Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Col. Muammar Khaddafi, the leader of Libya since a 1969 coup, says he will end state control of education in his country and "introduce" more capitalism into the Libyan economy.
Capitalism? Less state control of education? How can it be that Khaddafi is more in tune with the needs of people than the Downercrats in the United States, who stand for less capitalism, higher taxes, and more state control of education?
Khaddafi more reformist than Downercrats? Now I've seen everything!
Gaddafi extols virtues of capitalist reforms
Colonel Muammer Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, pledged to introduce free-market measures by the beginning of next year in an unprecedented speech extolling the virtues of capitalism.
“After four months, everything will be in your hands,” he told Libyans. “Do not be scared ... begin discussing this issue and prepare yourself ... because this is a crucial and inescapable matter.”
The leader, who on Monday celebrated the 39th anniversary of the coup which brought him to power, has presided for almost all these years over an economy controlled by the state, allowing only a small private sector which often came under pressure to limit its growth.
The state still exerts enormous control, although recent years have seen efforts to diversify the economy and encourage private sector participation.
“Laws have been amended to make it easier for Libyans to go into joint ventures with foreign investors,” said a Libyan businessman. “Also banking has improved and we now have branches of foreign banks.”
Libya’s oil and gas exports are the mainstay of the economy and this revenue remains firmly in the hands of the government.
But now Mr Gaddafi appears to be preparing his country’s people for a smaller state role in the provision of services such as health and education.
“The money that we put in the education budget, I say let the Libyan people take it,” he said. “Put it in your pockets and teach your kids as you wish, you take responsibility.”
He also said consumers would be able to demand better services from the private companies which will now provide telephone and electricity services.
This is all a far cry from Mr Gaddafi’s views in even the recent past.
The man who shaped Libyan society for four decades had for a long time abhorred private property. There were restrictions on the formation of private companies and Libyan families were only allowed one piece of property – and could not rent it out to anyone else.
At one point during his rule Mr Gaddafi ordered all retail outlets closed and replaced them with huge government-owned stores, which later closed and shops were allowed to reopen.
The Libyan leader has often been criticised for using Libya’s oil wealth to fund rebel movements and militant organisations like the Irish Republican Army and to buy influence in Africa, especially during the years when his country was constrained under United Nations sanctions.
Now, however, he has warned his people of the dangers of leaving control of their wealth to the state.
“As long as money is administered by a government body, there would be theft and corruption,” said Mr Gaddafi. “When we apply this system [capitalism], we will not worry about anything else. But if we do not establish it, it would be dangerous and would leave things in the hands of the ruler.”
Khaddafi sounds more and more like a Republican. And Barack Obama and the Downercrats sound more and more like Karl Marx.
How ironic, eh?