Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The delusion crash

 Is like I is a seer-man.  Last week I tackled the subject of the de facto use of martial law and tried to suggest a solution. The column pointed out that two of vices of the de facto situation are that we did not know on whose orders the Defence Force was on the streets of Laventille and that the spin that the soldiers were there in tandem with the police was nancy story.

The lack of accountability for an army the source of whose orders is a mystery was highlighted.

Three days later an agitated acting Commissioner of Police said the following: “I am not in support of soldiers going out on their own and conducting operations on their own. The Chief of Defence Staff has told me that the operations of soldiers on their own are not authorised. He has given me a clear assurance. I have concerns”.

If neither the Defence Chief nor the acting Commissioner of Police have the soldiers out in the streets, with acknowledgement to top Barbadian calypsonian, Gabby, is it a case of “boots, boots, Government boots, see them boots, boots, more boots, marching, threatening army troops”?

Are we in precarious constitutional situations in which the troops are taking orders directly from the Government and/or are on a frolic of their own? Who gave the telegenic Colonel Smart his orders?

On November 19, 1989 Trinidad and Tobago’s football was the occasion of the crash of the great delusion that we had won the match against the USA before a ball was kicked. Brazil football had its November 19 moment on July 8, 2014.

Both nations would have seen, at least temporarily, that play is not a lasting solution to the pain and instability that unattended social problems and extreme divisions produce.

Here in our republic many delusions more serious than the outcome of a football match are crashing. Fete and gambage are no longer working as effectively as they did to distract citizens from the hardcore, structural nature of our problems. Neither is the Miami vacation a lasting distraction, but I cannot write about that delusion crash, while the Industrial Court is hearing the Watson Duke contempt motion.

One thing is still working though: For a chosen few, plunder of the Treasury is still possible and has developed into an art form over the last two decades. Even as you are reading this, the plunder monarchs are making overtures (perhaps prematurely) to switch sides, if necessary.

There is some Trini-like business community panic also shuddering through neighbouring Barbados as that economy seems to be tanking but there was one interesting disclosure arising out of Bajan discontent.

The views of a leading businessman, a prominent member of the private sector, are reported in the Nation newspaper last month as follows: “Political parties and individual politicians in Barbados should be barred from begging companies and individuals for money to help run their election campaigns”.  

Explaining that he had tried to be even-handed in his dealings with the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) and the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP), he, however, said:“It was time that the state footed the bill of parties to carry their political messages to the public”.

One readily wonders whether we have even handers in Trinidad and Tobago who ensure that whichever side wins they stay on top.

Mr Panday was pilloried, without discussion, for referring to “a parasitic oligarchy” when we were still so delusional that campaign finance was not on our radar.  Now we are sadder and wiser about campaign finance and we may now also see that oligarchies come in different shades

I should mention in passing that I have read in the investigative Barbados Underground that one political party in Barbados had said that they raised their money from cake sales and car washes and the other had asserted they get a $500 or so from supporters. I wonder whether they use the motor car raffle.

There is always some light in the gloom.  I heard a young restaurant entrepreneur speak recently about the discouragement he received against starting a business, particularly when he stepped down some grades in the form of the car he owned.  He did not care about the car.  He recognised that “people give you their own limitations”.

It is delusional to believe that a bling car, a passport to go shop or hollow status are permanent happy pills or that they are solutions for Trinidad and Tobago’s problems. We should break the habit of clinging to them for comfort in the face of harsh realities. We must honestly confront what is broken in our land and deal with it.

If we don’t urgently deal with reality we may soon suffer another delusion crash in the form of an answer to Gabby’s question in Government Boots: “Can we afford to remain so passive while other forces growing so massive?”