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Don’t just help the ‘have nots’ teach them too

My frustration and disagreement with the ”union mentality“ I described previously is well documented, as is my desire to discourage persons having a ’welfare mentality‘. It is also my belief that the haves should help the have nots. But we have a responsibility to not just give handouts in perpetuity; we must teach, show and lead the ’have nots‘ to be able to fend for themselves.

President Obama was trying to explain to the wealthy why they should pay more in taxes than the poor. It simply has to be that way. Wealthy folk can afford more and should therefore pay more. There is an old adage that to whom much is given from them much is expected. Christianity also teaches us to love thy neighbour and to be our brother and sister’s keeper. Basically to help out the next person.

Even in Bermuda, I believe that the person who makes $100k per year should pay more in taxes than the person who makes $50k. There is no way that we should pay the same in taxes. That’s why percentages of income work better than fixed amounts. A wise boss of mine a few years ago explained to me that whilst we think we don’t pay income tax in Bermuda, when you add up your deductions most of us end up paying some 20 percent or more of our salaries in deductions. This can be considered to be just like paying 20 percent income tax. Just an FYI.

I have been a fan of Karl Marx since the 1980s and agree with some of his views. In short, Marx believed that the proletariat (the working class) would eventually revolt against the bourgeousie (the upper class) if they didn’t feel that they could make it and have a chance at a better life. Where and when the working class feel that they have no hope and cannot get a hand up there will be a revolution.

Bermudians have softened over the years. People back in the day were tougher and more militant. A lot of that had to do with the times. People had fewer opportunities back then and were more inclined to fight for their rights. Especially members of the working class. They didn’t really have the options that members of the working class have today. We are victims of our success. Many of us are material boys and girls who don’t want to mess with the status quo for fear of losing the material possessions, the stuff we have accumulated and to which we have become accustomed. That too is human nature.

So whilst I agree with some Marxist theories; I don’t think there will be a revolution in Bermuda. We are too passive aggressive. We call talk shows but don’t take real action. The greatest action we ever take is occasionally, once every 30 or 14 years, in an election. We are passive aggressive; but that particular point is fodder for another article.

But the haves simply have to help the have nots, because its the right thing to do. However, I still believe that you should not give a person fish forever. You should teach them how to fish.

I’m all for feeding and helping people who are less fortunate but at a point you have to teach and help people to learn how to feed themselves. Having someone else feed you is not sustainable long term. At some point you have to be able to feed yourself and fend for yourself. Anything else is not sustainable and doesn’t work.

My parents taught me the necessity and benefits of hard work and I would like to teach this to others, including those who are on social assistance. I will never forget the lyric given to me some ten years ago, by the Hon Ernest Decouto; the first Speaker of the House in Bermuda of Portuguese heritage,which confirmed the lessons from my parents.

He said to me, ”People say that I am lucky. Well, that is true. Because the harder I work, the luckier I get“. I joke about this with his son Barry from time to time, who is also lucky because he too works hard.

Many people just don’t get the fact that although there are so many people who need assistance, who can’t find work, who don’t make enough money to survive, who don’t have the skills, training or education to make enough to survive and be self sufficient, and having them live off the system with no plan for them to be self sufficient is not the optimum solution.

I am reliably informed that we have successive generations of persons on welfare and that some of these persons keep having children when they cannot afford those that they already have. My source also confirmed that some of the people on social assistance look for ways to get more from the system and appear to have no understanding that they really should try to become self sufficient.

I submit that the system is flawed because it doesn’t appear to discourage persons from remaining on social assistance but instead enables it and encourages them to stay on it. Admittedly salaries are low and it is difficult to survive in Bermuda when you make less than $50k per year. But we need to learn to live within our means and make decisions that we can afford.

There is also the piece about salaries needing to be such that people can afford to live. Let’s add to that he bit about possibly lowering the social assistance payout and daycare allowances so that people who can find jobs make more by working than by not working. The daycare allowance encourages people to have kids that they can’t afford. Sorry, it does and this is what it is. If people didn’t get a child daycare allowance they might not have any more kids. I’m just saying.

Reports, from reliable sources, suggest that some of the persons on social assistance use the funds to purchase luxury items like flat screen TVs, cable tv, the most modern cellphone or Samsung Galaxy or God forbid an iPhone! This suggests that perhaps they don’t really need to be on social assistance but really just know how to get as much as they can from the Government.

I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that some of the persons on social welfare are trying and would love to become self sufficient; but far too many fall into the category of those who have no intention of becoming self sufficient. For the record, one person being in this category of not wanting to become self sufficient is too many.

Even though we probably have the highest rate of unemployment in Bermuda’s history and although there are not many jobs, planning to have people on welfare with no plan to get them off it is just horrible planning, it is irresponsible leadership, it is a poor business practice, it enables the welfare mentality, it is typical of Governments doing things that could never work in the private sector (because it doesn’t make business sense) and it does the individuals themselves a disservice by limiting their opportunity to learn, grow, develop and gain the self confidence and pleasure that one derives from being self sufficient.

It is the same logic that some persons have used to justify independence. Some persons believe strongly in independence. If you support independence, you cannot possibly support a union mentality or a welfare mentality. It is contradictory and we don’t like to have two sets of rules.

In closing, I believe that the haves should help the have nots. But whilst the have nots are being helped and given a hand up, part of that should involve lessons in survival, education, training, work ethic instruction, internships, strategies of success, how to make it and ultimately jobs that pay them a decent wage.

We must also fix our social welfare programme because it does not discourage persons from remaining on it. Otherwise, we will never reduce the number of people who are being supported by the system and guess what? This impacts our ability to reduce Government spending and our national debt, which I hear is now a staggering $1.5 billion!

If we could teach some of our social welfare recipients to be creators, visionaries, entrepreneurs, etc; they would help to grow the economy and become inventors, pioneers and high achievers instead of either dragging the economy down or stunting its growth.

And now, the top 20...

Holding on to the top spot at #1 is Rihanna’s latest hit,

Diamonds. Up to #2 is

Die Young by Ke$ha. Tumbling to #3 is

Gangnam Style by PSY.

At #4 is

She Wolf by David Guetta featuring Sia. Improving to #5 is

Let Me Love You (Until you Learn to Love Yourself) by Ne-yo. Slipping to #6 is

One More Night by Maroon 5.

Making a steady ascent towards the top, but only as far as #7 this week, is

Girl On Fire, by Alicia Keys featuring Nicki Minaj. Also on the rise, up to #8, is

Locked Out Of Heaven, by Bruno Mars. Slipping to #9 is

Scream by Usher, a popular dance track.

Tumbling to #10 is

I Can Only Imagine by David Guetta featuring Chris Brown and L’il Wayne. Up to #11 is a former essential new tune,

Whistle, by Flo Rida. Improving to #12 is a former essential new track,

Clique, by Kanye West, Jay-Z and Big Sean.

Up to #13 it’s the new pop hit from Justin Bieber and Nicky Minaj entitled

Beauty and a Beat. Up to #14 is

Anything Could Happen by Ellie Goulding. Improving to #15 is

Don’t Stop The Party, by Pitbull.

Slipping to #16 is

No Lie by 2 Chains featuring Drake. Falling to #17 this week is

All Around the World, a popular dance track by Justin Bieber.

Down to #18 is

Lights by Ellie Goulding. Slipping to #19 is

Mercy by Kanye West, Big Sean, Pusha T, 2 Chainz. At #20 is

Only Man She Want by Popcaan.

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Published January 11, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated January 10, 2013 at 4:06 pm)

Don’t just help the ‘have nots’ teach them too

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