Citizen.Speak.Amplify

Xenophobia: We will reap what we sow

There’s been a lot of middle-class hand-wringing about recent events, from the toppling of Rhodes to the latest outbreak of xenophobic attacks. But complacent South Africans who manage to drive the latest cars, yet don’t pay workers a living wage, have some soul-searching to do. HAROON MEER argues that when the revolution materialises, we will absolutely deserve it.  

The combination of the Rhodes Must Fall campaign and the recent eruption of xenophobic violence has left many South Africans following the news with trepidation. The romantics say that this casts a shadow across our fabled rainbow, while those who left our shores many years ago join those who probably should have, to remind us, once again, that we are five minutes from becoming Zimbabwe. Letters have been written to singers, editors, presidents and kings with a fairly predictable theme: “First Rhodes, then foreigners, then us? We are good people and we don’t deserve this!”

Except we do.

Let me be very clear: I don’t want “bad stuff” to happen. I certainly never want to be on the other end of an angry mob, but I’m writing today because I’m amazed that the mob hasn’t risen up yet, and will totally understand it when (or if) they do. Because we will absolutely deserve it.

Nobody ever thinks they deserve it, but here are some “truth razors” for us to swallow: Start a business in the UK or Australia and you will be forced to pay your staff a living wage. If your business plan can’t generate a profit while being fair to your people, then your business fails. You need another business or another business plan. If you can’t afford to have a full-time maid, you either earn more or you learn to do your own dishes. But not here and not us.

Apartheid got us hooked on the idea of a workforce that can be paid below the poverty line, and it’s a habit we have not managed to shake. From factories, to shopping centres, from Sydenham to Sandton, we, the middle class, have largely been dining on the backs of a workforce that can never break free. This would be bad enough if we were just breaking even, but we aren’t. We are managing the expensive school fees and we are managing the fine German automobiles. We are managing the latest cellphones and we are managing satellite TV. Even though these are considered luxuries in most of Europe, our businesses seem to manage them. What seems harder to manage somehow, is paying people who work for us a living wage.

I know the arguments that will rapidly follow – how times are tough and how we “at least provide employment to those who will take it”, but this is an insidious piece of self-deception.

If our businesses cannot run while paying a fair wage, then we don’t have a viable business. If we can’t pay a fair wage but can keep driving BMWs, then we don’t have good souls. We have become so immune to the plight of the poor in our country, that we discuss the oppression of taxes and the tyranny of tolls while being waited on hand and foot by an underpaid blue-collar class that can never escape their “station”. They are invisible to us, until the problems in their ghettos overflow into our suburbs.

It’s been 20 years since “liberation” and we still have maids who live like indentured slaves. Twenty years and yet shops and factories still thrive on un-unionised, barely paid workers.

These people have been patient for decades under apartheid and have been patient for the two decades since.. This patience cannot last forever. Sooner or later the poorest among us are going to realise that nobody has their interests at heart. They are going to realise that the rest of us have gotten so used to slave labour that we won’t give up the newest iPhone to put an end to it. They will rise up, and they will be right to, because as the past 20 years have shown, if it were up to us, we would maintain the status quo. They will demand a revolution, and history will show that only a revolution was able to reset the table. We certainly were not getting around to it.

Can we do anything to stop this impending revolution? Maybe. There are a host of things we could and should be doing, but it’s entirely possible that it’s too little, too late. I don’t know if the revolution can be stopped once the writing is on the wall, but looking around as one of the privileged ones I can tell you that we would absolutely deserve it.

Haroon Meer bio pic [edited]Haroon Meer is the founder of Thinkst Applied Research. Follow him on Twitter.
– Featured image by Qiniso Mbili
27 Comments
  1. brett Fish anderson says

    Thanks for this Haroon – brave piece, but needed to be said and a very different part of this puzzle that most people have been overlooking.

    Keep on
    love brett fish

  2. Russell Grinker says

    You’re accurately describing reality here. But the ‘revolution’ you predict doesn’t necessary follow. What follows is pretty much what we already have: chaos, xenophobic attacks and gangsterism allied to state patronage networks. That’s not a revolution which to me implies an overthrow of current social relations. That demands alternative ideas, leadership and organisation

    1. @haroonmeer says

      Hi Rusell

      Some of my (smart) friends who proof read the article said the same thing: that crowds with pitchforks are not the same as a revolution. My take on it is that many revolutions start with crowds with pitchforks.. (It just needs leadership then to go from A to B).
      I guess my hope is that the rest of us do what we need to before it gets there.. (A) because it’s morally right and (B) because we have a good chance of ending up in a much darker place otherwise..

      1. Uzayr Jeenah says

        Haroon,

        I thought your article was interesting but I’d contend that the argument at the heart of it is fundamentally flawed.

        Whilst I agree that businesses that can’t pay the minimum wage should be allowed to go out of business; that’s not the same as what you’re proposing.

        Essentially your argument is that businesses should pay an amorphous “living wage” at the demand of workers. And whilst it is indeed workers right to demand increased wages it is also businesses right to attempt to automate that work / outsource it or simply find other employees who don’t make outrageous demands.

        To further attempt to lay the blame for acts of blatant criminality (looting, murder etc.) at the feet of employers is simply disengenious.
        Uzayr

  3. fanny says

    I like the articles on this website. It gives explanation of the xenophobia. It didn’t rise up from nothing…If someone is oppressed (by poverty or bad paid jobs) It is hard to tell him to stay calm forever. I saw another article of a man whose job were taken by a foreigner for half the price…the problem of immigration is the same everywhere…foreigners come to flee poverty, they have good intentions but natives see their lives going down because of their presence, they think that when foreigners will go it will get their lives better. Are they right or wrong? I would say they are not totally right but not totally wrong neither…some measures should be taken by the government to lower the sense of insecurity caused by foreigners in the lower class of South Africa.Politically and economically

  4. Alski says

    Thanks for the really well written and thought provoking article.

    I do think that it’s the responsibility of all people in our country who have the ability to uplift the poor and not just those who benefitted from apartheid. We have to get past that.

  5. rabson says

    This is the true version the worse is waiting. For those who have seen the way labour is being underpaid when the chain stores every year they boost about profits they make. While they have temporary workers travelling to and fro locations only to work 2-3 hours less than R 10 per hour and for years .go to townships look at poverty . compare to life in suburbs .One is one day

  6. Walter says

    Hi

    Good read, thank you for that. I couldn’t agree more that people sometimes need to take a long hard look at themselves and realize that we’re all very fortunate to find ourselves in this so called middle class, while the majority of South Africans are living in abject poverty. Yes, you’re right in saying that while we drive home our luxury german sedans from jobs providing us private medical care and Allan Gray pension funds, we almost always turn a blind eye to streets of the city and the beggars on the corner, only to open them again when we enter our 8 foot high fenced security estates, guarded by these very same underpaid working class people.

    But this isn’t unique to Mzansi, and we as the average middle class consisting of small business owners and 8 – 5s can do very little to change that. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t give or not help others, I’m just saying, we’re not going to turn around an economically polarized country by giving up DSTV and increasing wages of our employees from two to four thousand rand per month. Even if every single (let’s call it affluent) person in this country gives up his/her luxuries to double/triple minimum wage, it still won’t nearly be close enough to fill the gap between rich and poor. Not with a government spending billions on private jets, more billions unaccounted for in audit reports and more millions for futile royal families (taken from the last week of SA news articles).

    The word “apartheid” is almost inevitable in articles like these, and yes, it should be, we can’t ignore the damage it had done. But the aristocracy / working class / slave labour societies have been around for thousands of years, some would argue capitalism, greed, the system, whatever, but I guarantee you, a quick trip to neighbouring African countries you’ll quickly realize how big the gap can get, in fact, most of them don’t have a middle class at all. Yet, these people aren’t angry, simply because they have one to blame, no white colonial history, no apartheid, no “economic freedom for the minority”. It’s just been them, all this time, and they’ve always been poor. But here, things are different, we have a convenient scapegoat and history to divert our attention from the rulers and corruption. But someday, there won’t be monuments left to blame.

    Revolution? You bet your ass we’re heading for one, but don’t blame yourself. The people failing this country are the ones in power, the ones we voted for, the ones taking us into the future. Not the working, tax-paying, BMW driving, DSTV watching kind. 20 years since liberation and the very people who liberated the masses are now starving them, literally. A very sad ironic truth, blaming everything and everyone except themselves. The xenophobic attacks (which is actually just a sugar coated phrase for the violent, disgruntled, forgotten kind seeking reasons to blame for their dire situation) are the cracks of a decaying society. The only people who can significantly change things around for them are those in power, those they vote for, and those who promise change, but until then, we can only try to be good samaritans, and hope the ignorance of the masses and the unscrupulous rulers won’t take us to a dark age.

    W

    1. @haroonmeer says

      Thanks for a really well thought out answer.
      I agree completely that capitalism tends towards this all over and agree that the situation is a complex one. I agree that government ha failed miserably in many areas.. Where I disagree is how much we (the working middle class) contribute to the problem & how much we can do to fix it..

      Perhaps at the core of my thinking here, are two simple (personal) observations:
      1) I have seen, in my lifetime, families go from single-room houses with no internal plumbing to reasonably middle class, through children that go through school (and university).
      2) I realize that since ’94 – I have had the opportunity to nudge several families (who have worked around me) on this upward trajectory by helping their kids on the same path.
      Ie. I think a super simple plan we should try to adopt (as middle class) is to make sure we handle the education needs of the kids of anyone who works for us for 5 years.
      Would it make significant change given our numbers? I think it would..
      I think it’s easier to ignore it (and point the finger elsewhere) which we have been doing for a while.

      1. Walter says

        Hi Haroon

        Your pragmatic approach to this really overly debated topic had me thinking today. You’re right, education is, and will always be the only hope for this country, the only possible way to better the lives of our children for generations to come, however cliche that may sound. It’s a bit of a paradox actually, history has taught us that the more a government forces the higher end of and economy to share it’s wealth (super taxes etc.), the more resistance they will face. I would like to think that if our government at least showed true intent in solving the countries issues and stamp out corruption then people would have felt more compassion for each other, but seemingly more and more people in SA have become unforgiving, vengeful and bitter, middle class included.

        The point is, you see a solution where we see problems, you face up to the fact that we have the power to create real change in the lives of others regardless of the fraudulent elite in power, and I admire that. Sometimes a little a little goes a long way, and if more people are willing to help underprivileged kids get through school, perhaps we will someday reap what we sow. This country can sure do with more of that kinda thinking…

        Regards
        W

  7. Henry says

    Excellent comment Walter. It is time we hold those in power accountable. Another glaring oversight of Mr Meer is failing to mention the unemployed. He provides the classical unionist line. We will see the public servce employees going on strike soon, yet they are in the top 30% of wage earners already. We will only absorb the unemployed if we have leaders with vision. It will take hard work, and above all, seeing small business as the core solution.

  8. VictorMikeAlpha says

    As I see it your argument has two major flaws: 1. In Australia and the UK you have a (reasonably) educated population, which gives them actual value. It is not us who have failed, it is the government who has failed to bring up their people; 2. We (the middle class) are the ones supporting the rest of the country with the taxes we pay. It is our taxes that pay for the free schools and the free healthcare that is given to the impoverished, looking at salaries alone is a very flawed way of looking at things.

  9. Tim says

    Great article. My thoughts exactly. Many people here in SA have never cleaned their own toilet in their entire lives. Wouldn’t surprise me to find some that some of this pampered bunch don’t even know how to wipe their own bums.

  10. ghaleb cachalia says

    Haroon Meer’s article, ‘Xenophobia, we’ll reap what we sow’ assumes a causal connection between people paying less than a living wage to foreign migrants and an impending revolution. He then goes on to say that those who pay these wages are culpable and that everyone who is ‘privileged’ along with the culpable poor wage payers deserve what is coming because ‘only a revolution will reset the table.’

    Firstly this is an anecdotal assessment and appears not to be evidence-based. How many companies engage in paying less than a living wage? And if they do so, is it not a fault in the enforcement mechanisms of the state that allows them to get away with it? Also, if we’re talking anecdotally, it is my assessment that the privileged middle and upper middle classes (a relatively small proportion of the country) actually pay decent market-related wages to people to do a host of jobs that many local people often chose to eschew.

    The main culprits who pay less than a living wage are lower middle class and working class people who – accustomed to relying on a service industry that their counterparts in developed countries don’t and can’t – because as Meer says, ‘if you can’t afford to have a full-time maid (overseas), you either earn more or you learn to do your own dishes. But not here and not us.’

    And yes, much of this employment is taken up ‘by those who will accept it’ – at both market-related wages and below. These jobs however are not the main cause of resentment towards foreign migrants. The fact is that our mismanaged economy, mired in corruption, graft and misallocation is not providing the required growth and associated job creation.

    Furthermore we are the recipients of large numbers of migrants from countries that are worse-off economically and in some instances, simply failed states. People therefore compete for resources- particularly at the lower levels of economic society. Foreign migrants the world round, tend to work harder, keep costs down and husband their hard-earned money wisely. The displaced Ugandan Asians who arrived in Britain decades ago began thus and are now a fully integrated success story par excellence.

    It’s not that they ‘take our jobs’ because they will accept less. The stark reality is that the jobs – in any meaningful number and structure – do not exist and so people on the lowest economic rung are witness to witness successful competition by people driven by necessity and parlous circumstance in the informal and spaza economy. Their success invites jealousy and resentment and is fueled by irresponsible ‘leaders’ with a political agenda to create and benefit from mayhem and diversions. Add to this the total absence of any credible leadership to step in and deal with the situation and you have the heady mix we’re experiencing.

    To blame middle class South Africa as the culprit for perpetuating a regime of low pay while living the life of riley is a tad disingenuous. To jump to the conclusion that they then deserve what they will get when the mob rises is also misplaced. Many of these people have worked hard to earn their ‘privilege’ – what is required is a political leadership that ushers in an economic revolution that will create the growth and jobs we sorely need. Sadly the political leadership has been busy feathering their own nests by accruing un-worked for rent and many of the established trades union have been coopted into this rent-seeking scenario while the ranks of the un-unionised grow.

    Now’s not the time for simplistic arguments based on scant evidence.

    1. @haroonmeer says

      Hi Ghaleb.

      You seem to have taken deep offense to my words (which of course is your right) but I suspect might be misunderstanding a few of my points. (This is probably my fault.. I’m a tech geek, not a writer)

      Like many of the other people who disliked parts of the piece, you seem to think that I absolve the govt. from any culpability. I don’t. There are clearly huge problems that need to be addressed and many of them need to be addressed by govt.

      The reason I wrote the post, is because while I see many fine words dedicated to “what they should do”, I see precious few written on “what we should do”.

      I (purely personally) have come to the realization that I can and should do more..

  11. Aasia
    Aasia says

    As someone who grew up poor, very poor at that. I agree with Haroon’s sentiment. No matter how hard poor people work, the chance of them breaking the cycle of poverty is very low.

    without the right education, and access to the right people and enforcement of not just developemental plans. we’re screwed! This issue is not one(middle class) or the other (government) its all of them. I wonder how many middle class families pay their domestic labourers a living wage, or treat them well?

    Change is coming, wether you disgaree or not!

  12. Nicholas says

    Haroon, for middle-class hand-wringing, I think you’ve got us all beat.

    Some of the most vocal allies of any political power structure (especially in it’s economic war against the middle class you claim to belong to) are guilt-ridden liberals.
    You draw a comparison between SA businesses taking advantage of workers, and the contrast with businesses in the UK and Australia. Big difference: the English and Australian governments aren’t composed almost exclusively of greed-fuelled businessmen who were able to occupy the halls of power under the banner of ‘Black Liberation’.

    The authority in charge of ‘Democracy’ and ‘Transformation’ is South Africa’s political power structure.
    They bear the responsibility for lack of practical implementation of both concepts over a span of 21 years.
    If that political power structure claims to lead by example, and the example it sets is total disregard for the working classes, how can it expect the middle- and upper-classes it ‘governs’ to behave differently?

    A company I previously worked for had a list of ‘Rules of Engagement’ pasted on a wall in the boardroom.
    One of those rules read ‘If presenting a problem, include at least one possible solution’. Haroon, since you propose to set the world to rights, what answer do you put forth? Will you be donating 50% of your future monthly income to starving ANC and EFF voters? Are you planning on putting hundreds of thousands of overpopulating freeloaders before your wife and children? I don’t think so.

    I don’t know about anyone else, but as a native South African, I am sick of shelling out more money for less service every year. I work bloody hard for what I earn and my utility bills are paid by the first working day of every month.
    I will not be told: ‘It’s not enough – you owe us your soul’.

    I know the polite thing to do here would be to give golf claps and say ‘Attaboy… you tell us what’s what! Haroon for Prez, Woohoo!’ But this kind of BS needs to be called out.
    Haroon says: “I don’t know if the revolution can be stopped once the writing is on the wall, but looking around as one of the privileged ones I can tell you that we would absolutely deserve it.”
    Cry me a river, pal. I resent your blanket generalization.
    If your house were burned down and children killed by ‘Xenophobic protesters’, would you say for the record: “I totally deserved that”? Like Hell you would! We’d be seeing your purple prose regarding the inefficiency of our police forces and the diffusion of blame among our so-called leaders.

    The ANC rode to power on a wave of promises they knew they couldn’t keep.
    It’s time for them to say “We screwed up. We betrayed those who put us where we are. As of this moment, we abdicate.”

  13. Allen Baranov says

    Haroon,

    Interesting article but I have to fundamentally disagree with you.

    It is difficult for me to understand exactly the factors at work in the xenophobic attacks from all the way here in Australia but my feeling is not that the attackers are in poorly paid jobs but rather that they do not have jobs at all.

    Economics is more of an art than a science (IMHO) especially macro economics but there is a specific amount of money in the country that can be paid in total for work done and if the amount paid increases then the number of jobs decreases. in Australia we have one of the highest minimum wages in the world – it is amazing because on the smallest salary – you can live fairly comfortably. However, jobs like petrol station attendants, security guards, cleaners, etc etc are just not viable anymore. Australia has cleaning services and garden services but in no way would it help to keep a population of the size of South Africa’s employed.

    Well then… increase the amount that the country can make – this isn’t impossible. South Africans are hard workers.. really. We are inventive also – what passes for “blue sky thinking” elsewhere is merely semi-out-of-the-box-thinking to South Africans. South Africans are passionate and compassionate. South Africans are cheap relatively speaking.

    So, why isn’t everything just working out for South Africa? Because there is no big plan. You can’t take successful people (for whatever they achieved success) and divide it up evenly – you need to bring the others up to be successful and this can happen… but it is not as easy as dividing what is already in place.

    – Allen

    1. @haroonmeer says

      Hi Allen

      I agree that the roots of xenophobia will never be adequately covered in a single post.
      I also agree that you do not “strengthen the weak by weakening the strong”
      I’m not advocating a move to complete socialism here, I’m saying: “we can (and should) do more”
      Nicholas (in the comment above) seems to think that this needs me to give away half my salary. I’m saying i (and most ppl I know) could pay their maids a livable wage without denting their annual salary.
      I’m saying that for just a little bit more (and maybe a small dent) we could handle their kids education..
      Is this something that should have been done by govt? Yes.. But it hasn’t materialized.. We can keep blaming others, or we can chip in

  14. Vega says

    Haroon, i think our situation is very complex. It’s simplistic to say employers should pay people more; what you call a living wage. The only way people will rise out of poverty is by education and working hard in employment, not higher wages. The government has a HUGE education budget, higher per learner than almost all other countries, but because of MISMANAGEMENT our youth is not getting proper education and training. A sense of entitlement causes young people to think they don’t have to work hard to achieve and EARN success. They DEMAND to pass a grade, instead of WORK to pass. Secondly our workforce has so many rights and demands that our production is lower than most other countries. Have you seen how many people will be doing a menial job? One actually works and 5 stand around watching. In all the jobs that I have ever done, I made sure I came to work a bit early. If my work for the day was not done, I would stay late or if we had unfinished work, we would work through our lunch time or take work home. When I was a teacher I did not stop marking when it was late at night, I marked until all 35 or 70 or 120 papers were done. Now, the cleaning lady who works for me will arrive early and sits in front of the gate till exactly 8am, then she’ll come inside. On the dot of 1 o’clock she puts down the broom and eat lunch for an hour. Exactly 4 pm, she puts everything down and stop working, whether her work is done or not. I guarantee you a person like that will stay poor. Any one who wants to, can take R100 produce something and sell it for R200. I worked holidays since I was 13 years old and I taught my kids to be entrepreneurs from a young age. People don’t want to work hard, they want hand outs. Good work ethic is scarce. Our country’s problem is an attitude problem, if people want to work they will work themselves out of poverty and I have seen that with many immigrants from Nigeria and Zimbabwe, because they work very hard.

    1. @haroonmeer says

      Hi Vega.

      Thanks for the thoughtful response. I think you will notice from my responses above: I absolutely agree that the situation is a complex one. I absolutely agree that the Govt. has a lot to do and I absolutely absolutely think that education is our way out.
      I have some sympathy though for what you see as a poor work ethic from some people. While i was being brought up by loving parents (like you seem to be) and while i was being taught a strong work ethic (like you are doing for your kids) many of the current crop of domestics were growing up alone in a township while their mothers cleaned our bathrooms. Its an ugly situation and its really hard for people to climb out of poverty.
      I genuinely believe that I (personally) can do more, and im hoping that more people agree/feel the same way.

  15. Faizal says

    @Haroon
    I like my CODESA style negotiations as you know, so bear me out with some devils advocate work and some genuine suggestions.

    1. I agree we can do more (personally) despite govt’s huge failings (though I voted for them for 15 of 20 years)
    2. Yes I will likely if I can afford it save for private schools (because face it, the schools you and I attended xxx years ago are no longer of much quality. Ok maybe your one is. But then it’s private now).
    3. Reality is, to ensure our kids have a shot, we have to do the private school thing. We have to spend on medical aid (I’ve been to King Edward Hosp. Not fun). We need to spend on security. A lot of these items are no longer considered “luxuries” for the middle class.
    4. What we don’t need to do is buy obscenely expensive vehicles and then spread our photos with our vehicles on the back of the sunday times like a bunch of tacky rich prats so the less fortunate can look at it and think “these bastrds must go from our land”
    5. Living wage argument – most ppl covered it above. I run a micro-business. I pay what I can manage. I can’t pay enough to cover one mans rent – forget even bond. Most I speak to say “thats a good pay”!
    6. We can enforce stricter wage laws but it will destroy the economy
    7. The key is entrepreneurship. Not creating formal jobs only. This jobs thing is a farce.
    8. I like your suggestion that we ensure our workers families are being educated on our strength, especially if we have BMW’s (or Audi’s…)
    9. For this, I’d like to keep my iPhone (its cracked and an iPhone 4 so I’m not -really- that middle class. My basic staff actually have better phones than I do)
    10. So I suggest, yes lets we fund workers kids education. BUT Govt gives me a 150% tax deduction on this. We’re already tax abused – the payoff for the economy is excellent if the kids get a good education (none of this math literacy and life orientation crap – we don’t need more cashiers and packers) so they can come to the party too.

    My concern is this:
    – We (my family) assisted our workers kids with schooling (books stationery costs provided)
    – Worker is now probably 70 years old (no no no, does not still work for us – I’m just giving you age!)
    – She has an RDP house where she has settled out of DBN
    – Her 3 kids, though being provided with the educational opps, are lazy and still leech of her.

    – My current staff in business has the same issue. One kid is getting educated well and may break the barriers necessary. The other two are lazy bums. ie: they leech off their hard working mother while they’re old enough to have kids themselves (they do). It’s not lack of educational opp. It’s laziness, a belief that some things are below me, and an idea that they can “buy xyz and rent in xyz area” despite not working because – well just because.
    – We have this entitlement mentality perpetuating through society. It’s not a black thing (someone thankfully pointed this out to me). It’s a societal problem. Look at the indian community. Middle class families who have grown adult bums sitting at home, spending money, living, without earning without motivation or responsibility.
    – On the Zulu side, remember – the Zulu refused to work the fields hence the Indians were brought in. I don’t say the Zulu is lazy, but there is much the foreigner will do that the Zulu won’t (I’m going to take flak for this – this is my devils advocating line) Has this changed much? Yes some are hard working definitely. Lets not generalise (like we do about the middle class) but many are not.
    – I see posters at Durban’s Imbizo saying “8 years no job”. Well get off your arse and buy something and sell it. Trade.
    – The trouble is, once I buy and then sell and made R100 – my first step is to “go spend it on clothes and cellphones” (Business staffs nephew – started him off selling goods in township, couldn’t believe how well he did in first few weeks so he blew all the cash. ALL of it. This happens constantly with other peoples efforts.)

    We have many honest hardworking people, who need a lift to break through the class barriers.
    We need their kids to be made of the same mettle (agree that its tough when they’re not there to raise said kids).
    We have many lazy ungrateful sods (all races so don’t get touchy on me. You’re all bloody lazy sods – whine about govt, whine abt your employers, whine about your parents – get a grip and grow up).
    They’re generally the ones who will revolt, who will raise arms, and get this party started.
    Yet they’re the ones who (harsh) don’t deserve to be lifted out their pit.
    Can throw a rope, you still gotta climb.

    Complex issue. Simplistic notes.
    We all agree we need to do more because its going to get ugly. I commend you for trying to uplift those within your space.

    Mind my harshness in words above. I sound like a whingy NP/DA member almost.
    You know thats not my politik.

    Out.

  16. Buddy Wells says

    I agree with the article Haroon. It’s great to see that so many of the people commenting agree with you. Inequality and poverty are a choice that we make every time we transact with only profit in mind. It’s quite possible to shape a different world by rewarding people according to the value they add rather than how desperate they are for cash or how replacable they are.
    The Responsible Market Foundation raises awareness of the benefits of salary-gap-moderation and incentivising salary-gap-moderation (SGM) as a means to reduce income inequality and to bring about more freedom, prosperity, respect, trust and non-racialism.
    Please go to our website and sign up so we can get the evolution rolling.

  17. Lynn says

    Thank you for writing this article, Haroon. You make good points, and I also agree with your suggested Solution (in one of your reply to comments above): “I think a super simple plan we should try to adopt (as middle class) is to make sure we handle the education needs of the kids of anyone who works for us for 5 years.”
    I’d like to add one more option to that: what if every privileged South African who got an education there, and then emigrated to Perth or San Diego, would fund education scholarships for kids who are now growing up in S.A? I now live in the U.S. & when I see how expensive a college/university education is, I’m grateful that I got the great university education that I did. Almost free of charge. And let’s face it, all of us ex-SAfricans (mostly white) got those great almost-free educations during apartheid years on the backs of all the workers who didn’t have that chance. You could say that we owe something back.
    And for those who would naysay this option and say that the money would be wasted on kids who want everything given to them, I’d suggest further that a scholarship program like this could be set up like one that I helped co-found while living in a small town in Mexico. Every one of those scholarship children were kids who already had good marks – so it was framed as not charity but a reward for good work – and they signed a contract that they would lose their scholarship if they didn’t keep up those good marks every year.
    (Okay, now I’ll sit back & wait for other commenters to tell me how wrongheaded I am!)

  18. Maynard van Buuren says

    What is middle-class? How many houses, cars, digits salary, holidays abroad and indentured servants does one need in order to fall into the middle-class bracket, and how many more to fall into the upper-class one?

    Also what constitutes a living wage? Unfortunately illegal immigrants get paid extremely little when hired as low-paid workers, yet they are able to live here and send money back home, so what exactly does “living” mean?

    I do not disagree with the article in the least, but I think it is important to understand the terms being used in the article, as it appears to be attacking the group of people who contribute the highest tax income (versus the upper class who have fancy lawyers and accountants and end up paying very little tax, and the lower class who are given tax relief as their income falls below the tax brackets perhaps).

  19. […] the followers of Christ in middle-class and affluent neighborhoods will stop living at the expense of the poor, and instead sacrificially simplify their lifestyles so that everyone has […]

  20. richa says

    Very informative sharing. I agree with you.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.