Rent Culture 215


Ghana in general is a well balanced society with a good education system and a large middle class. But there is a huge social problem affecting those at the bottom of the ladder, which there appears no will at all among the political class even to acknowledge, let alone tackle, and that is rent.

Ghana’s agricultural production has never collapsed, unlike Nigeria, and the traditional patterns of society in rural areas have not broken down. Modern services, in terms of edication, electrification and clean water, have penetrated rural communities better than in any other African country, though there are still areas of concern, particularly in the North. But the overall good picture means that there has therefore been less extreme urban drift, less shanty town existence, than in most of the developing world, and therefore less urban violence.

But despite all this there is a terrible problem with the rent culture of Accra. The poor all rent housing, rather than own. Demand exceeds supply and landlords invariably demand three, or at the very least two, years’ rent in advance. This is absolutely established as the way the market operates, and for the poor there is no way around it. Three years’ rent is typically over one year’s income, and in consequence the poor are sucked into a permanent life of debt. This applies to the majority of people living in the City. Quite literally, a day never passes in which at least one Ghanaian doesn’t ask me to lend them the money for their rent; yesterday there were four. I help where I can.

This situation was already calamitous but is going to get much worse, as land values are already starting to soar with the coming of the oil industry. I have good friends at the highest levels in all the Ghanaian political parties, but they all seem to have been so indoctrinated with IMF economics that they do not even consider rent controls. Unfortunately the performance of both the NPP and the NDC in building social housing has been very poor. I am forced to the opinion that the plight of the poor is not actually a pressing concern in the minds of the educated classes in Ghana in general.

The fierce party political divisions in Ghana need to be put aside, and an all-party solution on social housing and on rents has to be pursued with vigour, as a primary use for some of Ghana’s oil revenues.


215 thoughts on “Rent Culture

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  • Anapa

    “decolonisation…”
    your mates from Uzbekistan are dying for reasons to leave their country (including you probably) and live and work in Russian cities as slaves (maybe you were lucky to turn out in the UK with your government’s sponsored scholarship or smth). Your countrymen definitely want to be colonised again and have the same sweet life they had in the USSR. Go ask them. What decolonisation are you talking about? Have you been to your country recently? For the last 2-3 years? I visited some places in Uzb, Kyrg, and Kaz. last year. More than 70% of your male population from Uzb is in Russia now, otherwise they and their families would die of hunger. Your villages are almost empty in summer. Your kids are illitirete, malnutritious and slavering in cotton fields instead of going to schools, and you are teaching me here philosophy? If you are brave enough go fight against your regime and free your country and build a scoiety better than USSR. Can you? Well, Lenin did. He gave your parents opportunity to educate, which is why you are somewhere in England. Otherwise, you would be picking up cotton now and dreaming of someone like Lenin would come and free you and give you opportunity to education for free, a place to live for free, to check your health for free, etc.

  • Mary

    Mark Justice was not ‘seen to be done’ or ‘heard to be done’ by many of those at the hearing yesterday. The audibility was poor although there were microphones but not switched on. A large court had been requested in view of the number of members of the public likely to come. Instead Court 3 was allocated which accomodated about 20 plus the legal teams of the claimant David Halpin and the Attorney General.
    .
    Over 35 of us were left outside to be told that the judge had ordered that the gallery should not be opened because there is a shortage of staff due to cuts in the ‘ROYAL’ Courts of Justice. We kicked up and were eventually given bits of paper with numbers written on as queue numbers in the event of an usher being found. At the last minute we were admitted to a narrow stone staircase with a rope handle as if we were ascending to a belfry. One disabled lady with a stick could just about manage one step at a time. The first three rows of people could see nothing. I am tall and only by standing on tiptoe at the back in the fourth row could I just see the judge. We could hear very little throughout.

    .
    The RCJ is a cavernous stone walled Victorian Gothic pile quite unsuited to a 21st century legal system and originally designed to intimidate claimants and to put the little people in their place. Dusty looking and in need of a major modernisation or perhaps demolition. Compare the court we were in to the modern one accomodating the Leveson theatre currently taking place in the new building

    .
    I have just been watching Piers Morgan live on video from the US, rather arrogant, hostile and full of it. He was born Piers Stefan O’Meara but gives his name now as Piers Stefan Pughe-Morgan. Wonder why? He resorted to the old chestnut of not revealing his sources when refusing to answer some questions. He was rebuked by Judge Leveson several times.
    .
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/dec/20/leveson-inquiry-piers-morgan-live?newsfeed=true

    .
    Mods What use are comments in Russian to us?

  • dagman

    Fred Harrison deals with this issue really well in his book Ricardo’s Law regarding economic rent although it is focused on the UK. Basically the best answer is a Land Value Tax so that the increase in the value of the land that is a result of development goes to the government in the form of a tax which can then be redistributed to the people. Otherwise it accumulates in the hands of landowners. It is ironic that as a government taxes the people to improve infrastructure much of the financial benefits go to the landowners.

    I read Progress and Poverty by Henry George this summer and it is amazing how much of what he says in that book is relevant today. He wrote the book in 1879 just as the Gilded Age was beginning in the USA. He witnessed the corruption of politics with the rail road expansion across the nation much like we are experiencing today with corporate welfare. He had the answer to many of our problems over 100 years ago!!

    Here is great quote from Progress and Poverty.

    “Take now… some hard-headed business man, who has no theories, but knows how to make money. Say to him: “Here is a little village; in ten years it will be a great city-in ten years the railroad will have taken the place of the stage coach, the electric light of the candle; it will abound with all the machinery and improvements that so enormously multiply the effective power of labor. Will in ten years, interest be any higher?” He will tell you, “No!” Will the wages of the common labor be any higher…?” He will tell you, “No the wages of common labor will not be any higher…” “What, then, will be higher?” “Rent, the value of land. Go, get yourself a piece of ground, and hold possession.” And if, under such circumstances, you take his advice, you need do nothing more. You may sit down and smoke your pipe; you may lie around like the lazzaroni of Naples or the leperos of Mexico; you may go up in a balloon or down a hole in the ground; and without doing one stroke of work, without adding one iota of wealth to the community, in ten years you will be rich! In the new city you may have a luxurious mansion, but among its public buildings will be an almshouse.”

  • John Goss

    Mary et al, regarding Dr David Kelly, I’ve just received an email from Margaret Hindle who did the fundraising for Dr. Halpin. Dr Halpin was instructed to pay government costs of £5,638 in trying to get an inquest into Dr David Kelly’s death. Dr Halpin has not finished yet, but what the next course of action is we do not know yet.

  • Uzbek in the UK

    Well Anapa, now you are showing your true face. Do not you think that current dictatorships in Central Asia, including the most brutal in Uzbekistan, are because our Russian masters left us something else apart from ‘free’ things? They left us their legacy to overcome which we will spend many more decades. But decolonisation is something that was destined to happen as it happened to many other brutally colonised nations in other parts of the world.
    .
    Karimov is no better than Russians or Soviets but the reason is because he is part of the legacy that was left to us as a burden.

  • tigger1

    The part of the discussion in this topic wnet into remembering Soviet Union. There was one very precise comment and it was written by Craig himself.
    Both Anapa and Uzbek used to live in USRR. One could assume they should know better. Not always. Uzbek believes, for example, that Soviet Union was contributing to economy of its satelites like Czechoslovakia. Well, the people in Central Europe believe that it was opposite way of drainage – after all why would colonial power spend its resources to make life better in colonies? Does not make the sense. Maybe the case of Cuba was different.
    The main reason for poverty in USRR after WW2 was very high cost of keeping up with USA, poor organisation of economy and deliberate strategy to avoid social changes, which could be risky for ruling elite.

    Apart from that point Uzbek understands the evil of USRR, whereas Anapa not.

    As for Passerby posts: the only difference between Hitler and Stalin, apart from the fact that Hitler was bit amateurish in killing and torturing on much smaller scale than Stalin, was that Stalin won WW2. USA and UK also participated in winning but contribution of Soviet Union was much much bigger. The biggest battles on western front or D-day are not even in the same league as Soviet-German war in sense of forces engaged in them. That was the reason not calling Soviet Union criminal against humanity.
    “Free” education, health service, housing in Soviet system – they were not free. In market economy taxing people at, let’s say, 95% could also provide them free. Sweden made them free on high taxes but not as high.
    Passerby, you do not see much value in Freedom of Speech. You are right, fortunately you state that Freedom from Persecution is important. So maybe Havel actually was standing for the latter. And the prostitution has bit longer history than collapse of Workers’ Paradise.

  • tigger1

    Anapa, where did you get the crazy idea about alleged illiteracy in countries of Central Europe like Poland, Hungary, or Czechoslovakia or Soviet republics like Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia. So maybe Georgia or Armenia?
    I don’t know about Central Asia – maybe when Russia colonised them in 19 century there was high level of illiteracy there but why the assumption that Uzbeks or Kazakhs would not be developing without Russia?

  • John Goss

    I’ve raised an e-petition calling for the resignation of Attorney General, Dominic Grieve. It is not available yet. It has to be approved by the Attorney Generals’ office. But I’ll let you know when. It reads:
    .
    “A call for the resignation of Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, over his personal investigation into the death of Dr. David Kelly, who revealed that the government dossier on Iraq having weapons of mass destruction was ‘sexed up’ which we now know was deliberately fabricated to take the UK into an illegal war. Dominic Grieve took it upon himself to investigate the death of Dr David Kelly when it should have been left to an independent inquest, as with every other case where death has not occurred through natural causes. He should therefore resign.”

  • anno

    Dominic Grieve is way to the political left of the erstwhile Blair team at the time of Dr Kelly.s death. He is probably in danger of Morecombe Bay separation and drowning from his own party. He is going to get more than wet if he rakes around neocon history for too long.
    After Libya, Syria. Belhaj in is Turkey ready for W.Hague’s little waive of consent.
    Assad and co. prepare for horrible death, inshallah.

  • Tet-a-Tet

    “Karimov is no better than ..”
    People deserve their rulers. I don’t know who said that, but it’s true.
    Nobody will change it unless you change it instead of dreaming about good rulers and good legacy of others.

  • Mark Golding - Children of Iraq

    WHY BRITAIN IS BROKEN (or Broke)
    .
    John Smith once said, “What’s the point of being in politics if you can’t speak up for the people who can’t speak up for themselves. In reality of course it cannot be the case that individuals as such are represented in any realistic sense. Dr David Halpin for instance, wanted a proper inquest instead of an inquiry into the death of Dr David Kelly and was denied. Why? Norman Baker MP believed there was “More than enough cause to reopen the inquest.” Nothing happened except his book, ‘The Strange Death of David Kelly’ was published and serialised in the Daily Mail earning him an additional income.
    .
    How then does one of us, any one, get represented in the realm of governance? The simple answer is we don’t, on anything to do with policy, governance and more. In a democracy therefore the people decide government every five years based on their own inquest of what has gone before. British democracy consists of an elected leadership free to do what it wants until and unless rejected at the next election.
    .
    With Tony Blair and New Labour we witnessed subtle changes, instead of a sovereign and autonomous population or citizenry, that ‘sovereign’ became a notion and Britain moved towards a representative oligarchy and government and law decision makers appeared only by the oligarchs support and approval. In our capitalist society, capital amassed in the minority and money bought policies while our own individual tax burden became regressive and corrupt. Democracy was failing and the millionaire’s club was growing. This regression was not enough for Blair, he wanted more and ’empire’ would be key. He believed a major war, the seeds and fruits of empire would ensure his own wealth grew together with the oligarchs of the money system and the oligarths of war and destruction, the military industrial complex.
    .
    In 2001 we would be asked to defer democracy in the name of an infinite ‘war on terror’ that would ensure total control of our lives; anti-war would be condemned as unpatriotic and there would be no meaningful way to get any alternative point of view heard in the public space, at least in a way that would require serious response. The television system in our homes would serve as an overwhelming monopoly of visual and verbal communication for the growing cultural imperialism. Internal politics, foreign policy, sports, the education of children, information about our major institutions and so on would be reconfigured in it’s own image without our participation. Representative oligarchy and the mass media would find a perfect match in each other. The neo-liberal political economy upon which contemporary oligarchy is based would cement an alliance between the supercorporate class and the professional communications class.
    .
    To be continued.

  • Mary

    What a very unpleasant Ziocon organ (Weekly Standard) you sent that quote from Fedup. Wonder what the readership is and where they come from.
    .
    I spotted the list of contributors at the bottom. Includes Kristol. Rachel Abrams and Frum. Enough said.
    .
    The Electronic Intifada newsletter is just in. They have a piece about the lack of information on the funding of Labour Friends of Israel. Confirms what I already knew about the slimy Jim Murphy, a leading member.
    http://electronicintifada.net/blog/david/uk-friends-israel-group-breaking-law-political-funding
    .
    The point is really missed in the piece that there should be NO lobby group in our parliament with affiliations to, and support for, a foreign power.

  • Mary

    Nothing has changed. In fact it all gets worse. The NHS is being dismantled and Freud’s outfit gets a £million to act as the midwife at the operation. Was there any compulsory competitive tendering carried out I wonder? That was the clever trick that John Major thought up in 1999 and imposed when the Conservatives were privatising public services. More anaesthetic for the sleeping millions then. They are still sleeping now.
    .
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2011/dec/20/matthew-freud-contract-department-health?CMP=twt_fd

  • anno

    Fedup
    No. I don’t know anything about Syria. I have heard that the saturation of political intrusion into day to day life can result in a certain harmony, because no-one dares to argue about anything. I have also heard that Ba’ath style dictatorship is simpler to live under than US dogs dinner Iraqi style democracy because minor persecutors are eliminated by the dictator.
    Is it better for government to be absent as in Libya, corrupt as in Pakistan, oppressive as in Syria, deceitful as in Turkey?
    Which would you choose from the all-you-can-eat buffet of bad choices offerred by the colonial powers?
    The Arab spring youth might think that our own brand of moral, political, spiritual emptiness has something to offer. Freedom for what? To get divorced and have your children brought up by abusive strangers and school gangs?
    It is a credit to Islam that people survive the uncertainties of their lives, and maybe you get the leaders you deserve.
    The thinking of CIA/AlQaida/USUKIS is that in a highly controlled. Western armed, Islamist state such as Egypt, the 50% of the population who like Islam will peacefully practise it, and the 50% who don’t like it will still be subject to the same spying, and state oppression as they were under secular dictatorships. They shuffle the cards a bit. In future you will be able to talk about Islam to your heart’s content and you’ll be locked up for having a unisex hair salon.

  • Komodo

    “The Electronic Intifada newsletter is just in. They have a piece about the lack of information on the funding of Labour Friends of Israel. Confirms what I already knew about the slimy Jim Murphy, a leading member.
    http://electronicintifada.net/blog/david/uk-friends-israel-group-breaking-law-political-funding
    .
    I am still awaiting information on the CFI. My MP expressed an interest in the topic and undertook to forward my enquiry to Baroness Warsi. Not that I am expecting any revelations, but the secrecy attending this group is itself significant.
    .
    OT completely: I see Osborne is getting very cuddlesome on the subject of ringfencing investment from consumer banking, and is making particularly cheery noises about doing this to RBS. Doesn’t he know that RBS’s retail arm will shortly be sold to Santander? Over whose operations, as it is not UK based, he will have little if any control?

  • Mary

    Komodo I was not saying that one Friends of Israel lobby group is any better or worse than another.
    .
    Error above, Major’s CCT came in in 1989.

  • Uzbek in the UK

    Fascinating comparison
    .
    “However, the president of the Falklands Chamber of Commerce, Roger Spink, told the BBC that they were a small community, and felt increasingly under blockade.

    “If we were Palestine, the European Union would be up in arms,” he said.
    .
    Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-16280613

  • Komodo

    Mary, if not in detail then certainly in practice, Friends of Israel are a cross-party group. I am well aware of this. And I put this on Luke Akehurst’s (LFI director of campaigns) blog. The quote is (allegedly) from Millibean, E.
    .
    “…like LFI, I remain absolutely committed to seeing progress towards a stable two state solution.”
    .
    But IS LFI committed to a two-state solution? Netanyahu isn’t, and is on record as not being. Is it not less misleading to say that LFI supports the government of Israel, right or wrong? And that the agenda of the current government is to continue creating facts on the ground?
    .
    Certainly, Jewish and Muslim Israelis – and the occupied Palestinians – share a common desire for peace. However, the prevailing sentiment among Jewish Israelis is that “Judaea and Samaria” are Jewish, and that a Palestinian state will not be created here. Where, then? Jordan? Likud and its fascist ally, Yisrael Beteinu are very careful not to say.
    .
    There are too many conflicts with reality in LFI’s (CFI’s, LDLFI’s – arms of the same octopus) position for its public statements to be credible.

    .
    Wonder if it will survive moderation?

  • Mary

    The Chief Constable of Cumbria, Craig Mackey, becomes the new Deputy Commissioner at the Met. replacing Tim Godwin.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-16279867
    .
    As he leaves Cumbria, it is announced that 13 police stations there are to close and will be sold off to save £20m. Another 6 might close later.
    .
    {http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cumbria-16278988}
    .
    Wonder what the good citizens of Cumbria are saying.

  • Mary

    Uzbek above. Mr Spink in the Falklands is misinformed. The EU would not be up in arms. They are just as complicit in the destruction of Palestine and its people as the member states. Baroness Ashton is just a stooge who mouths words.

  • ingo

    So the new Met chief is now getting chummy by bringing in his pals from Cumbria and Lancashire, can’t he work with whats there at present? Are the sitting officers too deeply involved?you could not make it up, could you.

    Had to laugh at the 6% rise in rail fares next year, hiow much more do they want to screw rail users down? wages have no increased for 3 years and some I know had to agree on a 2 year payfreeze, britains wage structure is rapidly going backwards whilst we are fobbed off with some spurious bank rehash that takes three years. Meanwhile bankers bonuses are being covered up, rather than annulled, and their wages are increasing whatever they achieve, profit or loss.

  • Uzbek in the UK

    @ Tiger1
    .
    Well, I still stand by my point that USSR supported economies of its satellites. It depends of course on the timeframe. From the end of the WWII and until Stalin’s death Soviets robbed Eastern European economies but started to subsidise them since the beginning of 1960th and until the collapse of the USSR. You do not even need to go to archives to get confirmation of this. You can find a lot of proof of this by searching in Internet.
    .
    For instance GDR was heavily subsidised by USSR from the end of 1950th due to that very reason that it was supposed to be more prosperous than Western Germany.
    .
    Other Eastern European economies have also been subsidised. It was not only in form of direct credits and loans. Eastern European industries have been given exclusive access to the Soviet market. For instance in 1970th USSR ordered Hungary to supply buses for the urban public transportation for every Soviet city with the population of 500 000 or more. There have been around 70 cities with such population and with overall population of around 80 million. Now do the math and calculate the sum that USSR paid not in rubles but in hard currencies. It seemed strange move as at that time USSR had at least 3 factories that manufactured busses and could convert production line of few other factories in order to increase production capacity if it was needed.
    .
    You could also add to this the raw materials that Eastern European nations have received from USSR for discounted prices, quite often 3-5 times cheaper than the marker prices. All those measures contributed to the fact that resources poor Eastern European economies have been kept afloat .

  • Uzbek in the UK

    @ Mary
    .
    That is why I was fascinated by Spink’s comments. It seems that people in Falklands receive information from even more biased sources than us.

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