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WILD COOT: Naprapathy

Harry Russell

WILD COOT: Naprapathy

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With Machiavelli there is no bowing to pious cliché’s, to pretended sensibilities, or hallowed euphemisms.
He said: “Therefore it is better to have a name for miserliness which breeds disgrace without hatred, than, in pursuing a name for liberality, to resort to rapacity, which breeds both disgrace and hatred.”
The Prince. Chapter 16. (The classic handbook on power politics.)
In his pre-orchestrated interview, which was broadcast over CBCTV on Tuesday night and excerpted in television news on Wednesday night, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart gave great stress to his “humanized” approach. He went to great lengths to outline the Government’s policy of protecting jobs as a way of encouraging the private sector to do the same. I guess that I would call it naprapathy.
The new Government in 2008 failed to see the world recession that, according to the Prime Minister, began in the last quarter of 2007. But the elections were built on many humanized promises. In order to afford them, the country was plundered with massive tax increases that impoverished the majority of people. Hence when the imported inflation came, it added to the miseries.
This inflation has not ceased, for more is yet to come.  
Reduced inflows from income and corporate taxes, as well as recalcitrant payment meant less cash for Government. Government in 2010 had to resort to increase in value added taxes that citizens cannot avoid since they must eat, work and go about their business.
The quagmire that now faces Government is (a) a massive budget deficit, (b) a heavy shortage of cash, (c) a reluctance to go to the international market, (d) an inordinate reliance on National Insurance funds, (e) inability to assist citizens with the exogenously increasing price of oil, electricity prices and other commodities, (f) fatuous rhetoric (what Bajans call “a lot of long talk”), and a hope and a prayer that tourism will prosper.
I do not agree, however, with his humanized approach to one small part of the society and penalizing the majority of the society in order to possibly bail out the unfortunately oil-less virgins.
If I had taken such an approach in my duties as a bank manager, my head office would have sent me packing in no time. In any case, it infers that although the Government at the behest of the people sought the courts to appoint a judicial manager, Cabinet, in its superior wisdom, is quietly organizing another course of action.
Of what use then is the judicial management exercise. Implicit in what has been said is that Cabinet might take the recommendations of the judicial manager with a pinch of salt.
Perhaps that has been the cause of the reluctance of the powers that be to apply to the courts in the first place. It may be laughable that the decision of the Cabinet, that comprises non-financial people, takes precedence over the recommendations of people who see these problems and deal with them daily.
I said since 2008, that Alan Stanford’s position was unfortunate. Prime Minister Stuart reiterated this point.
The world meltdown caught up with Stanford’s business and precipitated his downfall.
In the case of CLICO, I believe that if permission had eventually been given in Barbados to convert cheaply bought estate lands into housing developments, the eight per cent interest on flexible annuities would have been easily achieved. But CLICO collapsed in Trinidad, partly because of inefficiency and partly because of the world crisis. This precipitated the crisis in Barbados, and other deficiencies were exposed, followed by the death of David Thompson.
I do not wish to say more about CLICO as it is in the hands of the judicial manager, but I do acknowledge the fact that the policies of the insurance company are touching many lives and are held by banks against loans. Therefore the company must be dealt with cautiously.