Published On: Sun, Apr 12th, 2020

A People In Solidarity – Part 2

People in Solidarity

All over the world this pandemic is showing the inequalities present in communities; social and economic inequalities. It is also exposing governments and leaders and quickly separating the wheat from the chaff. However, with many people focused on their health, their next meal or whether they will be able to keep a roof over their heads we may be missing the big picture exposed by this pandemic. While this is a most difficult moment for almost everyone, we can be sure that this is tame compared to difficulties we will continue to face in the future, whether through pandemics or natural disasters.

Of course at a time like this many people will call for unity as they should; history has shown that countries that come together in times of hardship are able to overcome much quicker. And some people will even call for us to refrain from criticizing and making demands. But we cannot miss this opportunity to look closely at our shortcomings and to make concrete changes that will enable us to be better prepared for a future pandemic.

A too large governing body that has shown itself to be ineffective, incompetent and unempathetic is our biggest shortcoming. In the past 5 years there have been three elections and we have had at least 8 governments in 10 years. These governments have been made up of mostly the same people, who continually promise to put country above self and work for the people. In 10 years they have not kept these promises. Even now when the country should have been preparing for this pandemic we were busy forming a new government. Some of these same individuals who are in government were responsible for bringing us into our new status in 2010. The agreed upon and enacted legislation to ensure that they were well paid with first class benefits. Persons holding positions of authority on this island earn approximately Nafls 20,000 per month. This does not included the additional 6% remuneration for representation, and also the use of a car and telephone. They and their families enjoy first class health insurance and in case of dismissal or removal from office they may continue to receive payment for up to two years. Keep in mind that there is no national unemployment scheme for citizens of this island, but the highest paid people on the island made sure to secure unemployment funds for themselves. The Netherlands has repeatedly asked our officials to lower government spending and improve financial management in order to balance the budget; even recently asking officials to reduce their salaries, which they refused. Instead they threw down the government twice, held elections twice and in so doing increased the government payroll again. Can we confirm that the 10% that will be discounted will not be recouped somewhere else in the budget?

At the same time other citizens must make do with a minimum wage of approximately Nafls 1530 which does not cover the monthly rent on a safe, clean one-bedroom apartment on this island. Add to that the rising costs of food and utilities and we have a large percentage of the population who cannot afford to go without a paycheck. This large section of the population therefore cannot afford to save for a rainy day – or a global pandemic, let alone a global economic depression. They are now anxious, even fearful. While children are now being taught online, and many parents have not received a paycheck or have received a discounted paycheck, the internet providers are sending out invoices as per usual. What happens when a parent cannot pay that internet bill, does her/his child stop learning? Who steps in to ensure that this does not happen? Rent is due or past due for many persons, some people are choosing not to pay their rent to try and safeguard whatever funds they have. Some persons are asking their landlords to discount their rent or to delay receiving payment. What happens when the landlord says no and demands payment as per usual? Who will step in to ensure that person is not evicted or harassed at a time like this? Where is the government; and our elected members of parliament? Why have they gone radio-silent while the Prime Minister continues to struggle and make mistakes? Where is the solidarity through accountability?

There is so much work to be done; fighting this pandemic and flattening the curve are only the first steps. COVID-19 has left us exposed – our health system is poor and inadequate, our economy as it is no longer works and our treasury is empty. Our economy and our livelihood are now completely in the hands of The Netherlands. We need a government who gets it, who understands the role of leadership in times of trouble and who knows that the time for old politics is past. Our world has changed and we are about to enter into another above average hurricane season. We need persons who are willing to put aside their greed and arrogance and come together, lean on the experts to get the work done. And above all we need a government who knows that 10% just won’t cut it.

The Writer wishes to remain Anonymous

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A People In Solidarity – Part 1
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