By Keith Noel, Guest Columnist
THERE ARE some persons I know who, whenever they see me, an arm is outstretched, palm upward, as if by instinct: "Beg yuh som'n nuh?"
And I am not unique in this. Nearly everyone who has a steady income and, as such, is perceived as being fairly comfortable in life, is seen as a legitimate target for a 'beggings'.
And this is understandable. It only becomes unreasonable when these persons are upset because of the number of "times whey mi beg yuh a money and yuh hardly ever gi mi." Even if you explained to them that you have a number of respon-sibilities and dependents, they are still disgruntled. Especially if they know that you have given money to another person who begged you. It is as if you are seen as a fount of money and could really afford to give them regularly.
I am never angry at this type of behaviour because I can understand the myopic view they have of life. And then, this attitude simply mirrors that of the very leaders of our society.
I listen in amazement as almost every day some person comes forward with a demand that the Government spend money on some project, or satisfy some public need, or better compensate some set of workers. It is not that a request is made to Government to try to see where they can accommodate the request. It is generally couched as a demand which, if unsatisfied, would prove the Government to be uncaring and even wicked!
In dire economic straits
It is as if none of these people realise that the country is in dire economic straits. And that if we do not strike a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), we can find ourselves on the kind of slippery economic slope on which the Greeks have found themselves. I listen in wonder while public servants' lobbies argue that they "will not hold strain for much longer" where wage increases are concerned while they should know full well that the Government is in a position where they have been 'ordered' by the IMF to cut the public wage bill.
People who defied the law and built on gully banks and, after heavy rains, when their houses start to teeter on the brink of collapse into the gully often express outrage because the relevant government agency does not rush to their aid. Others who have built in the flood plain and have been 'flooded out' complain bitterly when the councillor comes to inspect the damage and comes "wid him two long hand" and not "wid a truckload a food to give the poor people dem" - not even "few tin a mackrel".
Recently when a primary school teacher was viciously attacked, what one heard was not a resolve by parent and community leaders to better protect their school. Rather, there was a cry for Government to hire (about 1,000) more policemen and assign them to the primary schools in the island.
The clamour for road repairs grows louder as, after the heavy rains and floods we have had over the past few years, roads have been seriously damaged. So, every few days, citizens of one community or the other block roads and issue threats that their roads must be fixed now.
Then there are the business and commercial interests who each claim the way forward for Jamaica would be to make things easier for them. Somehow they are each able to make a case for the removal of taxes, and/or of red tape from their particular sector (placed there in the first place to guard against the dishonesty and greed of persons in their sector) and argue that this would have a salutary effect on the entire economy (while making them richer).
But why shouldn't the people think that money a run? The extravagance of the recent road repair programme suggests that we do have money stashed away somewhere! And then was it not just this month that we gave money to those who had done well in London? Even though it included some of the richest young men in the country!
I was so proud of Yohan Blake when he immediately announced that every cent he got would be given to his charity.
Keith Noel is an educator. Send comments to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.