli is reputed to have said of Newton, 'recognise the lion by its paw'? Care to comment?

This place is going to the dogs…

April 11, 2006

Following on the recent events as recounted in the "The Man in the Van" posting, talk in the household has taken on a decidedly doggish turn. Noah is quite anxious, wanting me to check that the gates are locked before he goes to sleep, in case "a smuggler tries to steal me". We have not told him about what happened last week; he must be picking up on our vibes.

So the next layer of security looks like it is going to be about 30-60 centimeters off the ground, and a have a bushy tail. This will bring our Pet Population to 7, including the children. The division is 4 feline, 1 canine, 2 primate. There are constraints to consider. Our best bet, accoding to Cecily Blumberg, is to get a puppy that will become accustomed to the cats. I must say, though, that after almost five years of child rearing, the idea of picking up poo, whining in the night and letting the thing sleep in the bed, again, does not appeal to me.

Last night (actually, it was more like 04h30 this morning), Jody woke me up, calling out "Dada, dada". His mother went to comfort him, as is the norm, but he persisted. I got up and held him in my arms. He was delirious, wriggling, and wanting to back to her. Then he wanted me again. I held him closer, till he fell asleep. I sat on his bed and fell asleep with my arm under his head. Lately he has taken a shine to me. I think he might even love me. His favourite thing is to scrunch up his face, and say "MamaDada Mamadada MamaDada", until he runs out of breath. He also likes 'truck', probably because it is similar to his all-time favourite 'duck'. He would like a dog, or 'dohg', as he says. But would it be fair to him? It might be the same as giving him a baby primate sibling. He has a hard enough time with Noah, who thinks it is high time we sent Jody to the orphanage.

So what should we get? I am thinking of a Labrador. After all, we do live in the leafy suburbs now. Gotta keep up with the Mlambos. I have not had a dog to call my own since Bubbles died. Now there was a dog. Always happy to see me, following me wherever I went. I loved sticking his wet nose in my ear. Sadly, Bubbles shuffled off this mortal coil several years ago, and was buried in my brother's garden. He might have risen again, since I could not find any trace of him when the foundations were dug for the swimming pool. He came with us from Strandfontein campsite the last time we were there (must be 1983, or so). Maybe I'll go back there to find me another mutt.