The Grenville Phillips Column – When They Fail, We Suffer
Our elected politicians are supposed to represent us. When they fail in that primary duty, then the rest of us must suffer – grievously. However, we do not simply suffer the damaging consequences. We must also be over-taxed, not to pay to permanently fix the problems that were created by their failures, or to only maintain the high-maintenance environment created by their incompetence, but rather, to try to slow the slide into eventual ruin.
In the mid 1980’s, many boys were leaving secondary school with no evidence of having attended. They had no legitimate marketable skills and started forming gangs. Our politicians were warned about the emerging gang activity and were asked to do something about it. Their response was to publicly announce that there were no gangs in Barbados.
The obvious solution was to modify the secondary school curriculum to allow all of our students to leave school with at least one marketable skill, so that they would have an alternative to trading in illegal drugs. However, neither the BLP nor DLP administrations were willing to make the necessary changes. Over 30 years later, the school curriculum still does not allow all of our students to leave school with marketable skills. Therefore, gangs have a ready supply of new recruits.
In the early 1990’s, guns started flowing in to support the illegal drug trade, and shootings were becoming frequent. Our politicians were warned about the increasing gun violence and Barbadians pleaded with them to do something about it. The callous response was that it was simply criminals shooting each-other, or gang-on-gang violence.
The obvious solution was to charge all persons involved in the illegal distribution of a gun with the same offense as the final user. Therefore, the importer, distributor, seller, and renter should all be charged with: murder, manslaughter, attempted murder, rape, theft, threats, illegal possession, or whatever the final user was charged with. Neither the BLP nor DLP administrations would implement this effective deterrent. Instead, the guns flowed in, gun violence increased dramatically, and the innocent are being killed.
Near the late 1990’s, the problems with residential construction quality were getting out of control. The Government was warned about the wave of substandard houses being constructed that were unlikely to survive an earthquake. Fortuitously, the easy-to-understand Barbados National Building Code was published in 1993. The obvious solution was to make compliance with the structural requirements of the Building Code a condition of Planning approval.
Both BLP and DLP administrations chose not to protect homeowners in this manner. Thousands of substandard houses have subsequently been constructed in Barbados. Inexcusably, the Government decided to withdraw the only building standard for residential construction, resulting in Barbados being perhaps the only nation on Earth that does not provide any sort of structural building guidance to residential contractors. Thus, the Government is ensuring that most residential contractors unintentionally build only high-maintenance tombs for unsuspecting homeowners.
By the mid 1990’s, we were approaching the 40% of GDP debt limit. The IMF warned us that this limit should never be crossed, otherwise a most harsh austerity would be required. Yet, the BLP crossed this limit and plunged Barbados into an unsustainable debt. The BLP took Barbados’ national debt to an irresponsible and unsustainable 90% GDP. The DLP provided perhaps the worst possible response to our debt situation, allowing it to balloon to an irresponsible and unsustainable 150% GDP.
The obvious solution would be to simply respect the debt limit or bring the national debt back to the safety of below 40% GDP as soon as possible. Instead, both the BLP and DLP administrations allowed the national debt to balloon out of control.
Over the past 5 years, in a moment of sheer lunacy, many Barbadians provided children with tablets and smart phones with Internet access, where they can watch other children being repeatedly raped.
Our elected representatives are preparing to allow cell phones in our schools, which will allow widespread distribution of pornography among our children. The increase in abortions, STDs, rapes, kidnappings, murders, low productivity, etc are foreseen. The obvious solution is to block pornography as a default. As expected, this solution is being ignored by our representatives – so, once again, we will have to pay a most heavy price for the foreseen consequences.
At this time in our history, we should be more mature in our approach to solving problems. Our elected politicians tend to ignore problems until they are completely unmanageable. When the harmful consequences are plainly obvious and are publicised, then they tend to blame parents, the private sector, the Church, and even God, for not doing enough, but they never blame themselves.
Watching the country being run this way is very frustrating – but it is the system that we must accept. The only hope for Barbados is for voters to finally realise that both established parties have no actual solutions by the time the next general election is called, and to look for a competent alternative. Solutions Barbados is that competent alternative.