Wandering Thoughts Vol.11
So that was fun; re-writing the budget I mean. Just as fun as re-writing the constitution. It seems so easy and yet whoever tries to reform the system will either quickly abandon their quest, or get so involved with it till it drains any will to live. That’s the trouble with arch-conservative systems like the Makhzen -and its objective allies.
Obviously, reforming the whole system supposes taking on other organizations, including those supposedly allies of ‘the good cause’: trade-union leaders are deep down afraid of any changes that might affect the gossamer balance they achieved, with all the ensuing perks and privileges. Even regular citizens might oppose changes out of fear of the unknown, even though it could bring up benefits in the long run.
Once my fingers (and my mind) rest from re-designing Morocco according to my taste, I take a step back, talk to a few friends, and then reach that unfathomable conclusion: that’s too much of a ‘all or nothing’ sort of package. The trouble is, any consensual approach, with respect to past experiences in Morocco, has not delivered: negotiations are supposed to get both parties to meet halfway through (or at a certain point depending on how much both are willing to compromise upon) and since 1970 (the day the first Koutla was formed between Istiqlal and UNFP parties) opposition and the monarchy have been at loss to meet some sort of agreement. And when they did sign in on one of those in 1996, it was such a bad deal for democracy that we are likely to pay for it for in the years to come.
That may be an explanation why USFP grandees are so desperate in their defence of ‘the national consensus’. Hunger for power, whatever illusionary (with its nonetheless solid perks) was, it seems, stronger than principles. ‘Human, All Too Human‘ would one say.
Other than that, I remain quite surprised at the way many consider the upcoming constitutional referendum; I wasn’t old enough in 1996 to vote, much less in the previous consultations (not very much born back then) but come one people! those of you who lived through the 1970s and 1990s were certainly aware of the superficial changes the late Hassan II wanted to introduce in order to please his opposition, right? How come the Moroccan people are endowed with such short and bad memory? Can’t they remember a thing 10 or 15 years ago? Is the voice of sanity so much at odds with the bovine -like public opinion? We certainly have a problem with our history, whether ancient or contemporary. That might date back to the school curriculum (where Moroccan history starts off with the Idrisside dynasty and ends up at 1956) or the subsequent punishment upon those trying to demystify our national legends.
That holds for extra-governmental institutions too: left-wingers, USFP, Annahj and others alike, are very jealous of their respective martyrdom. This also might be due to the fact that we have yet to put an effort in establishing an authoritative and neutral historical research – and a whole generation of historians, whatever their inherent talents and academic competency, doesn’t have what it takes; We have yet to acquire a culture of constant archives system -that might change with the internet: for instance, all the 6 volumes of IER findings have been pulled out of their website (I had to bypass this to acquire their pdfs, all 6 volumes of them).
On a lighter -but related- note, the subject of referendum came up during a (pleasant) conversation I had with an acquaintance of mine not so long ago. the said friend (that might be reading these lines) ventured the possibility of a ‘No’ majority (let’s say, a 60-40 against) the likelihood of such result was, in my mind, so remote, so unlikely, I was taken aback, and actually had to think a while about the consequences before I can reply.
Why, a majority of Moroccan people rejecting a Royal constitution! That’s like the end of the world as we know it. Yes, I am aware some (most prominently the MAP news agency) will spin it as a popular refusal for the King to abdicate some of his powers. But whatever way the regime spins it, it will carry such an earth-shattering symbol: the ruled (الرعية) says no the the ruler (الراعي). What will happen then? Well, it’s a bit like science fiction: as long as you keep it likely, anything can happen.
To change the subject completely, I can’t get enough of Anas‘ joke about me if I ever get the finance ministry, and the first enacted policy would be to nationalize the piciri -small shops-. I wouldn’t dare do it, first because I owe it to fellow Soussis shop-keepers (I’m not Soussi myself, but there is some blood tie in the family, and yes, I am capable of ethnic racism too, why should it be confined to Fassi master race?) and second, because I would have another target on my sights. A much bigger business, one that actually hurts the economy more than anything else.
How about a temporary nationalization of ONA-SNI, Attijari-Wafa, Ittisalat Al Maghrib, BMCE Capital for a start? I haven’t worked the details yet, but the idea is to nationalize these companies (and others) with or without compensations (IAM might prove to be even a diplomatic problem) pump the cash out of the company and into the public finances for 3 or 4 years, then spend 2 years tops to restructure the companies, break them down into smaller companies and then re-privatize. (a back-of-envelope computation points out to an indicative net yield pre-nationalization of about MAD 20 Billion on banks alone)
Why would one take so much trouble (and show of force) when a court proceeding can do just as well? The aim is symbolic (the money part was there to insure it wasn’t costly to the taxpayer) A radical (or liberal left-wing) government will most certainly be ambushed by big businesses, representatives of the economic Makhzen, and act as a hindrance to the Open Society project. Nationalization is the most straightforward approach to break these monopolies’ backs, and when there’s a sufficient time-lag for this influence to fade away, then normal market conditions can be re-introduced, hence the re-privatization in chunks, so as to induce competition (and lower prices). The argument these businesses are ‘natural’ monopolies is uncalled for: banking has too high a margin rate (as pointed out earlier on) telecommunications, food supplies and related products empirically thrive in competitive environement rather than oligopolistic or even monopolistic settings.
Monopolists of Morocco, you have been warned.