The Malta Independent 8 May 2021, Saturday

Silly love songs and free falls

Gejtu Vella Tuesday, 9 June 2015, 14:00 Last update: about 7 years ago

On the CD player I have“Wings at the Speed of Sound”, released in 1976, playing. Silly Love Songs is on; McCartney is on the bass as the brass pop up to introduce the chorus. The song is a cut above the rest.

In 1976, I have turned sixteen and did not bother what the great Dom was doing or really cared about the implications of his actions. At that time he was working closely with Libya, China and the Eastern bloc, souring ties with the West, creating employment in disciplined corps and sowing the seeds to raise a socialist generation. Back then, ministers and their thugs had the means to nail people. Institutions were weak or purposely weakened.

Most of those unsavoury years were reversed and re-designed after May 1987. Solidarity became more accentuated on the national agenda. The trampoline was used to get people back on their feet. Alleviating hardship of whatever nature to different members in society became central in most of the national restructured economy.  At times solidarity had to tip-toe into the national fiscal equation or after pressure was exercised on the administration by the other social partners. 

This dovetailed well in a seminar in which I participated last Wednesday. In the seminar, organised by the Church Foundation Centesimus Annus pro Pontifice, the paper “A Proposal for a Reformed Market Economy: - Entrepreneurship for Human Development” was up for discussion. The paper was researched, debated and written during a number of conventions in response to Pope Francis’ statement “thou shalt not to an economy of exclusion and inequality – such an economy kills”.

At the end of the seminar, the Leader of the Church made strong and incisive remarks which, unfortunately, did not echo very far from the precincts of the Archbishop’s Seminary at Tal-Virtu’. The Universal Church like that in Malta has to make every effort to better voice its social teaching. It is not about religion; it is all about values.

Presently in Geneva, social partners are meeting at the ILO headquarters to discuss a report with the theme “The future of work centenary initiative”. The report highlightsthat 319 million men and women live on less than $1.25 per day while currently 200 million workers are unemployed, 30 million higher than 2008 world-wide.

In 1919, the founders of the ILO were moved by “the sentiments of justice and humanity as well as by the desire to secure the permanent peace of the world”. Later in 1944, the Declaration of Philadelphia stated that “the war against want requires to be carried on with unrelenting vigour”. These same sentiments will culminate with the same vigour in 2019, the hundredth year of the ILO, in a radically changed world of work.

Closer to home, the EU celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the setting up of the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. The purpose of this Foundation was to provide policy makers with instruments to shape a better future for all citizens in the EU, now totalling 28 countries and 520 million persons.       

Given that one has to identify the problem before solutions can be sought, it is now time for world leaders to take action, addressing inequality, injustice, deprivation, insecurity, institutionalised corruption. Working towards a better world for all is now a must.

Even closer to home, it is of grave concern the read a strongly worded press statement issued last week by the Chamber of Commerce, an entrepreneur’s organisation, wherein it  courageously did not mince words: “It is worrying to read about a number of cases of flagrant abuse, bad management, dubious decision processes, conflicts of interest and outright lack of coordination between different elements of the public sector with citizens expected to pay endlessly for the damage”. 

If the current administration and our society are not capable to get this right, then we will end up right where Archbishop Scicluna said we will. To loosely and definitely irreverently translate:  I’m all right Jack. This is a recipe for destruction.

He is right, no doubt.

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