Governments Have Been Granted Too Much Power – Here is Why and How it Costs Us

\”The role of governments is to govern as empowerment programs are to empower. We are tasking governments with what\’s not their role and by so doing, we are giving politicians undue control of our lives.\” – Anonymous

In the last quarter of the year, I\’ve had cross-cutting discussions with individuals from various nations, cultures and fields of work ranging from development partners, governments to private sector players. One common underlying theme in these discussions have been on the extent of decline in confidence or trust in governments. On the backdrop of this, I was reminded of articles I wrote earlier on how to tackle unemployment and overregulation as a contributor to market failures. Basing on these discussions, I more convinced as a people there is need to reimagine our relationships with governments if we mean go and wish for better for the future generations.

There is a growing dissatisfaction with governments and government officials across countries in the world which is evidenced by increasing voter apathy and growing discourse on skewed power dynamics which are believed to influence how corporations & governments work. These among others are the reason movies such as the Matrix are coming up and gaining prominence across the world as controversial personalities such as Andrew Tate get to gain a foothold and following across the world. There is need to rethink the spheres of our lives being controlled and influenced by governments as well as the expectation in these spheres. When I wrote about unemployment as an issue earlier, it was evident that every young person I was meeting with was scouting for and hoping to secure a government job while at the same time it was evident these were not forthcoming. Additionally, of most government jobs that had been created, which I believe is still the actual state of affairs, were mostly administrative with additional hierarchies which were not in reality adding any value in productivity. As a basic economic principle, without productivity there is no development and this then must be rethought and reconfigured accurately.

In a recently concluded workshop I participated in, I learnt from my peers on trends in regulatory activities across the world which are disrupting conventional social human interactions. One such case is a government expectation that local communities that have organized themselves to trade in services having to report the same for taxation purposes e.g., if I had a chicken at home which I trade with a service such as laundry from a neighbor. If a government demands this to be channeled into a taxable and controlled service it impedes human social contracts putting extra controls that ultimately hurt social fabric in communities. The same comes with regulations on quality which is a driven by need to standardize products in safeguarding consumers. However in certain cases they impede ability of communities to thrive. Having been raised in the village I knew neighbors who used to distill local brews which were pure, quality and never killed locals whichever way. Then came government interventions where crackdowns were instituted barring local brews from being produced or traded while on the contrary established corporations were being supported to set up, produce and distribute alcohol. Though valuable to governments in raising revenues they kill local economies where families are dependent on local brews to make a living. There are many individuals who have achieved social mobility as a result of the same while others have been barred from the same because of government interventions. These are all cases of government interference in human social functioning.

The principle function of governments is to govern which entails setting and enacting policies, guidelines and laws that support & promote societies in the realization of their functions. It\’s the same way in companies we have policies, statutes and strategic plans to support the effective and successful execution of organizational functions. In most corporations, stakeholders contribute to the policies but the enacting, monitoring and controls is by a select committee that\’s why there exists even boards of governance in companies. The same should be the function of governments and that\’s why we elect leaders to serve legislative and policy functions.

Unfortunately, to gain control, governments have taken up implementation functions as avenues for the leaders to gain relevance and establish their authorities in their local jurisdictions. In the Kenyan context we see it every election cycle where individuals list projects they\’ve delivered to their people or those they intend to do in the form of interventions. Most of these often serve as avenues for them to loot from the populace as the execution functions are coupled with budgetary provisions. The same applies in cases as we\’ve seen in the recent past in Kenya where political rejects with limited or no technical know-how are appointed into ministerial functions that are requisite of technical subject matter expertise. The lack thereof is recipe for disaster which we are setting ourselves up for. There\’s need to delink our governance from execution to ensure that power lies with the people while also managing the conflicts of interests which are a common occurrence in governments across the world.

Delinking governance from execution will give power to the people to self-organize and ensure systems can work as they should. This will also reduce on the level of dependence on politicians which disincentivizes local community mobilizing and coordination to address pressing social challenges without which no practical solutions can be developed. As we work to envision a better future for ourselves and the next generation, we need to rethink our relationship with governments and politicians in their place.

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