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Going on the same way: Daly looks at enduring criminal and economic blights

I have noted with interest the Prime Minister’s statement that it is unacceptable for citizens to be gunned down in cold blood. This was followed by a statement from the Minister of National Security expressing concern about killing and brutality across the country.

Photo: Another lifeless body prepares for a trip to the morgue.
Photo: Another lifeless body prepares for a trip to the morgue.

Regular readers of my columns and those who are re-reading my columns in my book, the Daly Commentaries, will not be surprised when I disclose that the words of the above paragraph were precisely the words of the opening paragraph of a column published on 31 October 2004.

More than 10 years later, that paragraph might just as accurately describe what the current Government has been saying recently about the continued wanton murders at a rate of more than one per day.

That column was entitled: What Comes Next? It included a critique of one of the deficiencies of our politics namely that there are many announcements of what is going to happen, but yet never seems to happen. It also raised a recurrent theme about our failure as citizens to try to take control of an agenda for the country.

Throughout my time as a columnist, I have asserted that we sit back and wait for the leaders to bring hope for the future to us. The top down approach will not cohere without the glue of enduring individual and interlocking commitment to agreed common objectives.

The success of the current West Indies Twenty20 teams is testimony to such a commitment, although I remain skeptical that we will fully get our regional cricket groove back.

Photo: West Indies cricketer Lendl Simmons (left) celebrates after winning the World T20 cricket tournament semi-final match against India at The Wankhede Cricket Stadium in Mumbai on 31 March 2016.  (Copyright AFP 2016/Punit Paranjpe)
Photo: West Indies cricketer Lendl Simmons (left) celebrates after winning the World T20 cricket tournament semi-final match against India at The Wankhede Cricket Stadium in Mumbai on 31 March 2016.
(Copyright AFP 2016/Punit Paranjpe)

Whenever we are in trouble there is increased talk about consultation. Many times it merely means going through the motions of consultation or seeking an opportunity to protect a vested interest.

What consultation really needs is that we seek each other out and agree, if possible, mutually beneficial agendas for ourselves and for the orderly social development of our country seeking common ground regarding issues that affect our daily lives.

In that way we can form alliances and apply pressures to drive the political parties to do our bidding and not simply grant the winner of an election five years to do as they please regardless of what was put before us to win our vote.

Economic agendas are of course among the most contentious because it is so hard for individuals or groups to make economic sacrifices. It is obvious to me that making sacrifices becomes harder when there is, as we have, a low level of public trust between the rulers and the citizens and among the citizens themselves.

Added to this, living standards have been artificially driven to a sweetly high level for some but there is much bitterness in the hearts of others because of constantly perceived unfairness and a lack of objective justice. These are all circumstances that are not conducive to fostering a sense of collective responsibility.

Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley. (Copyright News.Gov.TT)
Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.
(Copyright News.Gov.TT)

I have insisted that so much of what is dysfunctional about our society, including criminal activity, is driven by a culture that facilitates and even encourages dysfunction.

In economic matters, dysfunction is omnipresent because we have never risen above political contests that determine which side and its followers will benefit from contributions of dirty money and from State patronage, at the heart of which is the state enterprise system.

These contests determine what unearned largesse will be funnelled through to political satellites and special interest groups or into the hands of schemers or of those who cravenly, or for advancement, acquiesce in the status quo. This all forms part of the dependency syndrome, which blunts initiative and the will to reform.

It appears that I am now in good company. In an interview following the submission of the report of the Economic Advisory Board, Terrence Farrell, Chairman of it, said “culture was at the heart of understanding why things in the society were the way they are” and asserted that “we cannot go on this way.”

I have delineated many aspects of our culture that inhibit our development. I look forward to Dr Farrell’s promised book on the subject.

Photo: Bribery has long plagued Trinidad and Tobago's public sector. (Copyright Canadian Business)
Photo: Bribery has long plagued Trinidad and Tobago’s public sector.
(Copyright Canadian Business)

In the course of the distribution of the spoils there is massive waste and abuse of power.

Immediately after the last election I asked in this column whether we could rescue political power from the feeding troughs of State patronage. These troughs are embedded in the political culture.

There are also significant contradictions. A year or two ago manufacturers, fast food chains and others were lobbying to import labour.

Now that we have huge job losses in the energy and heavy industry sector, what became of the jobs for which we reportedly needed to import labour? Are these not now available for alternative employment to mitigate current job losses?

When will the Government tackle the waste and reform the socio economic structure that has manifestly failed us and seduced citizens into apathy and forced many into unemployment?

 

AboutMartin Daly

Martin Daly
Martin G Daly SC is a prominent attorney-at-law. He is a former Independent Senator and past president of the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago. He is chairman of the Pat Bishop Foundation, a board member of The Little Carib Theatre and Folkhouse and a steelpan music enthusiast.

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5 comments

  1. I take comfort in knowing that despite not being able to buy a car, or afford to commute, and belly growling while I am walking on the road, Dr. Rowley’s back will be safe and comfortable in his new – mere $.9 million – Mercedes S-Class, as he passes me by – whoosh!

    Let’s Do This!

  2. While i might agree that culture facilitates and even encourage a dysfunctional society – our main problems are of a political nature and the Country’s mindset – Until we introduce legislation or amend our Constitution to address Campaign Financing , nothing is going to change in T & T . Observe that no Political Party is interested in addressing the dysfunction which is omnipresent because, we have never risen above political contests that benefit from dirty money and from State patronage, which is the heart of the State enterprise systems.

    • History has shown us that no matter how much you legislate, the overriding culture of no enforcement, corruption, laziness et al, will continue to prevent progress and maintain the dysfunctional society. It’s apparent that not even the pain of death and economics is capable of making change.

  3. Yup, same shit, different day ….. I think by now most thinking people realise that the response to current challenges involves regurgitating 1980s solutions….

  4. If d dictionary had pictures to visualize words ah Trini would be pictured under selfish, because it so easily defines us a people

    We care nothing for sacrifice in the name of the greater good

    Great countries are forged from the blood sweat and tears of patriots., we have few in general and more or less none in parliament.