THE LOWDOWN: Why Kublalsinghs must die
If you don’t know this story about Sir Ralph the Rover and the Abbot of Aberbrothok, don’t worry. I just made it up. (Read the original in Southey’s Inchcape Rock.) “Bro’ Bot”, as they called him, had a flock of goats. He was much loved by mothers whose children had asthma or allergy problems, by wives whose husbands lacked adamancy. His goat’s milk was the sovereign cure.
Sir Ralph was jealous. “I’ll cure that lowdown Bot”, quothed he, “then the people and dem will love just me! A government official big am I, I’ll sell milk so cheap, the Bro’ will cry”.
So said, so done. He stacked the shelves, he sold for eights what Bro’ sold for twelves. The Bro’s was trampled, in utter defeat, against subsidised milk, who can compete? He culled his does, he cut their feed, he gave away gallons to any in need. With unsold milk piling all about, he paid a local yokel to dump it out.
He begged, entreated, “This is not nice; please sell your milk at a commercial price”. Sir Ralph he laughed and scoffed that plea, “Canst not see, Bro’ Bot, how the folks love me?”
Alas, there came the reck’ning day, the government goats have dried away; the Abbot’s milk scarce any at all, when Sir Ralph receives a fateful call: “That formula is making your dear child sick, get her on some goat’s milk quick.”
Sir Ralph the Rover tore his hair, he curst himself in his despair: “I’d fight three lions and a crocodile, for li’l goat’s milk to save my child! To that lowdown Abbot must I now go? Oh how I wish I hadn’t wronged him so.”
Of course, this didn’t happen. And in any case the Abbot would’ve helped him out. However, the sad reality is that mothers are desperate for goat’s milk, government has dropped out of the supermarkets, we have very limited supplies. Yet government won’t change their prices. We don’t dare expand in case the same thing happens next year.
Why do governments persist in foolishness in the face of genuine protest?
Dennis Johnson hinted at it. Anyone who criticises government, politicians reason, must be an opposition supporter and therefore an enemy.
Second hint came from a Trini article by Kevin Baldeosingh entitled Why Kublalsingh Must Die. Dr Wayne Kublalsingh is the environmentalist asking that part of a new highway be re-routed. He is on hunger strike. Government minister Jack Warner wants him to hurry up and die.
I wrote urging Dr Kublalsingh to give it up. Pointed out our experience with the Greenland landfill. The Chief Town Planner, the Chief Agricultural Officer, the Soil Conservation head, experienced experts local and foreign, Sam Poochie and the Duppy all opposed it. The landfill was built and never used. Fifty million plus down the drain.
Journalist Baldeosingh explained further. In Trinidad, governments use “eat ah food” to get citizens to comply. We call it “corned beef and rum” politics. To governments depending on “eat ah food” tactics, a man who won’t eat food is bad news indeed.
Then a Trini friend phoned. When contracts for a government project are signed, he told me, the party big-ups have already received their bobol. “You couldn’t expect a government minister to be so dishonest as not to deliver after taking hefty bribes”.
Friends, the message here is: don’t oppose West Indian governments. Bolivian president Evo Morales last year cancelled a controversial Amazon highway after protests. “This is governing by obeying the people,” he said. Don’t expect that from our guys.
Take this renaming foolishness. No one is more worthy of recognition than Sir Frederick Smith. But don’t change an established school’s name.
One Dem was trying to come up with some positives. Like this job interview: “So you’re applying to manage our Sleepy-Times Mattress division. Where did you go to school?”
“Sleepy Smit’, sir!”
“The Sleepy Smith School? We won’t get better than that. You’re hired.”
He even promised to get this area renamed after me. No way, bo’! Just imagine the headlines: Rare Bird Seen In Hoad’s Bottom!
You know, it may actually be a good thing that governments never listen when they’re doing foolishness. That way we get to kick them out more often. With ever more opportunities to eat ah food.
• Richard Hoad is a farmer and social commentator.