Greed begets sludge – Ralph Cassar

As the Prime Minister was in Japan touring a tuna auction, the very same industry which supplies the fish to these markets gifted the Marsaskala community with a stinking sludge.

Sliema was not spared the stink either.

MaltaToday’s videoclip shows how our sea, where hundreds of Skalin and loads of others from all over our huge country swim and relax when they are not skiing on our glorious mountains.

Oops! I must have hit my head hard.

The sea is practically the only huge and really open space we have. And yet, here is another stark reminder of where the economy – or rather a skewed vision of what the economy should be – trumps everything else, including our quality of life. Because we’re supposed to work, work and work, and then stay inside until it is time to go to work again.

But our governments, past and present prefer to prop up greed. And greed knows no limits.

The issue here is one of limits. What are the limits to an industry that uses our common resources and public spaces?

If tuna farms bring in so many millions to the operators – I wonder what the wages for their workers are, but anyway – should the State allow them to double that amount? Should they be allowed to make more millions while ruining the swimming season for thousands of people?

Is there a price attached to letting people enjoy their free time? What is the price of disrupting healthy activities? What is the price of ruining sport activities, like waterpolo, as has actually happened in Marsaskala?

But for the neoliberal mind set, the economy regulates itself and the ‘right’ of the millionaire to make a couple of millions more while paying the minimum wage is sacrosanct.

The ‘trickle-down’ philosophy rules but the problem is that it is really a tiny trickle.

While Konrad Mizzi is busy posting ridiculous videos on Facebook to show us how much sand he has dredged at Balluta in the hope that we will forget about his Panama company and New Zealand trust; and while Jose Herrera together with Ian Borg are busy making space for more cars in our streets; big business is busy raking in the millions.

Big business does so while ruining our seas and putting small artisanal fishermen out of business.

It is also a huge failure of our governments who have neglected time and again their main and most important duty: Protecting and safeguarding the common good.

Economic planning was, and presumably still is, looked down upon, even though we have ample proof that the laissez-faire attitude to the economy suits the few, while all others have to make do with the scraps, or in this case give up their leisure activities.

The public good has to give way because it suits the few.

In the meantime, a government minister realises that something is amiss. Wakey, wakey! For our own sake, for the sake of future generations we must discuss and accept that there are limits to so called ‘growth’.

Because when our quality of life is threatened, when wages are what they are, it isn’t really ‘growth’ for the many is it?

Ralph Cassar
Published on the Malta Today – 03 August 2018