Super rich v extremely poor

They say money does not buy happiness but let’s be frank, it certainly improves your quality of life and lifestyle in general. However, as I see it,

I think nowadays some people have become too greedy. Their main aim in life is to increase their wealth, assets and possessions, which in itself is not wrong.

Yet, the latter goes off the mark when the modus operandi to accumulate wealth does not include any consciousness in respect to the common good of society. Money is indeed the root of all evil.

The number of billionaires in the world is estimated to be in the region of 2,755 (as at September 2021). According to Forbes (August 2021), the most affluent man in the world is 57-year-old American businessman Jeff Bezos, the mastermind of and the proprietor of The Washington Post. The US tycoon’s net worth is in the region of $201.3 billion. Beyond that, it is estimated that the 20 super-rich people of the world share bet­ween them the staggering amount of $2,149.2 billion.

Conversely, the number of people living in absolute poverty and destitution worldwide amount to 736 million (as at 2015). The latter live on less than $1.90 a day! Most of the people that are extremely poor live in southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, mainly in India, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Bangladesh.

Between 1990 and 2015, there was a considerable decrease in the number of people living in extreme poverty. Having said that, the issue of absolute poverty is still very persistent.

The redistribution of wealth, steeply progressive taxes and means-tested cash benefits are certainly helping those living in relative poverty but are the world’s largest developed countries doing enough to help those living in absolute poverty?

Essential jobs that deserve a pay rise

By essential jobs, I refer to those much-needed jobs that are considered beneficial for the common good and general well-being of every member of society.

One of the things I cannot fathom as a Maltese and European citizen is why certain jobs that are considered essential are not paid well locally.

For instance, most of us will agree that the services provided by street cleaners, garbage collectors, youth workers, journalists, kindergarten educators, teachers, social workers, nurses, social support workers, emergency ambulance responders, health carers and learning support educators (among others) is indispensable. However, are they being paid enough when considering the amount of work they do and their working conditions?

We live in an interdependent world where the contribution provided by every member in society is crucial for a well-functioning community

In my humble opinion, I do not think that employees working in the above-mentioned occupations are paid enough. Consequently, one would understand why there is a constant demand for such jobs, particularly for nurses, teachers and health carers. On the other hand, there are other workers who do not carry out essential jobs and get a much higher remuneration.

I think that if we want to live in a more equitable society, the state and even private companies should provide employees carrying out essential jobs with better wages, better working conditions and a more positive work environment.

Undoubtedly, the reason why locals are not choosing to work certain types of jobs is because the wage does not match the amount of work involved and responsibility required. Besides, occupations such as nurses and health carers require employees to work long hours and very often, they have to work on a shift basis.

I would assume that an employee would prefer to work a normal 40-hour week, from 8am to 5pm, instead of working on a shift basis if he or she can earn the same amount of money.

I also strongly believe that if we improve the working conditions and remuneration of essential jobs, this would encourage more native-born Maltese students and even foreign students to pursue studies for such careers and eventually find work in these job sectors.

Nonetheless, in certain circumstances, improving the working conditions and remunera­tions would not be enough to attract more workers as people also care about their social status. Therefore, it is also important, especially in the case of unskilled manual workers, that their image is portrayed in a positive light to help attract new employees.

In certain jobs, such as nursing, it is imperative that we increase the number of native-born Maltese employees and engage foreigners who are able to understand and communicate fluently in English to avoid language barriers.

We live in an interdependent world where the contribution provided by every member in society is crucial for a well-functioning community. No man is an island. Ultimately, we should recognise the fact that essential jobs deserve more favourable working conditions, a more positive working environment and, above all, a pay rise.

Kevin Mercieca has a first degree in social policy and a master of arts in social studies. He is interested in sociological issues, particularly in issues related to population, demography and economic migration.

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