Rain or shine
During the day the weather is expected to be with isolated rain showers in places possibly thundery. Wind will be ESE Force 5-6 decreasing to Force 4. During the night the weather is expected to become mostly clear. Wind will be ESE Force 4. Low of 20°C /
Rachel Borg is an independent columnist based in the tourism industry
1 October 1975
Such was the weather forecast on 29 September as posted by Malta Weather Site.com on Facebook. Very often we read these weather forecasts but prefer to dismiss them because our mind says different. We may then end up getting a drenching or alternatively, find ourselves overdressed with cardigans and carrying around a brollie for nothing, hoping not to be conspicuous.
Whatever the forecast – rain or no rain, flooding or strong gales, it does remain something subjective and unpredictable. Many meteorologists try to predict it and persuade us but we are a stubborn lot and will not give in easily to what could be false statements.
The debate on poverty suffers a similar fate. We are hearing the forecast on where poverty levels in Malta are heading, we see evidence around us, we know it could be true but we sometimes choose to dismiss it because we would prefer to be optimistic and can also find evidence to the contrary.
Whenever the Opposition bring up the subject of poverty in Malta, people are uncomfortable, almost embarrassed for them doing so. It seems to be a topic that is not in sync with the times. In the same way, perhaps, that the topic of separated couples, HIV or drug addiction was brought up in the past and people simply did not want to know. Only at some point, it became too serious, too widespread and too risky to ignore it anymore.
Certainly, it is easy for the Labour government to brush this issue aside. They have many other ways they can divert our attention on this and point to here and there to get us lost in a slurry of statistics. And they want to do this not just because there does not appear to be any plan to tackle this problem but also because they are uncomfortable – to some extent – that it is getting worse under a Labour government, whose main priority should be addressing such issues. It does not fit their image anymore to be associated with the less privileged or the needy and money is best spent on lavish lifestyles and fancy projects which generate personal income for the few.
The same may be said for the traffic congestion we face on a daily and hourly basis. Maybe this can just clear up like a bad storm. Traffic is with us and it is what it is, we have been told. Like the poor? Owing to a complete lack of long-term planning, disregard for the proposals put forward to ease the problem, lack of interest and an inability to share in the reality around us, the issue gets worse, our health deteriorates and people and the economy suffers the consequences.
How superficial and distracted can we be – perhaps even distracted by our frustration in commuting to work and back every day – to ignore the failure to help others who are struggling and finding it hard to keep up with daily living costs, to have some peace of mind, enjoy old age and be happy to have a family.
Society is becoming more aware and more involved in defending the environment, nature and birds, turtles hatching and whether or not the tablets used at schools are temporary or permanent. Elsewhere children are dropping out of school, missing school, missing meals and feeling quite hopeless about their future. Grandparents are unable to give their grandchildren what they would like to give them and then possibly fall into marginalisation, even by their families.
This government is letting down a lot of people. With all their preoccupation with covert business deals and giving the impression that all is done in the interest of the country and the people, whilst in the same breath they deal more blows on the poor and anyone who dares to criticise them, the prospects for serious measures to tackle increasing poverty are growing dimmer by the day.
Sure, come the next budget there will be some paragraphs to embellish the speech and sprinkle some currency. But the first thing that is needed is a serious approach to identifying the extent of the problem, how it can be solved and dealing with it head on.
For years Europe ignored our pleas for assistance with the rising immigration problem. They toyed with it here and there and imagined it was someone else’s problem to deal with until it burst its banks and flooded into the mainland of Europe. It appears that here in Malta those responsible for the welfare and wellbeing of the Maltese people and other persons residing here, are now themselves choosing to ignore a growing reality which will cost the economy more if left unaddressed and will affect society badly.
Even because normally it is expected that a socialist or Labour government is going to work for labourers and the less privileged, people also cannot fathom that in fact, the opposite is true and that a government can deceive and actually take from the public rather than give.
This amounts to a betrayal of the people and gross negligence. Any amount of reports can be produced to try to give a different picture and make excuses. Often, the response to appeals is to refer to measures like the free childcare services or small increase in pensions given to a limited amount of persons. This does not go anywhere near dealing with the eradication of poverty that falls into a whole other category.
Either we are a developing a country with a soul or we are a bunch of greedy racketeers. Caring for the poor and the marginalised people does not mean that we have to give up business or start to change our ambition but it should mean better concern, honesty and consideration. It is also important to get together and unite behind the party that will commit to doing something to acknowledge the facts and put forward concrete policies that can bring about a marked improvement in the life of many.