Hailing a true democracy sharing wealth equitably

By the way, the Commission has already warned us to change to non-discriminatory subsidies and use them to repay debt. Discriminatory subsidies ensure that the assistance reaches the intended beneficiaries


Going through annals of history, we meet famous philosophers that have left us beads of wisdom for mankind to emulate and revere.  In ancient times, one cannot miss the name Solon who stands as a beacon of wisdom and justice.

This Greek philosopher, poet, and lawmaker of the 6th century BC Athens laid the groundwork for many principles that continue to shape modern society.   Among his enduring contributions, Solon's ideas on democracy, the rule of law, and his insights into economic and moral issues remain remarkably relevant in our contemporary world. This article delves into how Solon's legacy resonates with the challenges and complexities of our times.

At a time when Athens was marred by social inequality, corruption, nepotism and political strife, Solon devised a set of constitutional reforms that aimed to establish a fairer system of governance. His ideas laid the foundation for Athenian democracy, which has since inspired democratic movements worldwide. Back to modern times, where power in most countries rests in the elected party (of a coalition of parties) for the electoral term, this may lead to abuse of democratic powers and breed insipid arrogance. 

Some democracies have important landmarks consisting of mid-term elections eg USA, but this system is not popular in Europe. Whether it is a full five years or mid-term of two years, there is nothing to stop lawmakers from respecting desires of the polis. The concept that power rests with the people seems to morph once elected candidates smell power in the air.  

Moreover, contemporary democracies face their own set of challenges. Issues like voter suppression, misinformation, populism and polarization have raised questions about the health and sustainability of democratic systems.

Solon's emphasis on broad-based participation and the rule of law serves as a reminder of the need for inclusivity and accountability in modern democracies. His commitment to the rule of law was instrumental in restoring order to Athens. He introduced a legal code that treated all citizens equally, regardless of their wealth or social status.

This noble principle remains at the heart of modern legal systems, where justice is supposed to be blind and impartial.  Gone are the abuses of power where elected cabinet members lord over state assets and abusively share some of them among nieces and nephews not to mention handpicked property moguls who on the theme of beautifying the country, exploit ODZ plots and issue building permits over sensitive areas eg like building 27 apartments close to a world heritage site in Gozo.

The executive and police have to protect citizens enjoy serenity and the rule of law.  In young democracies, all this sounds Utopian. Issues like corruption, political interference, and the erosion of civil liberties crack the foundations of justice.

Solon's unwavering dedication to upholding the law underscores the importance of an independent judiciary and the need to protect the rule of law from undue influence and lack of resources. Solon's economic reforms in Athens sought to alleviate the suffering of the poor and reduce disparities between the rich and the impoverished.

He cancelled debts, abolished debt slavery, and implemented measures to prevent the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few in the Senate. Solon recognized that a just society could not flourish without economic fairness and good governance (undue enrichment must stop).

In modern times, economic inequality is a pressing issue. Income disparities, access to good education, and concentration of wealth in a few families continue to challenge our society.  Solon's commitment to economic fairness reminds us of the importance of policies that promote equity and inclusivity, such as progressive taxation, social safety nets, fully accessible education, the right for a good health and welfare network.

Dreamers hope that all this succeeds to activate the trickle-down mechanism so that the one per cent in society who possess most wealth, can equitably share it with the rest.

Can we now consider how locally, a hidden tax has eroded the value of money and no amount of COLA instalments can fight the soaring cost of living? Inflation is the silent killer omnipresent on the mid-income citizens. There are several ways in which inflation can be labelled as a hidden tax.

To start with the obvious symptoms are a reduced Purchasing Power. This means consumers can buy fewer goods and services with the same amount of money. It can be seen as a silent tax because the plebs effectively have to spend more to maintain their previous standard of living.

But the finance minister went shouting over the roof tops saying that no new taxes were loaded in the fancy red box. Banks are the only bodies churning out super profits this year: while some of them do not share the bounty by increasing rates for depositors or dividends to shareholders.  Again, inflation erodes the real value of savings. This can be especially problematic for retirees or people on fixed incomes as they struggle to maintain their standard of living.

Although this sounds anathema to the boffins in Castille, one decrees a lost opportunity in the 2024 budget to introduce a selective cut in consumer taxes and giving tax credits to food importers to nip the problem in the bud. By reducing taxes on items like food, medicine, and essential services, the government can ensure that these items remain affordable for the majority of the population.

The wholesale direct subsidy of one million euro credited daily to Enemalta (a company partially owned by Chinese investors) and Enemed (a monopoly responsible for fuel distribution and sales) may be a bellwether for state companies. Published accounts are three years in arrears.

But such non-discretionary subsidies for the past three years ignore the fact that the rich gain in cheap energy as much as the plebs (although the latter do not afford luxury yachts, heavy SUVs or heated swimming pools which guzzle cheap energy).

By the way, the Commission has already warned us to change to non-discriminatory subsidies and use them to repay debt. Discriminatory subsidies ensure that the assistance reaches the intended beneficiaries.

Last though not least, the Central Bank can also play a crucial role in controlling inflation through monetary policy. If budget policies succeed to attract multi-nationals, REITS or fabless units in the microchip sphere, then such acquired wealth can absorb part of inflationary pressures. 

More in People