December 22, 2005

give them their daily voucher

Life is getting prettier by the day on this island. The considerably fortunate are setting up a common charity front to come to the aid of the considerably unfortunate, a move that can only be considerably applauded. Big business is finally assuming its role in sharing the burden alongside the public and social sectors. As the mildly fortunate come increasingly to depend on a system of intermittent but considerably effective acts of grace and favours by the government (makramaat), and the harshly unfortunate resort ever more to the considerably extensive network of communal charity funds (present in each town, village and sectarian affiliation), the stage is now set for a considerably integrated three–pronged public policy, by which citizens –old, new and soon to be- have never been so spoiled for charity and choice.

Some sensible souls may feel considerably affronted by a plan of perceived condescension towards a whole swathe of society to turn the hitherto considered excluded and deprived but with with rights to salaries and jobs, and lump them all into a now officially sanctioned category of rabble and lumpen class, dependent -in almost a counter-rev. way- on the upper classes for their daily bread, but that’s a considerably discredited outlook. To be fair, big business is just trying to lend a helping hand, and it can not be held liable for the unmitigated and unintended positive spin-offs from its stratagem, such as in enhancing public image and tidying up public discourse.

So, if you are still in vertigo over that statement by the former head of chamber of commerce – and a son of a billionaire family- that BD 100 is indeed a fair and sufficient monthly wage for an adult islander living with parents, then you might regain your composure in knowing the extent of his contribution towards building a health centre right in your own village. And if you still feel a bitter taste over the public relations article in your local Arabic daily featuring a bright businesswoman in the centre of a half-circle of upward of 17 well-dressed managers, all but one hail from a cherished but distant part of the same continent, then you might do well to note that the son of your maternal uncle’s seventh neighbour will soon receive his long-awaited gift voucher for an expensive dental procedure, stamped and sent from that multiple-storey, expatriate-filled office building.

For long, it has been a weak argument blaming the business community for being nothing more than an equal opportunity employer open for all who are superbly committed and extremely cost-effective. Now, there is every reason to suspect this argument will soon be washed over as new awareness seeps in that it is better to keep one’s mouth wide open, not for voicing criticism, but in anticipation of the charitable offerings to start to pour in. Business is following the lead of government: if you can’t beat them, beg them.


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