The George Brathwaite Column – Let’s Wake the Sleeping Giant!

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart

This week’s article will hopefully wake the sleeping giant whose relaxation is fast becoming our peril. The nation must challenge the Prime Minister to come to the rescue, do what is right, and to maximise his time left in office. The Freundel Stuart-led Cabinet should also be more mindful of their words and actions. From where I sit, things have reached an alarming low, with the political rhetoric from even Prime Minister Stuart scraping the bottom while forgetting that the national discourse from our leaders can shape important aspects of social and economic development. Perhaps against his own intent or sense of nationhood, Prime Minister Stuart prefers to be reactive to criticism instead of being proactive in governing.

For at least the past seven years, it appears that the current executive arm of government is hell-bent on spreading seeds of divisiveness throughout the society. There is the repeated tearing down of people who present themselves as being oppositional or willing to offer an alternative view on how governance ought to be approached in Barbados. That said, there are numerous things that are most bothering to Barbadians even as a general election approaches.

Certainly, the Barbados society can hardly be said to better off today than it was prior to the loose spinning out of a mantra that said Barbados is more than an economy, it is a society. As noble as the refrain may sound coming from the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), at a time when Barbadians felt it was better to change a government that had performed beyond any in the last 30 years, the DLP regrettably stumbled from one set of platitudes about self, to undermining the unity and progress which previously mapped Barbados’ socio-economic development.

A recent report emerging from the University of the West Indies (UWI), is showing that poverty has increased in Barbados with ‘an increase in overall poverty of 2.4 per cent’. This situation is characterised by the fact that ‘17.5 per cent of the population’ is currently living in poverty; this statistic is up from the 15.1 per cent recorded in 2010. Qualitatively, ‘poverty is rising because extreme poor are going into non-extreme poor and the vulnerable have fallen into poverty’. Consider for a moment the many complaints being expressed in Barbados on gun-related violence, the high murder rate, the deviance being seen by both our young men and women, and the fact that the educational system is placing greater pressures on our teachers and families. A summary statement would indicate that the DLP has failed miserably on its premier policy direction.

Has the country paused to really figure out why is it that there are so many willing candidates to contest the next general elections? Several of these men and women are not inclined to join the ranks of the two major political parties, but have stated their desire to capture the imagination of the wider Barbados. Quite frankly, their success is very much in doubt, but what it does suggest, that there is a definite decline and apathetic concern that have triggered them to participate more directly in the issues concerning Barbados. This emergent political passage, is of itself a fight for the preservation of democracy and one that would hopefully give voice to many of the voiceless persons in Barbados.

As stated up front, the DLP has been most bellicose whenever alternative viewpoints have been expressed by members of the public. Whenever critics indicate, for one reason or another, that the DLP’s ways are flawed or will not net the desired results, they are labelled fearmongers, enemies of the state, and preachers of gloom and doom. How ludicrous! This is our Barbados in the same way that it belongs to those who sit in Cabinet and Parliament. The notion of a divided Barbados takes increasing relevance when Prime Minister Stuart knowingly stirs up mischief by throwing claims of conservatism and elitism into the open, while being dismissive of the constitutive efforts of all shades and classes of building the parties, and more importantly, directing post-colonial and post-independence developments in Barbados.

Furthermore, a study of social and identity politics reveals that domains of insecurity that arise from institutional and political reactions to a perceived threat, will always derail the best of intentions and the very safe ground to which the nation aspires. In that statement, resides the nucleus of the problem beleaguering this current DLP. It presents a rationale for the desperate and obtrusive rhetoric that has been blind-siding almost every policy measure the Stuart-led Cabinet has introduced. Put differently, the very notion of pathways to progress and the implemented policies of the DLP to reshape the Barbados society and grow the economy, have suffered from the dismissive tones and contradictory actions by the likes of Stuart, Sinckler, Kellman, Lowe, Jones, Inniss, the Lashley opposites and most others. Trust and credibility cannot be attached to the working of the present government for both known and unknown reasons.

For example, Barbadians were told among many other things that the VAT would be increased from 15 to 17. 5 per cent for a fixed period; what has happened since that time has elapsed? We were told that a National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) would be introduced and set at 2 per cent and the gains would go towards healthcare and supplying the Sanitation Services Authority (SSA) with trucks so that Barbadians can have their garbage collected in a timely and appropriate manner; what has happened with those revenues and where are the trucks? We have heard the Commerce Minister speak repeatedly on the ease of doing business for both locals and our international interests; what has been done to improve the situation?

The plain truth is that there is a long list of discordant and contradictory rhetoric by the DLP when compared to their actions. These typical discursive practices – social actions occurring in everyday practices but which largely arise, implicitly or explicitly, from political and institutionalised statements being enunciated – spell disaster for Barbados’ governance. It cannot be satisfying that Barbadians everywhere are buckling under the pressures of high taxation and austere conditions, and the best that the administration can do is to say that all is fine and dandy, just block out the voices and concerns of those that do not agree with the DLP Cabinet’s programs.

That very discursive process being followed by Stuart and the DLP is drawing on the weaknesses they have already created. It is through an intersubjective understanding of the socially constructed panic, poverty, and hopelessness that is being felt by many in the Barbados society, that one can fairly conclude that the DLP has failed the Barbados nation. If as Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has said that his Cabinet and parliamentarians: “Want to create a Barbados that is socially balanced, economically viable, environmentally sound, and characterised by good governance,” then surely, he must take responsibility for his Cabinet’s wobbles and fiascos. To date, these have amounted to numerous dislocations and much disconcerting behaviour being exhibited in many sectors across the nation. It is time to wake the sleeping giant!

(Dr George C. Brathwaite is a political consultant. Email: brathwaitegc@gmail.com)

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85 Comments on “The George Brathwaite Column – Let’s Wake the Sleeping Giant!”

  1. millertheanunnaki September 29, 2017 at 5:33 PM #

    @ chad99999 September 29, 2017 at 2:42 PM
    Barbados is actually still the best governed island in the English-speaking Caribbean, much better behaved than the black people in the rest of the English-speaking Caribbean or the black people of Haiti.

    Chaddie, you just might be having a bit of a challenge with the conjugation of verbs.
    Just use the past tense (was) and leave out the adverb “still” and you might just be presenting a more up-to-date description of modern Bajans living on the coral island called the “Rock”.

    How can a people be described as “much better behaved” in light of the evidence that a massive slice of the country’s GDP is spent in ‘educating’ its population but the nasty dirty habits of littering and indiscriminate dumping is still endemic among its population and even reinforced in official quarters by the blatant refusal to enforce the legislation long placed on the statute books?

    How can you describe ‘good behaviour’ the act of indiscriminate dumping and polluting the same water you depend on for your very existence on a coral island?

    Book learning and an oversupply of paper qualifications might have come through the door to too many Bajan households but it seems commonsense, hard-work and competence have jumped through the windows.

    Where is the ROI other than in the production of modern-day slaves who think that the sight of abandoned and derelict vehicles on the streets and overgrown lots is a mark of development?

    What about the coconut shells left along the so-called highways for days on end to provide the perfect receptacle for mosquitoes to breed and compromise the health of the people?

    John might have a point in arguing that blacks in Barbados were “much better behaved” when they instructed to do as told by the Bajan white plantocratic and mercantile classes with the support of the clergy and the Quaker society for the propagation of gospel that ‘cleanliness is next to godliness.

    All you have to look at the rundown state of the many plantations and collapsing roads around Barbados compared to what the National Geographic Magazine described in the 1940’s as a tropical garden in an English countryside.

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  2. chad99999 September 29, 2017 at 5:49 PM #

    MNK

    Everything is relative.

    Jamaica, Trinidad, Grenada and Antigua are full of litter and filth. I haven’t been to Guyana or St. Lucia or St. Kitts, so I don’t have direct evidence to cite for those places, but I am pretty sure only Bermuda, the Caymans and parts of the Bahamas are cleaner and neater than Barbados.

    Like

  3. millertheanunnaki September 29, 2017 at 6:27 PM #

    @ chad99999 September 29, 2017 at 5:49 PM

    We are comparing Barbados today with Barbados when commonsense was King and the country was properly managed by competent people most of them with only a 7th standard education to ‘brag’ about compared to the possessors of the worthless output from the paper qualification mill passing for “an” university on the Hill.

    So if Barbados is to be compared, then do it against a country with a similar cultural and political history like Bermuda. However I would guard against that given the advice contained below:

    “…If you compare yourself with others,
    you may become vain or bitter, for always
    there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself ….”

    Maybe Bajans can take some comfort and hope from their past:

    “When this fair land was young
    Our brave forefathers sowed the seed
    From which our pride is sprung
    A pride that makes no wanton boast
    Of what it has withstood
    That binds our hearts from coast to coast
    The pride of nationhood.”

    Like

  4. Well Well & Consequences Observing Blogger. September 29, 2017 at 6:45 PM #

    Chadster is vain and bitter, jumping from link to link trying to provoke a reaction for his ignorance…dont get worse than that.

    Like

  5. Tron September 29, 2017 at 7:18 PM #

    Barbados is STILL better than Haiti. LOL.

    Like

  6. Chad99999 September 29, 2017 at 7:26 PM #

    WW&C

    Are you describing yourself?

    Like

  7. Well Well & Consequences Observing Blogger. September 29, 2017 at 7:34 PM #

    Have nothing to be vain about, bitter about or no reason to look down on others…

    …….that is all you Chadster, don’t try to involve me in ya mess..

    Like

  8. David September 30, 2017 at 3:35 AM #

    Rawdon Adams returns to Barbados as CEO of Bitt Inc
    LOOP NEWS CREATED : 29 SEPTEMBER 2017 BUSINESS Rawdon Adams, son of Barbados’ second Prime Minister, The Right Honorable Tom Adams, is an accomplished finance professional with over 24 years of Fortune 500 and start-up experience.
    Rawdon Adams, son of Barbados’ second Prime Minister, The Right Honorable Tom Adams, is an accomplished finance professional with over 24 years of Fortune 500 and start-up experience.

    Share to FacebookShare to TwitterShare to LinkedInShare to WhatsAppShare to Facebook MessengerShare to EmailShare to TelegramShare to More
    Rawdon JH Adams has been appointed as Chief Executive Officer of Bitt Inc.

    He will lead the company as it accelerates the evolution of the financial ecosystem in the Caribbean, the company said in an announcement this evening. Adams will also join the company’s board of directors.

    “Bitt is ready to rescue the region from the constraints of traditional business and banking – and Rawdon has the full confidence of the board, Bitt’s investors and Bitt’s team to take us there,” stated Peter George, Chairman of Bitt and head of Avatar Capital, Bitt’s initial, outside investor.

    Adams, an accomplished finance professional with over 24 years of Fortune 500 and start-up experience, is intimately familiar with the local and regional market. His family roots in the Caribbean run deep: he is the son of Barbados’ second Prime Minister, The Right Honorable Tom Adams, and the grandson of Sir Grantley Adams, the sole Premier of the West Indies Federation.

    Adams said “It’s a tremendous opportunity to be involved in the Bitt mission. The focus on increasing financial inclusion and creating the tools that will help regional companies better compete on the global stage is inspiring. The company has visionary founders, a great team and committed investors – a super combination. I’m very excited to be joining them.”

    “Bitt, which has its roots as a Barbados-based FinTech start-up, will benefit from Rawdon’s experience – and will further thrive under his stewardship,” said Dr Patrick Byrne, CEO of Overstock.com , the parent company of Bitt’s US-based investment partner, Medici Ventures. Byrne was equally confident that Bitt’s Co-Founders, Gabriel Abed and Oliver Gale and their multi-national team, would enjoy further growth as leaders, through Adams’s guidance, having laid the foundation for Bitt’s journey.

    “Bitt, Barbados and Barbadians alike, look forward to welcoming this son of the soil back to our shores. We are honoured to continuously attract top talent,” said Abed.

    Both Abed and Gale will be actively involved in Bitt’s growth through continuous participation on the Bitt board of directors. In addition, they will assist Adams by representing Bitt at international and regional developmental forums.

    “I congratulate the Bitt team for a job well done thus far. Gabe and Oliver are pioneers in this part of the world – and are recognised globally for the bold strides taken in the name of FinTech, the blockchain and bitcoin. The industry recognises Barbados, through the efforts of Bitt – it’s now time for lift off,” Byrne added, confidently.

    Educated at Harrison College in Barbados, Adams has been based in France for 20 years. In 1993, with degrees in Economics and Political Sociology from the University of South Carolina and the London School of Economics, Adams worked for two years in H.M. Treasury (Britain’s Finance Ministry) as an Expenditure Analyst monitoring the spending of the UK’s Overseas Development Administration.

    He subsequently worked for Rank Xerox in the UK and General Electric Medical Systems in France in finance roles ranging from revenue analysis, research and development cost control and inventory management. In this last role he coordinated analysis and reporting across GE Medical System’s $150m European inventory operations.

    In 2000, he cofounded Sparrow Holdings, LLC an investment company focused on finding undervalued companies quoted on the US and UK stock markets. The collapse in stock market prices in 2007 led to the company developing in-house statistical tools designed to hedge its portfolio against such losses. Realising there was no comparable commercial software for the tools being created Adams founded a start-up to fill the gap in 2008.

    In 2011 its first software suite was launched and in 2015, operating under the name HedgeTec SAS, it won a milestone contract with a small New York based hedge fund to both implement its software and train users. According to Bloomberg data the fund performed in the top 15% versus its peers over the duration of the three month contract. In the prior year it had been in the bottom 20%.

    He has been a keen observer of developments in Barbados and last returned in 2010 to give the Annual Tom Adams Memorial Lecture.

    Bitt is a Financial Technology company that utilises blockchain and distributed ledger technology to facilitate secure peer-to-peer transactions with seamless mobile money across a suite of Bitt’s software and mobile applications.

    Bitt’s mission is to provide the infrastructure to support a digital financial ecosystem throughout the Caribbean, that will assist economic growth and financial access for this and future generations.

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  9. Well Well & Consequences Observing Blogger. September 30, 2017 at 5:16 AM #

    When you understand the concept of block chain…you get a sense that bitcoin would be attractive to some, particularly deep web and black market…

    …..ask any programmer and they will explain it to you in detail.

    Ask any programmer if they will invest in bitcoin….1 bitcoin = over US$4,000…and they will tell you NO..

    No matter who they use to sell this, buyer beware.

    Until they can come up with a system that cannot be exploited or exploit the majority population through greed, it’s no different, but it’s much better to have your currency in your hand rather than in some virtual, digital passport.

    Had a crash course recently trying to understand the concept of bitcoin….until better is done, paper currency or gold is it for me.

    Like

  10. Vincent Haynes September 30, 2017 at 12:47 PM #

    Interesting…

    http://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/news/100938/bwu-cbc-impasse-deepens

    Like

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