Rowley on ‘Gimme Gimme’

It is worth a strategic fight though. In his second week in office, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley warned “this gimme, gimme culture must stop.” And many lawful taxpayers applauded.

Ricardo Lijertwood said, “I never thought I would live to see the day when a Prime Minister would call for an end to the ‘gimme gimme’ attitude in this country.” (Express, September 28).

The “gimme, gimme culture” is controversial because many of the recipients, underserving and wily as they are, truly believe that they deserve to be given things – from welfare monies, houses, land, subsidies of all kinds, and all this without putting the work that others put in. Society loses its equilibrium. In fact, well defined, the gimme gimme mentality has penetrated the white-collar class too.

Some people see it now as “freeness” gone wild. And when you examine it closely, it helps create attitudes that are first cousins to crime and lawlessness. How you think some of the crime-ridden, murderous garrisons started? Getting things freely, without effort, squatting, etc. means you have no real ownership, no emotional attachment, nothing to protect. No kind of neighbourhood watch. Easy come, easy go.

Take some of the over-loaded squatting locations. These cannot be called real “communities.” It is almost like everyman for himself there. Worse yet, when squatting is politically encouraged so that all somebody has to do is go overnight, put up a post and claim the land. That is not caring for the poor. That is helping to keep the poor poor — and lawless.

Poverty alleviation is about attitudes too. Taking what you didn’t work for breeds a kind of lawlessness which disturbs those who, though poor themselves, work hard, save, buy land, take out heavy mortgages. And then try hard to protect the fruits of their labour. That is how law-abiding communities are made. As US President Barack Obama told the UN General Assembly last Monday, “We are more secure when we uphold basic laws.” If some authority here dares correct a gimme gimme item — be it an unlawful smart card, fraudulent welfare claims or prohibited squatting — it faces one-sided media-driven protests, even “no vote” threats.

The “gimme gimme culture” is controversial because within the groups defined as “gimme, gimme,” are those who truly deserve the help but the system is slack. There is no clear, well-supervised line to separate the truly deserving from the undeserving who may, for example, already have a house, land, even a hidden source of income. There is corruption too. Scamming the government is now an industry.

Abuse of “gimme gimme” welfare payments and projects for partisan political purposes makes the habits and expectations hard to break. We are almost at that point, if not there already. That is why Dr Rowley’s warning provides a good start.

GATE is defective too. If, as we have been hearing, that GATE is “to help the poor get a good education,” then why not do just that.

Find out who exactly can’t afford it. But it now seems too much of a free for all. You are giving those who are able to pay the same financial support as those who can’t afford it. And once you treat unequals equally, social inequity is worsened. That is one reason why our education system is so unable to create the level of social equity it repeatedly promises.

Gimme, gimme has gone beyond a genuine welfare policy. It is not only about Dorothy’s stockings.

It is about the galvanise sheet blown away and “Ah waiting on de govahment to come.” As Mr Lijertwood said, to break gimme gimme habits carries political risks.

This is not about “right wing,” hard – heartedness, etc.

Runaway g i m m e g i m m e needs to b e p u l l e d back in the interest of all.


"Rowley on ‘Gimme Gimme’"

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