In the study or ethics and morality, there’s a famous “thought experiment” to test a central premise of the utilitarian position that we should act so as to benefit the greatest number. The experiment makes us question ourselves as to whether we’d actually harm some people for the “greater good”. It’s called the “Trolley Dilemma”.
It tells you to imagine a runaway trolley moving down railway tracks. In its path, there are five people tied up and unable to move and the trolley is heading straight for them. Folks are told that they are standing some distance off in the train yard, next to a lever. If they pull this lever, the trolley will switch to a different set of tracks—but will kill one person who is standing on the side track. The people have the option to either do nothing, and allow the trolley to kill the five people on the main track, or pull the lever, diverting the trolley onto the side track where it will kill one person.
The Trolley Dilemma came to your Eyewitness’ mind as the news of the squatters on the GuySuCo/NICIL land at Success on the East Coast of Demerara, unfolded before his eyes, thanks to the power of social media. Here it was that people – most of them quite genuinely in need of somewhere to live – started squatting on some open land at Success. It wasn’t just any old land – it was filled with thousands of varieties of sugar cane that had taken decades to develop and which were crucial to the resuscitation and reopening of Enmore Sugar Estate. Now squatting isn’t anything new in Guyana…it started as far back as Emancipation back in 1838 when some ex-slaves left the plantations and squatted on “Crown Land”. That is, land owned by the State.
But this was obviously against the law…you just can’t up and settle on somebody’s land just like that just because you need a place to build a home. Now, here in modern Guyana, the new Government did better than most: they told the squatters that if they moved, they were assured of getting lots in new housing schemes that would be established.
Most of the squatters accepted the offer, but a few stood their ground. And triggered the Trolley Dilemma.
The officials decided to pull the switch to flood that ground. While it may appear cold…it was necessary for the greater good.
The PPP Government showed they’re serious on the house-lot offer when they unveiled a “Dream Realised” housing initiative at the National Stadium yesterday. They brought together not just employees and officials from the Housing Ministry to help the hundreds who showed up, to fill out their application forms, but also banks and financial agencies that supply loans for housing, Guyana Water Inc, and GPL were also present. It was the “One stop housing” effort President Ali had established when he’d been Minister of Housing a few years ago. He showed he was serious about distributing the 50,000 house-lots he promised during the campaign.
And behind this distribution of house lots the President has already announced that he’s in the process of launching a US$250 million fund to finance the houses that would occupy the 50,000 lots. Can’t get more serious than that, can you? It’s certainly light years ahead of the PNC’s cockamamie promise to build duplexes for folks on the East Bank and East Coast.
They were priced so high at $8M a pop, they’re all unoccupied!
…and prayers to the Mother
For the next nine nights, Hindus will be worshipping God in the form of “Mother”. Isn’t this great? If we want to symbolise “creator” and “sustainer”, what better conceptualisation than that of “mother”?