Saving our Nation Part IV
Freedom Speaks Column
In this series we are referencing the seven things that Mahatma Gandhi noted that will destroy humanity (the seven deadly sins) and we recognise that indeed, many of these are currently destroying our nation. The seven things are (1) politics without principles; (2) pleasure without conscience; (3) wealth without work; (4) knowledge without character; (5) business without morality; (6) science without humanity; and (7) worship without faith. Saving our nation will require us to reverse associated negative cultures and promote positive ones.
In the first two articles of the series, we spoke in some detail about how the first listed point – politics without principles, is wrecking our beautiful Dominica and in the last article we started discussing the deadly sin – wealth without work. We noted that this deadly sin is essentially about getting something of value in exchange for nothing or getting something unjustly in exchange for very little effort. This is really an ungodly effort – fuelled by greed. We noted what the scriptures said about that. We further noted that in today's society, more and more persons are attracted to the notion that one can get rich without much work. Increasingly, our judgement has been distorted (our consciences seared) and this notion has to a great degree replaced the culture of hard and smart work.
We noted that there are many manifestations of wealth without work in our country including that by the ruling political elites and government officials, other manifestations include exploitation, extortion, false advertising, dealing in illicit drugs, business manipulation, benefiting from government programmes unjustly or corruptly, avoidance and evasion of taxes, enjoying the perks of citizenship of a country without assuming any of the risks and responsibilities, and "get rich quick" schemes including pyramid schemes.
We discussed in some details the way some of our Caribbean people have travelled to the USA to give birth so that their children can benefit from the perks of US citizenship and pointed to the "get rich quick" pyramid schemes being run in the country – both of which are wrong. Let us expand on a few other manifestations of wealth without work.
Take exploitation – many people think nothing about taking all they can from those who work for them while offering them as little as they can as compensation. Some even gloat in their ability to do that. This is seeking wealth by exploiting others and this kind of attitude is destroying our nation. For instance, workers being aware of a general attitude or culture of exploitation, propose in their minds to make as little effort as they can get away with. The prevalence of this attitude among workers in turn adversely affects the productivity of businesses.
The Dominica Freedom Party wishes there to be a different culture – one where workers are highly valued for their contribution to business and in turn workers perform optimally. Such "win-win" outcomes can be reached and can lead to a great improvement in national productivity; but there is much work to be done to reverse negative culture among workers and employers. Such cultures have set in over a number of years and many pacify their consciences because everyone else is doing it. It is not just to underpay those who are powerless.
Such attitudes in a society may keep a few rich relative to the struggling majority. But there is misconception here and on the contrary, it must be realized that not exploiting workers could lead the employer to be more profitable. Let us not forget that the scripture says in Proverbs 22:16 "whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty."
Many in our country benefit from government programmes unjustly or corruptly. Take the case of those supporters of the Labour Party who benefited unjustly from the World Bank financed farmer support programme which was implemented following the passage of Hurricane Maria. Some supporters who did not qualify for the EC$10,000 grant got it, and others who qualified for it got the lower EC$3,000 allocation instead.
Some of those who benefited under the programme may not even have been active farmers prior to Hurricane Maria. This is a clear manifestation of persons wanting to acquire wealth without work. Such displays have a number of adverse impacts on our country including discouraging national unity. Moreover, due to the corrupt allocation of resources, such behaviour lowers the country's potential economic recovery and growth.
There are reports of many who avoid and evade taxes, or are given undeserving tax concessions, and those involved include the political directorate and top government officials. Such bad examples cause others to seek avenues to do the same or to feel less committed to pay their fair share of taxes. This is also destroying our nation.
Dominica Freedom desires that our Dominican people change our mindset. We can save our country.
Next week we will talk about the deadly sin – knowledge without character.
Dominica Freedom Party