Zimbabwe used to be a breadbasket for much of
southern Africa. In 2000, the country’s long-time dictator Robert
Mugabe ordered the farms of white farmers be seized and divvied up
among his cronies.
Corn production fell from 2.148 million tons to 500,000 tons in
2002 and was 800,000 tons in 2013.
Wheat production fell from 255,000 tons to 150,000 tons in 2002
and was 25,000 tons in 2013. As a result, the country has had to
import grain to prevent famine several times. This year Zimbabwe
will have to
import 150,000 tons of corn to forestall staravation among 2.2
Mugabe has followed to near perfection the recipe for producing
poverty that I laid out in my 2002 article. “Poor
Some recipes guaranteed to get lean results
Here, then, is a short guide for kleptocrats and egalitarians
who want to keep their countries poor. All of these policies have
stood the test of time as techniques for creating and maintaining
poverty. The list is by no means exhaustive, but it will give
would-be political leaders a good idea of how to start their
countries on the road to ruin.
First, make sure that your country’s money is no good.
Print money like there’s no tomorrow. Hyperinflation is one of the
easiest and most popular ways to dismantle an economy. Another
popular monetary gambit is to make sure your currency is not
convertible. This guarantees that no one will ever want to invest
in your country.
To further discourage investment, be sure to nationalize all
major Industries. Nationalization has additional
poverty-enhancing benefits. For example, it will ensure that the
nationalized industries never improve technologically or become
more efficient, and it makes workers pathetically dependent on
their political masters, namely you.
Of course, you may find it too tiresome to nationalize
everything, in which case it is very important that you
establish high tariffs that insulate your country’s
remaining private industries (usually owned by your cronies anyway)
In addition, your legal system should make it nearly
impossible for anyone to license a new business, however
small. This will offer opportunities for your bureaucrats to make a
living through corruption and will protect your cronies from
domestic competition. An added advantage is that most commerce will
be made illegal and subject to arbitrary enforcement.
This leads to the point that property is critical.
Once people start to own something, they invest in it
and improve it, leading inexorably to the creation of wealth.
Again, the legal system can help to make it impossible to issue
clear titles so that your citizens can’t buy, sell, or borrow
against their “property.” Also, force your farmers to sell
their crops to government commodity boards at below-market
rates. This will discourage them from investing in anything more
advanced than subsistence agriculture, and you will be able to sell
whatever crops you do seize at low prices to keep the urban
Another popular policy is confiscatory taxes. This strategy,
which allows you to claim that you are soaking the rich in the name
of equity, has long been fashionable among the genteelly stagnating
economies of Europe.
Finally, you may have missed the golden age of international
graft, when the World Bank and even commercial banks showered the
governments of poor countries with loans. But if the opportunity
arises, you should follow in the footsteps of two deceased leaders
whose fortunes are now being divvied up in “Please
spams: Zairean dictator Mobutu Sese Seko and Nigerian General
Sani Abacha. Take a page from their book by redirecting
international loans directly to your Swiss bank
accounts, sticking your citizens with the bill.
In other news, it is rumored that the nearly 90 year-old Mugabe
may have “collapsed.”
from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2014/01/06/man-made-famine-in-zimbabwe-threatens-2