If prime ministers would throw themselves into the pack to be reshuffled, this multi-leader coalition might bring something new to governance in Trinidad and Tobago.
As it is, the culture of maximum leadership continues to work in its own service and survival, employing the Cabinet reshuffle as a strategy for entrenching the leader and deepening the programme.
When the short-term programme is a possible by-election, with Election 2015 on the next horizon, the three new Cabinet appointments of significance become Marlene Coudray as positioned candidate for San Fernando East; Larry Howai as symbol of confidence for the flagging economy, and Jack Warner as new sheriff in town for crime reduction.
It won't be long before the strategic value of these appointments can be judged. While the key to Coudray's future lies in Patrick Manning's health, Howai's first budget will indicate whether he has what it takes to keep the PM's hands off the Treasury and to build public confidence in the future. In National Security, we can expect our institutions of law and order to be tested very early by Warner's commitment to the principle that the ends justify the means.
The only other point to note is how the MSJ's (Movement for Social Justice) defiance has reaped rewards for the COP (Congress of the People), TOP (Tobago Organisation of the People) and NJAC (National Joint Action Committee), all of which have been pacified with an extra dip or two into the Cabinet bran-tub.
So, all in all, as a rescue caper, Friday's reshuffle may be less interesting than that other one that was played out in the media on Wednesday when not one but two Government ministers rushed to the home of steelband legend Bertie Marshall, who was said to be on the verge of eviction from his State-subsidised apartment on Piccadilly Street in Port of Spain.
The ever-ready Minister of the People and the Minister of the Arts, along with their summoned media in tow, took up every inch of available space in the tiny apartment where Bertie has lived comfortably for years, with his friend Rudolph Charles looking down from the wall.
It was a story we know only too well: panman in poverty, unprepared for old age, looking for handout. The politician's perfect script for publicity, ready-made news and another cautionary tale about depending on pan for a living. It fit every stereotype.
Except that it wasn't true.
If there is a cautionary tale here, it is about harbouring expectations about efficient government.
Bertie Marshall's apartment is small but nicely positioned within earshot of Panorama in the Savannah, All Stars and Renegades around the corner and his own Despers up at Cadiz Road during the Carnival season and, other times, floating down the Hill. For a pan lover, this would be heaven, but for a perfectionist pan tuner like Bertie, what reaches his ear is "noise". It disturbs the sensibility of a mind trained by its own compulsion to beat the cleanest music out of steel. So he would as soon turn up the volume on his CD player, perennially playing pan, and absorb himself with the rituals of feeding his pretty fish.
Bertie Marshall is a scrupulous tenant. Every year, just before his birthday on February 6, he sends his friend and assistant Courtney Goodridge down to the HDC (Housing Development Corporation) to pay his rent for the entire year. Being subsidised, it is not much, but Bertie doesn't take his tenancy for granted.
This year was no different. Rent paid, receipt filed. All's good. Until an apparent bureaucratic bungling had the HDC sending a warning letter to Bertie Marshall, threatening eviction.
Now, the HDC's error has been compounded by media images of a fallen hero looking for a bligh from the self-professed "Minister of Hand-ups" in the face of an insecure future.
The reality is that this Laventille panman is neither fallen nor without future. But he is indeed owed a visit by not two but at least four Government ministers: the Minister of Housing, the Minister of Tertiary Education, the Minister of Social Development and the Minister of Planning.
The Minister of Housing needs to walk with an apology for the assault to the reputation and peace of mind of a man whose dignity and irascible independence have survived the creeping compromises inflicted by illness and age.
The Minister of Tertiary Education needs to walk with an apology and a cheque to make up for the failure of the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) to settle substantial arrears in fees owed to Bertie Marshall for his masterclass in the Pan-Tuning Programme at UTT. These arrears run for several months up to the termination of his services in mid-2010.
Between UTT's internal accounting issues and the confusion precipitated by regime change following the 2010 election, Bertie's money remains in limbo, forcing him to draw down his savings from Pan Trinbago's monthly stipend and the occasional tuning commissions from pan professionals the world over, who journey to Piccadilly Street to pay for the honour of having their instrument touched by the Master.
The Minister of Social Development needs to explain why Bertie, at age 76, is not receiving a pension despite written clearance.
And in his turn, the Minister of Planning needs to walk with his notepad and imagination in paying respect to this neglected cornerstone of the very same creative economy that he has been championing as a key growth sector in diversifying the economy away from oil and gas.
How does Bertie Marshall, with his still fertile brain and hammer at hand, fit into the minister's proposed Masters' series? And where in the much talked-about East Port of Spain Development Scheme does Bertie's apartment fit? In another country, this humble HDC apartment would become a shrine, looked after from its period of occupancy into time immemorial.
Treasured by Bertie for its proximity to the health centre and the staff who so lovingly looks after him, this apartment is just one of the very valuable pillars of the creative economy that we're trying to grow. As indeed is VS Naipaul's house in St James, Biswas' Lion House in Chaguanas, the Little Carib Theatre, the Old Fire Brigade Building on Hart Street, CLR James' home, the site of the Muharram tragedy at Mon Repos and so much else.
Incredibly, it is Ariapita Avenue and the Debe doubles strip that are chosen recipients for millions in State investment in tourism.
To rescue this nation, what is needed is not another Cabinet reshuffle or handout but the confidence to believe in ourselves and to value what we bring to the world.