PLEASE NOTE:

MyNews24 is a user-generated section of News24.com. The stories here come from users.

 
Mark Wilmot
 
Comments: 0
Article views: 1189
 
 
 

In defence of the middle classes

19 April 2017, 12:19

Mark Wilmot

There is a long history of disparagement of the middle classes. Traditionally the assumptions surrounding the middle classes have been ones of complacency, mediocrity and conservatism, but in South African there is often a special scorn reserved for the middle classes, particularly by politicians and social commentators. All this rhetoric, however, disregards the valuable economic role that the middle classes play and discounts their latent political power.

The recent National Day of Action, which saw tens of thousands of South Africans taking to the streets under the banner of the Save South Africa movement, was met with the usual derision. The marchers were depicted as self-serving members of the middle class who are out of touch with the realities of South Africa and the suffering of the poor. Predictably, they were castigated by labour unions and political commentators for only becoming politically engaged when their narrow class-interests were threatened by the dismissal of the Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan.

In their 6 April press statement Cosatu depicted the marchers as the champions and agents of ‘white monopoly capital’ and opponents of Radical Socio-Economic Transformation. In the usual combatant rhetoric that Cosatu favours, the middle-class protestors were labelled as the ‘enemies’ of the working class.

Even our president has at times contributed to the chorus of scorn for the middle classes. At the 2012 Mangaung conference he slammed ‘the clever Blacks’, (read Black middle class), who questioned his leadership of the ANC.

What labour unions and politicians fail to recognise, or publically acknowledge, is the valuable contribution that the middle classes make to the economy and the public coffers. Of the R 1.0699 trillion in tax revenue that was raised in 2016, R389.3 billion, derived from personal income tax. The bulk of this revenue stems from the much maligned middle and high income earners who, in the 2017 tax year will pay 45% personal income tax if their annual salaries exceed R 1.5 million.

Furthermore, value-added tax contributed R280.8 billion to the fiscus, while customs and excise duties brought in R151.8 billion. It stands to reason that middle and higher income earners, because of their purchasing and consumption patterns also make a direct contribution to the public coffers through these taxation instruments.

What becomes of this money that the hardworking middle and higher income earners yield to government? R R768.2 billion was earmarked for basic education in the 2017 budget and R576.2 billion was allocated to health care.

The middle classes, however, frequently feel that they have to make their own provisions with regards to health care and the education of their children, which comes and a great personal cost. In September 2016 Discovery Health, for example, announced an average premium increase of 10.2 % while in January 2017 BusinessTech reported that parents can be expected to pay up to R 235 960 per annum for their child to attend an elite private school.

The 2017 National Budget has also set aside R579.8 billion for social grants and Groundup reported in April 2017 that over 17 million South Africans rely on these social grants as their only source of income. Clearly South Africa has become a welfare state and it is largely the much-maligned middle and upper income salary earners who are funding this system.

The middle classes have been historically conceived to be apathetic. Critic and social commentator, Cyril Connolly is famously quoted as saying ‘middle class suburbs are incubators of apathy and delirium’. But the middle classes have proven to also have the potential to mobilise and overturn an unjust regime. It was the middle class’s rising sense of impatience and disgust with the Bourbon dynasty’s excesses that helped give rise to the French Revolution. Similarly, it was an alliance of workers and the middle class that deposed the Romanov dynasty in Russia, largely due to their callous indifference to the suffering of ordinary men and women.

It seems apparent that our president harbours dynastic dreams, with his children strategically placed to benefit from the influence that comes with his position. One wonders if the rising discontent that has manifested in the National Day of Protest and the subsequent march on 12 April, when a broad alliance of political parties set aside their differences to march to the Union Buildings, might not be the death knell of the nascent Zuma dynasty?

Francis Fukuyama, a political scientist and economist, writing in the Wall Street Journal (28/06/3013), states that ‘All over the world… today’s political turmoil has a common theme: the failure of governments to meet the rising expectations of the newly prosperous and educated’. This should give Jacob Zuma and senior members of the ANC pause for thought, lest the ‘clever blacks’ and the so-called ‘agents of white monopoly capital’ start to leverage their economic and social power.

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

 

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
So,Recently
The Self-Destruction of the ANC

So, recently President Jacob Zuma survived another parliamentary vote of no confidence, his eight thus far.  Read more...

0 comments 176 views
Submitted by
Dandelion WCape
Responsibility, reconciliation an...

The loudest voices will be heard. Unfortunately those voices don’t always express well-considered, complex or nuanced thinking. Read more...

0 comments 222 views
Submitted by
CraigJoseph
The Mugabe incident...

The immediate association with the name “Mugabe”, automatically elicits thoughts of one Robert Gabriel Mugabe, who is (in)famous for his dictatorial rule over our neighbouring country Zimbabwe.  Read more...

0 comments 1685 views
Submitted by
Mark Alexander
Zuma is not the problem

What amuses me is the way people think that if the Zuma goes the problem will be fixed… I am an old ex-factory worker who is looking at the frenzied hand wringing round the no confidence debate and its inevitable outcome.  Read more...

0 comments 862 views
Submitted by
Michael Georgiades
Cat Stevens and the unnecessary i...

Yusuf Islam (Steven D. Georgiou) Cat Stevens. Cat Stevens sang and wrote songs that touched the beauty within the emotion of millions of people. Read more...

0 comments 1604 views
Submitted by
Lisa Marcelle Hold
ANCWL - Once the again the ANC ch...

Today, the Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Mduduzi Manana, sauntered into court after a request was made to hand himself over for his bail hearing. Since when are those accused politely requested to attend a court hearing?  Read more...

0 comments 1707 views
 

services

E-mail Alerts The latest headlines in your inbox

RSS feeds News delivered really simply.

Mobile News24 on your mobile or PDA

E-mail Newsletters You choose what you want

News24 on Android Get the latest from News24 on your Android device.

SMS Alerts Get breaking news stories via SMS.

TV Get us in your home, on your television.

 
Interactive Advertising Bureau
 
© 2017 24.com. All rights reserved.
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.