Friday, January 11, 2008

Bottom-Up vs Top-Down

It's amazing just how much faith and how much blame we invest in our leaders! Incredibly, some people believe that a single man can turn everyone's fortunes around. And on the opposite scale, most waste no time in blaming all their ills on just the same man.

Before I present my case, let me just clarify that I do believe that good leadership can make a significant difference. A good economy can be killed off very quickly by bad policy, and a few radically good decisions can spur a country to new heights.

However. I am a strong believer in "bottom-up" more than "top-down". In other words, the success of a country depends on many Joe Citizens working hard at McDonalds more than it does on one man in some fancy office in some government building. When you multiply Mr Faithful Joe Citizen a million times over, you have a successful country. Imagine taking charge of a country full of slothful citizens who live to see what government is going to dish out to them, rather than what they can produce for themselves!

This is the failure of Africa. Not wrong border lines, colonialism, corrupt dictators and unfair trade rules. They all played their role, but the real power of a multitude of good citizens cannot be overruled by one leader. I'm not sure that the old saying "A country gets the government it deserves" is always true, but it sure has a lot of merit.

It might seem like I'm discrediting the ACDP here. In light of what I have said, who needs a government? In fact, what I am emphasising here is what ACDP supporters have always recognised: when you take personal responsibility for your own life and for the impact of your actions, everyone benefits. The emphasis of the ACDP is on the personal integrity of its staff and on legislation that emphasises everyone's shared responsibility. I'm sure we all agree on this: if government can convey a sense of personal responsibility to the masses, it means less governance is needed - and that's got to be a good thing.

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