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ALL AH WE...? by Gerry Kangalee

posted 18 May 2017, 11:26 by Gerry Kangalee
Underlying all the divisions of ethnicity, region, gender, complexion, race, in T&T, the growing class divide is fundamental. The more the crisis of capitalism deepens and the IMF-inspired, Rowley-inflicted austerity programme damages working people and the poor, the clearer it becomes that all ah we is not one!

Those who hold economic and political power see T&T through different spectacles to the poor and the working people. It is as if we are living in two different countries and I don’t mean Tobago and Trinidad.

That this is not peculiar to T&T, but is the basis upon which capitalist exploitation is based, can be gleaned from a statement made by Benjamin Disraeli about England, (of which he was to become Prime Minister) in a novel Sybil or the Two Nations, published in 1845.

He stated: “Two nations; between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; who are as ignorant of each other's habits, thoughts, and feelings, as if they were dwellers in different zones, or inhabitants of different planets; who are formed by a different breeding, are fed by a different food, are ordered by different manners, and are not governed by the same laws…the rich and the poor.”

Let’s look at the “debate” that took place in and out of Parliament recently about the proposed salary of the Procurement Regulator. The salary is too low, thundered former President of All Trinidad, Rudy Indarsingh. Base salary of $50,000 plus perks of $35,000 is not enough when compared to the salaries of those who run NGC, Petrotrin etc., continued the former Minister in the Ministries of Labour and Finance.

Indarsingh said that the regulator must be “fiercely independent” and not be subject to political bullying. Eh? So does this mean that the higher a salary the State pays a public official, the more independent and free from political bullying that person would be? Dat making sense? It seems that independence is inversely proportional to one’s income.

One commentator insisted that “integrity and probity” are the characteristics that one must look for in a Procurement Regulator. Yet he also insists that the salary is not enough, as if to suggest that like the law, “integrity and probity” stoops to the highest bidder.

Senator David Small claimed that the proposed salary “may not allow us to get the type of candidate we are looking for who can bring a fresh perspective.” Again, it seems that whether a perspective is fresh or stale depends on the income of the one with the perspective. The higher the salary, the fresher the perspective!

While these leading members of the chattering classes argue about astronomical salaries for their compères, MTS workers have not had a wage increase since 2011. Although MTS management and the Transport and Industrial Workers Union have agreed to a new collective agreement, and, thus, a new wage structure, the Chief Personnel Officer is said to be the one to sign off on it and he refuses to do so.

The workers have to resort to marches and demonstrations to get the attention of the government. The Procurement Regulator, on the other hand, will waltz into a job, with or without a fresh perspective, which pays in one month more than the vast majority of MTS workers will earn in a year without having to lift a placard in the hot sun. Talk about class bias!

Image result for judiciaryThe latest jhanjat in the judiciary is another glaring example of different narratives as seen through the eyes of the privileged and the exploited. Lawyers and columnists are having a field day. Everyone is holding his head and bawling that the Ayres-Caesar/JLSC affair undermines confidence in the judiciary, which is the last bastion of defense of the rights of the people blah, blah, blah! Are these people for real?

The vast majority of working people and the poor do not have and never had “confidence in the judiciary” We know that the judiciary is integral to the structure of repression. We know it is not necessarily the criminal who ends up in prison or the innocent who “win their case”. We are quite aware that the surest route to acquittal is to be able to pay the best and most expensive lawyers. How many of us can afford silk?

In the eyes of working people and the poor, the judicial system is a monstrous, alien power which utilises strange, incomprehensible rituals to browbeat and intimidate the ignorant, the financially challenged and those who lack “contact”.

The judiciary has very little to do with justice. As Luta said, “The system works for the rich. It doesn’t work for the poor”. Equality before the law is a myth. The law does not protect the citizen from infringement on his rights etc.

Along with the police and the prisons the judiciary carries out the essential function of the state which is to guarantee the dominance of ruling groups by having the capacity to apply severe sanction to those who cross the line. Of course, you can cross the line and suffer no consequences, if you plunder the public purse, but woe be unto you if you cross the line by stealing twenty dollars worth of groceries or by using “obscene language” or smoking a little ganja. Confidence in the judiciary...when prisoners are on remand for eight, nine, ten years? Gimme a break!