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Editor’s note:This article was published in the Editorial section of the Chronicle Newspaper on June 19,2009.

One should not believe everything one hears, especially if it is a rumour that Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has assumed unofficial duties on Wednesdays as Dominica’s welfare director.

From his track record, it certainly seems that the P.M. is quite keen on the idea of turning Dominica into a welfare state. But it would be a bizarre expansion of this concept if Prime Minister Skerrit takes personal control of the distribution of the state’s largesse and holds weekly meetings with supplicants to decide who gets state help and who does not.

Most of us know that, in the strictest sense, a welfare state is one in which the government provides for the welfare, or the well-being, of its citizens completely. It is a state in which a government gets involved in citizens’ lives at every level and government provides for physical, material, and social needs rather than the people. The vast majority of the nation’s collective income goes to and is spent by the state, while citizens’ personal income and spending are kept as low as possible.

A welfare state spends expansively on huge state projects under broad headings like security, education, housing, healthcare and the like. It invests heavily in public services like transportation and childcare and social amenities such as public parks and libraries, focusing almost exclusively on goods and services for public consumption. This requires massive state expenditure, some of which is paid for by loans and grants from international donors while a large amount comes from taxes paid by individuals and businesses.

The concept of the welfare state is often closely linked to communist or socialist ideals. It is based on the progressive redistribution of a nation’s wealth by heavily taxing those who a particular government perceives to have too much wealth and income, according to its own subjective criteria; ostensibly to provide goods and services for those persons who the government deems to be underprivileged, according to its own subjective criteria.

The Skerrit administration clearly embraces development plan along the lines of a welfare state that involves the government providing the people with more roads, bridges and other state-funded projects, rather than leaving more disposable income in the hands of individual Dominicans. Maybe too many people have come to depend on Skerrit’s budding welfare state, and in an attempt to provide equitably to all petitioners for state help, the Prime Minister has allegedly appointed himself as the state’s welfare director.

One wonders if some people have come to the conclusion that the best way to improve their lives is to depend on the Skerrit government to provide state largesse directly to them, especially if they line up once a week to appeal to the supposed welfare director himself. If so, it would put the P.M. in a position to usurp the functions of a multitude of state agencies and mechanisms and dole out state funds according to personal criteria.

Ironically, a ‘one-person welfare distribution show’ goes against the grain of the welfare state in which government welfare is indiscriminate. One person should never have sole authority to distinguish between deserving and undeserving petitioners for assistance according to personal criteria. A single individual should never have the power to decide whether or not to provide state funds, and the level of state assistance to be given.

Rumour has it that P.M. Skerrit has turned himself into the state’s welfare director in order to create a personality cult based on some persons’ dependency on his personal distribution of state resources. But one should never believe everything one hears.

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Comment by Dan
2009-07-03 16:48:50

There is no Utopia. And there is no perfect system designed by human beings. A perfect system would have to be independent of human nature.

So we have capitalism, based on greed; and we have socialism, based on envy.

The greed-based system has given us the present world-wide recession.

By the way, the above are economic systems, not political systems. Capitalism or socialism can be democratic or dictatorships. In most capitalist states, the rulers are the oligarchs (the wealthy class). They may manipulate the public, who think they’re voting in a democracy, but the oligarchs control the media and thus what the people hear, see, and think they know.

Dominica should not align permanently with either economic or political system or any state. Instead, Dominica should play one side against the other, as Dominica has historically done with the PRC and Taiwan.

I hate politics!

Comment by Patriot
2009-07-03 20:23:02

Absolute Hogwash!! Who should the poor, the sick, the dying and the needy go to?? I applaud the Public Assistance Program which is controlled by the Financial Regulations, Approved by Parliament and audited by the Director of Audit!

Comment by Joel Halfwassen Subscribed to comments via email
2009-07-05 23:12:04

Well, Skerrit is quite close to Dictator Chavez now. It would be a logical step to put himself in a similar vein. Especially if Chavez is providing a certain amount of financing for his projects.

Comment by Dan
2009-07-07 12:39:20

One may want to pause and consider whether Chavez and his ilk are the logical outcome of the excesses of George W. Bush and his ilk’s excesses.

It’s great that capitalism provides, in theory, for anyone to become wealthy (whereas socialism is confiscatory), but no system designed by human beings is perfect (there’s no Utopia) and when radical capitalists like Bush are at the helm it is inevitable that unchecked greed will bring about ruination — such as the present worldwide recession.

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