In some parts of Liberia, a person can be arrested for walking when the Liberian flag is being hoisted. It doesn’t matter where the person is going, or what time of the day it is; an individual can be arrested for walking during the ritual of raising the flag.
In Liberia also, a person can be arrested for accidentally dropping the Liberian flag, or can be arrested for allowing part of the flag to touch the ground.
The practice was widely visible during the autocratic regime of the nation’s 18th president, William V.S. Tubman, who came to power in 1944, and allowed that heinous practice to continue.
With record unemployment, discrimination and inequality on the rise, coupled with fear, distrust and an internal spy network that pitted families, friends and neighbors against neighbors, Tubman encouraged the quasi-judicial-justice of the peace system to control and pacify any dissension that threatened his administration.
That quasi-justice of the peace system continued after Tubman, and provided jobs and incomes for the apprentice justice of the peace who were not on government’s payroll; but were allowed to set their own fees from day to day to earn a living.
After Mr. Tubman died in 1971, the practice took off as Liberian citizens and foreign nationals were often harassed, fined and jailed for ‘disrespecting’ the Liberian flag.
With an economy sputtering and unemployment on the rise, one would think the nation’s political leaders would plan better, encourage people to go to work unhindered, create jobs and make good decisions to stimulate the economy.
In Liberia today, the Liberian government does not encourage work and the free movement of workers and commerce, as stores and commercial centers are closed on Sundays and holidays such as presidential birthdays, and religious days – mostly Christian holidays.
Government offices are also closed on special days set aside by the political leader – the President, to clean the city. Where’s the Monrovia City Corporation, anyway, that’s responsible to clean the City of Monrovia?
Economies don’t grow when there is no work; or when jobs are unavailable.
In this case, the Liberian government, which hasn’t learned from past mistakes brought the economic stagnancy on itself when it refused to unshackle its grips on the economy, and did not allow the free movement of people to go to work or seek employment.
The aftermath of the closure of these public and private institutions and businesses out of political expediency obviously continued the cycle of unemployment and poverty, which are way in abundance in Liberia.
Making matter worse are the selfish political alliances and opportunistic maneuverings between the legislative branch and the executive branch.
These selfish political alliances and maneuverings are not intended to boost the economy and provide employment for countless out of work Liberians.
They are intended to provide regular paychecks, amenities, bonuses and per diems for members of the House of Representatives and Senators, all of whom ought to be fired and thrown in prison for deceiving the Liberian people and their respective districts.
Because if these guys – the legislators were doing their job as they were elected to do, there would have been checks and balances, and accountability and transparency in government today.
However, you know things are really bad in Liberia when teachers make less in salaries, while those spineless bunch of legislators are raking in huge sums of money and benefits to supplement their already hefty paychecks.
No wonder Liberians in and out of the country are falling over each other to contest legislative races in the country.
Not that these opportunistic individuals have credible plans, monumental ideas and groundbreaking programs to drastically change the lives of their people; they just want to live well.
Even if a lawmaker does not live in his/her district, which many of them are not doing anyway, living well means running for a legislative seat, which is an easy way to make a living in Liberia.
Liberian students reportedly are unhappy with their poor standard of living; their dismal lifestyles and the way things are going under Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Apparently, those students know better and are seeing things much clearer than their respective Senators and Representatives, who are just living comfortably.
Those students can continue to fight inequality, injustice, rampant corruption, nepotism and unemployment by putting pressure on the Sirleaf administration, through non-violent demonstrations, boycotts, organizing, mobilization and educating the electorates and fellow citizens about the government and their rights as citizens of the Republic of Liberia.
The upcoming 2014-midterm legislative elections can make or end a political career. This is the time to make a difference by electing friends that looked out for you, and defeat politicians who care less about your welfare.
If economic conditions are not better now, when are they ever going to get better? When?