Rev. Torli Krua
On October 1, 2019, frontpageafrica published an article captioned, “Liberia: Senate to Continue Debate for Pay Reduction During One Week Extended Session”. With no input from ordinary poor Liberian citizens, senators’ talk of 21 to 25 % reduction is arbitrary, too little and too late. Why not make the compensation of public servants representative of the income of the people or consistent with per capita income? How about 95% reduction not 21 to 25%? Why are employees discussing and implementing their own salaries and benefits without the consent and input of the owners or employers? Answer: Our system of governance is broken and corrupt by design! Military coup, civil war or war crimes court will change nothing unless citizens change the corrupt colonial system.
The American colony of Liberia was designed BY high ranking American politicians who were slaveholders. It was designed FOR Black Americans Settlers and indigenous African tribes without their input or consent 200 years ago. Liberia’s purpose was to protect foreign business interests and enrich and empower politicians and trapLiberians in poverty and slavery forever! What we have in 2019 is an enduring legacy of bondage, not a republic! It’s time for a fresh start for the new Liberia-participatory democracy-a new constitution designed by the people-that empowers the people as the masters and relegate politicians as mere public servants.
Clearly, Liberia’s International Partners, especially the United States and European Union where participatory democracy thrives are complicit in corruption and the sources of Liberia’s economic woes and corruption. Lawmakers in the foreign aid dependent, impoverished and war ravaged country of Liberia enjoy excessive salaries far higher than salaries of all American state legislators with hundreds of billions of dollars annual state budget.
Liberia’s broken and corrupt colonial system of representative democracy puts the servant above the Master. This system must be abolished by the people, consistent with Article I of the Constitution and the Bible!
Article I of the Liberian Constitution: “All power is inherent in the people. All free governments are instituted by their authority and for their benefit and they have the right to alter and reform the same when their safety and happiness so require.”
“Truly, truly, I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.” (John 13:16). “ but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant,” Matthew 20:26.
In participatory democracy, citizens as the masters who vote and also exercise powers to set the salaries of their public servants based on the needs of the people, not the appetite of greedy politicians.
Participatory democracy exists in the European Union, Switzerland and over 20 states in America. For example, in Arizona, a state with participatory democracy and an annual budget of US$9 billion dollars, lawmakers’ salaries set by voters is US$24,000 yearly.
Additionally, when considering the budgets of American States, salaries and the humble benefits of United States public servants, (New Hampshire Senators earn US$200 dollars per two year term-US$100 per year-which is equivalent to a Liberian Immigration Officer’s monthly salary) pouring American taxpayers money into Liberian politicians’ pockets is questionable and makes no sense.
With a national budget of only US$550 dollars, Liberian Senators earn US$15,000 monthly as benefits plus L$29,000 salary. Additionally a senator recently got a brand new US$40,000.00 motor vehicle upon election. The highest paid American state lawmakers in the state of California with an annual budget of US$270 billion dollars earn less than US$10,000 per month. According to Martin Kollie’s African Exponent article, the budget for the Liberian Speaker of the House of Representatives is US$1,000,270.00 dollars, compared to a mere US$223,500.00 for Speaker Pelosi at the US Congress. According to the Liberian Lawmakers Watch website, the Liberian Speaker’s perks include US$117,960.00 for gas and US$40,000.00 for vehicle repairs. Compare the vehicle repair budget of one man to the average annual salary of American Taxpayer of US$30,000. The budget of the Liberian Senate Pro Tempore is US$1,369,423.00 dollars compared to his American counterpart, Pro Tempore, Senator GrassleyR-IA, who gets US$192,000.00 Dollars annually. The President of Liberia earns US$3.9 million compared to US$400,000.00 for the President of the United States of America.
For 200 years, American officials who created the colony of Liberia not only turned a blind eye to stealing, America provided the bank where politicians deposit the loot stolen from Liberia.
What must we do now? In ‘reaping what you sow,’ the most important decision is the choice of the seed to be planted. Bad seed yields bad fruit! Good seed yield good fruits! “Either make the tree good, and its fruit good, or make the tree corrupt, and its fruit corrupt; for the tree is known by its fruit. (Matthew 12:33). For 200 years Liberians are reaping corrupt fruits sown by American politicians and slave masters chosen without the consent of Black American Settlers or indigenous tribal leaders. It’s time for the people to choose a different seed and change our future outcome. We must begin with a demand for a new constitution designed by the people to empower the people and create equal opportunities for all.