Sadly our governments are sometimes unable or unwilling to do what they should be doing. Locally there have been numerous examples of government’s failure to carry out its mandate for the benefit of its citizens. One recent example is the deterioration in the country’s power grid and Eskom’s inability to provide reliable power to residents of the Western Cape. Another example is the way our government is handling the AIDS crisis and the Health Minister’s pronouncements regarding vegetables.
It seems to me that while our government has accomplished quite a bit, its members are getting a little too caught up in their own self-interests to the detriment of the rest of us. I see no reason why we should have to pay our teachers, nurses and police such lousy salaries and subject them to the terrible conditions many of them must put up with each day while the government spends billions on military hardware. Money is not being spent where it is really needed and it should be. Eskom allowed its infrastructure to deteriorate to the point where we have become accustomed to blackouts for hours at a time. Why is the government not taking advantage of alternative energy sources and why did it not begin upgrading our struggling infrastructure years ago? I was driving back from a holiday at the coast a few years ago and saw vast tracts of uninhabited land some distance from any town that had almost constant sunlight and which could arguably become sites for large solar panel farms.
What about installing wind turbines in our windier cities and cultivating more farm land to grown fuel for ethanol processes? Why are we paying around R7.00 for a litre of petrol (sure it will go down next week but will rise soon enough) when we could be moving across to alternative fuels and paying far less?
It seems to me that our government is either unable or unwilling to do what must be done and it falls to us to take care of these things ourselves. This is an opportunity for private businesses and individuals to take steps to protect our futures and our wallets. Why not investigate solar energy technologies or look into bio-diesel for your vehicles instead of regular diesel?
There are public-private partnerships designed to assist the police (the Rosebank police station is a good example) and there must be initiatives that can be launched to help develop our teachers and nurses (among other vital people in our society) and make their lives that must easier and more rewarding. There is way too much focus on higher power people and not nearly enough emphasis on the people who really matter. I often think back to my last firm when the candidate attorneys used to go on study leave to write their board exams. Without them, most of the more senior attorneys struggled because they had come to rely on their apprentices so heavily that when they were gone, the wheels came off. When you think about who is important, consider what happens if the refuse collectors go on strike or if there isn’t a teacher for your child.
The point is there are things we can do to address many of the issues we face and which our government is not addressing and at least make our lives and the lives of those around us that much easier.
Looking around on the blogosphere I can see that I am not alone. Take a look at Ernie the Attorney’s thoughts on doing things yourself and not waiting for the government in the context of Katrina and future catastrophes.