Let's have those details, Mr Arthur!

shadiasimpson, shadiasimpson@nationnews.com

Added 01 November 2012

editorialcolourr

Avoid context and specifics; generalize and keep repeating the generalization.– The late Jacob Theodore “Jack” Schwartz, American mathematician, computer scientist. THE AVOIDANCE OF SPECIFICS in grandiose political promises has come to be as natural as cou-cou and salt fish on Thursdays and black pudding and souse on a Saturday morning. So it was not surprising that Opposition Leader Owen Arthur did not give clearer details of his 15-point plan to improve governance in Barbados by 2016, if returned to political power in the upcoming general election. To be fair to Mr Arthur, it would have been tedious trying, and impractical to give specifics on all 15 points at the Barbados Labour Party’s (BLP) conference wrap-up on Sunday; but the details on a few of the major ones would have been a breath of fresh air in this silly season and mind-satisfying. If Mr Arthur is to be believed that he has the means with which to “rescue” us all, he must step above the mere labelling of what Barbados Economics Society president Ryan Straughn calls “pro-growth initiatives”, and present the specifics and how-to to the thinkers – and thinking – among us that we might assess the viabilities and probabilities of these new BLP policies. The Opposition Leader was said to have given his party faithful a taste on Sunday of a yet to be released manifesto of hope. We wager the manifesto, like all others, will be a list of further promises and intentions; not burdened by any profound explanation or details of the said. It seems Mr Arthur will need to engage the electorate in meaningful conversation – a talkback, if he will – on these proposals of his. The electors would like to see clearly, for example, how “tax-free allowances” will be reintroduced, when they have been shown to be currently illegal. Will there be statutory recourse, and how? VAT is to revert to 15 per cent under a BLP Government. How does Mr Arthur plan to take care of the shortfall in revenue as a result? There is the allusion to the reduction of taxes and to other fiscal incentives. How are these counterbalanced? Someone once remarked on requested details: “I can’t get into the specifics now. Someday, hopefully, I will.” That we should wait in wonder – or simply wait and wonder – cannot be good enough. We fault not Mr Arthur for having the dream of “rebuilding the economy and restoring Barbados’ tradition of sound, efficient, effective and stable Government”, but we yearn for the specifics of how it will be done. We leave Mr Arthur with the words of the inspirationalist William B. Given: “Details often kill initiative, but there have been few successful men who weren’t good at details. Don’t ignore details. Lick them.”   

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