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NO LAUGHING MATTER: This tax is solid waste

Mac Fingall

NO LAUGHING MATTER: This tax is solid waste

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Almost everyone seems to be against the municipal solid waste tax. Even some members of the Government seem to be uncomfortable with it but are hesitant to say so directly.
But what I find interesting is that in the year 2014, hundreds of years after slavery, we are afraid to demonstrate our rights. We are afraid to speak out against the people that we put to represent us. These people are our servants. They work for us. We gave them a job. If they come up with some plan that the majority of us feel is not feasible, then we should let them, our employees, know.
Every now and then we must remind them who has the real power – lest they forget.
There was a calypso written in 1996 which carried the title Who Got The Power. The opening lines were as follows:
Three weeks before election, if yuh see dem politician,
Like a dog without a bone.
Three weeks after election, yuh don’t see dem politician,
Dem don’t even answer de phone.
Dem so high, dem so mighty,
Like dem is God Almighty,
But tell dem is we put dem dey ey ey,
And we can move them, yes we can move them,
And it don’t have to take five years.
Cause we got de power.
In Barbados we have always given the Government its agreed five years without any sign of unrest. One might hear a “spatter” or two on the call-in programmes, but these are never taken seriously for such conveniences are usually there so that the populace could vent their feelings and then “nothing” happens.
This was a common practice back in ancient Rome when the town folks would meet in the square on Sunday afternoons and “buse” the authorities – none of whom would be present, of course. I guess there was no radio access then.
I like the fact that we do not protest like how they do in countries like Egypt, Libya, Iran and Tunisia, where hundreds and even thousands of lives are lost. However, we must understand that demonstration has its place.
It is because of demonstration that Blacks were able to vote and even rightly sit where they chose on the buses in the United States. Demonstration caused schools, restaurants and toilets to be racially integrated. Malcolm X said: “The squeaky hinge is the one that gets the oil.”
But it wasn’t because ten people demonstrated. Nor was it because 100 protesters demonstrated. It was because people came out in great numbers. Thousands peacefully braved whatever conditions there were and the desired result was effected.
Recently in Jamaica 20 000 people came out and protested against the changing of the buggery laws in their country. I am sure that the Jamaican authorities are thinking twice about their proposed actions.
In Barbados we had two demonstrations protesting the current economic state and on both occasions we hardly mustered a 100 people. Am I to believe that only 100 folks are feeling the economic crunch?
What is it that we are afraid of? Are we afraid to tell the people that we put in government that we are not pleased with the work that they are doing? Is there something wrong with asking them to communicate with us more often? Is it unreasonable to tell them that we are not getting a feeling of confidence from them?
Are we not supposed to evaluate them so that we would be in a position to know if we should rehire them? What is our fear? Do we fear victimization? Or are we just wimps?  
This solid waste tax is solid waste. So many people and institutions cannot afford to pay this tax that it will destroy what it is supposed to solve. How can the Barbados Boy Scouts’ Association be expected to pay $15 000? What do Scouts do that they can afford this kind of payment?
This tax is directly anti-poor. All programmes which are related to poor people have been designed to help the poor. Not this “badboy”. This is “cripple tax”.
My advice to this Government that we have asked to do some work for us is to urgently revisit this solid waste, and come up with something, not destructive, but helpful, that would assist in getting us through this economic crisis.
And I exhort the entire population of Barbados, if you truly believe that this tax is more damaging than helpful, then everyone of you show your courage and write to the relevant authorities and voice your concern.
Everything has a limit. One can have the nicest dog, quiet, well trained, don’t even bark, never bit anyone, but if one misses and steps on its tail, that dog will snap at one.
• Mac Fingall is an entertainer and retired secondary school teacher.