Hope for the best, plan for the worst

Submitted by Steven Kaszab

The Scout motto is “BE PREPARED”. That means a Scout is to be in a state of readiness in mind and body to do their duty. Simple but so very profound indeed. A fictional character created by Lee Child also has a message of importance that we all need to hear today. That is simply “Hope for the best, but plan for the worst”.  Wisdom offered to us by bright minds.

If we apply these two gifts of advice to politics, whether in the past, present or future, and we look at how our elected officials have performed, we can see none of them have been Scouts, Girl Guides or readers of the author Lee Child.

For example, let’s look at how they responded to the pandemic shall we? Warnings of such a pandemic have been historically recorded for many decades. Proof was in the pudding in fact. There was talk of a mass death event caused by influenza like illnesses over a hundred years ago. It is not like these politicians did not have historical examples to base their preparation upon. The Spanish Death killed over a hundred million globally. Historical fact. Influenza itself kills millions across the globe annually. America, Russia, China and other military establishments have been experimenting upon making such illnesses into weapons for decades. What did our elected officials do? Not much. 

Continue reading

Difficult Conversations – Jumping Ship

Submitted by Grenville Phillips

Political parties are competitive organisations.  They compete against each-other for the limited votes during elections.  Individuals cannot join any political party they wish.  They must apply for membership, and the party then decides whether to accept them or not.

Party members who become part of a party’s leadership, are trusted with the party’s confidential strategies for the next general election.  For that reason, those persons owe that party their loyalty until the end of the next general election.  By that time, the strategies would have been implemented.

If such trusted persons want to leave their party between general elections, then they may.  However, it seems highly unethical for them to take their former party’s election strategies to a competing party, before the general election.  If they want to compete, then they may do so as independent candidates until after the next general election.

HONOURABLE PROFESSION.

There are politicians who wish that politics were an honourable profession.  However, professions have ethical standards.  Persons can look in vain for ethical or decent behaviour at the political platforms of the established parties, during a general election.

Politics in Barbados is not at gutter level, but sewer.  After behaving in a most despicable manner during the competition of a general election, elected politicians are ironically rewarded with ceremonial titles of honourable.

This can explain why our politicians can stop people from earning for months, on penalty of fines and imprisonment.  Then claim that we are all in this together, while they continue to receive their full salaries.  With a ceremonial title and a full salary, there simply is no incentive for them to improve.

DECISIONS.

Once the results of a general election are known, unsuccessful candidates may decide whether they wish to: continue with the same party, join a competing political team, compete as an independent, or leave elective politics.

Political parties should develop ethical standards that refuse membership to senior members (including candidates) of competing parties between general elections.  That small act may demonstrate some newfound political integrity, and an intent to climb out of the sewer.

To introduce some ethics in Barbados’ political system, political parties would need to agree not to accept politicians who ‘jump ship’ between general elections.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com.

Politician a Cog in the Process

After 10 years of economic hardship there is the reasonable view held by intelligent Barbadians that at the top of the pile of campaign issues should be a full ventilation of economic plans by contesting political parties during the 2018 General Election. Given the flat trendline on the national productivity graph for the last 10 years and beyond- is it reasonable for sensible Barbadians to prefer a campaign message that will engage voters on this subject?

During the last 10 years we have not significantly changed the supply or demand side of the food consumption equation. Is it a sensible for Barbadians to DEMAND a conversation about food security and how existing food consumption habits are negatively impacting foreign reserves AND the health of the nation e.g. non communicable diseases and obesity?

Given our status as a Small Island Developing State located a hop, skip and a jump from the Equator, should we not be more advanced in the production of energy from alternative sources?

Both political parties in the post Independence period have allocated billions of dollars to  education. Are we satisfied with the output from the investment i.e. profile of our industries, conditioning a relevant work ethic and psychology of our people, developing the physical  infrastructure of the country that is fit for purpose, protecting the environment, managing waste and waste to energy …

Have we focused enough on ensuring there is a relevant governance framework to deliver the people’s business? Surely the performance of key working committees of parliament like the Public Accounts Committee and Committee of Privileges to name two have plummeted to an embarrassing level. The lack of fiscal discipline to managing public finances and an indifference shown by all and sundry to government financial rules; inability to produce audited financial statement etc, exposes a level of unprofessionalism, incompetence that a sensible electorate should want to demand action from OURSELVES to address?

Theses are a few of the issues that are always top of the mind for the blogmaster. These are issues that should be of concern to all Barbadians. Given the unprecedented economic and other experiences of the last ten years the country has had to endure, there is reason for ALL Barbadians to change how we manage conversations with politicians when they come aknocking at our doors and in other interactions when presented with the opportunity. Change must start with the person reflected in the mirror, WE must be the change. WE must demand the change. Continuing to cede OUR civic responsibilities to members of the political class is lazy, ignorant, dangerous and assures that it will be business as usual.

The style of the blogmaster is never to be ‘longwinded’ on the issues. We live in the microwave age where the attention span of the audience rivals that of the bird, priorities and information are shaped by Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other computer generated algorithms. The upside is that by being a small island there is the opportunity to create and coalesce behind a plan of action. By holding elected officials accountable this is an opportunity to begin the change process. We have to change the indifference to how matters that directly affect our lives are managed.

Every election cycle we have these kinds of conversations that are analogous to the ones we have about the 11+ or the minibus culture. Some positions need to be taken NOW to steer Barbados away from being a failed state. The politician is just a cog in the process, We create the process.

 

Another Walter Blackman Column – The Walrus and the Carpenter

Walter Blackman – Actuary and CBC Talk Show host

For many years, pleas were made from various quarters (Gladstone Holder comes readily to mind) for Barbadians to remain eternally vigilant over the handling of our nation’s affairs. For the most part, these pleas went unheeded. Unfortunately, the brave few who stood up to highlight glaring deficiencies in our governance structure, to point out the repetitive instances of evident corruption, or to make serious suggestions aimed at promoting and enhancing productivity, efficiency, and national development, were all initially and routinely dismissed as radicals and malcontents, and then summarily ostracized and dismissed.

Some of these “pioneering rejects” exhibited extraordinary bravery and love for country by running for political office within fledgling parties and on platforms that conveyed progressive and non-traditional messages. However, their efforts and messages fell on deaf ears as too many members of our populace focused their attention on feasting upon whatever crumbs fell from the lips of the privileged few, or from the hands and promises of visionless politicians bent on selling out the country and its interests.

In reflecting upon the road that we have travelled over the last 51 years as a nation, I found myself remembering a poem which I had read as a 13-year old student at Combermere. The poem, authored by Lewis Carroll, was published in 1871.

As you read the poem, I exhort you to view the Carpenter as politicians and their handpicked cronies. The Walrus represents senior public service administrators and members of the traditional private sector, who have all mastered the very lucrative game of collusion, bribery, and kickbacks.

The Oysters are the gifted, honest, talented, industrious members of our population, our at-risk NIS and its contributions, our sense of decency and fairness, our respect for law and order, the integrity and resources of our central bank, our national bank, our development bank, and our most profitable and productive national assets.

Finally, I ask you to accept that some of our Oysters have already been eaten. The rest of them now seem to await a similar, inescapable fate.

The Walrus and the Carpenter

BY LEWIS CARROLL

The sun was shining on the sea,

      Shining with all his might:

He did his very best to make

      The billows smooth and bright —

And this was odd, because it was

      The middle of the night.

The moon was shining sulkily,

      Because she thought the sun

Had got no business to be there

      After the day was done —

“”It’s very rude of him,” she said,

      “To come and spoil the fun.”

The sea was wet as wet could be,

      The sands were dry as dry.

You could not see a cloud, because

      No cloud was in the sky:

No birds were flying overhead —

      There were no birds to fly.

The Walrus and the Carpenter

      Were walking close at hand;

They wept like anything to see

      Such quantities of sand:

“If this were only cleared away,”

      They said, “it would be grand!’

“If seven maids with seven mops

      Swept it for half a year,

Do you suppose,” the Walrus said,

     “That they could get it clear?”

“ I doubt it,” said the Carpenter,

      And shed a bitter tear.

“O Oysters, come and walk with us!”

      The Walrus did beseech.

“A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,

      Along the briny beach:

We cannot do with more than four,

      To give a hand to each.”

The eldest Oyster looked at him,

      But never a word he said:

The eldest Oyster winked his eye,

      And shook his heavy head —

Meaning to say he did not choose

      To leave the oyster-bed.

But four young Oysters hurried up,

      All eager for the treat:

Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,

      Their shoes were clean and neat —

And this was odd, because, you know,

      They hadn’t any feet.

Four other Oysters followed them,

      And yet another four;

And thick and fast they came at last,

      And more, and more, and more —

All hopping through the frothy waves,

      And scrambling to the shore.

The Walrus and the Carpenter

      Walked on a mile or so,

And then they rested on a rock

      Conveniently low:

And all the little Oysters stood

      And waited in a row.

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,

     “To talk of many things:

Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —

      Of cabbages — and kings —

And why the sea is boiling hot —

      And whether pigs have wings.”

“But wait a bit,” the Oysters cried,

      “Before we have our chat;

For some of us are out of breath,

      And all of us are fat!”

“No hurry!” said the Carpenter.

      They thanked him much for that.

“A loaf of bread,” the Walrus said,

     “Is what we chiefly need:

Pepper and vinegar besides

      Are very good indeed —

Now if you’re ready, Oysters dear,

      We can begin to feed.”

“But not on us!” the Oysters cried,

      Turning a little blue.

“After such kindness, that would be

      A dismal thing to do!”

“The night is fine,” the Walrus said.

     “ Do you admire the view?”

“It was so kind of you to come!

      And you are very nice!”’

The Carpenter said nothing but

      “Cut us another slice:

I wish you were not quite so deaf —

      I’ve had to ask you twice!”

“It seems a shame,” the Walrus said,

     “To play them such a trick,

After we’ve brought them out so far,

      And made them trot so quick!”

The Carpenter said nothing but

      “The butter’s spread too thick!”’

“I weep for you,”’ the Walrus said:

     “I deeply sympathize.”’

With sobs and tears he sorted out

      Those of the largest size,

Holding his pocket-handkerchief

      Before his streaming eyes.

“O Oysters,” said the Carpenter,

      “You’ve had a pleasant run!

Shall we be trotting home again?”

      But answer came there none —

And this was scarcely odd, because

      They’d eaten every one.

Politicians: Camaraderie Caprice And The Craft Of Corruption

Submitted by Yardbroom


The word “corrupt” in reference to politicians in Barbados has become so entrenched in colloquial usage, the seriousness of that charge has almost become irrelevant.  This presents dangers in that cases of “genuine” corruption will escape public scrutiny and secondly, hitherto unblemished politicians can easily become besmirched.  It also allows politicians not to give an adequate or timely response to questions posed about corruption, even if there is a “prima facie” case to answer.  The over-use or inference of corruption, often by men thought wise and even learned, particularly by those with party affiliations to massage, is most unfortunate.

It is wise before aspersions as to bribery/corruption are cast on individuals to ask, what is the evidence?  “It is a common law offence for an officer who has a duty to do something in which the public is interested to receive a bribe either to act in a manner contrary to his duty or to show favour in the discharge of his functions.”  Do note that even when a “prima facie” case can be made this is not always enough for a successful prosecution.

By way of example when “South Africa’s – then deputy – President Jacob Zuma came under investigations for allegations that he attempted to solicit a bribe from the head of the South African branch of the arms company Thomson in return for protecting the company from investigation and giving it “permanent support”.  The case was brought to an end when the director of prosecutions, Bulelani Ngcuka, announced in August 2003 that Zuma would not be charged because although there was a strong “prima facie” case against him, the government could not be sure of winning the case in court.”

Continue reading

The Endless Harvest Of Crooked Politicians In Barbados: It’s "we the people’s" Fault

Submitted by Austin

Acting Prime Minister Mr. Freundel Stuart

Many months ago I wrote a piece titled What Will It Take with references to the reluctance of the Bajan people to openly speak up and out again the unethical behaviour of many of our elected officials past and present. The status quo of stalling political and social progress in areas like FOI legislation and reform, coupled with bar side deal making is totally undermining our democracy, and the will of the masses of Bajan people.

We appear to have an every man and woman for themselves mindset as a people, with many corrupt politicians and officials banking on that reality to do there dirty deeds. The personal fear of loosing that big or small job from unknown party faithfuls if one speaks out, acts like an invisible muzzle for many, or even most.

While BU represents an Internet based forum for free speech on matters, these forums in themselves is not enough to shine the light for the masses on social and political challenges that plague our democracy. It is to this point that the primary mass media outlets in Barbados do the Bajan people a grave injustice.

Continue reading

The Relevance Of The Brian Mulroney Affair

166531.bin

Geoff Robins/AFP/Getty Images: Brian Mulroney’s performance before the Commons ethics committee may have been masterful but the truth is still out there.

OTTAWA — Libeled, blackmailed, the subject of journalistic vendettas and attempted extortion, Brian Mulroney wanted to market himself as a victim who suffered his own “near-death experience” from perennial Airbus allegations. But he knew it wouldn’t wash in a country where Mulroney polls as Canada’s most untrustworthy former prime minister. So he went contrite for four hours as a humble witness on the Parliament Hill he ruled as prime minister for nine years.

Source: National Post

We have been following the Brian Mulroney Affair with great interest. We know that Adrian H has been as well because he emailed us this interesting article a few weeks ago. For those of you who are in the dark on the issue, here is the deal in a nutshell. Former Prime Minister of Canada is being accused of accepting about $300,000 dollars in 1994 from German arms dealer Mr. Karlheinz Schreiber, who has a very murky reputation. The money was given to him in cash in an envelope which Mulroney is reported to have deposited in safety deposit boxes. The money was paid to Mulroney with the expectation from the arms dealer that he would have used his relationships with world leaders to encourage them to buy light armour vehicles from his company. Where the issue has raised questions about former Prime Minister Mulroney’s ethical behaviour stems from the fact that he declared the $300, 000 on his tax returns six years after receiving the money. Why is the six year period important? It coincided with the arrest of the arms dealer Mr. Karlheinz Schreiber in 1999.

Why is this story relevant?

What is the parallel we can make to what is happening in Barbados?

Continue reading