THE LOWDOWN: Tell all Bajans the gloves are off
Exsurge, O Prime Minister, we done wid soft, tell them Bajans the gloves are off!
Buh-Lang, Buh-Lang, the bell ringing, Mr PM. This is last lap time. Stick with me, and go down in history as a brilliant saviour. Muddle along as your Government has been doing, and you could fade into oblivion.
But we have to move fast. Remember Sandi did the eight per cent cut, got the economy sorted out but too late. Owen came in and got all the credit. We have to operate and recuperate in a few short years. So gird up your loins, sharpen your sword and let’s move.
First, a little Shakespeare to fortify the spirit. Recall when Prince Henry IV was a dissolute youth, keeping bad company with Falstaff and the others, robbing, drinking, having unprotected thing with wenches. But he had a plan.
“I know you all,” he commented, “and will awhile uphold the unyoked humour of your idleness. Yet herein will I imitate the sun who doth permit the base contagious clouds to smother up his beauty from the world. That, when he please again to be himself, being wanted, he may be more wondered at by breaking through the foul and ugly mists of vapours that did seem to strangle him.”
You get what he’s saying. All the world loves a reformed vagabond, a prodigal son, a comeback kid. Did we not see a convicted cocaine dealer in the papers day after day, and big on TV like if he is King Ja Ja of Opobo?
Prince Henry goes on to say that when he throws off his loose behaviour, his “reformation glittering over his fault” shall show more goodly and attract more eyes than that which hath no foil to set it off.
In other words, a new dynamic, energized Stuart will take his detractors by storm and, like Chally or Venice coming with a late run, confound their secret hopes.
Okay, our next move is some advice from the Good Book: there’s a time to tear down, and a time to build; a time to keep and a time to throw away; a time for peace and a time for war.
If we want to save our country, tweaking won’t work. We have to twerk it like Alison. The nay-sayers will quote laws, conventions, treaties. Forget them. This is a time to build, a time to throw away, a time for war.
Don’t fool yourself. Owen is still talking the same old soup about farming in Suriname and Guyana. They don’t have any magic answers So let’s go down the line.
To those who are crowing because our economy is the only one not predicted to grow, remind them how much foreign exchange is going to St Vincent to purchase illegal drugs; how much to Jamaica via visiting reggae singers; how much to Trinidad.
And, as to Owen’s claim that only 4 500 CARICOMers got work permits between 2000 and 2010, tell him he can see double that number any Friday afternoon in Royal Bank buying Western Union transfers to send home money earned here.
Next thing, this big bloated public sector has to go. If 54 per cent of VAT money is paying wages for unproductive work, we are strangling the willing to support too many idlers.
Privatize, by all means, so workers have an incentive to deliver. But privatize should not mean foreignize. That can be a recipe for disaster.
Next thing, we have been mollycoddling a generation of wimps. How come in my whole school career, never once did Harrison College close for lack of water? We were a small island, but we had continence. Virtually every day water goes off at Morgan Lewis. Big deal. Water tanks are cheap.
Next thing, every square foot of Barbados should be producing.
Ownership of a hotel property or a plantation should give no one the right to abandon it to disuse. Sugar is still one of our best foreign exchange earners even if we spend the money now wasted in Government wages to support it.
All Barbados needs now, Mr Stuart, is visionary, imaginative leadership. And you can do it. Cut some slack to the entrepreneurs willing to innovate and produce in agriculture, manufacturing and tourism.
Rise up, Mr PM. Rise up, my people!
•? Richard Hoad is a farmer and social commentator.