The distribution of the government’s “Because We Care” cash grant for education (ECG) began in Region 2 last week. Parents will receive $ 19,000 for each child, including 172,000 nationwide, at a cost of approximately $ 3.2 billion. There is no restriction on how the money should be spent. The project was started by PPP / C in 2014 at $ 10,000 for each child. It was abandoned by UNPA + AFC in 2015 and has now been restored by the PPP / C government.
I grabbed a TV news clip from part of the event. Tagewantee Dollarie was interviewed and expressed gratitude for the help. She explained that she is the sole breadwinner of her grandson. She was on social assistance, which was cut off abruptly and without explanation. She began to tell her story calmly, with dignity, emphasizing how useful the scholarship would be for her grandson. But when she started to talk about him, the class he was in, the quality of his work and the fact that his father had killed his mother and then committed suicide, tears flowed, even though she bravely did. continued the interview. Few of those who watched this brief episode could have had dry eyes or avoided a lump in their throat. There are many similar stories of hardship, in every community, across Guyana, made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic and flooding.
The ECG comes amid important developments in US economic policy that many Americans have struggled for decades. Given the stagnant wages, income disparities, the growing wealth gap, and the increase in general and child poverty in the United States since the 1970s, it would not be hyperbolic to describe economic policies and poverty reduction of the Biden administration as revolutionaries. One important element, coincidentally, is the child tax credit. Its effect is a maximum payment of $ 300 per month to most American families for each child. It is estimated that this will halve child poverty in the United States.
One of the biggest obstacles in the past to social security, or social assistance, or assistance in the form of grants in cash or otherwise, has been the reactionary excuses that the oppressors have used for centuries. to maintain their oppression of slaves, contractors, the poor and the underprivileged, which today is called the dependency syndrome. The principle is simple: if you help the poor to improve their condition, they will become dependent on it and will lose the initiative to help themselves. This theory was not reserved for conservatives and reactionaries. He has had a hold over many people who, through their own efforts, have made a success of their lives. They argue that if only “these people” weren’t complaining, functioning rather than relying on “charity” or “handouts”, they would be successful.
The evidence of recent years has shattered the addiction syndrome myth and destroyed the arguments of its advocates. In the United States, where in the past Republicans and conservative Democrats have supported addiction syndrome, only a few rabid holdouts remain. President Reagan popularized the addiction syndrome by infamously attacking “welfare queens.” President Clinton, wrenching the Democratic Party from the center-right, applied the dependency syndrome by imposing onerous conditionalities on social security recipients. However, most progressives have been supported by the great success of the “bolsa familia” program implemented in Brazil by previous Lula governments which, through cash grants, significantly reduced poverty. Since then, these programs have been implemented successfully to varying degrees all over the world. As Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman (NYT 2021-07-16) said “… economists have gathered a lot of data indicating the benefits of public spending, especially helping families with children.” .
For the above reasons, I was horrified to read a letter in SN of 2021-07-15 written by Mr. Aubrey Norton (“The PPP cash grant is both inadequate and ill-conceived”) in which he criticized the “payment for every child in public schools.” Mr. Norton is a longtime leader of the APNU + AFC, apparently socialist in orientation, who is or was a senior official in the office of the opposition leader I am not seeking to engage Mr. Norton on his political criticisms of the PPP / C government that the program “fits into the PPP scheme to create dependency rather than increase the ability of our people to earn and earn money. live a decent and fulfilling life… ”, or that“ PPP’s use of state resources creates dependencies to dominate and control the lives of the Guyanese people. ”These are questions the government must answer.
However, I object to the idea that the ECG program, by itself, is addictive of any kind. Let Mr. Norton join the world’s most conservative and reactionary politicians in perpetuating this now widely discredited, backward, dangerous and spurious nonsense that cash grants in fact create any kind of addiction, whether this either towards politicians or anyone else, is utterly incredible. . If this is the motivation of the PPP / C government, it will certainly fail. And if this is the kind of extremist views, torn from the dungeon of Mr. Norton’s political mind, that he will bring to the PNCR if he wins the leadership, then God help us.
This column is reproduced, with permission, from Ralph Ramkarran’s blog, www.conversationtree.gy