Daly bread: A more fearful future; soaring crime, falling oil prices and coronavirus

We washed and put away our sailor costumes last weekend. That induced a stronger nostalgia than usual for the carefree days of Carnival generally and, in particular, for Carnival Tuesday as All Stars sailors.

The nostalgia was a brief antidote to the keen awareness that murders—albeit unrelated to Carnival—remained an almost daily occurrence, with the continuing impunity enjoyed by the murderers.

Photo: Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith.

The police high command has asked what more we expect them to do? What a ridiculous question!
The answer to the question is: ‘catch them’. Until the detection rate improves from its current pitiful level, the police high command lacks credibility with which to infuse the frequent lectures and dismissive remarks directed to concerned citizens.

This Government, like its predecessors, has failed on violent crime. No surprise really, since there is nothing on offer by way of socio-economic reform, which might build greater equality of opportunity and objective justice—as well as diminish the prevalence of contact and corruption. Such a reformed society might well be less brutal than the one we have now.

Murders have already made the future fearful. It has now grown more fearful with the worldwide advent of the coronavirus and the swift damage inflicted on world markets, accompanied by many other major disruptions. We will not escape the menace of the virus and the disruptions regardless of the posturing of our authorities.

Fear for the future looms large. It seems that parts of the world’s economy and countries as big as Italy are going to crash. In our little island nation, our fragile dependency on oil and gas revenues will leave us even more exposed to spending more than we earn as energy prices have dropped precipitously.

Official estimates are that Budget revenue projections will fall short by 3.5 billion dollars. The budget deficit may become even greater as the risk of spending even more than we earn is significantly increased because this is an election year. Incumbent governments traditionally, and sometimes recklessly, spend plenty money in order to court voters.

Photo: Finance Minister Colm Imbert.

The electoral battle is mere months away and we should be focused on what are some key issues for us going forward. Sadly, such focus is not likely.

The problem is that the two major parties have not only failed on violent crime. They are both content with a political culture that obstructs accountability and permits glossing over every tainted act with the retort that ‘you did it too’.

This slackness is readily accommodated by a preference among the majority of ‘better off’ citizens for supporting the status quo, hoarding power and privilege and extracting whatever they can, whenever they can, from the pervasive contact system—self-righteously buoyed, in some cases, by emotive considerations of race and class.

In this lax and anti-progressive environment, our budget deficits are greatly increased by waste. For example, our Governments constantly fund bloated state enterprises and discredited sporting organisations.

In a searing letter to the editor last week, Samuel Lochan pinpointed the ‘collective and exorbitant debt of the 30-plus national sporting organisations’ and set out suggestions for accountability.

Photo: FIFA president Gianni Infantino (left) presents Sport Minister Shamfa Cudjoe with a gift during the opening of the TTFA Home of Football in Couva on 18 November 2019.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/TTFA Media)

Mr Lochan’s letter moved me as one of the champions of Thema Williams, the gymnast. I had decried the funding of discredited sporting organisations on the one-year anniversary of the High Court judgment which found that David Marquez, Ricardo Lue Shue, Donna Lue Shue and others had made Williams a victim of ‘their entrenched biases’.

Despite this decision, the Ministry of Sport gave funds to the Gymnastics Federation days after and the Minister was included in the smiling photo-opportunity. Will the Ministry continue this funding while Thema’s damages remain unpaid?

One of those who acted against Thema was on the staff of a prestige international school. He is reportedly still there dealing with other youngsters—a good example of the preservation of the status quo and the indifference of the bourgeoisie to the disadvantaging of the less well-placed.

Meanwhile, also with reference to a bleak future without accountability, Port of Spain Mayor Joel Martinez is yet to release the results of the audit of the wrecker service and to disclose how the spoils are divided.

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About Martin 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 and a steelpan music enthusiast.

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