Johannesburg's mayor may have more prejudices than others in the country, but the bias he expressed last week is shared by the political and economic mainstream; it plays a huge role in holding back the economy. Herman Mashaba’s prejudice against poor people trying to make a living, which prompted him to try to arrest a man pushing a trolley full of cows’ heads, was widely condemned. But many of those calling him out might be surprised at how deep-rooted this bias is among people of influence who do not share Mashaba’s love of Donald Trump and embrace of the US president’s view of the world. Like Mashaba, who is a past chair of the Free Market Foundation, most people in the political and economic mainstream insist they want people to contribute to the economy by owning businesses. But their idea of a business does not fit the world in which this country’s poor live. For the mainstream, it is only possible to contribute to the economy in businesses that operate out of carpeted and ai...

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