Two weeks ago, I wrote about how the continuous fuel hikes we’ve been experiencing since May disproportionately affect the poor and working class of society. In a country already racked by widespread inequality, such price hikes only serve to further impoverish those who are already suffering.
In an ideal world, we wouldn’t have to worry about poverty because it wouldn’t exist. There wouldn’t be people living without a roof over their heads or without access to water and electricity. There wouldn’t be people dying of easily preventable diseases causes because they cannot afford healthcare. There wouldn’t be people condemned to a vicious cycle of poverty due to lack of education – or capital.
Of course, we don’t live in an ideal world, do we? Until such time that ideal becomes a reality, we have to come together to help those less fortunate so that they may have a decent life. There are a number of different ways we can do this. One of the more potentially effective methods to do this is an efficient public safety net in the form of a national health insurance scheme, subsidised education, social security, etc. A number of European countries – especially those in the Nordic/Scandinavian region – have shown that it is possible to implement these programmes without negatively impacting the national economy.
Granted, SA has a host of issues that make it difficult to copy their success. Widespread corruption siphons billions (if not trillions) of rand away from the public purse and, instead, puts it in the pockets of a handful of individuals. The collapse of SARS under former president Jacob Zuma means even more money has been lost through an inability to effectively collect taxes.
And let’s not forget SA’s shrinking tax base as disillusioned individuals decide they’d rather take their chances overseas.
These are just some of the problems that the government must tackle before we can even begin putting together some sort of public safety net that effectively protects citizens. On a smaller scale, there are a number of businesses and NGOs-NPOs that are working hard to make a difference in the lives of others. The GO! & Express has covered a number of stories over the years of programmes designed to uplift local communities, whether it be through donations, education projects, or volunteer work.
These have all had a big impact on communities and are an important part of the fight to end inequality.
Finally, as individuals we can also get involved. We can volunteer and contribute our time to local charities, we can donate money or other items to worthwhile initiatives and initiates, we can even organise our own projects within our communities.
There is plenty that can be done and every bit makes a difference.