Category Archives: Politics

Run Mara Run

UPDATE 5 January 2011:

On 4 January 2010, Mara Thompson formally entered the ‘race’ by paying her deposit at the Treasury.  I do not think that anyone in Barbados expects her to lose.

I have closed the poll, which indicates that approximately 40% of those who participated thought that she should enter the ‘race’, and 60% thought that she should not.

End Update.

Perhaps I have reached a hope stage of grief, but if there is one issue in Barbados upon which Barbadians agree, it is that Mara should run.  The issue which divides us is whether she should run to, or from the responsibilities associated with replacing her late husband as the parliamentary representative for St John.  One thing is certain, having both father and husband as politicians, Mara is well prepared to count the cost of this pursuit.

Politicians eat their young

She must be aware that there are no long-term allegiances or logic to the behaviour of politicians. They can be in favour and out of favour with each other with rapidity.  Politicians in opposition deemed a former Prime Minister as highly incompetent and responsible for mismanaging the economy.  However, when they regained power, they facilitated him being knighted as a role model for us to emulate.

Politicians in cabinet deemed a former opposition leader as utterly useless in economic matters.  However, when he crossed the floor, they embraced him as a useful economic advisor.  Politicians appear to delight in damaging the reputations of persons with whom they disagree.  Therefore, Mara should run as fast and as far as she can from this type of political behaviour.

Barbados deserves better

At this stage of our development, Barbadians deserve significantly better representation in Parliament.  We deserve to hear our representatives honestly discussing the policy issues which affect us, rather than hearing them recite proposals that they appear not to understand, and cleverly attacking each other, and damaging the reputation of individuals and businesses with whom they perceive to be associated with their political opponents.

Mara is a stateswoman

Mara has consistently carried herself as a stateswoman for decades.  It is her choice whether to maintain that status, or to descend from it.  If she chooses to remain above the political mire, then her status as a stateswoman is maintained.  She can maintain her status by entering elective politics, and enunciating and defending her opinions without negatively speaking about those with whom she may disagree.

To my knowledge, Mara has no Caribbean role models to guide her.  Her political advisors only know the ‘cut and thrust’ of politics, the damaging use of political invective and innuendo, and the singular focus of getting re-elected at all costs.

At this point in our nation’s history, Mara is uniquely qualified to lead us out of this messy political environment into a responsible and enlightened type of governance.  Our parliament will not be accustomed to having a states-person in their midst, and will have to adjust.  Regardless of whether she is ignored, attacked, or emulated, I believe that Barbados can only benefit from her representation.  What do you think?  Please participate in the following poll.

Related article: Statesmen are preferred over politicians

Solving the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Over the past 40 years, proposals to end the Arab-Israeli conflict have generally specified the following two pre-conditions.

1. The Islamic nations must recognize Israel’s right to exist in peace in the region.

2. Israel must return the Gaza and West Bank areas.

These pre-conditions appear to conflict with the following aspects of Islamic and Jewish religious traditions.

1. Mohammed’s final command that only one religion must occupy the Arabian Peninsula; therefore, the Jews must leave.

2. Moses’ final command that the Israelites must occupy the Promised land, which includes Gaza and the West Bank; therefore, the Arabs must leave.

Previous proposals have largely ignored these religious traditions and have sought to apply political solutions to the symptoms of these religious issues. Islamic and Jewish political leaders are well aware that accepting their pre-condition would violate critical aspects of their respective religious traditions. Therefore, both sides appear to have negotiated in bad-faith in order to avoid the fatal consequences of making unpopular decisions.

Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin are reported to have been assassinated, because they were the first national leaders to formally accept the pre-conditions.  Until the religious issues are resolved, the Jewish and Islamic political leaders are essentially being forced to negotiate a compromise solution in bad-faith, because they are well aware that their respective populations will never agree to the negotiated terms.

Having studied the Arab-Israeli conflict over the past 30 years, I have found a workable solution to the conflict that resolves the religious issues and proposes an equitable political solution.  Essentially, there is compelling evidence to show that Mohammed never intended that the Jews to be driven out of Israel, and that God never intended that the Arabs be driven out of Israel.  The details are in the book: Solving the Arab-Israeli Conflict which is available on Amazon.com linked here.

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Link to:  Discussion on Brothers Kept Apart

Giving Professional Advice

Dear Readers:

The recent issue with the Caribbean Development Research Services (CADRES) poll and Cave Hill Associates Polling Organisation (CHAPO) poll is instructive for professionals and their Clients.  The CHAPO poll was popular, supportive of the then ruling political party, apparently backed by the University of the West Indies, and wrong.  The CADRES poll was unpopular among the then ruling political party, the pollster vilified, but the poll was accurate.

The CHAPO poll was wrong because it was based on a critical assumption which was not verified before the advice was given.  Rather than seek to subsequently verify this assumption, especially with knowledge of the CADRES poll’s stated assumptions, the CHAPO pollsters spent the time defending their poll.

All professional advice is based upon the interpretation of evidence.  Each professional is trained to examine evidence related to their professional discipline.  When interpreting evidence, professionals make various assumptions, which may or may not be correct.  Conscientious professionals normally take the time necessary to identify and verify each of their assumptions.

Sometimes a client may request that advice be provided urgently, before the professional has verified the assumptions made.  In such cases, preliminary advice is normally given, and the assumptions are subsequently checked.  If the assumptions are found to be incorrect, then the advice is withdrawn.  If the Client has acted upon the poor advice, then new advice is given in order to, inter alia, mitigate any consequential damage.

Pride should never prevent a professional from withdrawing and revising previous advice when it is found to be unsupported by the evidence.  Since professionals are liable for any quantifiable damage arising out of the advice that they give, it is imperative that all professionals be conscientious.

Regards,

Grenville

Manage what you Understand

Congratulations to the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) for securing the government.  Barbados has an unprecedented opportunity.  For the first time in our history, we have an Engineer elected to serve in Parliament on the government’s side.  Actually there are two Engineers and I am elated to the point of jubilation.

I believe that it is about time in Barbados’ development that Ministers of Government have some working knowledge of the Ministries that they are given to manage.  If persons are asked to manage what they do not understand, then they risk causing severe damage if they change policy.  These managers therefore tend to simply do nothing and allow things to continue as they were – only intervening when things are clearly out of control.  I am therefore hoping for the following political appointments.

Prime Minister – David Thompson

Attorney General – Fruendal Stuart (Lawyer)

Minister of Health – Esther Byer Suckoo (Doctor)

Minister of Public Works – Richard Sealy (Civil Engineer)

Minister of Energy – John Boyce (Mechanical Engineer)

Minister of Education – Patrick Todd (Mathematics Teacher)

Minister of Agriculture – James Paul (Agriculturist)

Minister of Sport – Ronald Jones (Educator)

Minister of Culture – Colin Spencer (Entertainer)

Minister of Economic Development – David Estwick (Doctor)

Minister of International Business – Donville Inniss (Businessman)

Minister of Housing and Lands – Michael Lashley (Lawyer)

Minister of Foreign Affairs – Denis Lowe (Clinical Psychologist)

Minister of Trade – Chris Sinckler (Trade Specialist)

Minister of Consumer Affairs – Haynesley Benn (Manager)

Minister of Tourism – Austin Husbands (Businessman)

Minister of Social Transformation – Irene Sandiford Garner (Journalist)

Of course the DLP is under no obligation to consider my selections; however, I do hope that they will accept the principle of “managing what you understand”.

Regards,

Grenville

Securing My Vote

Dear Readers:

Let me declare that I not a member or supporter of any political party.  Last election, I endorsed two politicians, one from the DLP and the other from the BLP.  This election, I only received the manifestos from the respective political parties this weekend, and have therefore had limited time to critically analyse them given that tomorrow is election day in Barbados.

Let me congratulate these two political parties on running exciting election campaigns, and for offering attractive incentive manifesto promises.  Barbados is therefore fortunate to have such a high standard of political campaigning, and essentially free of violence.

Both political organisations have put forward reasonable arguments of why they should be allowed to lead the next government. On the one hand, we have the Rt Hon Owen Arthur, who has done a remarkable job of managing the country during challenging times, and who suggests that we should trust him and his party to continue.  On the other, we have a party that has been in opposition for the past three terms and who believe that it is now their turn at the helm, since they cannot be expected to remain in opposition for perpetuity.

In order to make a decision on where to cast my vote, I had to ask myself whether there was anything that a political party could have done in order to secure it?  There were several things, and any one of them would have secured not only my vote, but my active support.  I list below my principal four.

1.  Since the party in opposition in every country always accuses the party in power of mismanagement, and since the efficient running of any business relies on the effective management of government services, then why not simply ensure that each government department complies with an effective quality management system.  Why is that such a difficult thing?  I have recommended the ISO 9001 Quality Management System for some time now, but none of the political parties have harkened.

2.  Since the party in opposition in every country always accuses the party in power of corruption, and since government corruption is of critical concern to international lending agencies, and since government corruption can guarantee its citizens a fearful, violent, and miserable existence, then effective anti-corruption legislation is required.  However, effective anti-corruption legislation in Barbados would clearly be dependant upon effective Whistleblower legislation.  Regrettably, none of the political parties have proposed the critical Whistleblower legislation which would have increased the likelihood of their anti-corruption legislation being workable.

3.  The spiral educational curriculum, which was developed in 1960 and subsequently adopted by Barbados, has proven to be a costly failure; however, we have persisted with its use.  Also, the physiological assumption upon which the decision to pursue a co-educational learning environment at secondary schools in the 1970’s was based, has been proven to be false, with damaging consequences for our male students.  Yet we have persisted with these practices despite their blatantly obvious failures, including approximately 70% of our secondary school students leaving school with little evidence of having attended – i.e. without passing any subjects.  No political party has proposed a critical review of this spiral curriculum; however, the DLP’s promise to re-examine co-education within the first 100 days is encouraging.

4.  There have been approximately 1 billion babies that have been murdered in the womb of their mothers worldwide over the past 25 years.  Not because the life of the mother was in jeopardy, or because of rape or incest, but because irresponsible persons have convinced women that they have a right to kill their babies in the womb, if they feel that caring for their babies would inconvenience them.  In my opinion, abortion for convenience, as a method of birth control, is way beyond wrong – it is evil.  Regrettably, none of the political parties have articulated their position on this practise.

Since none of the political parties has articulated their position on any of the four critical items, they have not secured my vote.  I will therefore enter the voting booth tomorrow unsure of where to cast my ballot, and do as my conscience dictates.  

Regards,

Grenville

Protecting Barbados from a Culture of Corruption

Dear Readers:

Government corruption is a major problem in many countries worldwide.  Governments who allow and engage in this practise essentially guarantee their citizens a miserable, fearful, or violent existence.  An examination of Government corruption shows that it is normally started by politicians and senior civil servants, and then becomes practised by companies and employees.

Once Government officials agree to receive bribes, then those businesses that normally do business with government, must either participate in the practise of paying bribes, or they may not survive.

Once a business has crossed that moral threshold of paying bribes, then they will likely demand that bribes be paid by those who wish to do business with them.  So the small service provider is forced to cross this critical threshold as well, and participate in this demoralizing practise.

Eventually, the cost of consumer goods and services will increase.  Consumers must therefore supplement their income in order to pay for goods and services.  Therefore, individual employees will likely demand that bribes be paid in order to give priority to specific work assignments.

The unemployed must therefore resort to violent robbery in order to obtain money to pay for all of the bribes, and responsible persons who do not participate in the corrupt practises will likely become destitute.

Government corruption is therefore started by short sighted politicians who have not learned from places like Nigeria.  Therefore in order to survive, every person must participate in the national culture of corruption.

Fighting Government corruption has become a principal concern among international funding institutions.  Many countries have enacted legislation to attempt to address this problem.  Both of our political parties have promised to introduce legislation in order to address corruption.  This is a good first step; however, the risk of it being an ineffective first step in Barbados is extremely high.

Effectively fighting Government corruption is, inter alia, dependent upon the cooperation of a senior civil servant who is aware of the practise, but who fears persecution.  Therefore, legislation to fight corruption will likely be ineffective if there is not adequate protection and incentive for those who are in a position to report corruption.It is therefore critical that Whistleblower or Disclosure Protection legislation is enacted at the same time, otherwise the problem of corruption will remain despite the proclamation of corruption fighting legislation.

Disclosure Protection legislation should include the following minimum provisions.  

  1.  A reward of 10% of any bribery money confiscated as a result of reporting a claim of corruption.

  2.  A penalty equivalent to the amount of the expected reward for any fraudulent report.

  3.  A compensation of 10 years salary to be paid by the employer for unfair dismissal resulting from reporting a legitimate claim.

 In my opinion, our political parties are interested in protecting us from the potential culture of corruption described above if they enact effective Disclosure Protection legislation.

Regards,

Grenville

Statesmen are Preferred over Politicians

Dear Readers:

Since we will shortly be choosing a Government on 15th January 2008, let me reproduce an article by Mr Lawrence Reed.  I received his permission to do so.  In my opinion, it is an excellent article and very relevant to Barbados at this time.

Regards,

Grenville

“A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.” —Thomas Jefferson

The term “politician” isn’t a popular one, even with politicians. Most people would agree that to be labeled a “statesman” is a much higher compliment — and that we need fewer of the former and more of the latter. There’s a general sense that statesmen lift us up, while politicians let us down. This column will seek to foster a climate which will produce more statesmen and fewer politicians, so let’s begin with some observations about what distinguishes one from the other.

Statesmen are a big cut above politicians, who seek office for thrills or for power or because they like the attention it brings them. Some politicians are better than others, but statesmen rise above mere politics, that meat grinder of principles. The clever politician knows how to manipulate power for personal advantage, but the statesman’s allegiance is to loftier objectives.

Statesmen don’t seek public office for personal gain or attention. Like George Washington, they often are people who take time out from productive careers of accomplishment to temporarily serve the public. They don’t have to work for government because that’s all they know how to do. They stand for a principled vision, not for what they think citizens will fall for. When a statesman gets elected, he doesn’t forget the public-spirited citizens who sent him to office and become a mouthpiece for the permanent bureaucracy or some special interest that greased his campaign.

Because they seek the truth, statesmen are more likely to do what’s right than what may be politically popular at the moment. You know where they stand because they say what they mean and they mean what they say. They do not engage in class warfare, race-baiting or in other divisive or partisan tactics that pull people apart. They do not buy votes with tax dollars. They don’t make promises they can’t keep or intend to break. They take responsibility for their actions. A statesman doesn’t try to pull himself up by dragging somebody else down, and he doesn’t try to convince people they’re victims just so he can posture as their savior.

When it comes to managing public finances, statesmen prioritize. They don’t behave as though government deserves an endlessly larger share of other people’s money. They exhibit the courage to cut less important expenses to make way for more pressing ones. They don’t try to build empires. Instead, they keep government within its proper bounds and trust in what free and enterprising people can accomplish. Politicians think that they’re smart enough to plan other people’s lives; statesmen are wise enough to understand what utter folly such arrogant attitudes really are.

Have you ever felt that in spite of a long campaign and lots of speeches, you learned essentially nothing from a particular candidate? That one was a politician. I prefer the statesman: the man or woman of substance who, win or lose, had the courage to lay it out straight.

Politicians are characters, but statesmen have character. A statesman is a man or woman of integrity, honesty and candor. You actually learn something good from what he says and how he conducts himself. When a politician leaves office, he’s largely forgotten. When a statesman departs, we know we’ve lost something.

Michigan doesn’t suffer from a shortage of politicians. First and foremost, it needs a citizenry that is vigilant about the nature of government and its proper role in a free society of responsible adults. That’s the sort of citizenry that then has the wisdom to produce statesmen.

Lawrence W. Reed is president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.