Tyrome Biggums the crackhead, from the Dave Chappelle Show. I got the DVD at that place under Crescat
Sri Lanka is a poor country where people think the government is rich. It is completely respectable to be on the government dole your entire life – study, go to University, get a government job, die in a government hospital. Beyond respectable, it’s an ideal career path. This mindset is fundamentally feudal, where someone powerful simply gives you what you need. Queen Bandaranaike doesn’t help in this department. Unfortunately there isn’t that much to give. Sri Lanka is ghetto. Instead of prosperity all we get is crack cocaine. 40,000 useless government jobs for graduates is crack. The JVP’s 10,000 tanks program is crack. Tsunami relief without land is crack. These politicians sell us crack and drive around in brand new Pajeros.
And we love them. Crack feels great, especially right before an election. It sounds great too, the politicians get to be like, ‘You’ll feel like you’re flying and forget all your problems’. Meanwhile reformists are like, ‘Uh, we have to close your school. Look at this graph.’ The UNP made some tough reforms and bought a TV. Finally had a TV in this damn house. Then the SLFP and JVP sold that shit to buy more crack. Unfortunately, crack is only good for like 5 minutes. If the government keeps giving out fake jobs and quick-fix investments then Sri Lanka can’t build any infrastructure for its children. We’re spending all our money on crack and our schools are falling apart. All that’s left for the next generation is a burnt spoon and unpaid bills.
Tsunami relief is the worst example – every day we cart water and food to the refugee camps, but the government hasn’t allocated any land for them to start real lives. GoSL doesn’t even have to do anything, if they would just stop banning shit people would move back within the 100 meters. As it is thousands of people are addicted to government support, and Queen B gets to tuck in her sari lumps and meet Bill Clinton. Somebody is freebasing prime beachfront property and loving it. Meanwhile we got kids growing up in tents.
The thing is that people in the suburbs aren’t as easily enticed by crack. Maybe ’cause they have a lawn and no roaches in their breakfast cereal, but they’re able to actually improve their neighborhoods and their kids can have a better life. There’s a certain threshold where you can use the Welfare State to keep power. The worst example is Mugabe’s Zimbabwe where the Zanu PF = Food. It doesn’t seem to work as well in the First World. If people aren’t living hand-to-mouth they can make a little sacrifice to build something solid. The problem is that the poorest of the poor need their lives to get better now. As Thimal says,
The percentage of people living below the poverty line in SL, they say, is 22%. When one considers that the last election decided the current government by a margin of 8% of the vote, welfare is used as a political tool. We don’t have the money, I agree. We have serious economic issues, I agree completely. We don’t have the money to sustain full welfare benefits across the board. Perhaps we never did. But the fact of the matter is, no government is ever going to be elected by promising to scrap welfare. Sustainable, it is not. Rational, it is not. But that isn’t going to stop anyone from promising and spending on it. People expect The Man to help them out.
The Pusherman, that’s who. As long as people can’t get a basic standard of living together, they’ll fall prey to short-term fixes that just trash the neighborhood. Long-term reforms involve sacrifice and hard-work from every Sri Lankan. Prosperity isn’t something anyone can give us, it is something that we have to make it. The government doesn’t have prosperity. The World Bank doesn’t have prosperity. Sri Lankans have to work hard and then maybe our kids can see prosperity. But how do you tell that to someone living in a tent with 15 other people? That person needs relief now, and the politicians will give it. Unfortunately, that quick-fix is no better for Sri Lanka than crack cocaine.