Revolt(ing)

As of late, a number of journals have come up with polls wherein persons have been asked to list issues which concern them the most. Results indicate that the issue which troubles people the most is the high cost of living. There has been much talk of class, especially how the middle class has been hit hard by the economic recession. In fact, the Labour Party, upon realization that it has consistently failed to communicate with the 'middle class', has converted the latter social grouping into one of it's main pillars in terms of strategy and policy. Whilst this may be a good thing, in the sense that the Labour Party should and must strive to be the voice for all citizens and not just for the working classes, it must never abandon those who are truly struggling to make ends meet and simply favor those whose life has become less luxurious. The Labour Party should thus speak up against the employers and business lobby who are fighting tooth and nail to keep wages ridiculously low, when the cost of living has become ridiculously high. I fully agree with the GWU here, which claims that the business lobby cannot continue to threaten workers with job losses each and every time there is mention of a rise in wages (or more specifically the COLA). Having said that, the Labour Party needs to come up with credible and convincing economic policies. It needs to realize that it can no longer glorify tax cuts because tax cuts means less public spending, which in turn means status-quo mediocrity: low wages, inefficient and polluting energy facilities, a shoddy health service and infrastructure (roads in particular) inferior to most developing nations. On the other hand, the Labour Party needs to be honest with citizens by not introducing taxes subversively and out of context as the present administration is so keen on doing. I also agree with Joseph Muscat that careful planning and wise spending will save the treasury millions of euros as opposed to the over-zealous and ridiculously wasteful spending of the GonziPN regime.
But I have to say that in my case there is something that worries me more than the rising cost of living and that is parliament which supposedly is 'the highest institution of the country', whatever that means. I see nothing high and mighty in our parliament. To the contrary parliament is turning into a sick joke. The UK Parliament website lists three main functions of parliament. These are:
1. Examining and challenging the work of government (scrutiny)
2. Debating and passing all laws (legislation)
3. Enabling the government to raise taxes
On the first two points especially, our Parliament fails miserably and it fulfills the third in a most subversive and arrogant manner (of course it is the executive that raises taxes but it does so through parliament). The recent 'Arsenal-gate' is proof enough that parliament is powerless to scrutinize the workings of government. When a minister justifies his or her actions solely in a newspaper interview and not in 'the highest institution of the country' (as if it is a perfectly normal thing to do) goes to show that there is no modicum of scrutiny in parliament. Over and above we are facing a situation where ministers and the prime minister himself fail to attend parliament and how can one scrutinize the work of government, if government is not even present to be questioned? Last but not least it must be said scrutiny rarely takes place in parliament. Facts clearly show that TV producers, journalists and opinion writers do a far better job in scrutiny (some honestly, most with an agenda) than parliament does.
The second function is to debate and pass ALL laws. Another revolting joke. I sincerely believe (and I hope that I can be proven wrong on this) that if one had to analyse how laws are passed one would find that a great majority of them are passed by way of legal notice and not in parliament. This means that it is ministers and civil servants that pass laws and not parliament. Granted that it would be quite an impossible task for parliament to pass all laws and thus the need for power to be delegated but the use of legal-notice-law-passing has increased to such a considerable extent that it creates reasonable doubt in any sane person as to whether parliament is fulfilling this fundamental function correctly. And whilst our parliament wins top marks in adequately transposing EU regulations and directives into law it has failed miserably in debating such regulations and directives.
All of this begs the question as to what the hell is our parliament doing? It is worrying because losing faith in one's parliament means losing faith in one's democracy. If there is something Maltese citizens should protest about - it is this.

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2 Responses to Revolt(ing)

Virgil said...

Hi Andrew,

what do you think about AD's position on COLA?

http://www.alternattiva.org.mt/page.asp?n=newsdetails&i=13306

Andrew Sciberras said...

I fully agree with this position. Perhaps it needn't have come to it if cost of living was better controlled in the first place but the situation is what it is and before you control the situation you have to give workers the opportunity to make ends meet.

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