WILD COOT – Peter pay for Paul
HE WAS RECENTLY DIAGNOSED as schizophrenic, leaning towards Alzheimer’s. He was shopping in the supermarket and was in the aisle for washing liquids and bleach.
“Wild Coot,” he shouted (not even Mr Wild Coot), “why people go to Washington?”
Cordially I replied: “That school closed down long ago and the headmaster dead by now.”
“No, you idiot,” he retorted as if he was speaking to a moron, “I mean Washington in the United States of America. That isn’t the home of the IMF? We borrowing money again? We consulting with them again?”
Suddenly it appeared that a fit of lucidity embraced him and he became more amenable.
“Sorry to accost you so early this morning, but the brain does not work too good when I wake up.” I drew nearer because I wanted him to lower his voice.
“Strange things happening now. What is the way out? This week B.C. Pires calling for Barbados to lead, just like Sir Frank Worrell! He called for leadership like in the olden days when Barbados was young and when Trinidad, Guyana and Jamaica were shaping.
“He spoke of the lack of leadership in the new Caribbean breed. He spoke of the emphasis on party and not on people. He said that our leaders were myopic Cyclops with a patch over the one eye. He was not pleasant.”
I asked him to lower his voice a few decibels because he was getting excited and I feared a lapse into his diagnosed state. I wanted him to change the subject and tell me what he thought about CLICO.
With skilful dexterity he reversed the inquiry: “No, you tell me, Wild Coot.”
“Well, you read the Bible?” He said yes.
“St Luke Gospel, Chapter 11, Verses 30 to 37, read it! It starts ‘a certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho’. This I liken unto the investors in CLICO who were wounded and left half-dead.
“I am like the priest who came by and the judicial managers are like the Levite as they took a look.
“Any compassionate Samaritan foolishness should only be shown by the Government to those who may have fallen through the cracks on a case-by-case basis.
“The judicial managers did their job. They recommended the only ways in which the problem could be fixed, because that was their brief. Quite apart from that, they went further and called for a forensic audit since they were unable to balance debits with credits.
“The forensic audit should show if anyone is culpable and needs to repay the policyholders as they journeyed from Jerusalem to Jericho.
“I do not agree with the call for all Barbadians and people from the other islands to fork out taxes to pay for an investment that had turned out bad. No way should those who pay land tax, car tax, ZR van tax, income tax, professional tax, value added tax and headache tax pay for the misfortune of those who would not have been prepared to share their wealth, had the venture succeeded.
“I like the unrepentant priest who passed on the other side of the road. Being a priest, his only offering might have been last rites. He was probably travelling light and had no oil or wine to attend to the needs of the stricken fellow.”
“Mr Wild Coot, you misinterpret the Bible,” said the man in a soft voice. “I have never heard that story unveiled like that. That is one for the birds.
“Our governments can hardly pay their public workers, far less bail out these unfortunate people. They snooze, they lose! And I will tell you something: if the good Samaritan allows friendship to prevail, he will be sorry.
“This idea of Peter paying for Paul only works between husband and wife, not in general elections.
“I bid you to read Proverbs 29, Verse 27: ‘An unjust man is an abomination to the just: and he that is upright in the way is abomination to the wicked’.”
Harry Russell is a banker. Email email@example.com