made their world so hard
Every day we got to keep on fighting
They made their world so hard
Every day the people are dyin’
For hunger and starvation
Lamentation But read it in Revelation
You’ll find your redemption
And then you give us the teachings of His Majesty,
For we no want no devil philosophy;
A you fe give us the teachings of His Majesty,
For we no want no devil philosophy
- Bob Marley
Four months after the onset of COVID-19 we are seeing frightening graphic representations of the entire globe portrayed in red, deep red, and purple. Millions of people have been afflicted. Three million people have been confirmed stricken. Thousands have died. Jobs have been lost. Businesses have failed. Leaders have failed. Actually, they have failed because they are not real leaders but purveyors of Devil Philosophy. Nevertheless, it’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good.
The number of afflictions seems to be peaking. If the decline is anything like the rise, we could be seeing much less red by the end of the year, even though it could be another eight or ten months before a vaccine is identified and distributed.
We are facing change. Hopefully, one of those changes will be how we regard people. Not as consumers, but as citizens. Not as consumers who exist only to work and fill the pockets of the already wealthy, but as citizens fully regarded as such by the people we choose to represent us in government.
For what is government if not people? What is government if not the expressions and yearnings of people? What is government if not the well-being of people? What are our leaders if they are swept away from their people by avarice and greed into the contagious cauldron of conglomerates and their lobbyists?
Fortunately from Canada we are seeing some leadership. Real leadership. Ontario Premier Doug Ford, and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are leading the way. And, south of the border, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is leading his president who is skilfully managing not to take any lessons. Cuomo, Ford and Trudeau are actually talking to the people. Directly to the people! And with commendable patience they are taking and answering questions from the people. Directly from the people!
We who believe that democracy, with all its faults, is the best form of government have not seen that for a long time. Especially not from the United States.
What we have been seeing is hardly-suppressed hubris and arrant arrogance from heads of government who think they should not be questioned, that their decisions should not be questioned. That they can ignore the constitutional provisions of checks and balances, and that they can insult their questioners as they see fit. That in fact “l’etat c’est moi – I am not the servant of the people; they serve me.”
The Apprentice in the White House is a prime example.
What we are now beginning to see is a sweep of democracy (government of the people, by the people, and for the people) that we have seen little of these past 40 years after the Devil Philosophy of Reaganomics began decimating the welfare state. And in wrecking it, not only in the US but around the world, presenting us instead with governments of the conglomerates, by the conglomerates and for the conglomerates. As we have been seeing in more recent years, this is also a prescription for unrepentant dictatorship.
The Devil Philosophy, a la Ronald Reagan, declared war on the people and the concept of government for the people. High on the list of enemies were the trade unions, those organisations that speak for the people. Reagan often said that “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.”
He cut taxes for the rich while cutting social welfare programmes. He succeeded in making cuts to spending on food stamps, low-income housing, and school lunch programmes. He also reduced the percentage of federal expenditures on education.
The election of President Obama in 2008 brought relief, especially in his recognition that the already monumental cost of health care had to be corralled with an immediate fix through his Affordable Care Act that became known as Obamacare. But today most of the provisions of Obamacare are gone, jettisoned by a set of rabid people who care only for themselves.
But, what is the welfare state, you ask.
The welfare state is based on the principles of equal opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth, and public responsibility for citizens who are unable to avail themselves of the minimal provisions for a good life. It funds the governmental institutions for healthcare and education along with direct benefits given to individual citizens.
Jamaica was a welfare state, certainly from 1655 (and maybe 1492) until 1981 when Prime Minister Edward Seaga told us “You are on your own,” as he returned from a visit to Reagan and began to apply his right-wing agenda. This included Seaga’s cess on education following years of free education under Michael Manley.
The Great Depression of the 1930s and the two world wars brought expansions of the welfare state which began in the late 1800s. The modern welfare state emerged to address unemployment, lost output, and collapse of the financial system.
Unemployment, lost output, and collapse of the financial system.
Exactly what COVID-19 has been producing and continues to produce.
It does not seem farfetched then to anticipate a revival and strengthening of the main duty of governments as a result of the worldwide coronavirus contagion — the matter of taking care of its citizens as its first priority. Indeed, it has begun. But the current occupant of the Oval Office and his sycophants of the Alt-Right have seen to its almost complete destruction while enriching banksters, conglomerates and themselves. Devil Philosophy.
The wider trouble with the Devil Philosophy is that its proponents have enormous power, and exert undue influence on small countries like Jamaica as we have been seeing. Jamaica’s leaders better tek sleep mark death. It is late, but not too late.
The virus, along with its disastrous effects — death, distress, deprivation, job loss, income loss, and food scarcity — is going to stick around long enough to ensure some real improvement in the relationship between the governed and the governors, between the people and those we elect to serve us.
And that will not be a bad thing.
If only it did not have to cost lives.
- Ewart Walters, CD, MJ, is an author, former diplomat and retired editor whose entry to journalism was at Public Opinion in 1962