THE EDITOR: The transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich is happening at an incredible speed. The prospects for a society of crime and social disorder are real.
We are accustomed to saying that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. We are accustomed to talking about the working class poor and the depleting wealth and buying power of the middle class. How much do we recognise that this is a truism.
Every day big business organisations are boasting of high profits even during covid19. On the other hand, small and medium-size businesses are either folding up or not doing well.
The number of roadside vendors and people going into catering, lawn cutting, rearing chickens and doing odd jobs have increased. Real unemployment is much higher and worse than what the official statistics are saying.
Here is the trouble. Wealth is being transferred from the poor to the rich. The cost of living – whether it be fuel prices, food prices, rentals, books, clothes, medical supplies and services and mortgages, to name a few – is increasing. However, wages are not keeping apace. People are living below the standard they lived one year ago.
People are unable to save because they have to eat and secure themselves with transport and shelter. The amount of discretionary income in the hands of the middle class is depleting. As a result there is going to be a negative impact on businesses.
If the economy is shown to be growing, it’s a deep fallacy. This is due to increases in oil and gas prices and not necessarily from the real economy. We would have been worse off if we did not have the Heritage and Stabilisation Fund (HSF) from which substantial drawdowns have occurred.
The transfer of wealth to the rich and big is going to be the cause of serious social problems in this country and perhaps worldwide. Shamelessly, big businesses are boasting of their increased profits smack in the face of hungry children and jobless and/or struggling parents.
The Government cannot deal with the problem. It believes that social nets to catch the falling will secure the nation. It is wrong. It is wrong because over 80 per cent of the people are falling.
In Parliament I was lambasted on one occasion for pointing out the large percentage of people who earn below 6,000 per month. Tell me now that I was wrong. I was not. Look at the wages of people who work in the service sector. Maybe a maximum of $800 a week before deductions. How can they in the face of runaway inflation continue to live at the same standard? Their wealth is being transferred to the rich who will complain that they are under attack.
The outcome is a crime situation that is out of hand. Home invasions, robbery on the streets, stealing of a Ramleela stage for scrap iron sales, cutting of TSTT cable in broad daylight. Violence in schools is also an outcome of poverty. No doubt there is bullying and taxing in schools. Child prostitution is also a problem. There is a high level of frustration and depression in the people at this time.
The Parliament continues to be a house of rivalry rather than a place of service to the people. A minister says her heart is broken but she presided over the situation in residences for children for seven years, playing goody-goody. A minister said in 2015 in Parliament, “We are in charge and you had better learn to live with that.”
In the midst of this, like it or not, like me or not, our governance institutions are collapsing. The police can’t cope but the army is kept in Chaguaramas. Children are being recruited into gangs and being asked to promote chaos in schools and in the streets but we are still trying to understand their behaviour. Everyone cursed Dr Rowley for his hyena comments but the stark reality is in our faces. And if you talk they say you promoting racism.
Businesses and investors are shifting to Guyana and Surinam as well as Barbados. Capital flight is alight.
But we like it so.
I hope that the rich will come to the realisation that the transfer of wealth is a terrible problem and boasting of their success with profits is paining at least 80 per cent of the people. The outcome of this I fear to speculate about.