Why Anti-Gang Legislation Will Fail
The passage of anti-gang legislations will not solve the crime in our country. The government needs to search for the root cause of this gang culture that is running havoc in this land. Passage of anti-gang legislations would only make further arrests, crowd the jails and increase the backlog in the court system.
The introduction of DEWD in the post Black Power era (1970) to appease disgruntled blacks in the urban ghettoes is the genesis of this gang culture. DEWD spelt disaster for agriculture. Farm workers in the rural estates abandoned work and migrated to the urban centres to benefit from hand-outs from State. It was no longer work but to report to the job site and stand with a shovel in hand, not engaging in any productive work. It also gave birth to the phenomenon called ghost gangs which evolved into a criminal underworld.
With the coming of the oil boom in 1974 - “money is no problem”-one had expected the termination of such a welfare programme. This was not done and today it is common to hear citizens boasting that they have more than 25 years of service with DEWD/URP.
DEWD/URP did not help its beneficiaries in the long term. In addition to the low wages received, the workers were not exposed to positive work ethics. The sanctity of labour was destroyed in the process as it dawned upon them that “massa day done.”
This culture of idleness migrated to the districts of central and south Trinidad. Farmers, both small and big, began losing workers to DEWD/URP. In the course of time citizens moved away from family enterprises to work for the State. Private initiative was pushed aside as the government took control of the public purse.
A teaching component was never integrated into URP. The appeal to merge a segment of URP with farming never got off. Politicians who benefited from the system were never prepared to change it. That state dependent ghetto culture is so entrenched that interest groups are prepared to disrupt an entire country to safe guard its privileges. This was demonstrated in the violent upheavals by residents of Beetham Gardens a few weeks ago. The travelling public was traumatised by this display of unbridled hooliganism.
Our education system continues to fail to produce graduates with marketable skills. A skilled population would inculcate a culture of entrepreneurship, thus increasing the number of family- owned small businesses. This would help to wean citizens away from dependence on the State, thus increasing the number of citizens paying taxes.
Citizens have to curb their taste for imported foods and drinks. The government has to develop a negative list to curtail wastage of foreign exchange and to protect local production. For example, our local cassava and sweet potato could be made into chips. Our fast food outlets consume millions of dollars on imported potato chips. That multi-million dollar expenditure could certainly help to keep our farmers in the fields.
The government needs to stem the tide of repeat offenders in our prisons. Every prisoner must be taught a skill and the necessary training to earn a living. Prison should be a place of work where inmates must consume only what they produce.
Passing legislations would not take us out of this mess. Citizens must be educated to realize that their destination is not with the state but in their hands. Had governments of past taught its citizens to fish the country would not be in the situation it is today.