But back to the point of me typing this evening, I have to attempt to regurgitate the lost blog of several days ago...that I found to be(if I may dare say so) full of wit, wisdom but I had not arrived at the epiphany (which usually comes at its own volition).
Amid the pre-budget panic, uncertainty over House rules and quasi-protests over retroactive legislation, my mind lingers on another issue - one that I figure will make a repeat appearance for some time yet.
Almost two weeks ago, the government launched the implementation of one of its campaign promises - the increase in welfare payouts. While I had little appreciation for the strategy of the ULP, I understood how it would be an 'incentive' to vote Labour. Especially since there are hundreds of Vincentians who are dependent on those funds to provide needs that are basic to our human existence - ones that I often take for granted, like good education, food, clothing, shelter.
However, what bothered me about the campaign was the contrast/compare thrust which singled out the LOW LOW sums that were given during the NDP reign and the promise that a vote for Labour meant more money.
I found it ironic and confusing - because this was the same party that was so dependent on their 'record of excellence' - the skills training, the literacy drives, the education revolution, the job creation, nationwide building of schools and resource centres, the focus of the youth etc etc etc. I am subject to correction, but shouldn't all these refreshing tidbits lessen the populace tantalized by a promise to increase the payouts. Doesn't better education mean greater job opportunities, job creation mean increased, consistent income, skills training means entrepreneurship and business development? I guess it doesn't here because despite what great and splendorous things have been taking place - we also have a greater need for handouts from a welfare system.
What was of greater disturbance to my already cynical countenance was the introduction of the increase - both the Prime Minister and the new Minister simply but excitedly declared "this was a campaign promise and we are keeping it". That was it - granted they repeated it a couple times. Ralph looked tired, wrinkled and fat and the other guy looked inebriated and unaware as to how to tie a tie - but that was all they said.
I almost dismissed it as the rhetoric of government - but I was floored when the Permanent Secretary appeared on API giving an extensive reasoning behind the increase. Do we have any idea what is the role of the PS? He/She is the head administrative head of the particular Ministry, I am not here to doubt the capability of the PS - the trend is common enough but it does not make it any better. How is it possible for the person who ensures the efficient and effective running of the Ministry and its department given the task of justifying a social policy decision?
Why wasn't this task given to those persons who boasted of this increase as a partial basis for their entitlement to governance - touting it through out the width and breath (except the Grenadines) of Hairouna.
Is it that someone is avoiding the pressing question - why are we having an increase in welfare, if we are supposedly the beneficiaries of greater social programmes that are purportedly intended to better our lives?
Is it that the social programmes are of little/no benefit or is it that we have yet to eat of the fruit, smell the blossoms, or dwell in the temples of grandeur?
The cynic reveals herself -
even if the Minister or PM was interviewed by local media personnel, I doubt investigative journalism would have flourished in such a thriving mess of confusion because they seem not to be able to sink their teeth into the utter madness that seems to rule this land at times?
But this is what I figure - PS are whipping boys (and I am not trying to fuel any chain and whip fantasies). They are given that role of explaining new projects, Ministerial failures, minor successes so that when problems arise - we the masses have a face to point to, to castigate, simply to blame - like Shirla Francis and the teacher rants.
Permanent Secretaries, no longer, Permanent Scapegoats, maybe.