The Plantation: An Innovation of Horror

Submitted by Steven Kaszab

Strange thing is going  on in our market place. Since the event of the pandemic (still here going strong) the Third World has suffered along with the rest of us. Many 1st World Corporations had previously imported trillions of dollars from Asia, Africa and elsewhere, and this domestic, catastrophic strategy destroyed the manufacturing sector in the Americas, EU and elsewhere. No bother to these corporations who placed profits above the livelihoods and security of their neighbors, providing products that could easily be made domestically, although more costly. The manufacturing mills of China pay peanuts to their employees, while the employee by western manufacturers is paid much more. Historically the owners of many manufacturing firms paid their employees well, with the hope that these men and women would buy their products. A prosperous middle class developed. Then during a five year period after WW2 firms began to build, purchase or partner with Japanese, Chinese and other foreign firms with the intent of building what is needed cheaply. 

This innovation created a plantation style economy offshore. During the 14-15th centuries Portugal and then Spain developed a system of exploitation in Africa, using Africans to mine African gold and other resources. This was the 1st establishment of the plantation, a place where Africans and other slaves were forced to harvest their continents wealth while Europeans reaped  the rewards of their exploited labor. Africans were chattel for the Europeans. Chattel means possession, and Africans had become nothing more to the Europeans than that of cattle. What are cattle, but things to be raised and later butchered, get it? The plantation system incorporated this concept of ownership. While the average life span of a slave was 5-7 years, the slave was allowed to sire children, who immediately became possessions owned by the plantation. Years later the British would introduce this concept to their possessions in Barbados and later Jamaica. Huge plantations through out these two colonies produced items like sugar, to be trades internationally. Since the Europeans of the time had picked Africans as the go to slave population, a dehumanizing system of trade developed transporting millions across the ocean to their enslavement and ultimate demise. Racism at its finest.

Now to the present, where business people in the west applied the same method of exploitation to their economic needs. China is a dictatorship with a huge population, while India was the bread basket of the world, poor and open to financial exploitation (remember they were a British Colony). So the plantations of the day were established in China, India and elsewhere, a system upheld by nationals allied to the capitalistic principal that money rules the world. Profit placed over the betterment of their national population. China has many millions of people liken to chattel, working to survive. China has a working prison labor force of fifteen million +. If they should die, their internal organs are harvested and sold to the highest bidder. If your a Muslim in China, be prepared for an extra dose of oppression and colonial manipulation. India is in many ways no better. A place where employee’s have no real rights. A place where entire village populations are driven from their ancestral homes and the homes bulldozed so a mall or manufacturing plant can be constructed. The corruption of officials in India assures corporate profits are placed above the betterment of the Indian population. 

History seems to exist in a cycle, where the system of exploitation of the weak will always reappear. The system of the plantation seems to simply evolve, while humanity shown for others does not evolve. The torture, manipulation and subjugation of entire populations continue to this day. People want their cheap phones, trinkets and such and are willing to turn a blind eye to the obvious, that our selfish needs are more important than the lives of those blind to us, not seen, those who toil with little or no pay making things of no real consequence.

In the 17th century, slavery created the great empires of the day, Great Britain, France, Portugal and Spain. Trillions of dollars flowed from Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America to Europe. The magnificent building of these nations, their cathedrals and buildings of Historic meaning are All Covered in the Blood of Africans and Latinos(Brazilians). When can the ghosts of the plantation be allowed to speak? The Holy Roman Catholic Church is stained  in the Blood of Aboriginal Peoples in the America’s, Africa, Australia and the Caribbean. The very existence of what The EU symbolizes today, a wealthy union, is a result of this exploitation, great wealth centered in colonial populations, away from those who worked and died to achieve this historic goal.

China and India continue the plantation system with the exploitation of their excess populations. China has become the newest form of colonial power, the very thing Communists claim to oppose. China does not have a Communist Government, but rather a group of feudal lords allied to corporate elitists through out the globe. The Communist Party is the slave masters of China’s plantation system.

“The conquered roam free in the box of insanity” wrote T.F. Hodge. Are we all complicit in the existence of present day plantations of pain? Do we allow our expectations and desires to build up and maintain  this form of economic and human savagery? Is the existence of present day plantations our doing, and what are we prepared to do about it?

The Grenville Phillips Column – Berries for the Boys

Grenville Phillips II, leader of Solutions Barbados

The Government needs tax revenue in order that we may all benefit from Government managed health, education, road maintenance, police, fire, and other services.  Therefore, we should all pay our taxes.  If we do not pay our taxes, then the Government must unfairly burden another group with additional taxes to make up the difference – this group is normally the middle-class.  The alternative is to restrict the provision of these services.

Those who refuse to pay taxes compete unfairly in Barbados’ economy, since they can offer their products at a lower cost than their tax-paying competitors.  In an attempt to reduce the unfairness in the system, the Government has insisted that tax-clearance certificates, which prove that all taxes have been paid, must be obtained in order to participate in certain sectors of Barbados’ economy.

The Minister of Finance must be commended for this attempt to ensure fairness in Barbados’ economy, because a fair economy facilitates economic growth, which can help to solve our now dire economic problems.  Since we can all benefit from a growing economy, I hope that the Ministry of Finance will seriously consider this improvement to his initiative.

Those who owe the Government taxes fall into one of two categories: those who have the money to pay, and those who do not.  The tax-clearance requirement is an appropriate response to those who have the capacity to pay, but choose not to.  However, this requirement can harm the national economy by closing highly competent and competitive businesses, who do not have the capacity to pay. The obvious question is: if they are so competent and competitive, why can’t they pay their taxes?  Let me try to explain.

A fair economy is one where everyone has an equal opportunity to participate.  This means that Government contracts are open to all Barbadian companies, and the winner is selected by competitive tender.  The national economy becomes corrupted when Government contracts are given to persons and companies who fund political campaigns.

There has always been a sub-set of Barbados’ economy called the ‘political economy’, which is reserved for persons who fund political campaigns and expect Government contracts in return.  It is generally understood by all experienced persons in the market-place, that a few ‘berries’ must be reserved for ‘the boys’. Once this corrupt political economy remains small, then its impact on the national economy is negligible.  However, there is a tipping point when the size of the political economy grows to negatively affect the national economy.

Barbados passed that tipping point decades ago.  The likely time was identified by Moody’s 2009 downgrade report as 20 years ago.  To be charitable, politicians may be oblivious to the damage that distributing these ‘berries’ has on the national economy.  Ironically, the damage that they are inflicting on the national economy today, will result in a future Government being unable to pay their lucrative lifetime pensions later.

Those who are given no-bid Government contracts do not need to attend to their professional development, unlike their competitors who must compete in the market-place.  Those shielded from competition tend to become the least competent, and the least likely to successfully compete in Barbados’ economy.  The damage to Barbados’ economy is measureable when these less competent companies provide substandard products (goods and services), which require unnecessarily frequent maintenance and premature replacement.

When the replacement work is given to another politically favoured company that is protected from competition, then the public may pay many times over for the same product.  Taxpayers generally hope to be unburdened from this inefficient wastage when the political party is finally voted out of Government.  However, such hopes are normally dashed when the incoming political party interprets their win as simply their turn at the trough.  Be assured that a Solutions Barbados administration will definitely not continue this practise.

When Government decides who wins in Barbados’ economy, it automatically decides who loses.  By repeatedly choosing the most incompetent companies as winners, and the most competent as losers, the Government does significant damage to the national economy that can take over a decade to repair.  For those entrusted to carefully manage our national economy, to treat it with such damaging recklessness is highly irresponsible.

Since Barbados’ economy is not fair and has become corrupted, it is entirely reasonable for the Government to demand tax-clearance certificates from those whom it has sheltered from competitors and given no-bid contracts.  However, many companies that the Government has declared to be losers simply cannot afford to pay the taxes owed, for the simple reason that the Government has limited their participation in the national economy.  It is unconscionable that the Government would now demand tax-clearance certificates from them.
The Government needs tax revenues, but it has corrupted Barbados’ economy to the point where it has been structurally damaged for the past 20 years.  Fortunately, the Government can easily make things right.

First, it can demand taxes from all of those whom it declared to be winners in Barbados’ economy.  Second, it can abolish the practice of handing no-bid contracts (or berries) to political supporters.  Third, it can declare a general forgiveness of all taxes owed to Government for those it has automatically declared to be losers.  Only then can the Minister of Finance reasonably demand tax-clearance certificates from everyone.

Grenville Phillips II is the founder of Solutions Barbados and can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

Who Will Put the Genie Back in the Bottle?

Ryan Straugn, Economist

Ryan Straugn, Economist

The following article by Economist Ryan Straughn has been making the rounds in Barbados and is the source of robust debate because it highlights the perilous state of the Barbados economy. This week the hierarchy of the Caribbean Development Bank also noted concerns about the weight of debt which many Caribbean islands are presently burdened. We did not reach the current state in the last five years. Our consumption behaviour which is fed by two fickle economic drivers, tourism and foreign direct investment, will do it every time.

Dispelling Political Myths with Economic Facts
I wish to state at the outset as emphatically as I possibly could, that in a very, very, very small open economy (like Barbados) and in a very, very, very small open society (like Barbados) it is imperative that government’s current revenue always exceed its current expenditure in order to protect the social democracy to which we’ve become accustomed.

I sat down to write this article last week and got sidetracked with more pressing matters and so decided to finish it on reading Tony Best’s column in the Sunday Sun of February 3, 2013. The article shared the concerns of Charlie Skeete another Barbadian economist which are indeed very similar to mine. Elections have been called in Barbados for February 21, 2013 and the campaign has truly begun in earnest. As an economist, I eagerly wait to hear specifics from both the Barbados Labour Party and the Democratic Labour Party on how they are going to deal with the small matter of the public finances.

Read full article @Barbados Economic Society Blog

The Case For Austerity

Submitted by Looking Glass

Greek police clash with a protesters over economic austerity measures. Photograph: Angelos Tzortzinis/AFP/Getty Images

A major feature of the recently concluded G20 Summit was a shift in focus from stimulus to Fiscal Consolidation (FC) otherwise known as Austerity; that is to say cutbacks in social service spending, pensions, benefits and tax increases. Why the FC when most of the countries are still in deep deficit and recession? According to the official communiqué further stimulus to revive the global economy would “undermine consumer confidence and hamper economic growth.” The same solution for countries with different capabilities, capacities and resources is indeed questionable. It raises questions about economics.

Prior to the Summit either the Bank of England or the British government–I don’t recall which one— warned the people against saving and urged them to spend. So it is left to business to invest and generate growth and employment. Really?

The consumer is king. If for whatever reason the consumer doesn’t spend then the economy is in big trouble. Government will likely have to borrow to maintain the level of public/social services. The financially well endowed will hopefully continue to spend in an era of high cost of living and recession. However, it is unlikely this small group can or will spend enough to generate economic growth and jobs. On the other hand the masses living hand to mouth and now burdened with austerity have little or nothing to spend.

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Look Where The 1.5 Billion Gone

Submitted to BU as a comment

Credit Photo:Bajanfuhlife Blog

There is no great mystery to the 1.5 billion.  The borrowing is the price for keeping the employees in government and statutory corporations employed during a recession, providing the same level of access to social services (like free university education, bus fares at 1.50), providing support to the hospitality industry and a modest fiscal stimulus.

Wages and salaries were 783.7 ml in 2008 and and 881 ml in 2009.  Transfers and subsidies (payments to the university, community college, QEH, BTA, Transport etc, to subsidize their salaries and other costs), were 1,075 billion in 2008 and 1.135 billion in 2009. Capital expenditures (which Ince does not seem to understand) were 286ml in 2008 and 283 ml in 2009.

To put some context the salaries and wages bill was 797.6 ml in 2007, transfers and subsidies were 901.7 ml in 2007 and capital expenditures were 241.4. Our fiscal problems did not start with the new administration.  The recession and hence slow down in revenues shows how vulnerable the economy is on the fiscal side.  The fact that the previous off budget spending is now clearly highlighted also means that we can observe the issue more clearly (no more Greece style accounting).

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Let’s Get High On Education…Year Round

Hartley Henry - DLP Political Strategist

Hartley Henry - DLP Political Strategist

Traffic or no traffic, delays in getting to work or not, I welcome the return of our school children “to circulation”.

I know that thousands of them had a good summer. The government sponsored camps, whether we wish to admit it or not, is a ‘God send’ for many. They have served to “liven” the holidays and at the same time keep the brains of our young ones ‘turning’ and fertile. But for me, there is nothing like seeing those immaculately dressed and perfectly groomed young ones alighting buses, using cross walks and generally going about their merry way to and from school.

Barbados is very unique in the Caribbean in this regard. Each secondary school and several primary schools have their distinctive uniforms and dress codes and this add color and splendor to the stepping out occasion, especially at the start of the September term.

Angie and I were among the proud parents of 11 year olds entering the secondary school system for the first time this week. What was most striking from the Tuesday morning orientation, was the resolve of parents to outfit their children, to acceptable standards, irrespective of the cost and sacrifice.

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Why America’s Tootsie Is In The Grass…

Here is a little doodling from Bush Tea. I am particularly interested in the BU family’s take on how Barbados falls into this category

money-savingIt is amazing how life goes. Particularly intriguing is how the lessons to be learned by simple poor folks are identical to those experienced by global conglomerates, and even by superpowers. Practically everyone who can deduce that water is wet, and that fire is hot- can predict the consequences of an individual living beyond his or her means. It is as predictable as old age and eventual death. We all know if you spend more than you earn, that you will end up at the mercy of the loan sharks that bankrolled you.

Ever Tom Dick and Harry know that unless you save for a rainy day, events will catch up on you eventually – and that when it rains, it will pour….

These self-evident truths are well ingrained into practically every living individual – even dumb animals are known to save for a rainy day and to ensure that they live within their means.

So you would think that the greatest superpower that ever existed, with the most advanced technologies ever, and some of the most brilliant minds that ever lived would have figured out these ‘self-evident’ realities. After all these are the guru’s that we all seek to emulate. …..

What Gurus what?!? Continue reading