WILD COOT: Social deviance
“God made the woman for the man, and for the good and increase of the world.” – Alfred Lord Tennyson
EVEN TO LOOK AT THE CHICK, the Wild Coot got frightened. She had just said that her auntie had 19 children – no twins or triplets. Her philosophy was that at some point one of them would take care of the old lady when she became frail and feeble.
Obviously the donor of the children had died, as men in these circumstances do not usually outlive women. Actually, once upon a time women were happy to bring forth children copiously. As to fathers, they too did their work, albeit 20 or 30 children from different women.
Today things are different. Nineteen children! How will you feed and clothe more than two children, or send them to school, or provide them with a cellphone or a computer, or take them to Disney World, or send them to university here or over and away? Whereas men may still have children from many women, they limit them to two or three and move on. Unlike before, the law is quite vigilant and a spell at Dodds would be a reward.
For Barbados, the leading edge has been taken off our performance and looking back, it may have been a mistake to harass the Guyanese people coming to Barbados for a better life. More than anything else, they were active in agriculture. They also were prepared to work long hours at a worksite – much to the annoyance of their Barbadian counterparts. They were hungry. Opposition to their presence seems to have come from our women as competition from the flexible Guyanese chicks became . . . hot.
Today Barbados’ society and economy are changing before our very eyes. Perhaps this is because hard times have hit us. We need to watch the pennies and some of us are copying what the big shots and the politicians are doing. The Wild Coot saw it in Jamaica as the economy weakened. People began to be unscrupulous and honesty fell by the wayside. When a female friend could call a banker and ask him to tell her the reserve price on a pending auction sale of townhouses when the banker was supposed to set the reserve price, then you knew that dishonesty had reached a low ebb. The answer from the banker was: “How can you ask me that?”
“But Wild Coot, what you getting so annoyed about? Everybody do it, it’s no big thing.”
The deterioration in ethical and moral standards may not be confined to the politicians, the big shot and their friends that politicians defend. The ordinary men and women are catching hell. Their moral and ethical compass is pointing at getting by with whatever means possible. Bajans who have already had a reputation for being “smart” have now added outright dishonesty to their curriculum vitae. The Wild Coot can attest to the change over the last few years or so. He has been duped three times because he placed his trust in men and women.
But the hard times that have made life difficult and nearly catastrophic in Barbados have reduced the children per couple to one or two and will have its effect on the population demographics. Also there are now fewer people of working age and there will be even fewer as time goes on; there are more people of retirement age that draw pensions from National Insurance.
So there is a growing disparity in the support for and the drawing on National Insurance. Both groups are now confronted with difficulties in making ends meet, not to mention the difficulties that the country is facing in meeting obligations. Our bargaining power in negotiating loans for investments is weak (60 per cent Chinese workforce for Sam Lord’s Castle when we have over 13 per cent unemployment) coupled with junk bond status.
The Wild Coot believes that the present Government does not have the answers to these problems and that the plastering of printing money by the Central Bank reminds me of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s The Charge Of The Light Brigade. “Cannons to the right of them/ Cannons to the left of them, /Cannons in front of them/ Volley’d and thunder’d.”
The advice of former prime minister Owen Arthur cannot be ignored. When a fellow who has been involved with three or four women can no longer support the lifestyle, he makes the hard decision to play it safe close to home – even sells off some of his assets to someone who may be better able to manage those assets. The Barbados Government must seek this solution early and try to drive some impetus into the economy.
• Harry Russell is a banker. email: [email protected]