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AS I SEE THINGS: Battle-ready, but for what?

Brian Francis

AS I SEE THINGS: Battle-ready, but for what?

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Each time a general election is in the air, the rhetoric and political grandstanding begin to flourish like spring flowers and excitement spread among the population.  
While I admit enjoying some of the goings-on on the political platforms, I am also keenly aware of the many problems facing this country. Finding solutions to those problems is more important to me than promises of hope.
Having heard calls from the Opposition Barbados Labour Party for a general election to be held sooner rather than later, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart is urging supporters of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) to prepare for the “battle of all battles” in the upcoming general elections due to take place in Barbados in the not too distant future.
In his public pronouncement, the Prime Minister continues to promote the mantra of the ruling DLP administration that they have done well – they have kept Barbados stable amid the worst global economic recession the world has seen in recent times. But that claim begs the question, stable in what sense?
Does “stable” refer to the economy or the society?
The Government is famous for saying that Barbados is more than an economy; it is a society. Yet for all the boasting that they have been able to keep the economy stable. it appears as if the very fabric of the society is breaking down.  
The Commissioner of Police has announced that crime statistics are down but the reality on the ground would suggest that not all the incidents are reported and/or recorded. The criminal element has become more daring and is targeting schools and other business places with no regard for other peoples’ property or safety.
The number of crimes being committed by young people in particular seems to suggest that there has been a paradigm shift in the sense that the “society” in Barbados cannot adequately maintain itself financially.
This apparent paradigm shift can easily lead one to infer that the mantra continuously touted by the DLP of putting people at the forefront of the country’s development seems to be just that: a mantra. The reality is that people are experiencing hardship and are forced to find new and creative ways to manage and survive.
In short, the policies that Government has introduced over the past four-and-a-half years have apparently done little to improve the well-being of the very citizens they were targeting.
Indeed, few in Barbados would disagree that life is harder now than it was in 2007. This belief is a strong reflection of the fact that there can be no society without an economy. All of the entitlements or safety nets or whatever we choose to call them that successive Governments have promoted come with a gigantic price tag and unless they are coupled with a strong, growing, vibrant economy, will create more problems than they will ever solve as being witnessed in Barbados today.
The net effect of those policies is similar to a situation of someone taking medication to correct a health problem but the side effects are killing him faster than the original disease.
What is clear to me in the context of Barbados is that our society cannot exist in a vacuum.
The people whom Government policies  are purported to benefit are suffering and cannot continue to live on rhetoric and fair promises. Every budget year we hear the same things: we have done well and we have kept Barbados stable.
Since those utterances do not grow economies or improve societies, isn’t it time that growth and development be put on the front burner now rather than later?
The people of Barbados need relief now. So what, then, should we the people be battle ready for, Mr Prime Minister?