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BLP COLUMN: Examining PM’s gibberish

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

BLP COLUMN: Examining PM’s gibberish

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Some Barbadians might have tended to blame on the heat of St John by-election campaigning Prime Minister Freundel Stuart’s contemptible characterization of Opposition Leader Owen Arthur as seeming to be a “rat caught in a mouse trap”.
However, what they have not yet been able to dismiss lightly, far less understand at all has been a subsequent newspaper publication (DAILY NATION, January 17) that Stuart had “lamented that full employment was only realized during slavery”.
For while Stuart’s observation might make sense in the rarefied atmosphere of the wordsmiths, philosophers and intellectuals in which, from his utterances over the years, he clearly thinks he belongs, it has sent a chilling message to ordinary Barbadians.
 Chilling to those caught up in the real-world daily experience of desperately searching for employment in the atmosphere of ever rising prices, increased unemployment, shrinking disposable income and onerous taxation, mostly due to the Stuart administration’s ill-advised policies.  
 Having at the same time acknowledged that for his administration “one of its greatest challenges is sustained employment for its people”,  the DLP leader has rightly made people see his pronouncements as a clear sign that the government was confessing its inability to create jobs, and had resigned itself to that fact.
 Therefore the logical and inevitable conclusion to be drawn is that, bizarre and horrifying as it might seem, it would be only through a return to slavery that Barbadians could hope for any serious improvement in their employment prospects ever getting close to “full employment”again.
Bear in mind that economists generally regard that “full employment” has been reached with an unemployment level of some four to five per cent. One indicator of “full employment” is when there are more vacancies than job seekers resulting in having to allow migrant workers into the country.   
Except that the public, especially the growing number of unemployed, would fondly remember the glorious days not so long ago when under the leadership of then prime minister Owen Arthur and the BLP, the government had by 2007 brought unemployment down to 6.7 per cent having in 1994 inherited it from the DLP?at  25 per cent. The DLP since January 2008 has pushed unemployment back up to near 12 per cent, according to the latest word from the Central Bank.    
The contrast in the current attitude of Stuart and the DLP to job creation stands in stark and remarkable contrast to that of Arthur and BLP in 1994. While the Dems are signalling hopelessness and cluelessness, Arthur a trained and highly respected economist had in 1994 optimistically promised to create 30 000 jobs, a pledge for which he was severely criticised by the DLP then largely lacking in imagination and economics training.  
It is a condition still existing in the DLP today and even more so. Arthur’s policies brought about 32 000 sustainable, well paying  jobs and fuelled our near 14 years of unbroken prosperity before the 2008 change of government.
No wonder that more and more people are saying that Stuart’s difficulty to appreciate views on unemployment remind them of  then Prime Minister Erskine Sandiford amazing disclosure that “vision is vision and action is action”,  and are convinced that only a return to government of Arthur and the BLP can bring back the days of employment progress, prosperity and hope.