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ONLY HUMAN: Eagerly awaiting parties’ proposals

Sanka Price

ONLY HUMAN: Eagerly awaiting parties’ proposals

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It’s great to be back after three weeks. Much of that time was spent in California and Nevada where I had an opportunity to interact primarily with white Americans and Latinos, hearing their concerns and fears about whom they thought was the better candidate for President of the United States.
Interestingly, what I garnered from those discussions was largely reflected in the voting patterns nationwide.
The guests at the resorts where I stayed were white, over 55 years old, and in the middle to higher income bracket. The Latinos were workers at the resorts, and those in stores, supermarkets, fast food outlets and casinos whom I could coax into conversing on the election.
For the most part, the white middle income guests supported President Barack Obama as they saw how he had pulled the economy around and was espousing issues important to them, such as health care and tax reform.
On the other hand, all those in the higher income group were for Republican challenger Mitt Romney. Their major argument was that his experience in business was needed to get the United States economy firing again. As far as they were concerned, Obama was planning to give away too much and was encouraging mendicancy.
For the Latinos, most of them said they would vote for Obama because they were scared of Romney’s anti-immigration agenda. They saw only marginalization for them under a Republican-led administration.
No wonder political analysts examining why the challenger lost are saying his policies failed to connect with these and other minority voters.
That apart, what I enjoyed most about being in the United States for their general elections was the widespread debate on the proposals being offered by both presidential candidates and their parties. Their ventilation allowed for expansive discussion which enabled interested voters to grasp the details of the measures and decide which candidate and party to support.
Here at home, as we prepare for our general election, I would love to see our political parties do a similar thing and put their proposals out there early for comprehensive discussion. Given the fragility of our economy and the ongoing challenges in the global arena, each party should seek to adequately inform Barbadians of the policies they plan to pursue if they are voted into government.
That the opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) is engaged in hosting public forums to examine some of the measures they are proposing is a positive move. The ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) should do likewise so that Barbadians can judge each party’s offerings and decide which group seems to have the better strategy for the way forward.
On this score, I am amused at the nonsensical wrangling between Bees and Dems over the issue of privatization of some statutory corporations as proposed by the BLP. I understand the trade unions being against it as it could be perceived as threatening their membership. But, really, each party has been involved with some aspect of privatization through the years. So what is the noise all about?
What showed up this unnecessary hullabaloo for the hot air it is was chief economic spokesman for the Government, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler’s  admission to Getting Down To Brass Tacks moderator Peter Wickham last week that essentially there is no philosophical difference between the two parties on privatization.
And if we go way back to 1994 when then Minister of Finance David Thompson outlined Government’s Structural Adjustment Plan, he made it clear that “public sector reform, which includes the privatization or divestment of some state-owned enterprises”, would “provide the basis for sustainable economic growth and development”.
So as each party recognizes that it can’t be business as usual, we need to ask, if not privatization, what other course of action is there?
Are we going to continue to subsidize the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation to the tune of millions of dollars ad infinitum? Are we going to continue such high spending on the Transport Board too, when in both instances viable alternatives are possible?
The Barbadian electorate need to know what each party is planning to do on this matter and other issues, and how they are going to go about it so that we can make an informed decision when the time comes.
I urge both parties to recognize they are dealing with a more enlightened electorate and to start treating them so. I suspect the party that fails to woo voters by reasoned arguments as against partisan fervour will win the day.
• Sanka Price is the SATURDAY SUN Editor.