Children as Commodities (Breed! Breed!)

The following is an interesting Editorial which deals with the call for women to ‘breed’!
Roman Catholic priest, Father Clement Paul

Roman Catholic priest, Father Clement Paul

The need to preserve our current social security system may be regarded as paramount if we are minded to maintain a reasonable standard of existence in future for our more vulnerable citizens. Hence, we suppose, the recent concerns expressed by the Labour Minister with regard to the viability of the sickness benefit scheme if claims continued at the present rates and the suggestions made over time for there to be an increase in births to offset the costs attached to the probable number of elderly citizens receiving pensions in the immediate future. In a scenario of declining birth rates, there will naturally arise a growing gap between the working age population that fund these programmes and the elderly who avail of them.

And while we are not yet at a crisis stage comparatively speaking; for example in 2013 Italy had a fertility rate of 1.4 with 14% only of its population under 15 and 21 % at 65 and older, and Japan with an identical fertility rate numbered 13% and 24% respectively, a declining birth rate in Barbados currently with a fertility rate of 1.84, may see us reaching a similar predicament in the near future.

The call for an increase in the number of children produced locally is not new. Many years ago, one recalls the self-styled “Cement Man” on the call-in radio programmes publicly exhorting our women to “breed, breed”, although we do not now recall whether it was effected for reasons of social security sustainability purely or for a mere increase in population numbers.

There was a later endorsement of that call to childbearing arms, and more recently repeated, by the Honourable Minister of Education, Mr Ronald Jones, who predicted danger for the country in the next fifty years if our current fertility rate is maintained.

The debate has been joined in the last two weeks by two religious leaders lending public support to the proposal, although with clear conditions in both cases. First, pastor and Senator, Dr David Durant, suggested that the state may have to consider “giving a monetary incentive to married couples to have more children”. Perhaps the Senator is unaware, but Barbados law no longer makes a distinction between partnerships with the so-called “benefit of clergy” and those not so favoured for purposes of some family rights. Both the Succession Act 1979 and the Family Law Act 1981 recognize certain property rights in couples who have cohabited for a stipulated period of time in a “union other than marriage”. Moreover, the Status of Children Act 1975 put paid to the notion of improperly so described “illegitimate children” -the progeny of unmarried parents.

The issue has been further pursued by Roman Catholic priest, Father Clement Paul OP. In an intriguingly ironic, though understandable spiel, he blames the Barbados Family Planning Association and the local termination of pregnancy statute for the low fertility rate in Barbados. He endorses the call for a taxpayer-funded program to increase the number of children, although he also cautions that it must be done in a marital union only.

We do not agree that any public benefits should be provided on a basis restricted to those of traditional marital status when the ultimate objective is for all couples to assist the state to manage the viability of its social security system in the foreseeable future. For one, it smacks too much of a theocratic fiat in a secular constitutional democracy, for another it would be a discriminatory and hence unlawful exclusion from state assets under existing law.

The Role of the Church in Politics


ChurchHe was the Dean of St Michael’s Cathedral. The very Reverend Harold Edmund Crichlow I believe is now Dean Emeritus. His was the voice of the church that propelled the movement that ultimately led to the defeat of the real Democratic Labour Party back in 1976. I take it that the role of the church has not changed, therefore I ask the question how come the church of today remains so muted when the transgressions of those that now masquerade under the banner of Errol Barrow’s party readily bring to mind Don Dillinger, save for the fact that whereas he used a gun their weapon of choice is a pen? The actions of this Freundel Stuart led army of insensitivity are clearly not designed for the advancement of the average Barbadian, therefore the voice of the church needs to be brought to the fore. It is here that this writer calls on Senator Apostle Dr David Durant to assist in the restoration of hope for the poor, the demographic upon which governmental wrath has been unleashed.

As a man of the cloth how do you sit in silence in the face of the CAHILL fiasco…IONICS and others that all seem to suggest malfeasance? As if this were not bad enough their blatant disregard for public opinion brought them just last week to the inglorious spectacle of trying to defend the indefensible. Sir, I put it to you that 17.5% was value added temporarily. Today that my friend remains a permanent imposition. How do you then justify the Shakespearean demand of your 10% of flesh? All this at a time when the Nation is being implored to come together in celebration of fifty years of independence.

Might I remind you Senator Apostle Dr Durant that while money was spent to purchase fireworks to light the sky in January for a milestone that arrives in November, countless minions have grown tired of the postal workers delivering everything but their tax returns, to be used to pay the road tax and others waiting to fix vehicles that fell victim to roads not repaired for as long as workers have not received a raise of pay. In the face of such hardship 10% represented a necessity so that life may be palatable. Tell that to Granny and Grandpa as they too wait with bated breath on the lookout for a pension check. These are the old folk Senator Apostle Dr Durant that are now expected to celebrate fifty years of independence in grand style with you and your group. In many instances Senator Apostle Dr Durant, their first order of business every morning is dumping the contents of the topsy. Much to celebrate…ya think? Through their tireless efforts they would have paved the way so that you who now crave your all important 10% could climb the ladder of success…..the same ladder you all so shamelessly kick down.

Sir some years ago in an attempt to bring sanctity to the image of a crooked cohort you exposed yourself to the ridicule that false prophecy attracts in a Christian society. Here is your chance to redeem the waning image of the church, in a way that surely would bring gladness to the heart of your Dean Emeritus. Repudiate the wanton greediness of this army of insensitivity, for by your silence complicity becomes your judgement. They have shown that the all mighty dollar is their God. Now is the time to prove to your congregation who is yours.

Stand Up!

Senator Reverend Dr. David Durant (l) Minister Stephen LAshley (r)

It is with immense discomfort that BU comments on the reported abuse last week of a seven year old boy at the hands of two eight year old girls. Yes believe it or not, these are children in our primary school system. As you would expect there is the predictable response from those BU has been describing of late as …. These people continue to ignore the weeds overrunning the lawns by comforting themselves that this kind of thing was happening in days of yore with the same frequency. How can anyone deny where there is a gathering of human beings good and bad things are likely to occur? Of course despicable deeds occurred in the 50s and 60s but are we saying that they occurred with the same monotonous regularity and acceptance?

Sorry, BU is not convinced that such an ambivalent position will help to build the kind of society which will enrich the lives of all Barbadians. The barefaced display of crass behaviour by Barbadians, young and old, which veers sharply from the value system of old has been under threat for some time now. BU accepts that value systems will shift as people become more enlightened but some basics which we* Barbadians still hold dear, must not be tampered with at this stage.

Let us critique two examples which appeared in the media last week. Senator Reverend Dr. David Durant (not sure if we got the protocol right with the titles) and Minister Stephen Lashley chided Barbadians for being too harsh in their criticism of the path Rihanna has chosen to trod to support her career. Here is a young lady who is idolized by many of our young children entranced by the  prevailing pop culture, she goes naked when she desires, she engages in childish retorts with all and sundry; the latest being Louis Farrakhan, she skips from boyfriend to boyfriend as anyone would change underwear and we could go on, yet she remains a Barbados Youth Ambassador, what are we saying to our young people? How are guiding our young people?

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