Today’s Bahamas is fast becoming an exemplar of what can happen to a people when they fail to put adequate resources into making adequate provision for the production of goods and services dedicated to the achievement of the common good.
More to the point, the ‘common good’ – as we understand the term – refers to accessible and affordable public health care system for all; and effective system of public safety and security for all; peace among the nations of the world for all; a just legal and political system; an unpolluted natural environment for all and a flourishing economic system for all strata of society.
When for example inadequate provision is made for serving the people’s need for quality schooling and education for their children, the society at large can – as day follows night – await the day when it reaps a bountiful harvest of thugs and illiterate misfits. By the same token, when society at large is gulled into consuming so-called junk food, that society can – as night follows day – await the day when it reaps a harvest of people who are suffering from any number of chronic non-communicable diseases.
Obviously, when utility rates are too high, when the cost of food, shelter and health are high and rising, no one with an iota of good sense should pretend surprise when crimes against property escalate.
There is that other gnawing reality which confirms, far too many of those who lead and who make decisions that impinge on the lives of the masses have nary a clue how these people live, or for that matter how most of them die. For better or worse, this is changing as economic realities on the ground in the country, this region and around the world conspire to rent every veil; tear away all curtains and burst down all doors dividing the rich from the poor.
There is today a dawning set of realizations: – the rich can and do sometimes slip from their high perches; the working poor can sometimes slide into poverty’s maw and that the swelling ranks of the reserve army of the unemployed guarantee the need for more police, more guns and more equipment. Tragically, every single penny, every single dollar put on security is money that will not and cannot be put on development!
This fact of life is today being both compounded and therefore savagely exacerbated by a national economy that is not expanding; by a huge pool of unemployed [and some say unemployable] youth and by a congeries of ills salted throughout what is clearly a crime-sickened social order. Better days can come; but we must – as a people united in service and love – make some of those things happen. Any such change agenda should include local level governance for New Providence, land reform and a speeded up agenda aimed at the empowerment and animation of any and all projects aimed at deepening Bahamian ownership and investment not only in the Bahamas; but in places as diverse as Jamaica and Haiti.
Such an agenda for change could and should involve putting in place policies aimed at increasing not only food production in our country, but also a policy aimed at resolving our country’s persistent dilemma regarding so-called undocumented migrants living and working in the Bahamas. And even as we wish for leadership that would help realize these ideas, we do so cognizant of the fact that crime and the fear it spawns – if allowed to run unabated – can upend even the best as they try to do their best.
And then, there remains that other pesky reality – the national debt.
There is no gainsaying the fact, generations of Bahamians – with some not yet born- that will find themselves struggling like nobody’s business to pay it off. We make this point against a broader backdrop that has as its major premise that, while few Bahamians alive know either little or next to nothing about how hard life was the masses of the Bahamian people in days now long gone, there are – yet – some of this nation’s elders who can remember times when things were really, really hard.
Some of those people who can and do remember are today living in a time and place where and when, hard times are falling even faster; and where there is every indication that things can morph from bad to worse. But while all of this is clearly bad enough and while things can get worse, yet we remain cautiously confident that things will return to some rough congruence with that situation that existed in fairly recent times when Bahamians were optimistic and when they understood that they could and should work together for the achievement of the common good.