Sadly, more people are living in fear and in substandard living conditions in East Port of Spain and Laventille today than 20 or 30 years ago.
This unfortunate reality has come about in spite of a heavy concentration of welfare dollars via social programmes such as the URP, Food Card Programme, CEPEP, Targeted Conditional Cash Transfer Programme and other make work programmes.
These programmes all seek to undo the consequences of poor individual moral choices. For poor moral choices typically precede poor personal financial outcomes in the long run. These poor moral choices include casual, unprotected premarital sex and apathy towards educational attainment, deferred gratification and hard work.
Under normal circumstances the negative consequences of poor moral choices would form disincentives to ill-advised choices, yet government assistance has now made poor choices eligible criteria for assistance; thereby mitigating the negative repercussions that normally would discourage such behaviour.
Ironically, the more poor mistakes are made, the more compelling case for government assistance.
Meanwhile; years of politicians / bureaucrats seeking photo opportunities to appear self righteous with other peoples money and opportunities and to validate the establishment of "Programmes" through which tax dollars can be siphoned away corruptly have had disastrous consequences.
These programmes have crippled many in these communities and conditioned them to believe as residents of Laventille they are incapable and helpless, requiring government to be their primary provider of jobs, housing, food and recreation -thereby creating a vicious cycle of dependency.
According to Robert Lupton author of Toxic charity
1.Give once and you elicit appreciation;
2.Give twice and you create anticipation;
3.Give three times and you create expectation;
4.Give four times and it becomes entitlement;
5.Give five times and you establish dependency
Communities in Laventille and other poverty stricken communities have long entered into the dependency phase of this destructive spiral.
Although eliminating public assistance may strike some as cruel and heartless even more unkind is perpetuating destructive intergenerational poverty and indignity.