Sale of the Barbados Hilton and the Parallel Universe Phenomenon

Submitted by Doc Martin

Once again, the occasion of a general election has surfaced the abysmal ignorance of the electorate about the workings of government. Indeed, if one stands back far enough, one will see that practical government and the perceptions and aspirations of the so-called “masses” operate in parallel universes, the two colliding every five years, for five minutes, in a polling booth. From this perspective, I submit, once again, that the first-level answer to the problems facing Barbados is a change in the character of the incoming government as I argued elsewhere.

DLP Failings
The DLP administration can justifiably be chastised for being slow off the bat to make so-called structural changes to the economy. Most of their first five years were spent apparently “relearning” the inner workings of the “modern” Barbados economy having been away from the seat of power for fifteen years. In their play for time, they were aided by their constant references to the truckload of debt left by the BLP and the worldwide, manmade recession which began around 2007.

In the last three years or so the Government did come up with embryonic plans (predicated on free IMF advice) to stabilize the economy but, as the IMF itself has well documented, lack of timely implementation has stymied the efforts and put the economy in further jeopardy. Perhaps, one of the greatest shortcomings of the DLP administration has been its inability to communicate with the population in terms that can be understood. There was also the ever-present temptation of nepotism, cronyism and sheer corruption which the administration could not resist. Of course, they do not have any monopoly on these sins, as the BLP would have us believe!

Parallel Universes
On page 61 of the 2015 budget, Chris Sinckler, the DLP’s Minister of Finance, made a very serious statement which, because of its importance and relevance, I reproduce here.

Mr. Speaker at present we seem to be caught in a vortex where we have a “Scandinavian” approach to the delivery of social services, where they generally are provided free at the point of delivery to all (universal access), while on the other hand, we appear to desire an Anglo-American approach to the issue of taxation where taxes are relatively low, and citizens clamour for ever lower taxes and tax exemptions.

It is in that dialectic: the aspirations of the masses vs. the penchant for unlimited freeness; the quest for benefits without bearing the fiscal costs; the clamour for rights vs. the willingness to bear the attendant responsibilities, that we find the parallel universe phenomenon which is at the root of the problems in Barbados and perhaps similar countries. And it is against this parallel universe concept that we should examine the sale of the Barbados Hilton.

Hilton on the Block
The BLP has made an election issue out of the sale and claimed that its plan to protest right outside the hotel has caused a halt to the negotiations on the sale. It claims this is a victory for the party; the naïve and the yard fowls will easily concur.

Successive Barbadian governments have failed to make the populace understand that the economic and financial principles of running a government are fundamentally the same as running a household. If a household’s earnings are less than what it spends it will have a “deficit” and have to borrow and if it over-extends itself in borrowing, it is only a short time before the debt collectors are knocking on its door! The fact that this is not understood is partly responsible for the parallel universe phenomenon.

A household can find financial ease if it has assets that can be used to generate income or sold to bring cash or, less preferably, used as collateral to obtain further credit. The sale of the Hilton should be viewed from this perspective.

Government is not, and should not be, in the business of running hotels per se. The Hilton is an asset held by government for the purpose of earning revenue; it is not a family heirloom that is inviolable. Given the dire straits in which it finds itself, the Government has chosen to sell the Hilton to bring much needed cash and possibly foreign exchange. At least this is the prima facie situation.

We can speculate or form conspiracy theories as to what else is going on. However, the objective fact is that the government needs the money. We might object to the price or even the terms of sale. If this is Ms. Mottley’s position, then we can support it. But there is always more in the mortar than the pestle! In this case, we suspect that Ms. Mottley is trying to earn political points and retaliate for the tax expose wrought upon her family by the DLP-Owen Arthur consortium; even that is understandable…to a point.

But, if the prima facie situation is what it is, then Ms. Mottley is being hypocritical because Bajan memories are not so short as not to remember the sale of the BNB (Barbados National Bank) to Trinidad by the last BLP administration of which she was a member.

Sale of government assets, when done for the right reason and in the right manner, is no more unethical or financially unsound than a household going about the sale of family assets, even heirlooms, to avoid bankruptcy or financial ruin. It is principled financial management and plain common sense!

Standby to Transport Aliens
It is time the masses started behaving like citizens rather than aliens, learn how government works and stop letting political parties exploit them because they are so naïve as to expect that government works any differently, fundamentally, from how they run (or should run!) their households. Then they will be in a position to critically evaluate the promises being made in this and any future election. But alas, this appears to be asking too much of a highly certificated but “uneducated” and alienated electorate. In that case the beam up is aborted!

Towards Proportional Representation
The foregoing should not be construed as an attempt to apologize for the DLP. On the contrary! In fact, I am not at all comfortable with a government made up solely of members of any one party be it BLP or DLP.

The moment is right in history for a government by coalition. To this end, the best thing the Barbados electorate can do at this time, is to ensure, in the absence of a system of proportional representation, that no one party makes up the incoming government of 2018. This it can do if a substantial portion of the electorate votes for members of a third party they feel have something worthwhile to contribute and at the same time, reject those of the major parties who have demonstrated incompetence, corruption or other malfeasances. I can think of at least three or four individuals across the current DLP administration and the BLP whom the electorate should sanction for these reasons.

Finally, if the electorate is so unhappy with how the older parties have been managing the people’s business in recent times, once this election is over, it needs to demand, by referendum, a change in the electoral system from the current first-past-the-post method to one based on proportional representation (with the added feature of recall!) which, all other things being equal, will always yield a coalition government.

82 comments

  • @ The White Lies Perpetuated Here!!

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  • @Freedom Crier

    You do not have to repeat and regurgitate positions, it gets monotonous.

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  • @ David… They are many Hues of Socialism/Communism/Collectivism and Crony Capitalism so when you hear about Free Enterprise and the Sovereignty of the Individual there is only One of Those so to Combat the many Hues you have to keep repeating about Individualism and Freedom. Hope you understand my point.

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  • @Slavery Crier
    I have to say that I find your way of discussing issues to be strange and irrational. You seem to think that once you strongly believe something that makes it the truth. You do not need to explain why you think your idea is the truth nor provide any evidence that supports the truthfulness of your claim. You just need to state your belief and post it together with a meme or a quote from someone saying the same thing as your belief. Sometimes, I’m not sure if you make some of these statements because you actually don’t know that there is mountains of evidence that proves that your statements are false or if you are aware of the evidence but couldn’t care less about it and just intend to cling to your blind belief. In any event, it means that your contributions to the discussion are not very useful.

    Let us take your most recent statements on democracy. You clearly have no idea what democracy is nor what types of democratic governance the world has seen. In one of the most common definitions of democracy it is defined as a system of governance of the people, by the people and for the people. Therefore according to you, democracy is itself a form of what you call “mob rule”. You may be interested to know that concept of ‘mob rule’ is one devised by elites which has been used historically to fight against the demands from the workers and the poor for universal adult suffrage. You seem to be totally unaware of the fact that there are different types of democracy and the system of “representative democracy” which is upheld in the US constitution is only one of them.

    You seem to be unaware of the fact that the system of ‘representative democracy’ has never been democracy for the people. If you start even with its origins in the English civil war of the 16th century, you can look at the struggles between Cromwell’s forces which represented the rising English capitalist class and the organisations rpresenting the poorer sections of society like the The Levellers and Diggers over what type of democracy should be established in England after the monarchy had been overthrown and the king executed. This conflict was resolved through violence with Cromwell’s forces emerging victorious. The system of ‘representative deomcracy’ existed in Barbados alongside slavery, as it did in the USA. You must know that some of the framers of your beloved US constitution were slave masters and this document rejected the humanity of both Africans and Native Americans. Even the electoral college was devised as a mechanism precisely to nullify the influence of the ordinary people on the political process. It was the poor who through political agitation, struggle and sacrifice abolished the various property qualifications for voting and imposed universal adult suffrage on the system of “representative democracy”. In other words, according to you they imposed ‘mob rule’ on the system of ‘representative democracy’.

    People know from their practical experience that within this system of governance, their so-called political representatives do not represent them and after the election there is nothing they can do about it until 5 years time when they get their next 5 minutes in the polling booth. The electorate cannot instruct their ‘representatives’ to do anything, they cannot instantly dismiss them if they fail to carry out their election campaign promises, they cannot set the policies the governnment should follow, sovereign power lies with the parliament and not with the people and so on. So Doc Martin is absolutely right and you are absolutely wrong. You might want to compare this type of ‘representative democracy’ with this example of participatory democracy https://thisisafrica.me/ways-of-life-3-indigenous-anarchism/. I could deal with the concept of the ‘rule of law’ in similar detail but I’m not sure that there is much point at the moment.

    It would be good to have some rational contributions to the discussion from you because I’m sure it would enrich the discussion and we would all earn from them. But please stop with the posting of irrational beliefs with no logical explanation as to why you hold these beliefs and no evidence to support them. I’m sorry but memes and quotes won’t cut it.

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  • Please forgive the various typos in the above message. Hope its meaning is still clear.

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  • @Tee White (LIES)… Dismantling The White Lies Perpetuated by the Likes of the Marxist/Communist Voices Echoing their Divisiveness on BU…

    What you find strange and irrational is because what you are proposing is Based on Marxist/ Communism that is the Godless Ideology of Atheism as compared to the Truth revealed from the Scriptures which is the Rod by which I measure all things before me.. I Know and Understand the Counterfeit of God’s Laws proportioning itself an being Benevolent and Caring. While every kind of Perverseness and Corruption Runs Through its Very Veins. It is the Opposite of Freedom, it is Tyranny and Bondage.

    Truth is Eternal whether you believe it or not and it does bear the Fruit that has been so blatant as History records of outright Murder and Devastation that Communism/Marxism/Nazism and Full Blown Socialism has caused by Endless Misery and Suffering on people.

    Free Market Capitalism did not cause the Collapse in Venezuela….SOCIALISM that is a Slow Process of ROT and DECAY did!!

    There is a Mountain of Evidence to Substantiate that your Belief System leads to nothing but Horror. My Beliefs are not Blind however you are Possessed with a lying Spirit and you seek to Deceive because what you believe is Contrary to God and His Commandments and the Sovereignty that was bequeathed on mankind at birth by his Creator..

    As to your Claims as to the different Democracy’s and you saying that I am inferring that Democracy is Mob Rule…You Seek to Twist this to suit your Bile Hatred Mentality. Let’s look at Barbados. You Tee White (LIES) could run to be a representative of the People either in a Party or as an Independent. The Reason we choose Representatives is that we hope, pray and beg that there is a Hopeful one of our wiser ones that may spend the time to understand the Particular Issue before a Judgment or law is passed. If we used Tec to give an Opinion on everything that needs to be done you could call that Participatory Democracy, we could also call that MOB RULE BY THE MAJORITY.

    In Order to avoid MOB RULE we create a Constitution wherein are Laws that Protects the Minority from the Majority. Wither it be in Religion, Ethnicity or Economics or Education. How is Protecting the Rights of an Individual that I advocate perceived as Elitist? Your brain would have to be WARPED when you said MOB RULE is by Elitist. The Definition of Elitist is a SMALL SELECT group who seek to rule over others while everyone else are Serfs. And you are equating a Mob Rule with a Small Select Group?

    Please do not trip over yourself so many times. Another example of you tripping over yourself is that, the Maintenance of Socialism/Marxism etc. is by Force and you who Advocate that Dogma dare call Freedom Crier Slave Crier when the Enforcers of these Isms are the Slave Masters. A favourite Ploy of the Left is to accuse those who they disagree with of what they themselves are guilty of.

    “Socialism is not in the least what it pretends to be. It is not the pioneer of a better and finer world, but the spoiler of what thousands of years of civilization have created. It does not build, it destroys. For destruction is the essence of it. It produces nothing, it only consumes what the social order based on private ownership in the means of production has created” — Ludwig von Mises.

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  • “The worst evils which mankind has ever had to endure were inflicted by bad governments.” Ludwig von Mises

    In Times past we Needed a place like Hyde Park to let our voices be heard nowadays we have the Internet. We can warn and teach others almost instantaneously of the Perils that infringe on our Freedoms. This remedy is the power of the citizens; they have to prevent the establishment of such an autocratic regime that arrogates to itself a higher wisdom than that of the average citizen. This is the fundamental difference between Freedom and Serfdom…Whoever wants peace among nations must seek to limit the state and its influence most strictly…. The planner is a potential dictator who wants to deprive all other people of the power to plan and act according to their own plans. He aims at one thing only: the exclusive absolute pre-eminence of his own plan for Example, Stalin, Hitler Mao, Pol Pot, Fidel Castro and Ilk. Such are the Heroes and Mentors of Tee White (LIES).

    All rational action is in the first place individual action. Only the individual thinks. Only an individual Reasons, only the individual acts. The idea that political freedom can be preserved in the absence of economic freedom, and vice versa, is an illusion. Political freedom is the corollary of economic freedom. Economic history is a long record of government policies that failed because they were designed with a bold disregard for the laws of economics.

    Freedom is indivisible. As soon as one starts to restrict it, one enters upon a decline on which it is difficult to stop.
    This is the difference between slavery and freedom. The slave must do what his superior orders him to do, but the free citizen-and this is what freedom means-is in a position to choose his own way of life.

    State interference in economic life, which calls itself economic policy, has done nothing but destroy economic life. Prohibitions and regulations have by their general obstructive tendency fostered the growth of the spirit of wastefulness.

    A new type of superstition has got hold of people’s minds, the worship of the state. People demand the exercise of the methods of coercion and compulsion, of violence and threat. Woe to anybody who does not bend his knee to the fashionable idols!

    This is the meaning of all the struggles for liberty.

    It is vain to fight totalitarianism by adopting totalitarian methods. Freedom can only be won by men unconditionally committed to the principles of freedom. The first requisite for a better social order is the return to unrestricted freedom of thought and speech.

    Depressions and mass unemployment are not caused by the Free Market but by Government Interference in the Economy.

    BANG ON!!!

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