On the eve of the 2017 election Joseph Muscat wanted to scare us all with the prospect of re-election of the PN to government. The context was a Saviour Balzan interview he was giving on TV where he’s being challenged about retaining Keith Schembri. Lawrence Gonzi, Joseph Muscat reminds us, appointed a — skużi — social worker as his chief of staff. Jaqq.
The implication was obvious. A social worker is concerned with the vulnerable in our society. They would be concerned with income inequalities, fair re-distribution of wealth, restraint on the pursuit of profit in order to reach back to those falling behind. These notions are abominable.
Joseph Muscat’s counter-offer was his own chief of staff. A businessman who understands the needs of business, who finds solutions for businesses slowed down by barriers to their ambitions, who untangles the restraints and ensures developers and investors are given free rein.
There was no talk of a sensitivity to environmental challenges there. There was no talk of sensitivity to human dignity, to workers’ rights, to social inclusion and fairness. On the contrary the very idea was mocked.
Watch the clip.
Now, two years and a bit later, we can all see where this libertarianism, this worship of unrestrained pursuit of profit, this complete stripping of any hint of social consideration has taken us.
It’s not just that Joseph Muscat says he’s socialist when he’s clearly anything but. That’s really his and his party’s problem.
It’s that profit without ethics is a monstrosity. There is no doubt we need investors and developers and entrepreneurs to engender prosperity in our country and we need a government that understands that. But if that’s all a government needs to do, then we don’t need a government at all and we can let our country be run from the boardroom at Portomaso.
We need a government to make sure no one is left behind and that, clearly, is an exercise in redistribution and in restraint of the pursuit of profit. In other words a social worker as chief of staff of the prime minister would never have landed us in the sort of mess Keith Schembri has.
Overpowering greed does not come naturally to social workers.