In much the same way successive governments have struggled to implement a ‘fit for purpose’ economic strategy- so too have successive Attorney Generals and Commissioners of Police failed to effectively stop violent crime.
It is accepted that an important strand to defining good leadership is the ‘ability to organize in an effective and efficient manner’. It has become evident after years of a business as usual approach by the hierarchy of the police and government that the two key have surrendered to serving narrow interest.
During the last decade there was an underground buzz about questionable characters like Bounty Killer courted by ministers in government. On the 2018 campaign trail there is the dramatic video of Mia Mottley in the company of questionable characters as well.
The BU Murder Tracker confirms violent; gun crime has become endemic in our tiny society. The 40th murder occurred last Friday and it is possible with about 6 weeks to go in 2022 two more murders to surpass the 2020 number of 41 maybe reached. It is a stretch to suggest Barbados will ‘challenge’ the 48 murders recorded in 2019, the highest recorded in our history.
There is a resignation by the blogmaster that the Barbados leadership at the policy making AND non governmental level lack the nous to successfully implement effective monitoring, enforcement and social approaches to revert to a norm where a murder was big news on the island. One only has to reflect on our helplessness to stop the minibus culture that has taken root since the 80s, our inability to address concerns repeatedly raised by the Auditor General, a contentment to maintain landfills instead of executing an effective waste to management program, growing traffic congestion and lawlessness on the roads, the sloth to wean the country from fossil fuel consumption AND last but not least our burgeoning court system.
We have to accept facts and reality. I am and always will be a PROUD Bajan. ALWAYS.
But facts are facts. We have not done nearly enough to remodel the mindset of our people and our economy over the last 50 years to result in a level of broad based, diverse innovation that leads to large FX inflows. It’s just a fact. No debate. This could only mean one thing. Barbados is headed for worse, harder times.
Dreamy, fantastical talk alone that will not change that trajectory. Other countries and economies have failed. We are not exceptional and immune to basic facts. We act like we do but in reality we are not. That is what our pride would not let us believe. We think we are special, punching above our weight with our 98% literacy rate. This is who we are. We have been sold a bunch of sh7te that is just emotional fodder but never really grounded in fact and does not translate to a sound economic future.
We are at that moment where bullcrap can’t plaster the crap anymore and we can’t kick the can any further with cheap loans. Unless we find oil now like Guyana our standard of live WILL drop and times will get tougher . It can and has happened to other well meaning, well intentioned countries. Sri Lanka??? It is FOLLY to ask bloggers and citizens to do what elected country managers failed but were paid handsomely to do over the last 50 years. We don’t have access to all relevant information and our elected officials want to make this situation worse. Imagine that. But yet have the gall to say they are interested in public discourse. We are not driving the bus. Even if we protest and strike. What happens next? Who leads and implements the day after? At the end of the day without good focused leadership, nothing changes after the protests and strikes.
Whether we believe or not. Facts and consequences follow their own truth. They do not care if this is who we are. They are not interested in watching muh.
The writing is on the wall. Who chooses to see it is irrelevant.
The ONLY solution is GOOD FOCUSED leadership. Always has been. This is where we failed the most:
General elections were held on 19 January. Today is 19 May. It has been over 100 days since the elections. Up to now the secondary schools have no boards of management. This is affecting the schools.
So when will the boards be put in place? Will the Minister of Education explain what is going to the public? Does she or the government understand the problems this is contributing to? Is the delay because of education reform?
Answers are needed not more empty talk.
Is the 11+ the only thing the ministry is looking at? How much longer will the 11+ be used?
In 2020 voters turned out in high numbers and groups merged to ensure that Trump would not be President again. They succeeded. Regardless of political view, there will still always be a 40% of America that will vote for Trump. Despite the 2022 unity, the cohesion on the Democratic side though is not so certain.
Back at home the electorate voted in 2018 to get rid of an incompetent bunch. 60% of Barbadians decided enough was enough and they spoke with their X.
In 2022 though only a few spoke, despite the fact that the issues of the day were just as weighty and critical as 2018. So what does this mean???
Simply put, many of us have become dull, turned off and apathetic. The systems built to give us voice are disappearing and so too are our voices. The Constitutions, norms and traditions that kept those who seek power in check no longer do so. Heck, we can’t even agree on whether a Senate with 18 people is legally constituted!
But worse….when we become numb to 400 – 600 Covid cases and 2 or so deaths a day, what next. When the society that used to care simply doesn’t in the same regard, what next. When drugs, murders, gun violence become normalised, what next. When those who lead pay lip service to integrity and consultation but continue to act with impunity, what next.
I posit that Freundel fatigue, followed by economic fatigue, followed by Covid fatigue has lashed us as a public into sitting silently whether we want to admit it or not. That silence has led others to act and behave in ways that we do not agree with but we do or can do nothing about.
In another thread I spoke about the 5-year delay in being able to call our public leaders to account. The inability to seat opposing voices in Parliament along with the toothlessness of the Public Accounts Committee/Auditor General and the slothfulness of the Freedom of Information and Integrity Legislation essentially places us the same place we were 15-20-30-40 years ago. We have more technology, media, more blogs, more posts more threads but less meaningful discourse and action.
And so we remain at the mercy whims, fancy and hopeful integrity of those who lead or those who hold power and or money.
Donna asked sometime what type of leader I wanted.
First of all, we get the leaders we deserve. At all levels. Volunteer groups, fraternal organisations, trade unions, political parties and by extension government. Leaders can only lead those who allow them to lead.
Secondly, those leaders operate how they think is best with abandon UNLESS those who they lead speak up, which often times, they don’t.
Thirdly, those who CAN lead, often choose NOT to simply because they realise the futility at times of being sensible, pragmatic, honest, intelligent in a world or society where glitz, glamour, sweet talk, money and “cuh dear” brings popularity, votes and ascension up whichever ladder you happen to be on.
We are in a catch 22.
We want the real leaders to stand up, but, when they do, we place them on a pedestal and then try to knock them down. We ask for transparency, integrity and honesty, but we revel in, celebrate and look the other way at leaders who are the opposite unless it directly impacts us. We demand that our voices be heard yet we do not let our chords of concerns and criticism come forth.
We can only therefore look forward to the day when our desires match our words, our words match our actions and our collective actions match what society, this generation and future ones need.
Until this happens, we will be spinning tot in mud. Again and again and again. We shouldn’t only come together to get rid of Freundel. We should come together to keep all decks on the ship of state sailing in the direction we want them to.
Only then will we see true development and true growth.
Our leaders aren’t the problem. The problem is us.
We live during a time there is a lack of leadership being observed in ALL spheres of endeavour.
ALL of the aged old structures of governance established to regulate the quality of life of people continue to be compromised and eroded. It is a global occurrence, those who confine critique to local affairs are being dishonest or live in a fish bowl.
Recently the blogmaster read about the ongoing Yorkshire racism scandal playing out in Britain. This comes after the Windrush scandal and George Floyd #blacklifesmovement episodes. We have allowed parochial interest to derail initiatives designed for the good of ALL human beings existing on the planet.
The following clip resurfaced in the blogmaster’s newsfeed featuring the late Colin Powell. As is customary, many commenters will proceed to attack the man for his politics, colour and past misdeeds, forgetting to dissect the message.
“Change your lifestyle or order your casket, because you will be dead in one year.” That was the blunt advice of my doctor about 25 years ago, after she reviewed my cholesterol test results.
I had harmed my body with unhealthy food, especially when I attended University. After I graduated, I added: no-exercise, very late working hours, and the stress of structural engineering, where getting a calculation 99% right can be fatal to the users of the structures that I had designed.
After agreeing to change my lifestyle, she advised me to do three things. First, I was to visit nutritionist Dr Mark Alleyne at Sir Winston Scott Polyclinic, then get a massage, and do some exercise.
Dr Alleyne advised me to stop eating all dairy products and red meat, and gave me a menu of food choices. He also taught an exercise class, which I agreed to join. When I returned to the office, I searched the yellow pages for a massage business and made an appointment for after work.
When I entered the massage business, the lady turned off the lights and lighted candles. I inquired about this and she said that it was aromatherapy. I said that I came for a massage. She asked what type. I said the type that doctors prescribe.
She asked me to remove my clothes, so I stripped down to my underwear. Perhaps seeing my embarrassment, she said that I had the option of keeping it on. I took that option. Then she told me to lie face down on the bed.
She put both of her hands on a muscle on my neck and squeezed – hard. My body immediately tensed to try to suppress the pain. She told me that it was a knot and that I must not tense up, but I could not help myself.
She then put my arm behind my back and raised it until my shoulder blade stood out. Then she rammed her elbow under my shoulder blade. I opened my mouth to scream, but no sound came out. I wanted to cry, but no tears welled up.
The way that she contorted my body made tensing muscles ineffective at dulling the pain from her main tool, her elbow. So, I relaxed my body and decided to endure the torture in silence. That fateful decision only seemed to make matters worse – for me, since she did not know how much pain she was causing.
There is a level of pain between what a human body can endure, and death. That is where she took me, again and again. This pain was visionary – I believe I saw the gates of heaven.
At the end of the session, she seemed exhausted and finally spoke. She asked me to grade the level pain I had felt on a scale of 1 to 10. I said that it was a 9, because I suspected that a 10 was designed to kill her enemies. She explained that she does not like to start the first session so high, but that I had a lot of knots.
I paid her the agreed sum, and she said to return in 2 weeks to get the other knots out. I had complied with the doctor’s instruction to get “a massage”. However, I did not like the idea of paying someone to beat me up, so I decided to keep the remaining knots.
The following evening, I attended Dr Alleyne’s exercise class. He led us in a stick-dance of over 70 moves, to calypso music. After about 2 minutes I was exhausted – my mouth was dry, my heart was hurting, and I started seeing those black stars.
I thought how I could gracefully leave the class, but I was too embarrassed by my comparative lack of stamina. So I pushed through the 2-hour intense class moving as little as possible. At the end of the class, I decided to give future classes 100% of my effort – and I did.
After the first week, the fat around my waist and around my face was gone. After week two, I regained the body of my youth. After week three, I was ripped with muscles. Then I had an engineering assignment in Nevis.
When I returned to Barbados, I got another cholesterol test done. This time, the results were impressively good. I have maintained good health since then.
I knew that I was not healthy 25 years ago. But it took the bluntly presented option of prematurely ordering my casket to force me into meaningful action. May it have a similar effect on you.
Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer and President of Solutions Barbados. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com
There is a conversation that has emerged in Barbados concerning the ‘visible’ leadership style of Prime Minister Mia Mottley. A style that is accentuated if compared to the unobtrusive approach by her predecessor. Some feel justified levelling the criticism because Mottley presides over the largest Cabinet in the history of Barbados, probably the world if measured on a per mille basis.
What justification can there be for a prime minister to be at every ‘dog fight’ if the large Cabinet is unable to give wings to Mottley’s mantra – many hands make light work?
The blogmaster recalls during An Interview with Prime Minister Mottley conducted by David Ellis soon after the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) was elected to office – Mottley explained her reason for the large Cabinet. She asked Barbadians to be patient and to judge her government by results. After 15 months in office, it is fair to suggest several of the ministers are struggling to find their feet and undeserving of a minister’s salary during a time of austerity.
In the pseudo Westminster parliamentary system of government practice in Barbados all roads lead to the prime minister. It is not uncommon to hear the reference “primus inter pares.” Our culture is one where there is an expectation the prime minister must solve all problems. Have a read of this blog through the years, there was an unrelenting attack on former prime minister Freundel Stuart because he appeared to be uncomfortable in the leadership role and was rejected at the polls in unprecedented fashion.
A key characteristic of a good leaders is that they recruit the right people to do the job. This is why the quality of persons offering themselves for political office is important. Are we confident members of parliament elected on the 24 May 2018 possess the requisite skill set to get the job done?
The blogmaster is on the side of the side of the leadership style that works. The fact Mottley is always out front may reflect on the quality of her team. If this is the case who is to blame?
Our governance system needs reform. There was talk from the minister early in her term about devolving authority from the office of prime minister. Update anyone?
Those of us who experienced the Barbados of the 70s and 80s participated in the transformation of an agrarian economy to service based. We can debate if successive governments have erred by deprioritizing agriculture and manufacturing by giving the international business/offshore sector pride of place to pay the bills. What is irrefutable is that Barbados by any definition moved the economic needle indicator in the right direction- the middleclass segment grew and in the process Barbados achieved model status as a small Black developing island state. In the last decade Barbados has emphatically answered the question ‘what is cyclical’?.
The pride many Barbadians felt until recent has deflated from our bosoms once swollen with pride largely because of profligate consumption expenditure habits coupled with a lazy approach to national productivity.
One of the many criticisms the Barbados Underground blog has had to suffer from its detractors is that we focus too much on the negative. In our defence, we promote the view that is encapsulated in BU’s motto, “for the cause that lacks assistance, the wrong that needs resistance, for the future in the distance, and the good that [BU] can do”. Barbados is a small island and the inhabitants are related, loyal to the school tie or participate in an activity which work to influence how decisions are taken on the island.
Au contraire, the BU household sees our spotting of the light on the underbelly of Bajan society as positive. Sustaining a democratic system of government is a serious business that calls for eternal vigilance by some like the BU household who are impervious to RH.
No biase, no bullshit!
In recent years what has been the source of embarrassment to members of the BU household has been the deterioration of our infrastructure. The most visible is the road network. It is not about the odd pothole which can be dodged as they appear. It is about multiple potholes tactically located to ensure tyres, rims, life and limb are constantly under threat for those who dare to drive to venture out.
Bajans understand that the current financial state of the country must translate to efficient allocation of the national budget. What the BU household does not understand is the inability of the political directorate to publicly demonstrate by decisions and actions that they want to lead the country. How can you ask Barbadians to tighten their belts until the bellies of many touch their backs, yet from the prime minister down the line want to drive Mercedes, travel first class on the taxpayers dime, attend every conference, wear $1,000 Italian suits to list a few. Good leaders understand that the best way to change the mindset of people they lead is to act in ways that emotionally resonate. For example, suppose Stuart announced tomorrow he will sell the two luxury vehicles he has office is allocated and instead travel about the 2×3 island in a Toyota Corolla or Suzuki Vitara? And we do not want to hear any BS about the PM’s vehicle must be bulletproof. What about the members of the Cabinet donating their allowance to the Alma Parris School to continue the work of catering to special needs children? By these two acts alone many disengaged Barbadians will be tempted to ‘up de ting’.
The job of wanting to serve in public office is soaked in a commitment of being selfless.
Barbados needs a strong dose of societal discipline. The prescription will only be helpful if this begins with the individual and is clearly exhibited at the level of national leadership. This solution is one of the few available ways that remain open to Barbados if we are going to be able to deliver, and make the island live up to national expectations. Employers must set examples; and who better to calm the rough waters in industrial relations than the government as a model employer respecting employees’ rights? People must be motivated and encouraged to work productively rather than loathe on the job. Managers need to do their work, and show the type of discipline that can enhance productivity in the workplace.
Economically, there must be fiscal discipline so that the country is not consistently spending more than it is earning, and increased taxation is not the end all in trying to achieve revenues for which tools for attracting investments and earning foreign exchange could rather do. How else can Barbados get back to helping people transform this society and achieve good standards of living? Barbadians owe it to themselves to press the state’s economists and policymakers to be more timely with their decision-making, and to be more transparent in their dealings depending on the public purse. Do we have the discipline that the Auditor General is demanding in each report that he furnishes to the authorities, but which they seem oblivious to the findings?
Regardless of all the intellectual, technical, financial, and any other capacities that are brought to bear on national governance, it is discipline that maintains orders, streamlines procedures, and bring a much stronger sense of legality to the process. It is discipline that will help to facilitate the social transformation that is needed if Barbados is to halt the rapid decline to values in our society. At the end of the day, it is law and order, strong ethics, and the commitment to doing the right things; these things constitute the necessary discipline for a nation that has seemingly lost its way over the last few years.
Civic-minded persons and leaders from across the various sectors, inclusive of trade unions, need to encourage and challenge the nation to follow best practices which are built and expanded on the platform of discipline. Priests and pastors, managers and captains, general secretaries and presidents, as well as an enterprising crop of youth leaders need not be meek, but offer constructive criticisms. They must be willing to identify problems and call situations as they see them while seeking to commensurately provide possible solutions to the nation’s problems. While lofty places and the preaching of fire and brimstone from the pulpits may shock some, it is surely better than one is not so pompous as to sit at respective political gates singing the hallelujah chorus without exemplifying the discipline currently needed in the society.
It is about joining hand in hand and combining our efforts to raise up each other to be better than the day before. Let the strong help the weak, the rich help the poor, and the orderly speak out against disorder. Surely, the Barbados society will likely recognise that even amidst differing perspectives and approaches to national development, the bottom-line still demands disciplined politicians and disciplined public servants that are all committed to law and order, and good governance.
As the investor, economist, and writer George Gilder advocates: “Spontaneous order is self-contradictory. Spontaneity connotes the ebullition of surprises. It is highly entropic and disorderly.” On the other hand, order “connotes predictability and equilibrium” which essentially translates to increased certainty and fairness in our systems of social and legal enterprise. Barbados has reached a stage where it must revisit the moral codes and messages that are passing off as reasons to exclude rather than include. Once again, we must strive towards the personal discipline in our affairs that allow integrity to shine like a beacon on the hill.
Things such as predictability, reliability, trustworthiness, dependability are the things needed to boost all aspects of Barbados’ governance. Discipline and order require political guidance, and leadership that is incorruptible and which does not refute truth or bow at the behest of snares. It takes the courage and sacrifice necessary to enforce and defend good values in the pursuit of building a disciplined Barbados. In other words, all of those things that this country expects by way of achievements and enhanced prosperity are demanding social organisation and order through the route of discipline. Barbados’ next few years will demand planned action wrapped into the type of discipline that helps the island to once again punch above its body weight.
In fact, order is a product of human activity that emerges from chaos. It is our business to fix the problems that are currently affecting this nation. It may be the economists and politicians to fix the economy by showing fiscal prudence and implementing practices which lead to good governance. However, the individuals of the society must do things not to give rise to chaos and disarray. We must as a duty, be determined to be firm craftsmen and women of our combined fate, and surely be strict guardians of our heritage which was built on both discipline and resilience. There will always be room for improvement once we choose the disciplined pathways in getting things done the right ways.
In the same way that “chaos half-loosed cannot be long controlled,” it is fair to say, that with discipline we can begin to channel our thoughts in structured ways to get things cleaner roads and highways without the coconut shells littering the shoulders or blocking drains which eventually contribute to flooding. Barbadians will naturally plead for better facilities but these must not be allowed to fall into disrepair because we were too consumed to be sufficiently disciplined and maintain our buildings and centres. Now is not the time for Barbadians to continue being unruly and ill-disciplined.
Barbadians like any other just society expects happiness; we want others to say good things about our little Barbados. This means we need to be like the farmers recognizing when and what to plant if they are to be able to reap bountiful crops. As Joyce Meyer writing about achieving true happiness suggests, “when discipline is sown, like a good seed, it yields a harvest of things that fulfill and satisfy us; things that make us happy and release peace and joy in our lives.” Today, this writer is calling on the citizens and residents of Barbados, to let us play our part in contributing to proper law and order. Let us demand good governance for the improvement of this Barbados society.
Barbados will not become socially transformed, economically prosperous, and culturally rich simply by wishing these things. Discipline is the key and it must be evident in our attitudes and behaviour whether in the work place or at home. The evidence of a disciplined society will also tell as we travel along the highways or whether we are shopping in the markets. Regardless of if we are students or church-goers, young or old, mechanic or politician, Barbados is our home. The discipline we apply in our daily routines will transcend our lives and become manifest across the nation.
Sir Richard Branson called for inspiring leaders in the Caribbean to stand up!
Almost every day a video featuring pupils of one of our schools is posted to sites on social media and to coin the description by traditional media, it goes viral. The BU household does not intend to post the latest video of students attacking one of their own like a pack of wild animals making the rounds to support the point. While it is constructive sometimes to post the odd video to awaken the concern of a public that has grown numb to growing violence among a segment of our youth population. We observe that many of the videos and pictures featured by many in the traditional and social media is to ride the popularity that being sensationalistic generates.
It is evident if we are forced to listen to the talking heads featured in the traditional media the reasons offered for the bad behaviour seem less than convincing and steeped in emotionalism. The growing trend of violence in the society- especially in the youth population- is worrying to BU because it acts as a reminder of our inability as a country to effectively manage the PSV sector to recall one example. Many have warned for the last 30 years that there was a need for the stakeholders including the government, insurance companies, PTAs and other NGOs in civil society, to sensibly address the sub culture that had emerged. Sadly the negative aspects of the sub culture has interwoven with the way of life for many of our school children therefore adding to the complexity of the problem. How we have allowed this sub culture to take root over the last 30 years does not lend confidence that we will be able to effectively wrestle the incidents of rising violence in schools and related behaviour being given wings on social media.
First the traditional media sought a quote from the ineffective President of Barbados National Council of Parent Teacher Association (BNCPTA) Shone Gibbs “There is no need for anyone to take the law into their own hands, but it must be prosecuted to the hills by the family of the victim because we cannot allow these things to happen, this level of bullying and intimidation, because someone could have easily lost their life yesterday”. Why has his organization that is suppose to represent all PTAs in Barbados not mobilize by arranging a national march to bring focus to the issue of violence in schools and other related issues affecting the school population? Why not collaborate with the BUT and BSTU in a full court press to challenge the many issues swirling in schools? Stop being so damn politically correct!
WE the citizens of Barbados sit on our behinds and offer platitudes when one of these graphic videos is posted which confirms what we already know. The time has come to act to win back the minds of many of our children who are challenged because of the lack of parental guidance in the home and positive role models in their lives. What are the NGOs like the BNCPTA and the ministry in government responsible for youth affairs to cite only two doing to convert words into action plans designed to work to materially attack the problems?
There are enough signs that the traditional values and structure to our society that undergirded it in times of yore are no longer effective. We live in times when the political leader of the country refused to condemn the immoral and unethical behaviour of the Speaker of the House. We have the incident where a senior minister of government is reported to have brandished a weapon within the precinct of Parliament and the political class conspire to squash the matter. There were promises made by the Attorney General and the prime minster that they would investigate a matter and report to parliament …
Our county is crying out for leaders and we didn’t need Sir Richard Branson on a recent visit to Barbados to make the observation.
One would hope that as Barbados closes in on its 50th year of Independence, this society takes serious stock of where it has come from, its current position, and where it intends to go. This article will boldly claim that Barbados is at a crossroads where it must urgently address the mounting issues that are perilous to obtaining a just society.
Barbados is today challenged to ensure a fairer distribution of wealth, lessen the existing institutional discrimination, increase the pathways to progress and those that lead away from poverty, and to do significantly more by way of delivering social justice to the many in our midst who are seemingly being marginalised daily.
The results of the recent presidential elections in the United States of America (USA) have left numerous lessons that Barbadians can draw on if it is to meticulously review its value system and practices with the intention of bringing about enhanced governance. Of course, very few persons in Barbados appeared to have supported Donald Trump for presidency. One can assume that many more persons reacted dismissively to his inflammatory rhetoric which not only blasted his rivals and the media, but pitched battle directly against the so-called establishment.
Trump’s main and often repeated campaign messages were laced with the toxicity of racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and outright resentment against any resemblance of normalcy. Trump used the potency of populism to expose the worst of American way of life and hegemony. Indeed, he successfully managed to rekindle the undercurrents of right-wing conservatism in a style which could easily be mistaken as naked fascism. To leave the conversation at that point would be too simplistic and short-sighted.
The reality is that Donald Trump exposed deeply embedded fears and apathy with those at the periphery and centre respectively. He showed that the USA, although priding itself as a paragon of virtuous democracy, was realistically more exclusionary and may have long abandoned the tenets supporting equality and the rule of law.
The premise that the USA through unbridled capitalism was creating greater economic opportunity for its citizens, proved to be farcically untrue. Instead, it was neglecting the poor and underprivileged and equally socially constructing the ‘deplorables’ at a rate which could not be contained by maintaining the status quo. Trump revealed this façade that was being preached around the world in which the USA saw itself as the unilateral power exporting its version of triumphalism through liberal democratic governance.
The USA’s dishevelled underbelly, as pointed out by Trump when he highlighted the plight being experienced in the inner cities across the USA, clearly demonstrated that today’s insanity may be the last hope for those who no longer see greatness in the normal, but find comfort in the absurd and the apolitical.
Being strict guardians of our heritage and firm craftsmen and craftswomen of our collective fate, it would be a sad day if Barbados ever relinquishes the mandate that was set by our pioneers and nation-builders. National pride and industry must continue to have a central value effect on local society.
While there are some Barbadians – particularly the political elites in our midst – that would want to derail or even silence the popular discourse, it is imperative that the country sees that a badly faltering society is the outcome of a poorly managed and performing economy. Governance overall becomes perilously affected and dislocated, and is seen to work against those for whom it ought to bring benefit and safety – the citizens.
The current administration will welcome the celebratory mood at this juncture of 50 years Independence, and rightly so; but, the nation cannot mistake or forget the imposition of bad governance and economic austerity that was shoved on this country through the back door of political expediency. Accepting Amartya Sen’s determination that “the world in which we live is not only unjust, it is, arguably, extraordinarily unjust,” is to also accept that Barbados’ political class owes it to the population to start doing business through the front door of trust and transparency.
Trust in our democracy, is an exercise involving the sharing of information and removing the veil of secrecy from deals of procurement of goods and services from which the public purse must pay. To be transparent is to have the capacity of information and things being seen without distortion. For information or a process to be transparent, is for it to be open and available for examination and scrutiny. Barbadians are demanding this trust and transparency. The fact is, good governance is not a shield to displace accountability and transparency, but it is a means to develop trust between the governing and the governed.
In 2016, how can right thinking and serious politicians talk about representation in the House of Assembly, either as continuing members or as first-timers, but avoid putting to Barbadians modes of policies that would enhance the trust relationship? Can it be fair that as a country we have not sought and introduced a Freedom of Information Act and other mechanisms for ensuring accountability and transparency? How can Barbadians step into its 51st year as a maturing and sovereign nation, but is being held back by those in the legislature and specifically those forming the besieged executive? Living in an era when the dissemination of knowledge is privileged, is it a matter of political parties wanting to maintain the status quo?
Surely, there are too many thousands of Barbadians that are distraught from prolonged underemployment or outright unemployment. They have been suffering from the pangs of hunger and are observed to be discriminated against in many more ways than one. The recent promise of means-testing in areas of education and health for example, would only go to further imperil the livelihoods of those facing hard times in Barbados.
So, at 50 years, to express rising concerns on one or more issues of survival should not be condemned as complaining, as incumbent Cabinet Ministers have been prone to claim on several occasions. It is not in the interest of Barbadians that we experience the executive clamouring around the morality bush. This present administration has become tainted with cries that they are uncaring, stealthy (not necessarily equating to corruption) in their dealings, and mostly unresponsive to the citizens facing water and garbage collection crises among others.
Now there can be no curse on a flailing Prime Minister whose stewardship will one day be best remembered for political rhetoric instead of political will. Coming across as almost obsequious to the internal squalls within the Cabinet he leads, PM Stuart’s display has been one of failing to implement practical, creative, solutions to the problems challenging Barbados. Mr. Stuart has not adequately delivered.
The Leader of the Opposition, while seemingly better connected to the communication median with those that have been pushed into situations of pauperisation or are jobless and often are marginalised by the bad policies and discriminating system of governance, must be reminded that where you stand is where you sit. Many Barbadians need a strong voice in which political correctness is not the key to their future prosperity.
Populism has the tendency to mobilise those individuals and groups that have been neglected and pushed aside; it positions the ‘common sense’ of ‘common people’ against the corruption and abuse of the elite as stated by Anton Derks, Professor at the University of Brussels. Emerging in the popular discursive spaces of Barbados are voices screaming at the politicians for empathy, so that the suffering voiceless can be heard and given presence of mind.
The population is demanding that the popular will shows by implementation that civic and political leaders are listening. Barbadians on the eve of this 50th anniversary are requesting that the means for empowering those previously disenfranchised happen sooner rather than later. Any form of populism that emerges in the context of the next general election, and more broadly, in Barbados going forward must bring at its core an ethics of people-oriented development posited in the national interest.
(Dr. George C. Brathwaite is a part-time lecturer in Political Science at the UWI-Cave Hill Campus, and a political consultant. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
“In our country’s present economic situation we need decisive leadership”
In our country’s present economic situation we need decisive leadership. We need leadership from some or any quarter. We are not getting any leadership from government, the central bank, the trade unions, the opposition or the private sector. Our government continues to tax and spend at our expense and just when one thinks that they can’t possibly tax you anymore, gasoline and Financial Institutions are taxed. We all know how this movie will end because we KNOW that these taxes will pass on to the consumer. Therefore, the people are again being taxed. When will it end.
But we are silent because we don’t want to be victimized. I am beginning to appreciate how people like Bussa may have felt back in the days of slavery. The house slaves were not interested in causing any unrest because they were getting meals, housing and all the cushy jobs from those in charge. While the field slaves are being whipped, violated and are thinking about revolting but will not because unity of persons in Barbados only goes as far as whisperings or private mutterings. Now before someone runs off and say that I am advocating a march in the streets or something similar to the 1937 riots, I am not. I am saying we need some leadership, someone who is genuinely looking after the welfare of our citizens because at present it is about wealth and power in our parliament.
Introduction: Recently a friend of mine, a highly admired New York lawyer of Barbadian extraction, sent me a newspaper clipping about Anita Hill, the woman who accused Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, of sexual harassment. This month is also Women’s History Month in the UK and today the United Nations held its 58th Commission on the Status of Women, at which new development goals for women were discussed. So this is timely.
The reason for the newspaper report on Professor Hill was a documentary film recently made about the now Brandeis University law professor and reflecting on her worldwide public humiliation during the US Senate hearing following her allegations against the top judge. I remember quite clearly the allegations and the way they split the black British community broadly in two camps: those for Ms Hill and those for Justice Thomas. But there were, among them myself, those who felt a plague on both your houses. I believed the truth of her allegations, but felt that the immorality alleged should have been dealt with in other ways. The greater evil, to my mind, was Mr Thomas’ conservatism, which I felt was a betrayal of the collective politics of the 1960s and decades of political struggle, for which so many people had suffered. Further, I felt his conservatism was not at root ideological or cultural, unlike that of Professor Thomas Sowell and others of the black conservative movement or even of the typical Barbadian, but rather was contrived out of personal bitterness and resentment.
Introduction: As we recover from the exuberance of the seasonal celebrations, we still have to face the reality of tough decisions as a nation. There is no hiding place, it is as Frank Sinatra said, the end is near and we are facing the final curtain. So far, predictably, neither our political leaders nor policymakers have indicated that the urgency of the situation has struck home. They are behaving as if time waits on the slothful, Barbadian workers and their arrogant and obstinate representatives before moving on. We only have to read the nonsense talked by the general secretary of the National Union of Public Workers (didn’t they get a Bds$6m loan from government? If so, why?)
Of the workers sent home from the drainage department, he is reported as saying: “They would have been given fixed term contracts and in a lot of cases with the people from Drainage, their fixed term contracts would have come to an end on the 31st day of December. “Nobody is looking at the fact that these are persons who would have been on four, sometimes five years, in a temporary situation, who, in my view, should have been appointed to the post that they were in.” What an admission of incompetence, of poor leadership, of betrayal of his own members. When did he realise that these temporary workers were in such contracts? Why, as union leader, did he not resolve this matter, and forcefully?
Of course the workers should not be on such long-term contracts. More than six months in an acting position should be confirmed as a permanent job. We now have a society in which even those in good, secure public sector jobs, with ‘guaranteed’ salaries live in fear of the sack, traumatised by the reality that they are only two or three pay packets away from destitution. A society in which envy, greed, bitterness have replaced dynamism and talent; one in which more energy is expended on being resentful of one’s neighbours’ material possession than in trying to improve one’s own intellectual and career prospects.