Where we stand‎ > ‎News & Comment‎ > ‎


posted 10 Oct 2014, 03:23 by Gerry Kangalee
There is one real business in T&T and that is the one of Government receiving the rents/proceeds from “managing” the people’s patrimony and distributing it. That alone gives life to all activity in the country to the country. The problem lies with how these rents/proceeds are distributed by Government - or more precisely the Chairperson of Cabinet at whose sufferance Cabinet members exist. 
There is little or no incentive or motivation in T&T to do productive work because we do not have a meritocracy and consequently diligence, innovation, creativity and hard work (DICH) are not rewarded. Anyway the DICH of others can easily be plagiarized and benefitted from – particularly by those in the state sector or those who have connections therein.

Most citizens have been conditioned by our leadership into the belief that work is about finding/creating a beeline to the coffers of the State or getting in with those who have such.

Our successful politicians can be divided into three groups that often overlap. The first is made up of those who cannot get a job outside of politics the second are those who see politics as a stepping stone to wealth and third are those seeking position and status. Most of our politicians qualify under at least two of the three.

A thought in all of this is that politicians are either legislators or they aspire to be so. They are about control and advantage and that means that they try to frame the Law so that it offers their Party and its leadership the greatest overall advantage and also control over its followers. Like lawyers they exploit the Law (and of course the best Lawyers do it best and are the most expensive and most sought after).

This is an abuse of the intent of the Law and manifest as tyranny, immorality and generally a corruption of our ideals and values – and our society, because right becomes whatever you can get away with – and that is better achieved by Lawyers and even best achieved by Politicians who are also Lawyers.

The activity in most companies in T&T involve some form of “Government relations” (some even call it just that) and we have a proliferation of political investors i.e. businessmen, who buy and sell politicians/public servants and/or facilitate the buying/selling of favours from/to them.

There is therefore no reason for anyone to create or innovate except in ways that provide them access to politicians/public servants and by extension to the people’s patrimony. Einstein is reputed to have said “Problems cannot be solved with the same mindset that created them”. To me this also implies that problems cannot be solved by “same minds” that created them – and all we have been having are PNM minds and UNC minds.

To overcome this “corruption” and foster constructive and meaningful creation and innovation we have first to put in place an environment that acknowledges and rewards meritocracy. Any initiative for this cannot and will not come from the “mindset” of our politicians or anyone involved in and profiting from the frenzy of feeding off the State.

Such persons exist among us as birds of passage (together with those who invest in them they live here as though they have somewhere else to go – and most of them do) and in collaboration with their minders/investors see manipulating or buying the public support as the only way to prolong their passage and ongoing feeding. Performance and delivery of goods and service to the public are not relevant or important factors in this process. Those you cannot capture, condition and coral you can always corrupt.

In the “party politics” practiced locally the interest of political parties and its leadership trumps that of the people it/they are there to “serve” and the country every time and in all instances. I believe that innovation and creativity should first and last be directed to improving the quality of life of citizens – particularly the old, the young, the infirm and the unwell – if only because we each pass through most or all of these phases in our lives. That should not have to be told to us by the brain or taught.

The truth of this should also be convincing to the self seeking and self centred because as citizens it would also provide for their personal well being, security and comfort. The logic that applies here is that in looking after the interest of others we also do the same for more than 80% of what even the selfish/self centred or even bigoted would identify as their interests. The argument for this is further reinforced by the fact that the money we are using to run this place comes from patrimony which belongs to each citizen proportionately.

Innovation and creativity should also be directed towards conserving our foreign reserves and earning us foreign exchange. If innovation and creativity and even technology does not include for providing the aforementioned then as a country we will simply not be sustainable in that we will be living on depleting natural resources and/or living on debt to be repaid by a generation that is with us today.

So let us dispense with all the talk about apps and the millions to be made from that and begin by talking about “apps” that will directly assist us to feed and “take care” of ourselves, preserve our environment, conserve and add value to our natural resources and generally address those issues that militate against our desire for an ideal quality of life.

Our history of experience and the reality would have already convinced Pavlov’s dogs that they cannot depend on politicians for doing what is obviously right and necessary. The only option left is self help and that means either revolution or we organise as groups independent of the political directorate, that will act to preserve our rights as citizens and serve to pursue measures to ensure our survival and prosperity.

Revolution is out for several reasons so I would begin the process by suggesting the following:

We establish employment activities that keep us off the roads.

We find ways to educate children at home.

We cultivate at home most of what we eat - and trade the surplus with neighbours or others.

We establish means of communication between, among us and others that are independent of the established media. What passes for media in T&T is of course very much part of the political problem in that how they function is determined by the messaging of their owners and advertisers.

We develop ways and means to persistently and critically evaluate and communicate on what Government and its minders/financiers are about and not about.

We include in our daily lives time for discussing and defining the issues we face and those being faced by the country and how we would like to see these resolved. This should include trying to see and understand similar perspectives taken by others.

We begin with the understanding that a lot of creation and innovation today is about i) researching the internet and seeking stimulation from and/or building on what is being done or has been done. ii) studying/observing/getting to know our local and natural environment and our traditions/folklore. iii) Finding ways and making the time to regularly communicate with what Jung called the collective unconscious.

Focus on ideas that we individually or in community groups can develop or experiment with (i.e. prototype) on a small scale. We should try to develop projects that can be done by or jointly with children/young people as part of their coursework in schools or Universities.