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LOWDOWN: Bim in reverse

SHERRYLYN CLARKE, [email protected]

LOWDOWN: Bim in reverse

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“Insidious” is the word, peoples. Meaning: “creeping up on you imperceptibly”.
Mankind will accept most anything if it’s done insidiously. The solid waste tax wasn’t and look what happened. Too much to handle in one go.
?In contrast, consider TV. If I understood him correctly, pollster Peter Wickham attributes the fall-off in having children (as lamented by Minister Jones) to TV. People didn’t have TV so they had sex. And thereby, children.
Now, had you put it to us men back in the 1960s: “Okay, guys, here’s the deal. You can have sex or TV but not both”, there wouldn’t be a set in any household. Fifty-inch plasmas would be hawked for $3 on street corners like pirated CDs without a taker.
But they did it insidiously. At first, you watched TV, then got sex. Then gradually the balance shifted. Now men can’t believe what has happened. And sit around praying for a power outage.
Insidious – creeping up imperceptibly – works in virtually every case. Some fellows even get lucky with their sleeping wives. Mine’s an exception. You figure she’s out cold after a hard day. Insidiously rest hand on thigh as if by accident. Imperceptibly creep upwards. “Don’t!” she hisses harshly without missing a snore.
Okay, let’s go back to Barbados in those same 60s. “From the air”, wrote one distinguished writer (me), “the island looks like a well-tended garden. Not a square inch left uncultivated. Not a weed extant. The people are eager and industrious workers.”
Murder was a rare occurrence.
“Barbados has always paid its way,” my old headmaster John Hammond used to say. We financed major projects like the Deep Water Harbour, QEH and airport, I think, out of our own earnings.
We were renowned for our amazingly high literacy rate. Boasted, along with Japan, of the most centenarians per unit of population in the world. Such was our reputation for health that the young George Washington came here to recuperate. Domiciled not far from Bush Hill, Georgie’s nightly forays thither no doubt soon had him perking, not to mention olating.
Fast forward over the past 50 insidious years. And where are we now? Beggars, downgraded by the very Poor’s. Considered junk. Our country looking like a disagreeable dump tourists no longer want to see.
We are now the obesity and amputation capitals. Our women the fattest in the world. Chronic diseases rampant. Murder abounding. Manufacturing and agriculture in ruins. Tourism struggling. Taxed to death with little to show for it.
A devastating decline of epic proportions. We were part of it and didn’t even realise. Insidious. “The price of progress”, the academics will claim. Some progress, some price.
But we can lick this, friends. There’s no challenge can thwart a determined people. First, let’s expose the root cause: my friend, the man who hooked me onto harslit – the Wild Coot. Guilty though he never intended it.
Wild Coot introduced the world to reverse mortgages. With ordinary mortgages, banks give you money and you pay it back with interest. With reverse mortgages, banks give you money, but you never have to pay it back. That’s left for your children to do.
This concept took Barbados by storm. We joined the “Pigs” – Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain – as they are now called in EU circles.
In olden times, we sacrificed to improve the country. Reverse thinking scoffed at that.
“Why,” it asked, “use our money to build roads, prisons and infrastructure our children will enjoy? Let’s borrow it and let them do the paying back.” Nowadays if we need a double-wide latrine to accommodate current ministers, we have to beg some outsider to finance it.
And we reversed everything else.
Why leave food for future generations when we could eat it all ourselves and get fat? Formerly, our agriculture brought in foreign exchange, beautified the island, provided healthy exercise. We reversed it, putting the “culture” in front, as if one day’s wukkin’ up could replace a year’s healthy farm life. Finally, we figured young people are going to die anyway so why not shoot them now.
In short, we went for instant gratification, something for nothing, eat, drink and be merry on somebody else’s money. It hasn’t worked.
We must now reverse the reverse thinking. The European “Pigs” are having to curb their greedy lifestyle. So must we.
??*Richard Hoad is a farmer and social commentator.
Email [email protected]