America is hardly the only country with backwards thinking politicians
In other countries, where owning a car may be completely out of the question, the poorest citizens would do well to even own a bicycle. This is certainly not a bad thing, as bicycle use does not contribute to congestion or pollution. So politicians with a clear view for the future would certainly help in any way they could to keep bicycles affordable. Not so in Kenya.
I recently read this article, wherein Kenya is whacking a 10% import duty on bicycles, on top of their 16% VAT. This puts bicycles firmly out of reach of those that need them the most. An estimated 6,000 young men that would probably otherwise be jobless are using their bikes as taxis. But between the rising cost of steel, (ironically, we can blame China for that) and the aforementioned tariffs, prices have gone up 50%.
I don’t get it. I can understand sales tax. I even have a vague comprehension of our own gas tax, which is merely a bogus user’s fee. But I always thought that import duties were mainly to protect domestic industry, not just another source of revenue for the government to piss away.
My sarcastic side suggests that they will use the revenue generated to pay unemployment benefits to those that cannot afford a bicycle.
The tax is in place precisely to protect local industry. Never mind that there is no local industry, but that’s a trifling detail.
Bicycling magazine had an eye-opening article a couple of months back about the state of bicycling in Africa.
and yeah, politicians around the world are very similar.
It’s not a direct attack on bicycles, it’s a protection scheme against China flooding their markets. This quarter’s Harvard International Review had a few very good comments about how China is becoming Africa’s most formidable trading partner, and how it is affecting the guy on the street.
Now, what they could really use is a few trade schools. Get some welders trained up, and you can open a bicycle factory for less moolah than it takes to produce in China. China knows that they can’t supply cheap labor forever; much cheap labor has already moved to Indonesia, Pakistan, and India. They’re posturing to do with AFrica the same thing we did with China thirty years ago.