The Grenville Phillips Column – Choking on Spillage
While you were distracted, our politicians voted themselves a 5% salary increase at a time when they are pondering how many public workers to send home. The senate rubber-stamped the bill as expected. The additional annual salary of $7,500 for Ministers to purchase their breakfast suggests that the journey of suffering for most Barbadians will be very long indeed.
That is not a criticism of the current administration. Rather, it is an explanation of the game that we are all forced to play. There are those of us who have witnessed the behaviour of our politicians over many election cycles, so we have seen this game being played several times before. For the uninitiated, let me describe the plot.
The DLP gets in, increases their salaries, claims that there are too many public workers, sends home thousands of BLP supporters and hires thousands of DLP supporters who appear to do very little. Meanwhile, the BLP accuses the DLP of victimization, and being grossly corrupt and incompetent.
Then the BLP gets in, increases their salaries, claims that there are too many public workers, sends home thousands of DLP supporters and hires thousands of BLP supporters who appear to do very little. Meanwhile, the DLP accuses the BLP of victimization, and being grossly corrupt and incompetent.
We are currently in the cycle where the BLP is in Government, so we can expect thousands of DLP supporters to be sent home, and be replaced with BLP supporters later on. We can also expect the DLP to accuse the BLP of only sending home DLP supporters.
While politicians increase their salaries, the Central Bank normally admonishes workers to be reasonable, responsible and realistic in their wage negotiations. They are told that they could put the national economy in jeopardy. Meanwhile, our politicians continue to eat our breakfast and hire more of their supporters at our expense.
The great tragedy in all of this is that those who have seen this game being played multiple times know what is to come, but they cannot escape the nightmare. The BLP/DLP have a prime directive to protect each-other from scrutiny, keep each-other well-fed, and keep voters divided and ignorant.
Those who are older may have deciphered the game and its inevitable outcome, but believe that they are powerless to change it. Why? Because they know that skilled political operatives have an easy task convincing a new set of gullible voters to happily vote against their and their neighbours’ self-interests, so that the politicians whom they worship can continue to feed at the trough.
We had a chance to escape this reoccurring nightmare a few months ago. Many good people offered themselves as competent alternatives, and I watched in dismay as political operatives, pretending to be non-partisan, tried to destroy others’ stellar professional reputations. Why? For the sole purpose of desperately trying to secure their places near the trough, and enjoy spillage as politicians feed.
Political operatives did their best to convince the electorate that this time it would be different. On reflection, I think that they may be correct. This time, they have crossed too many boundaries of decency in their quest for spillage for there not to be consequences.
For those of us who understand this tragic game of which there seems to be no escape, the concluding sentence of George Orwell’s classic, Animal Farm, may finally dawn true. “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”