Failing ourselves and our leaders
As we approach 50 years as an independent country there is much for us to be thankful about and celebrate. We have avoided the kind of conflict that usually plagues multi-ethnic societies; we have a strong culture (or more correctly cultures); we have done relatively well economically; and are truly world class in some aspects such as our use of natural gas; we have punched well above our weight in sport, music, business and so on.
On the other hand we have been woeful in other areas such as crime, corruption, the inability to maximise and diversify our economy, uneven distribution of wealth and opportunity etc.
When you look at it, it appears that many of our failings can be placed at the feet of our politicians, while many of our achievements seem to be in spite of our elected leaders.
However, a closer inspection shows that we have been complicit in poor governance. When our leaders can go on morning TV programmes and say that the average person doesn't care about governance, that they are more concerned about water and crime, and be somewhat correct, we as a people have failed them.
We have allowed them to think that they can give us scraps from the table while doing as they please and enough of us would be happy with that to keep them in power, or at the least not really take them to task.
When you can have an approach where wild ideas are trotted out, a-la our most recent Minister of National Security, without reference to statistics; without any analysis being presented; without thought being given to the whole (for example, infrastructure, legal and cultural concerns), while being certain that they will gain favour by being populist, we have failed our leaders.
I am at a loss as to why we need more police officers when we already have one of the highest per capita ratios of uniformed personnel.
I am yet to be convinced. Have we looked at management, have we looked at force multipliers (computers, dogs, inter-agency co-ordination, statistical analysis-led actions, improved planning)? In this era of increasingly dynamic technology we want to reduce the entry requirements?
We give up our rights easily, as seen in the State of Emergency; we allow our leaders to dictate what they think morality should be. Imagine, dress codes for customers at public offices, reaching into our private residences etc. As a people we seem very willing to let our leaders become mini dictators.
Governments have come and gone, and regardless of which party (or now parties, if only on the surface) held power we the people of Trinidad and Tobago have not done enough on a consistent basis to demand better, and our politicians know this and take advantage of it.
So yes, as a nation we have done okay, but we could have done so much better, if not for our politicians, politicians we have made and enabled.