The Guyanese masses face a common enemy – #poverty
March 14, 2014 · By Staff Write
There is no doubt that we live in a divided society. And I don’t mean the accidentally created and artificially maintained ethnic cleavage; I am talking about the real division: the huge gap between the haves and the have-nots, the rich and the poor. The evidence of this growing divide and the negative consequences of this reality are clear. So, is the Ramotar administration blind to the issue or is the problem being ignored and perpetuated?
We all know the names of the rich; the beneficiaries of government contracts, inside information and preferential treatment. These new money-makers are the ones connected to the powerful decision-makers, while we, the ordinary Guyanese, struggle to make ends meet. The new-rich powerful people serve each other in a hand-wash-hand relationship. They are the elite; we are the poor masses. It is ‘us’ and ‘them,’ the division is clear.
The problems created by class division are recognised by religious leaders, academics and political thinkers across the spectrum. In 2012, US President Obama said that class division is the, “defining challenge of our time.” Mahatma Ghandi said: “Poverty is the worst form of violence.” Conservative economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin, advisor to Republican President George W Bush highlighted the social problems caused by economic inequality and, incredibly, actually advocated progressive taxation of the rich. In reference to trickle-down theories of economic development, Pope Francis said: “ [They are] a crude and naïve trust in those wielding economic power.”
The facts are clear. In December 2013, Oxfam International reported that the eighty-five wealthiest individuals on earth were worth US$1.7 trillion; the same amount of money sparsely shared by the poorest 50% of the world’s population – 3.5 billion persons. The report, presented to political and business leaders at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland in January 2014, also stated that the world’s richest 1% possessed 65% of humanity’s financial resources. So, is this inequality fair; is this the way things are supposed to be?
The poor masses are suffering day after day; they are always worried about bills, rent and the cost of food. But now, the problem is becoming so big that even the world’s wealthy, powerful elite are getting worried. This is because if the world’s poor people have no jobs and no money to spend, they cannot buy the goods that the rich people are producing. And they are afraid that the whole economic and social house of cards can collapse under the weight of resistance to the status quo. After all, the masses will not tolerate this situation indefinitely; the concentration of wealth in the hands of the elite will have consequences. Eventually, the jobless poor across the globe will stop sitting and starving quietly, and will take action to change things.
In Guyana the issue is stark and immediately obvious. Poor people die at public hospitals for lack of medicines and oxygen, while the elite can charter private jets to overseas hospitals to treat their fevers. The masses are locked up for speaking out against injustice, while the rich drive their 4×4 vehicles recklessly, cause accidents, and face no consequences. The children of the wealthy attend the best private educational institutions, while our poor children have to fetch water to flush toilets in public schools. So, are we, the poor masses supposed to put up with this forever?
The experts agree that to change things we must act together; we cannot allow the elite to continue to divide us. Indigenous Guyanese in Lethem are suffering in constant blackouts, poor fishermen in Berbice are being attacked by pirates, Georgetown’s residents are living in a garbage city and our brothers and sisters in Linden have no jobs.
We, the poor masses, must change things. We must insist on a living wage, access to decent education, gainful employment and quality health care. We must reject all attempts to divide us; we are all Guyanese facing a common enemy: poverty. We must use our voices, our pens, our votes, to remove and replace anyone who would keep us down. We are the masses; we have strength in unity and in numbers. We will not be divided and trampled on by the few, no matter how much money they have.
Yours faithfully, Mark DaCosta