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 /

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

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.

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