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|Bahama Journal Editorial: 'A Nation of Beggars'|
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|Posted by:||Mar 17th 2003, 01:30:10 pm|
|Fig Tree News Team||Your feedback, comments are requested:
A Nation Of Beggers
The urban part of our society, which comprises more than three quarters of the population, has conspired with our huge central government system in order to make us a nation of beggars, political sycophants and socio-economic scammers. Now this observation might seem to be harsh and even crude, but if all be told, we would probably have no choice but to face the stark reality of this description.
Let's look at the sporting world. We have "national" sporting entities that make very little effort individually or collectively to become self-sufficient. There are exceptions like rugby, yachting, squash, tennis and swimming to some degree, and segments of baseball and one or two other sports. The others may be trying to do something about their economic plight, but for the most part they plan trips to international tournaments or host them, and hold the government hostage to use taxpayers' money to finance their activities.
Political parties in power see their support as potential votes to keep them in office, knowing full well of the greed, selfishness, disorganization and corruption that exist in them. The press also plays a part in this conspiracy to defraud the public and perpetuate the syndrome of something for nothing.
This syndrome has also engulfed our charitable organizations, which oftentimes seem to be suffering from the same diseases as our sporting organizations. All over our urban centres, with Nassau, New Providence setting the pace, charities are popping up like mushrooms in the woods; and they inevitably end up at the doorsteps of government and the corporate citizen just as sporting entities do, and when they don't get what they want, they run to the press and yelp like spoiled two year olds.
Government cannot be devoid of blame in the something for nothing mentality that has so consumed us that it has become embedded in our culture. Various government ministries and arms of ministries have no hesitation, it seems, to more or less shake down private enterprise to support and help underwrite the cost of their social activities. Is there any wonder we have become a nation of beggars and sycophants?
The Bahamas Employers Confederation has expressed concern about the status quo on many occasions and has dared to challenge the sacred political cow. Unfortunately they have not been able to move this fatted animal. They have complained about employees taking extended lunch hours to pick up their children from school. Maybe they should fund after-school programmes as a trade off for loss man-hours of work.
They have complained about pilfering, excessive sick leave, breakage and other non-productive attitude and behaviour of workers, but little progress is made to reform. Unionism always finds a way to cause businesses to lose more money while continuing to get full compensation.
The productive taxpayer does not escape the weightiness of this cultural experience. Government itself has admitted being overstaffed; yet it continues to increase staff, which comprises well over 30% of the work force, if you consider all governmental and quasi-government entities.
Extended lunch periods are common. Sick days, casual leave; generous vacation and retirement packages are the order of the day to be borne by the productive taxpayer. Of course, the long hours just sitting, gossiping, praying and reading the bible, playing computer and other games don't improve the something for nothing state of affairs. Neither does the hostage holding whether the treasury has or does not have the money.
Moving right along, we have our national insurance "scheme", which on government's own admission, has become a scheme for many to avoid work. Many employers and workers fail to pay into the scheme from which many non-contributors benefit. It is feared that the scheme well run out of money because of high administrative costs and the large amounts of benefits being paid out.
We see the something for nothing syndrome at work with government's involvement in junkanoo, junior achievement, youth movements and many other areas of activity, all adding to the burden of the productive segment of society. Yet government wants to expand the burden with national service, national health insurance, expanded role in junkanoo, regattas and other old and new activities. Is there a point of diminishing returns, and have we passed it?
The late U.S. president John F. Kennedy is well remembered for the quote, "ask not what my country can do for me, but what can I do for my country." It might do our government and non-governmental leaders well to ponder the profoundness of that statement. If we did we might begin to see the tremendous damage we are doing to the self-esteem, courage and character of our people. Constant handouts will only perpetuate a system of dependency and indolence.
Do we have enough Kennedy "Profiles In Courage" to challenge and change the system and transform it into one of creativity, productivity, honesty and independence? Former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham displayed such "Profiles In Courage", but eventually the culture overcame him, and he had to retreat; and so we continue to struggle to extricate ourselves from the quagmire of socio-economic regression and political sycophancy.
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