Ghana: Thick-Skin Consumer Protection
7/19/2012 9:14:32 AM -
Where there is no consumer protection law, it does not really make a difference when you are living in the jungle. In such an evolutionary environment in nature's farm, everyone develops a thick skin: from the elephant to the cockerel to the umbrella tree and even to the eagle.
In a dog-eat-dog world, consumers in the Third World and in some advanced countries are only protected by their own immune systems other than external Machiavellian forces that only militate against them in the end.
What is Consumer Protection in the absence of a backing law and self-motivated civil society organisation?
In Platonic and Machiavellian terms, having the appearance of Consumer Protection than the reality of its existence in the manifestation of laws and institutions and the apprehension thereof has become the present predicament of Ghana and Ghanaian consumers. Weak government institutions and the semblance of regulatory enforcement and their reality as lame ducks have become the enemies of both Consumer Protection and the rule of law.
Anyone used to mosquito bites is likely to be living in a developing country. In the same manner consumers that are exposed to most consumer problems are dwellers of developing countries, most likely to be citizens of a utopian Consumers' Commonwealth for the Anglophones and anglophiles or a politically assimilated DOM-TOM, for the Francophones, including francophiles.
Let us do some scuba diving by making a naïve observation of the naked perambulating 'traditional madman' in Ghana, who is discarded by psychiatry, that prowl the cities reclaiming the streets, excepting the environs of the heavily guarded ghost haunted Fortress Ghana that is ironically fully exposed on Google Earth considering that even Diplomatic Missions have been heavily smudged beyond detection and their coordinates undeclared.
Our traditional madman, like the moon, goes round and comes around in many forms: sometimes as a consumer, sometimes as a manufacturer, wholesaler, seller or service provider and at times as the government.
In retrospect, Consumer Protection has evolved in all forms in Ghana: sometimes in the form of political persecution or public scourging in the name of 'Kalabule' [consumer rip-off], or price control laws in a quasi-communist milit-o-cracy determined by Machiavellian 'armed prophecy'.
Given this status quo, Ghanaian consumers have been anaesthetised by rhetoric, breakdown in the rule of law, deceptive appearances and empty pre-election promises ever unfulfilled.
The aforementioned traditional madman sleeps in the streets in rain or shine, fully exposed to the capricious elements and most importantly, to zillions mosquito bites yet he hardly contracts malaria. Is it because he has become immune to the bites of this minuscule vampire bearing leviathan parasites of political lies and unscrupulous business exploitation or is it because malaria is only a condition of the mind far from a disease?
Whether in limbo or out on a limb the Ghanaian consumer, it appears, has developed a thick skin. After all, regulatory enforcement institutions can be simulated as distinguished consorts of unscrupulous businesses. To put your faith in them 'It shall even be as when an hungry man dreameth, and, behold, he eateth; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty: or as when a thirsty man dreameth, and, behold, he drinketh; but he awaketh, and, behold, he is faint, and his soul hath appetite:' [Isa 29:8 KJV].
To cry 'Consumer Protection' is all a vexation of the spirit and a chase after the wind, a Hobbesian attitude to life as a consumer in 'the state of nature,' in the absence of authority and the law: "think about how you behave: when going on a journey, you arm yourself, and try not to go alone; when going to sleep, you lock your doors; even inside your own house you lock your chests; and you do all this when you know that there are laws, and armed public ofﬁcers of the law, to revenge any harms that are done to you. Ask yourself: what opinion do you have of your fellow subjects when you ride armed? Of your fellow citizens when you lock your doors? Of your children and servants when you lock your chests? In all this, don't you accuse mankind as much by your actions as I do by my words? Actually, neither of us is criticizing man's nature. The desires and other passions of men aren't sinful in themselves. Nor are actions that come from those passions, until those who act know a law that forbids them; they can't know this until laws are made; and they can't be made until men agree on the person who is to make them. But why try to demonstrate to learned men something that is known even to dogs who bark at visitorssometimes indeed only at strangers but in the night at everyone?' [Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, XIII, 'The natural condition of mankind as concerning their happiness and misery']