Sunday, January 25, 2015

Our Own Age of Aquarius...

One of the best known US politicians in history would have to have been Benjamin Franklin, yet were it not for his desire to get government printing contracts he would never have entered politics in the first place and all we might know of him today for all his other successes, governmental politics would not be one of them. Think about that for a minute so as to put our experience into perspective. Access to government spending is the number one reason most people even consider getting into politics in the democratic capitalist world, and from then to now in a democracy far larger and much older than our own, the issues of procurement, nepotism, corruption, bid rigging, lobbying, gift giving and favors have been dogging the people, with the willing and the determined employing the services of the artful and the cunning to engage in a long running two step with law makers and legislation in the hope that, at some point, something like fairness might prevail. Ultimately though, the effort, as noble and high sounding as it may be will always fail, because there is no lock man can devise that man himself cannot open, and similarly, any legislation predicated on the actions of men will always be thwarted by the actions of other men.

In the 1980's block buster Wall Street Michael Douglas' character Gordon Gekko said - “The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind."

Every major project undertaking in this country may have been conceived in altruism but was spurred on by greed. How many of us really know what the billion dollar waste water treatment plant to be built in the Beetham is really about or for? Outside of those intimately connected with the contract? Barely a handful. Or the Highway to Point Fortin for that matter, or any of the other mega-projects now back-burnered by the collapsing energy prices. How many of us benefited from the billions spent hosting CHOGM and the Summit of the Americas? I don't want to lose the point of the conversation, but the NAPA and SAPA projects need not have been as extravagant as they are in a nation where our greatest festival takes place in a dusty field over a temporary stage viewed from bleachers, yet they were built as testimonies not to need, but to greed. Do we as a people gain from having those artful edifices? About as much as we would ever have gained from the billion dollars pumped into the Brian Lara Stadium at Tarouba, which was first sold as a necessity for the Cricket World Cup and then as a tsunami shelter among other things, with each new justification advanced being nothing more than an explanation for the greed for treasury dollars hidden in plain sight behind a stadium we will never be able to use.

A former, now disgraced government Member of Parliament built his entire political legacy on box drains, the very box drains he now curses, now that he no longer has the power to harness the power of contracts to deliver kick backs and campaign finance, yet to the many who benefit from a box drain the cost could never be too high, leaving the champions of procurement legislation gnashing their teeth in frustration at an electorate so interested in getting its problems solved it could not care if the price was ten times the value, build the drain.

This is where and who we are, this is the legacy of the colonials who raped and plundered us, of the saviours who furthered the rape, of the politics of excess, of rum and roti, of jerseys and blue notes.

Scottish advocate, judge, writer, university professor and historian Alexander Frasier Tytler said “A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship."

We are almost there. The next financial collapse will erase our democracy as the people war over the shrinking spoils. What is taking place in Morvant, Beetham, Laventille and Sea Lots is no different to what is taking pace in Boardrooms and offices across the country, where people do whatever it takes to extract the greatest advantage in exchange for the least amount of tangible worth, further depleting any heritage or real legacy, resulting in the haphazard slipshod development that can be seen the length and breadth of both islands, and further resulting in an annual budget so top heavy with subsidies, transfers and pork our tomorrow is already being leveraged to pay for yesterday.

It is only a matter of time before the gravy train that feeds this greed grinds to a halt, leaving nothing but the unbridled demand and a macabre righteous anger in its place. Those who are unfortunate to be left here then will pay the price for all of this, but until then, grab what you can in the looting frenzy that is the kleptocracy of Trinidad & Tobago.

No comments:

Post a Comment