The amount of white whining that ensued after Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s call for a wealth tax made me proud. I was starting to worry that white people were finally falling behind black people in the great race to prove conclusively that the best way to deal with an uncomfortable truth is to entirely misunderstand the issues. Now I see that democracy has worked in our country. We are truly all equally stupid and greedy.
Every time a white person is reminded that he or she was enormously privileged by apartheid and should possibly think about giving back something extra over and above the usual taxes, there is an outcry about how corrupt the government is. The major objection seems to be that the money will be spent on large cars and Breitling watches.
It works a bit like the old Catholic system of indulgences used to function: you could cough up some money and get forgiven for everything from murder to snoring in church.
Except that, in this case, white people believe that the misuse of their taxes is appeasing their guilt. Apparently, for every kickback that a government politician gets, one apartheid sin is forgiven.
In our beloved rainbow idiocracy, every time a second-rate black politician is called to account for corruption or lack of service delivery, he or she will milk a scapegoat to deflect the question. My favourite example is Andile Lungisa, chair of the National Youth Development Agency. His organisation gets R350-million a year to create jobs for young people. His genius plan for doing this is apparently to “make South Africa ungovernable”, and to feed everyone cheese. “In September, we are going to close every street in South Africa. If there is a cheese in your fridge, they are going to take it.”
I don’t know ... Would it not be easier to just buy R350-million of cheese and hand it out?
I’m not sure where this sudden identification of cheese with the aspirations of the working class comes from. What, sushi is suddenly too fishy for you? You’ll remember that Julius Malema also threatened to steal—I beg your pardon, appropriate—cheese on his march to the Union Buildings in Pretoria. He also accused white capital of having a rat mind-set, which is a bit odd. Alas, to extend his confused metaphor, he now appears to have built his own mousetrap with his attempt to bring cheesy liberation to Botswana.
Cheeses saves, indeed.
Tutu is, of course, right to call for a tax on the inordinately privileged. It’s all very well for Malema and his cheese bunker, or the dozens of rich white fat cats with their rat holes in Europe, but the rest of us either sort out the vast poverty gap or end up another ruined country. Cheese is the opium of the masses, as Marx once wrote, and every time we use it as a whey to deflect attention from the real issues, we’re setting ourselves up for a grim future.
Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisRoperZA