The “Committees” refuse to sacrifice their comfort zone, yet keep complaining about the status quo. This glaring paradox begs the following question: “What are the “Committees” fussing about if they’re resisting the change?”

They’re complaining about public sector corruption, the “meddling” of the state in their relations with employees, the ongoing strikes, the teachers who know little and deliver little, the organization of the foreign labor force and the call, the mere call, for comprehensive health-care coverage and a fair taxation system that guarantees social solidarity. They’re complaining about talks, mere talks, suggesting that the so-called construction boom is no boom and certainly not something to take pride in.

The “Committees” do have a point when they pinpoint the cost and the wretched situation of public schooling as well as the health bill and the physical and mental conditions of the Lebanese. However, they do not show earnest willingness to explore feasible, objective and scientific solutions because that would inflict higher costs on them. Hence, they opt to continue taking advantage of what is public to serve their private interests, especially since the current state of affairs is working in their favor.

If we dissect the “Committees” into individuals or families, bashing them as being “heartless and conscienceless vampires and thieves”, seems to be a somewhat unfair stereotyping by the masses protesting on the streets. The theory of the 1% against the 99% would then fall apart and become harder to defend based on facts. After all, they too, are human beings who have children and grand children to worry about, and contrary to popular belief, they are just as concerned as everybody else is about the state of the country. But can’t public or private employees still ask why their salaries weren’t raised in parallel with the increased prices? Why isn’t everybody entitled to social security according to the law? Why don’t the rich pay fair taxes? Why is there encroachment on coastal properties? Why is there a conflict of interests between public and private sectors? Can’t they ask about emigration and displacement and question the state of our roads, water, electricity and waste management? And why weren’t teachers trained enough to achieve competence? Why did fraudulent practices slip unpunished? And do those who squandered public funds qualify to point fingers at corrupt employees or incompetent teachers?

What we witness today is a confrontation between employees feeling utterly wronged, “Committees” turning a cold shoulder to the current state of the country and a slew of politicians failing to live up to their duties. This, of course, is a typical recipe to breed violence and disorder, or at best, idleness and floppiness. Hereby, well-off people who can see the reality and have the fear of wasting their businesses and most importantly have enough dignity and responsibility to care about the community at large shall announce openly:

  • We are at full readiness to pay taxes and to contribute to a comprehensive health coverage
  • We take no pride in exploiting workers from Palestine, Syria, Lebanon or Sri Lanka
  • We are ashamed of our extravagant unproductive lifestyle and of stalling in paying our employees
  • “Yes” to a productive economy
  • “Yes” to social solidarity

“I paid a lower percentage of my taxable income than anybody else in this office… Stop coddling us, the ultrarich, and let’s pay higher taxes…” said Warren Buffet, an American business magnate and the third richest man in the world in 2008, with a fortune estimated at USD 44 billion.

I doubt that any member of the “Committees” is smarter or wealthier or has stronger faith in capitalism than Buffet. So shall we accept being branded as less humane and less patriotic too?

Ratification of the proposed pay scale won’t solve the matter, because what we are facing today is a question of identity. A question of who we are, how have we become what we are and which nation are we building?

Let’s then cry it out loud. We, the 1%, are willing to set an example for the younger generations, and you, Warren Buffet, put us all to shame.

* Committees: A lobby of Lebanese businessmen

Jawad N. Adra