Kaieteur News – My Friday column was about an interestingly analytical Facebook post by PNC stalwart James Bond. There is an aspect to that delivery which I think a philosophical mind needs to engage James on.
The main thrust of his articulation was that African Guyanese need to withdraw from public sector jobs and seek endeavours in entrepreneurship. He mentioned occupations in the civil service, police and nursing profession, among others. His contention is that those jobs do not provide its holders with meaningful income.
In one cynical moment, he ridiculed a policeman celebrating his birthday in a big way, saying that he does not know what he is celebrating because police pay is poor. James’ adumbration is contextually positive but philosophically negative. Context is everything in life and James needs to know that ASAP.
In the context of Guyana, he is right. Public service in Guyana does not make for comfortable economic and financial life. I spent 26 consecutive years teaching at UG after studying at three universities including two top global institutions. When my contract was terminated at the end of 2011, my take home pay was $160,000 monthly. My wife spent 14 years at GOINVEST and before that at GUYMIDA, both public sector jobs. Everyone, who knows me, knew I drove a dilapidated RAV 4 for 21 years.
James is right about such income but context comes into play. I will discuss context then leave James with a philosophical note. In terms of context, public service posts and non-entrepreneurial positions are not poor paying occupations in the developed world. On the contrary, people live good economic lives on public service pay and non-entrepreneurial employment in the developed countries and in certain oil-rich Middle East nations and recently in Trinidad.
All my professors in Canada, and I repeat all, had summer homes and top class houses. One evening, our professor, RH Johnson, who taught us the course in Russian Civilisation at MacMaster University, invited the small class to his home. It was certainly not even a lower middle class home but a high bourgeois structure and he spent all his life as a lecturer at MacMaster. That was where his income came from.
Many non-entrepreneurial retirees like professors, army officers, etc., in the developed world have stocks and shares but they bought them from their non-entrepreneurial income. In other words, good salaries enabled that. For years, my wife advised that we should buy some Bank of Guyana bonds but the wish was one thing, the reality was another. That purchase had to come from the ant-like salaries, which we earned as public sector employees.
Teachers, professors, engineers, municipal managers, media editors, army officers, police high command and an ocean of other non-entrepreneurial occupation holders live well in the developed world, especially in Scandinavia. University education is free in Germany so as a government clerk, don’t have to worry how to get money to pay fees.
Now for the philosophical point which needs to be inculcated by all those misguided humans in the world who believe that business investments are what all humans should engage in. There are 7 billion souls in this world and a majority of those folks have a calling that does not involve business and profit-making.
Humans are not one-dimensional in their thoughts. Some people have the calling to teach, others to serve in the army, others to become judges, others to serve humanity through medicine. And the list goes on. It is absolutely definite that many among those 7 billion who do not see business as what they want and that would bring peace of mind. I know that feeling.
My mother-in-law left a large supermarket in Wortmanville/Werk-en-Rust for me and her daughter to take over. It was the only supermarket in those two Georgetown wards. My wife loved her job at GOINVEST and I thought that my calling was to academia and journalism.
I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that had my wife and I chose that venture, it would have been successful and I would not have had to drive a cork-ball RAV 4. James became a lawyer, taught by professors who will retire and not even have one percent of the income that rich business folks have.
What would become of civilisation if all humans had one overriding instinct and one compelling vision – to earn profits from business? I believe a substantial number of people in that 7 billion want to live comfortably, provide for their children, then live within their means. I believe they do not want to be super billionaires. I believe it is a mind like that, that has held civilisation together for thousands of years. Money is good but peace of mind keeps civilisation intact. (The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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