Monday, June 28, 2004

TT: The poor ye have always with you

President Richards can't make up his mind if poverty is a disease or a jail. Really pedestrian thinking.

Poverty in this country is a debilitating disease that must be eradicated, says President George Maxwell Richards.

“Poverty is one of the worst possible attacks on human dignity,” he said.

“It is also a prison that keeps its victims from getting to the place to which human potential is designed to take them. It strips them of a sense of self so that self-esteem has no place in their understanding.”

Richards was speaking at the handing-over ceremony of the Rotary Club of St Augustine at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Port-of-Spain, on Saturday night.

He said education was key, but while the State may provide books and meals, some children were so poor, their parents were unable to provide clothing or transportation and they were kept home.

However, the President said, poverty should not be an excuse for not attaining an education.

“Was there not a time in this country when poverty was not a reason to steal or to keep children home?

“I seem to recall that somehow, poor parents understood that school was the place for their children. Some walked to school without shoes sometimes,” Richards said

“What happened to that drive and determination?

“How did we come to this, in a country that boasts of considerable revenue from our energy industry and others. Is the gap between rich and poor widening? If so, why? What are we doing about it?”

Although the State must play its part, so must all citizens, Richards said.
It would really help if the government would get out of the way so that small businesses could proliferate.

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