A local newspaper this week quoted a prominent female senior citizen expressing her displeasure over the skyrocketing cost for a bag of rice in the country. While several other essential prices are up, far above the reach of the impoverished majority of the populace, the galloping rise of rice price mostly accentuates the political elites’ little concern for the ordinary citizen and proves their fading memory for the country’s bitter past. This makes us utterly concerned, thus our resolve to sharing the disenchantment expressed by Mary Brownell.
The continued rise of the price of rice is often blamed on “Liberian people’s laziness” to farm as well as on tariff placed on the nation’s staple. It is assumed that if Liberian people were strong to engage in non-subsistence farming, rice would be in abundance, the nation would feed itself and hunger would be dissipated. What the proponents of this view have often refused to point to is the example of people who made huge farms and fed themselves using bare hands and unskillful minds.
There are others who think that the rice price is more likely to remain skyrocketing by crippling tariffs both from the home and international fronts. And what these proponents of this view don’t also know is that every nation’s staple is vulnerable to business exploits. It is only when there exists a pro-people ruling class that fiscal mechanisms are established to shock absorb those normal exploits that attempt to raise higher the price of the staple.
As it would be folly to expect Liberians feed themselves without ingenious national policy that stimulate and capacitate the people to make huge rice farms, so it is to ignore the fact that tariffs normally haunts imported goods, more so highly demandable commodities such as the staple, and it is only a government that loves its people that can shield the people from direct and indirect exploits of businesses. For instance, we heard some time ago in Ivory Coast that the then power-sharing government effected deep cuts on gas coupons, scratch cards and other daily operations of ministries and agencies and committed the accrued safes to subsidize essential commodities in the interest of masses of the people.
The truthfullness of professed commitment of a government to the cause of the people is not shown in mere posturing and rhetoric; it is seen in revolutionary actions of the leaders; actions that include denying themselves the comfort of official amenities and sharing the residues with the people through ingenious programs and policies.
If our leaders had known how the fight for rice and rights has shaped the history of our state, the most creative national policy and governmental response would begin and end with keeping the nation’s staple perpetually down and affordable. Because, even in the face of huge inequality and the Animal Farm conditions existing, Liberians would gladly sing, “You can take all the whole state coffers, but give me my rice.”