Safety Nets, not Bedroom Sets.

Second day of the Budget Debate, and more calls for social safety nets. That’s what they should be – safety nets, not bedroom sets.

We dive into water so we can pull a drowning person to safety. Having done that, may the rescued be grateful and perhaps make the effort to learn how to swim in future. Better still, learn lifesaving skills so they can be put to good use if another person needs to be saved, too. Five Infantrymen may risk their lives to rescue a wounded comrade. We could be killed trying to rescue our friend, but we will still try to save him. In these two illustrations, we do not envisage that those rescued would be taking liberties in future by Trapezeignoring safety precautions when around water or ignoring basic battlefield skills in war. High-flying trapeze artists know that there are safety nets below them, which perhaps gives them more confidence to better hone their skills and try more challenging aerial manoeuvres. However, every acrobat trains as though the safety nets are not there. Social safety nets should be deployed in line with the same principle. Rescue, resuscitation, rehabilitation and re-assimilation are key.

Safety nets are actually needed in far wider areas of application than most of us currently imagine. They must be used to catch employers who fail to see the value of having the equivalent of a Nick Vujicic in their outfits. These same employers also miss out on the potential for making the atmosphere at their workplaces far more joyful by having happy staff members who happen to have Down’s Syndrome. By the same token, gender discrimination, indeed, all kinds of discrimination, are practiced by them to their own disadvantage. Unfortunately, the disadvantages to these employers tend to affect a workforce conditioned by years of being trained to be helpless. People are trained to simply give up and sink into despair rather than getting up and trying something on their own. Let the safety nets be emplaced, and let them be enhanced, by all means! While that is being done, let us remember to inculcate discipline and fighting spirit in our people, so that safety nets remain as designed – as safety nets, nothing more. When we become a nation made up of sterner stuff, rules such as those forbidding catering businesses operating out of private homes may be discarded. This is because the people operating those home-based catering enterprises can be relied upon to be responsible enough to faithfully and diligently ensure the highest standards of hygiene and nutrition value when providing catering services.

May level-headedness prevail!

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