That these are hard times; that business as usual just would not do and that the Government of The Bahamas is cash-strapped should – when taken together – alert Bahamians to the looming reality that some who should be up and doing are mired in denial.
Indeed, such is this state of things that practically no-one in a position to give the people the unadulterated truth about how things are is prepared to go on the public record with that litany of true confessions.
We now have on our collective hands a situation where practically no one in the know in education is prepared to speak candidly about how it arises that, after spending billions of dollars across the span of the past four decades, we have so little to show for public effort expended on schooling.
A similar situation applies to health care where no year arrives when we do not hear about the extent to which care for people suffering from any number of chronic, non-communicable diseases routinely chew up millions piled upon other millions of dollars of the tax-payer’s hard-earned money.
This list can be extended and were we to do so, we are absolutely certain that the result would be all the same. That is to say, we would have on our collective hands the moral equivalent of an awful mess.
Deeper examination of the same slew of troubles would show that their roots go deep; that the tap-root of this nation’s current woes is to be found in that space where in the late 1960’s a then newly-minted Black [Majority Rule] leadership sought to bring about social change without –at the same time – figuring out how to pay for the new schools needed; how to pay for that history where the health care of the masses was routinely neglected and of course, they needed to figure out how to pay all who would seek – whether as pay-back for votes or on the basis of merit – posts in the public service.
The answer that beckoned was that the Government of The Bahamas would do so in a then- income tax free environment by borrowing the money needed to ‘pay’ its servants; thus that long love affair between the indolent, many of the lazy, a coterie of idealists and nationalists and successive administrations across the span of the past half-century or so.
Like every other fantasy known to man, this one had its beginnings in hope. Today, this fantasy is being swept away as more and more Bahamians wake to the reality that things are changing, that the times ahead may be even harder; and that there may really be a need for all who govern and all who would do so, to focus their minds on what – if anything – can be done to uplift the now moribund spirits of people who once thought that they had it made in the shade.
What should be done will only be realized once a critical mass of Bahamians understand how we came to be where we are; and that where we are is itself rooted in ephemeral situations and totally adventitious circumstances.
Highest on this list would be the Cuban Revolution and how – in its furious impact on the American establishment – one powerful excrescence happened to be [in part at least] a so-called Quiet Revolution in the Bahamas.
And so it has been across the span of the past four decades that this country of ours has clearly benefited from an ever- rising tide of American tourists and a veritable glut of Yankee dollars.
Some among us did very well for themselves and their families.
And in the meantime, some not so fortunate knew that they could turn to their representative – PLP or FNM – for that much sought after government job.
Hand-outs and slackness became the order of the day.
And so it came to be that inch by dread inch a once industrious people woke to find that their ranks were being salted through and through with laziness, lousiness and [on occasion] artful law-breaking as in cases and instances where those in government employ would routinely seek tips from those persons passing their way.
“Money talks”…became the talk of the town.
The time may have come [and perhaps even gone] for the current administration to let the people know that there are on the horizon some difficult days ahead.
This current administration might also wish to disabuse any number of people of ideas they hold dear concerning the government’s ability to provide work.
As some say on the street, “I am not looking for work; all I really want is a government job!”
This is surely a tragedy.
Every penny spent should come as a consequence of having been earned the old fashioned ‘by the sweat of thy brow’ kind of way.