Sunday, November 10, 2013

Winner all! - the Peter O'Connor commentary

We ought to have been pleased to learn, or at least being told, that three self-congratulating winners emerged from last Monday’s bye-election. This is a measure of the delusion which prevents us from emerging from the pantomime which we are content to live.

In real terms, only Mr. Deyalsingh and the PNM “won”, in that they attained the prize, which was the seat in Parliament, and congratulations to him and the Party. And if he can encourage a little decorum in the House his victory would have been a minor blessing. The UNC said that it was a victory for them because they kept the Jack and the ILP from winning. Jack responded by claiming victory because the ILP denied the UNC’s Ian Alleyne the victory.

Come on folks, do we see what elections are becoming? A mass “team” cycle race where more effort is put in to blocking opponents than to heading for victory. 

As a dissatisfied electorate prepares to “vote out” the incumbent UNC in 2015, it will mark two General Elections in a row where we voted to “remove” incumbents rather than voting for progressive improvements to our society. We did not really realize that in 2010, when we were caught up in the euphoria of the coalescing Partnership stepping into the vacuum Manning was leaving behind.

And we will do this again in 2015, but as a people more cynical and skeptical. We will have no illusions then that the PNM might come as some sort of saviour. We know better now, having been betrayed in our hopes and dreams harboured in 2010. 

Surely we must all understand that the PNM will come in 2015 as a simple reincarnation of what the PNM has always been. Corrupt, vain, nepotistic, incompetent, and confining development to the urban areas, even ignoring the needs of Laventille and other disadvantaged area—as usual.

And the UNC will whine and complain that Jack “split the vote”, and still proclaim victory. But time will pass, and in 2020 we will vote out the PNM again, for all the same reasons we did in 2010, and life goes on.

So, who do you blame for this state of affairs? The politicians? Hardly, because it is the rest of us who really run this game. Many may go into politics for personal enrichment, (as well as for power), but they can only get rich if others help them. 

And who helps them? 

Big businessmen, bankers, attorneys, contractors large and small, accountants, business advisors, advertising executives, the media, everyone! Most of these are the “movers” of our economy, they are high profile people, prominent in select NGO’s, present in their churches and temples. Mostly they are very rich, for T&T is a very profitable business environment, and these people will do everything to ensure it remains so. 

And that means not offending the government in power. And that is why there is never any meaningful private sector objection or resistance to the many ills of governance, regardless of who is in power. And that is why they invest hundreds of millions into the political campaigns—to keep the corrupt status quo and ensure that what they require from the state is granted.

The media, I must acknowledge, does raise its voice, even as it blithely publishes, and therefore supports the overriding dishonesty, by carrying all of the financially wasteful government propaganda. The actual tone of the media seems more directed to sales than to genuinely improving the state of the nation. There is no profit in good news.

So don’t expect our politicians to change—not while local business is financing their corruption. The choices we will have to elect in 2015 will be the same as in 2010. 

It is we who have to begin to change, and thus influence, not the politicians, but all of the other Estates. Somehow we must begin to demonstrate that we will no longer accept the petty corruptions in our lives. 

We cannot start at the top, so we must begin to end our support for all the “little”” corrupt acts—at Licensing Office, VAT Refunds, Planning Permissions, and the like. 

We must all find the courage to speak out and expose petty corruption, and all “minor” lawbreaking— like traffic offences and littering. We must encourage our social institutions—NGO’s, churches, sports clubs, to speak up against petty lawlessness and corruption. 

We must demand that formal institutions—like the Bar Association, Professional Medical Associations, the JCC, Chambers of Commerce, Labour Unions put this issue on their agendas. We must pledge at all of our levels, to deny corruption, and expose it, where we see it.

If we can build a base of decency among our institutions, we can begin to influence our politicians to lift their standards. Not before.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai