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A Question of Sacrifice by Gerry Kangalee

posted 27 Aug 2011, 01:17 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 31 Aug 2011, 03:52 by Dave Smith ]
"The choice exercised by the government is conditioned by their class perspective and the interests of the financiers of their political campaigns. The so-called guardians of the nation’s interests are really only interested in their own corporate well being."
We hearing a lot of talk recently about sacrifice. It comes up when the general strike or the state of emergency is the topic.

“We” must sacrifice, they say, in the national interest. The economy cannot afford more than the non-existent 5% cap so workers should be reasonable and consign themselves to another three years of deepening scrunt, nevermind most of you last got a wage increase in 2007.

Who is this “we” who must sacrifice to save the economy? Only workers? No cap on prices? No cap on profits? Who sacrificing for who(m)? Workers must be content, indeed they should volunteer, they say, to sink into poverty so that the parasitic business sector could rake in millions.

Let’s look at Republic Bank. After tax profit at the end of their 2010 financial year moved from $736 million to $805 million. Their total assets grew from $25.3b in 2009 to $29.1b in 2010. That is $3.8b more in a year of economic downturn. Clearly there was no downturn for Republic Bank. It is our patriotic duty to sacrifice for Republic Bank

Let’s look at Ansa McAL. In the Report of the Group for the year 2010 Chief Operating Officer Gerry Brooks boasted: “In my prior year’s Chief Operating Officer’s Report, I indicated “we heard there was a recession but we decided not to participate”

2010 is the third consecutive year in which the Group exceeded the five billion revenue threshold. Equally encouraging, Group’s Profit Before Tax increased 11% to $954 million –which is the Group’s best ever performance. It is also the best performance in the regional conglomerate peer category.”

It gets better. On Friday August 12th 2011, Ansa McAL issued a media release which stated ” In the midst of the global economic downturn and a slow recovery, the ANSA McAL Group of Companies has recorded its best first half results with a profit of $426 million before tax.” In the national interest we must sacrifice for McAl? What is Sabga and his clan sacrificing? Some people are doing well while others are ketchin’ hell.

They say “we” must sacrifice and support the state of emergency. They say they know that the restricted hours are having an impact on the economy but we must cheer and bear it in the “fight against crime”.

Ex PP Senator, Patrick Watson, former calypsonian and Red academic, is cited in the Newsday of 25th August as saying: “there is no doubt that there will be some loss in productivity as a result of the curfew...He explained that while people would be prepared to make a sacrifice if by the end of the state of emergency people see “a beginning to the end” of criminals dominating the country’s landscape”

Stephen Cadiz, Minister of Trade and former crime fighter, using his best Don Quixote imitation, is cited in the same newspaper as saying that: “…the country’s economy may actually benefit from the state of emergency. Most business people are willing to make a temporary sacrifice for a better and safer future…it will affect food service industries, cinemas, a whole host of different sectors but I think people realise that it’s a small sacrifice...a very, very small price to pay for the long term sustainable development of this country,” Cadiz added.

Both Watson and Cadiz address the sacrifice question from the point of view of the business sector. Cadiz is right: they will make a “small” sacrifice, they can bear it; they have reserves. But what about the workers who have to sacrifice their minimum wage pittance that the government reluctantly increased to $100 per day in the shameful saga of the struggle for a living wage.

What about all those working in bars, fast food outlets, restaurants, casinos, clubs, cinemas, guest houses, hotels, the entertainment industry, stores and other such establishments. Their loss of income due to a reduction in work hours is shattering.

Many of these workers are female, fighting up with children, with school about to open. They live from pay day to pay day, juggling bills for food, transport, rent. Watson’s “loss in productivity” translates as workers’ living conditions being devastated. The enormity of their forced sacrifice puts Cadiz’ small sacrifice in perspective. Small business folk, vendors, taxi drivers, PH drivers will also be affected.

Check for Selby Wilson, former NAR Minister of Finance and head of the Telecommunication Authority; the man who led us into the clutches of the IMF in 1989; a man who business well fix. When a caller on Talk City Radio raised the issue of these workers, he spewed out the same dotishness about people having to sacrifice for the greater good.

Is only chupid talk about the state of the economy as if the economy was some god-given abstract state of affairs imposing itself upon us puny humans. The economy is not economic indicators, statistics, mathematical models and incomprehensible jargon. That is the bogus science of economics.

Economics obscures more than it reveals about the economy which is a complex web of relationships between people who interact with one another, in overlapping groups and sectors, as they seek their interests and adjust themselves to the interests of others in the struggle for production and the class struggle.

The economy, unlike the quality of mercy, is not something imposed from heaven. It responds to policy decisions which reflect class interests; these policy decisions are determined by the state of the power relationships in the society. Economics, as British historian EH Carr insisted, is the science of how some people push others around.

People have always proved willing to sacrifice for what they perceive to be in the best interests of themselves their family, their community. More and more this force-ripe state of emergency seems designed to obstruct and frustrate the movement toward a general strike than to deal with repressing the criminals; bread and circuses to distract from the seething anger in the country at the betrayal of its manifesto by the People’s Partnership.

Workers must sacrifice and cheer on Curfew violators will be shot Volney and Gang leaders are the big fish Ramlogan while they feed their children on flour pap and try to rip down a school uniform hem which was already ripped down last year. But, say what, sophisticated leaders of criminal enterprises are being arrested. As Eric Williams would have said, through the mouth of the Mighty Sparrow, just shut up and have respect.