Debono Grech’s Freudian slip

The staggering amount of Labour voters who believe Labour has nothing to apologise for, follows the way of thinking of the unrepentant thief – the bad one, not the one glorified by Joe Debono Grech

“In the times of the Nationalists’ corruption we got nothing, but at least we got something from our corruption’,” Joe Debono Grech said to raucous applause. “Christ had two thieves... we’re with the good thief.”
“In the times of the Nationalists’ corruption we got nothing, but at least we got something from our corruption’,” Joe Debono Grech said to raucous applause. “Christ had two thieves... we’re with the good thief.”

Joe Debono Grech’s outburst about Labour being the good thief as in the Crucifixion narrative is not just a silly outburst by a loud-mouth.

First of all, it reveals that Debono Grech himself is not comfortable with the corruption that went on under the Muscat administrations and felt compelled to invent a warped comparison that supposedly put Labour in a better light. Some would consider his words as being an interesting Freudian slip.

It is in fact a simple version of the idea that once you accept that all politicians are corrupt – and equally so – people should opt for the political party that simply gives them the hope to keep up with the pace with which they have progressed and raised their standard of living. This is nonsense, of course. The material advances that many have enjoyed under the last two Labour administrations did not depend on the corruption that was going on: corruption to the extent that the state itself – under Joseph Muscat’s leadership – was completely tainted with it.

The idea that so long as one is better off materially, there is no problem with politicians in power stealing an incredibly large slice of the national cake, has gained ground. This idea is the anathema of democracy in which the people are expected to rein in the excesses of politicians.

I have no problem with people voting Labour because they believe the country will be better off under a Labour administration, but I cannot stomach the idea that the voter should ignore corruption as an electoral issue because “there is always corruption, whoever is in government”. Yet – as we have seen over and over again – the majority of voters do not consider corruption as an electoral issue. Debono Grech’s icing on the cake was, of course, unnecessary.

Secondly, Debono Grech misses completely the point of the difference between the two criminals that were crucified with Christ. In one version of the story, we read about the ‘bad’ thief mocking Jesus with the ‘good’ thief, rebuking him while admitting his own misdeeds. He then asks Jesus to welcome him into His kingdom, which Jesus acknowledges with a positive reply.

In Maltese we use the adjectives ‘good’ and ‘bad’ to differentiate between the two criminals. In the Orthodox religion the so-called ‘good’ thief is described as the ‘wise’ thief. But the real difference between the two is that one of the thieves was repentant while the other remained unrepentant even as he was dying.

The repentant thief on the cross was a criminal guilty of his crimes but – unlike the so-called ‘bad’ thief – he understood and confessed that he was a criminal who deserved to be punished for his crimes.

The so-called ‘good’ thief was not even some sort of Robin Hood, stealing the rich to give to the poor while pocketing much more for himself. He was just a scoundrel who realised just before his death that what he had been doing all his life was wrong and repented.

This is where Debono Grech’s allegory fails miserably.

Prime Minister Robert Abela, on Monday, condemned the comparison made by Debono Grech when he likened the Labour Party to the good thief, saying: “This is why the PL has renewed itself… to eliminate such language.” Asked whether he was the ‘good thief or the bad thief’, the Prime Minister just replied: “I am no thief.”

But is that good enough? Hardly.

Has Labour renewed itself without showing any repentance on the corruption that took place under Muscat’s watch? Do Robert Abela’s hollow promises on good governance amount to a clear admission of Labour’s guilt? Has Labour bothered to make at least a perfunctory apology for its misdeeds? Not even that.

What is even worse is the staggering amount of Labour voters who believe that Labour has nothing to apologise for. This follows the way of thinking of the unrepentant thief – the bad one, not the one glorified by Debono Grech.

Price increases on the cards

According to FAO, the world will be facing a food crisis with prices soaring and crops at risk due to the war in Ukraine.

In many countries prices of consumer goods have already increased as a result of the COVID pandemic causing a supply-chain gridlock. But the war in Ukraine will bring about new price increases. Expect these price increases especially in fuel and food to start hitting Malta after the election is over in a week’s time

The food that will see the biggest impact from the war in Ukraine are bread, pasta and cereals; fried foods such as crisps; and meat

A shortage of wheat is on the cards since almost a third of the world’s wheat is supplied by Russia and Ukraine where ports are closed and infrastructure is in chaos, apart from the fact that farmers in Ukraine are unable to plant their crops.

Shortages or cost increases of wheat mean a serious impact on essential food items such as bread, pasta and cereals.

The EU imports around 200,000 tonnes of Ukrainian sunflower oil every month. This supply is under threat. The planting season is likely to be affected by the conflict, and with fewer people working the land, the supply of sunflower oil is no longer reliable. Sunflower oil is often used in the production of fried snacks like crisps and producers will have to raise their prices for such items.

Corn or maize is another staple food item commonly grown in Ukraine and Russia. As the fourth and fifth largest corn exporters, together they make up around a fifth of the total world exports of this crop.

Corn has many uses that go beyond being an important ingredient of human food. It has a big impact on the cost of meat production as it is used as animal feed and price hikes of corn will lead to increases in the price of meat.

With such a potential shortage looming and the cost of living on the rise, reducing food waste has never been more important. A fifth of all the food produced in Europe is thought to be wasted and everybody should try to cut down on left-overs that we throw away.