Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author(s) do not represent the official position of Barbados TODAY.
Barbadians, what we are witnessing is blatant indifference.
Where does the transparency begin, where does the injustice end? In news as recent as last week, we were made privy to the proposed – or perhaps already concluded – action of the NIS investing $80 million overseas. I believe we must start with what NIS is and the true purpose of this government organisation.
Barbados’ National Insurance Scheme (NIS), at the end of the road, is supposed to be a safety net for individuals when they retire – well, at least way back then. Pensions are usually how our aging population tends to survive as chances are, they’ve made their invaluable and countless years of contribution to national development, no matter the level, field or class they’re in. The slogan quite literally says: “It’s more than a contribution, it’s your lifeline.” One could argue that they need to act like it.
Several substantial concerns can be raised about the current state of our National Insurance Scheme. An aging population, still in the majority of our job posts, with minimal job creation, if we continue on the trajectory we’re on, will cause us to see ripple effects. The ripple effects consist of: lower productivity levels; fewer jobs for the youth, which will in turn cause an increased crime rate over time; decreased happiness index; possible decreased birth rate; and how could I forget the most important detail – the very high possibility of not getting our return on investment (ROI).
If we make our people work up to the age of 67.5 years old, be honest with yourself, how much do you think can possibly be attained at that age? How much work do you think can possibly be done? When will they get rest? When it’s time to lie down in the grave? That’s madness! Being frank, after all those years of service, most people just want to sleep in and enjoy their remaining years. Gran Gran or Grandad should be able to drink some Horlicks or Milo or whatever tickles their fancy and go about their day however they decide – which leads me to my next point. We would truly be stripping ourselves of a part of culture and doing ourselves a disservice if we go down this road. In our community and culture, it’s not very foreign for Granny to take care of the child(ren) while the mother is at work trying to make a living for herself, but most importantly her offspring. What happens when every man jack is out of the house except the poor babies or young children? What happens if they can’t afford daycare? What happens when they’re alone for that much time? I’ll tell you – they lean on their own understanding and their own devices. This is beyond dangerous because, as the Bible says, “The devil finds work for idle hands.”
I am by no means trying to demonise children like a former education minister, but what I do know is when a human’s back is against the wall, they go into survival mode. Survival sometimes looks like indifference, because they don’t know how to express themselves since there was no time to be taught. Petty theft, selling drugs and guns, if we want to talk extremities, and the list goes on, but then we complain about the youth and their antics. Do you expect a student to perform in an exam if they weren’t taught the material? Food for thought.
The Happiness Index measures life satisfaction, the feeling of happiness, taking into account factors such as psychological well-being, health, time balance, community, social support, education, arts and culture, environment, governance, material well-being, and work. Simply put, with all of life’s current stresses, all the aforementioned factors stand to deteriorate, whether gradually or rapidly. We should look to countries like Finland and Switzerland who are in the top 3 of the Happiness Index.
On countless occasions, the Barbados Government has implored its citizens to “have more children” but Barbadians ask, “part the money to take care of them coming from?” Now, I can’t be sure if all of them know how much it takes to raise a child aside from the monetary standpoint, but it just is not that simple. How do you expect people to go out of their way to add a family member if there are no incentives for them to do so? How do you expect people to want to take care of anyone but themselves when there seems to be no silver lining in sight even for when they retire? Make it make sense.
At last, the return on investment (ROI). Investing is a fancy term for gambling. They’re gambling with your money, in hopes of making it back however many times over. What I will ask is this, investing in what? If I remember correctly, politics still boils down to the people’s business. To educate ourselves, which is the most powerful thing you can do, would lead us to having questions such as: 1) Investing in what? 2) Investing with whom? 3) How much profit will they make? 4) How long will it take to see those profits? 5) Where will said profits go? Emphasis on where will the profits go, because you surely won’t be paying less NIS when the month comes. Funny isn’t it, how the questions outnumber the information provided?
Barbadians, they have taken our kindness for weakness. They see us as docile, they see us as just another casualty and it’s sad. Our institutions need to begin giving the full scope of what they are pursuing and how it works. Not everyone can, wants to or has the opportunity to study finance to understand where their valued money is going. NIS was entrusted with a job, our representatives are entrusted to have our best interest at heart, but sometimes I think the disparity in living conditions taints their perception of what is best.
The people deserve a say, the people deserve their pay!
The future looks bleak, but one can only hope, “one day things must get better”.
Nicholai Peters, man of the people and for the people.