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WILD COOT: Spectre of punching


Harry Russell

WILD COOT: Spectre of punching

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Remember the old adage of the fox and the crow. “Hey sister, what a beautiful voice you have,” said the fox. And in order to show her beautiful voice, the crow laisse tomber sa proie (allowed her cheese to fall out of her beak). The fox seized it with these words. “All flatterers live at the expense of those who listen to them.” But Wild Coot, Mr Kofi didn’t mean anything bad.
Have you ever noticed how things that sound uplifting come back to haunt you? There are certain good decisions and certain bad decisions. A good decision was to eschew the offer of oil help through the Petro Caribe arrangement – nothing to do with politics in Venezuela, it just did not make sense or cents. According to one columnist, it favoured (looked like) the sword of Damocles – the longer it remained the heavier it got and the more threatening. How is Dominica going to repay Señor Maduro?
Coming high in the batting order and facing economic and social development bouncers have been our boast. For the most part we have been hand-picking the tourists for our “quality” destination and going after the high-end spenders that up to now served us well. After all, we have a high per capita income and no piow piow people can come ’bout here expecting cheap labour. Only we have the authority to impose cheap labour conditions on our own people.
But the world has changed and has been imperceptibly doing so for the last 20 years. No longer is it business as usual. Our model has to change. Our education system has to change. Technology is ensuring that that happens. Now that we are encountering difficulties, we need to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps, although it seems that our leaders have strapless shoes.
It is not for the Wild Coot to crow now, but Bajans had a chance to change guard at the wicket with the National Democratic Party. Sir Richard Haynes suggested a new order, but Bajans decided to stick to the tried method. No 100 per cent mortgages; no sale of these mortgages by the Government in exchange for foreign currency; no contractor general to oversee “tiefing”; no security bond to appease the banks; no ditching of the old order. But people said that Caesar was ambitious – power hungry. (I do not know of anyone who has to move mountains who does not need power, and lots of it too.) Today the same accusation is levelled at the Leader of the Opposition – stupidly.
But back to the punching; now it is powder puff blows instead of Mike Tyson uppercuts. A different punching is coming from all quarters. Sitting quietly on my rickety chair, perusing the wonderful news ferried by THE SUN newspaper on Sunday, May 4, the Wild Coot came across some very interesting columns. One down was a column by a gentleman addressing the wise. 
Mark Antony’s speech over the dead body of Caesar could not rival it. No punches were pulled. Everything outside the off stump got the treatment. I did not feel sorry for the bowler, as the umpire should have called “no-ball”. The batsman had to retire with a broken bat.
Next in the line-up was a hard-hitting batsman who asked as soon as he came to the wicket: “What criteria other than Last In, First Out (LIFO) could the NCC [National Conservation Commission] or a minister use to fairly retrench workers?” Obviously that came after the previous ball went for six, the bowler bowling predictable long hops. It was a rhetorical question.
Third down was a gentleman who is a teacher. He wanted to know if “crime really pays”. Asking that in the papers, the public domain is not the best way to find out because “tiefing” is done mostly in private. But Wild Coot, he was not talking about that. So sorry!
Last in was Mr People & Things. He said: “The wave of structural adjustments that swept the Caribbean during the 1990s highlighted the artificial basis on which our economies were perched and the consequences of living beyond our means.”
A pensioner wrote me to say: “They taxing muh pension twice and I still have to pay VAT.” I said: “It’s the dampening process friend, suggested by the IMF.”
• Harry Russell is a banker.

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