Editorial

The Price We Pay

Quite often when a person says government should be doing this or that, there’s another person waiting in the wings, or so it seems, to counter their perspective. Usually the argument of the person challenging them centers around their own inherent belief that anyone who “depends” on the government to do anything for them is lazy, and that the provision of certain services are not a government’s responsibility.

The argument might then take a comparative swing, where one person would bring into focus a more developed part of the world, like the United States, Europe or Canada, and the services and programmes governments put in place for their people, as compared to what obtains here. On the other side, the challenger would likely bring into the mix something about Saint Lucia being a third world country, with not much money to afford these luxuries.

Whether the two parties would choose to recognize it or not, both sides of the argument are valid in some ways. Yes, Saint Lucia is a third world country, and the budget of our government is nowhere near that of more developed states with populations far greater than ours. On the other hand, it is not absurd to expect certain provisions from any government which is elected into office to serve the people. The intention of electing a government is that they will make a difference, and make life better in some way for the people.

Considering the taxes residents of this country and elsewhere pay for housing, land, customs duties, income, and basically everything but the kitchen sink, we are all entitled to a government which will be accountable, that will put in place the things necessary for residents to have a decent standard of living. Things like building roads and sidewalks, and implementing social programmes for the development of people are not a gift from any government – they’re a necessity for the forward movement of our people and building the economy in general.

A perspective quite different from the one that suggests a person is a leech, or “too dependent” based on these expectations is that all of us are entitled to basic things from the government that we elect to power, including access to education, welfare programmes, hospital and health care, road building and maintenance, and police protection, at the very least. Essential services, including police and the armed forces, firefighters, and the hospital sector on the part of government are also not a privilege, but a right, and must be enacted accordingly.

With that said, it is ridiculous to consider a person “too needy” based on expectations or demands of sensible things from a sitting government. This is obviously different from someone depending on handouts from government to make a living, and that difference must be made clear. Electing a government into office should be based on much more than just getting favours – but some people do not have the luxury, based on their own standards of living, to care.

When it comes to the wide range of taxes that we pay, all of these are part of the price we pay to exist in this country, and there are consequences if we do not oblige. Of course, this is balanced off by our own ability to elect, or remove governments as we see fit, based on their own ability to deliver what we need. We must always remain conscious of our power as citizens, irrespective of which party is in office.

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