By Oduor Onyango Kevin
Raila Odinga’s pledge to pay every unemployed youth KES 6,000 per month is a misguided policy.
In my view, you don’t incentivise a misfortune. When you wage a war on poverty, you have to be careful that poverty doesn’t win. With such a policy, am afraid poverty may win.
If every youth was sure 6,000 bob was coming his way by end month, some jobs like hotel attendants that would be paid similar amount won’t have subscribers.
Most youths are likely to idle around unproductively waiting for this stipend to place bets expecting to be overnight millionaires. In fact a big chuck of this money will end up with Sportpesa and its ilk.
With that 53.4 billion that he aims at making this policy a reality, he can initiate apprenticeship all over the country. Encourage skilled manpower to hire youths and reproduce their skillset in them and for every month, every apprentice is paid 6,000 as he continues to learn from his or her master.
There are moneyed enterprises that are inseparable from the provider and has no known school teaching them, for instance, drawing graffiti.
Most buses plying Nairobi estates are buried in graffiti that is very identifiable with the youth. It costs a lot of money to have it. A youth interested in this art can be an apprentice of one who is already offering this service while the government pays him that 6,000 for some months as he learns this trade.
So many established enterprises that can not afford employees will gain massively if government was to afford them extra hands who’d as well learn relevant skillsets for their own future betterment, it is a win win.
Raila Odinga’s outright free gift of 6,000 for every unemployed youth can be compared to President Lyndon Johnson’s welfare programs of 1960s.
A sociologist attached at the ministry of labor in the spring of 1965 observed that poverty and urban stress was impacting negatively on black families. Nearly 25% of black children were being born out of wedlock. The sociologist, Daniel Patrick Moynihan called it a crisis.
President Lyndon Johnson acted on this conclusion and initiated incentives to single mothers who did not marry the fathers of their children.
Unknown to the good president, by expanding the panoply of welfare state programs to Americans who were already experiencing serious stress and hardship, a series of significant problems became an unstoppable conflagration often referred to as a tangle of pathologies.
A plague of fatherlessness ensued, leading to nearly 72 percent of all American black children being born without married parents by 2015. Marriage had become a rare and distant thing.
The war on poverty lost, and poverty won. Raila Odinga should be guided by this piece of history so that he doesn’t expose youths to a cycle of government dependency.