One of the most strategic driving forces behind the wellbeing of a society or an economy is policymaking. The various policies laid out by policy makers go a long way to either ameliorate different aspects of a society and hence the economy or hold it back.
Policymaking is the act of creating laws or setting standards for a government, organization or business. These changes usually come as a result of the identification, monitoring and evaluation processes where trends are uncovered, or as a direct result of a pressing situation within an organization or a society.
In an ideally running society, the government makes policies for the protection and wellbeing of the citizens and population at large, and to ensure a better and smooth running of the economy. Some policies however, especially within corrupt governments are passed for selfish reasons. Lawmakers generally are people of position, power and wealth. They may run or oversee businesses, whose interests naturally have to be protected. They are well in position to do so. Where selfishness and greed surpasses rational reasoning, policies will be made that will protect businesses even at the expense of the wellbeing and wishes of the society. It is a common practice worldwide.
Examples of such situations are The Rise of Gun Violence as a Public Health Issue and how the NRA (National Rifle Association) has lawmakers deep in their pockets. Others include the continuous activities of MONSANTO and GM food developing companies despite protests and proof of their adverse health effects; the numerous constitutional changes in corrupt African governments to ensure the stay of leaders in power and access to large funds from other governments for hidden services rendered; Big Pharma buying its way into the FDA advisory panels and so on. The list can go on and on and isn’t limited to a few countries. It is a global problem, the only difference being the fact that in developing countries and Africa it is labelled ”Corruption” while in the US and Europe- “Lobbying”.
The slow development pace in Africa especially can be blamed on a major mentality problem which keeps policy makers and wealthy businessmen at the top, canalizing national wealth and deciding on laws almost exclusively for their benefits until there comes a conflict of interest situation.
Cameroon for example, a country which had maintained a leadership role amidst other countries in the central African region, both in terms of economic development and infrastructure since independence, now has most of the other nations ahead especially infrastructure wise. A country so blessed but yet cursed. A country where the dream of the youth is going overseas or getting into the public service, while those in public offices strive to accumulate as much as they can on the job before their term is over. This mentality applies from the topmost leadership in the country to the least student whose dream is to make it into specialized public schools like ENAM (Cameroon National School of Administration and Magistracy) and IRIC (International Relations Institute of Cameroon). He is sure of becoming a millionaire or of at least living a comfortable life. With such a mentality, the system is held in a vicious cycle and a lot of effort has to be made to see the light.
Individuals and companies with wealth have the capacity to bring about development not only economically but also with regard to infrastructure and the wellbeing of the workforce. In any given society this will give credit to the individual or company in question for lifting such a burden off government shoulders. Unfortunately, despite depreciating and disappearing infrastructure, only the government is allowed to carry out such projects.
For example, a company, X, has a warehouse in a location which is practically inaccessible. No matter how large their resources, they have no right to construct a permanent road with bitumen. They have to manage it somehow and wait for government projects to do the job which may take years as is usually the case. Other governments foster partnerships with corporations and wealthy individuals and are only too glad to receive such proposals.
These are a few examples of how policies can make or break a country or an organization and policy makers are the keys to the wellbeing or failure of this process. Policymaking in various sectors should be confided to a neutral body or agency, with its leadership having no affiliation to the government but should have a government representative on the panel alongside specialists in the domain and an ordinary person from the public. Policies should be debated upon, voted and only then implemented.
If individuals can look beyond their present infinite wealth targets and visualize a future for their nations and even their own great grandkids, some mentalities will change. After all, greed and selfishness at such national levels only portray the lack of honour a citizen can have for his country.
Also see Top 10 Reasons Why The World Is Not Likely To Attain Health Targets Anytime Soon, by Dr. Fitz N Dinka
Dr. Fitz N Dinka is Senior Policy Analyst at the Central African Centre for Libertarian Thought and Action (CACliTA).