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Noble: ‘Sheer arrogance wrapped up in faux concerns!’ The problem with selfish business rants

Planning for the unexpected and the unknown is a tough call. The Covid-19 disease has forced us to deal with a great deal of uncertainty. In many ways, the health issue, which has morphed into an economic one, represents an existential battle.

The uncertainty and the weight of the expectations of many citizens make our lives—in every sphere—hard. When one does not know whether the future is ‘heaven or hell’, it is hard to concentrate and make wise decisions.

Photo: Wha de…?!

Yet it is incumbent on us all to be able to disagree without becoming disagreeable. We cannot banish ‘others’ into nothingness.

Arguments are healthy and can help us find a way forward. It is the very core of democracy. Arguing gives us all the opportunity to examine different views and to choose which one serves the collective interest best. But there is need for this to be done in a spirit of openness and without vitriol. Shutting down arguments weakens the democratic process and makes it easy for evil to reign.

As imperfect as our country is, it is all that we have. Wherever else we go, we will be second-class citizens. We have to struggle with making our bold aspiration ‘here every creed and race find an equal place’ a reality.

The art of Peter Minshall, the tassa of our Hindu weddings, and the throbbing beat of the drums of Laventille all belong to us, making us Trinidadians and Tobagonians. We are forging our own Independence.

The process may be messy and at times it is exhausting, but eventually we will get to a better place once we keep everyone on board. The shutting down of others and the dismissal of the input of others do not help us to reach to a better place.

Photo: Peter George Jr is owner of the Trent Restaurants Group, which includes Trotters.

The rant of a restauranteur on morning television shows this past week seeks to divide and separate us and promotes the view that businesspeople rank higher than all others. Blissfully unaware of his privilege which enables media access, he castigates all. Shades of Animal Farm.

He intones that the country is in a social and economic crisis but many of us, who are less fortunate, already know this. People have lost their jobs since March. The social services network is under tremendous stress. Mental health issues are all over.

The country does not need to have a businessman tell them what they are already experiencing.

His rant brings to mind of a Jamaican proverb, ‘if yuh mash ants, yuh fine ‘im guts’, which means that people reveal their true colours when under pressure. What we witnessed is sheer arrogance wrapped up in faux concerns for the employees who are yet to be affected.

He accuses the present administration of not believing in business and of wanting to tell businessmen how to run business. It appears that he believes that the help and work done since March for the business sector is meaningless and that the sector, he represents is an important one, in terms of the country’s GDP.

Photo: Employees at Trotters Restaurant.
(via Trotters)

It is not. It is just over 1%. But this size should not cause him and others to be penalised. Indeed, they are not. There is research literature that demonstrates the risk of indoor dining and eating food in cinemas. There really is no zero-risk scenario in this pandemic.

There is no recognition that governments need to look after all citizens. He now criticises—after a sustained and palpable silence over the last 20 years—the economic mismanagement of multiple booms.

Was he too busy making money off the expatriate energy sector and our social media influencers to speak out before? Is the absence of this largesse now, more than the restrictions of Covid that impacts his business, forcing him to find his voice?

The irony of his lack of concession, when challenged by one host, that the wealth accumulated over the last 20 years could be used to support his workers escapes him. He insists that only the experience of the last seven months is what is relevant.

This points to either the future unsustainability of his business model or the belief that workers are dispensable and can be recruited when needed. Or he believes that we, as a people, do not understand that income statements (cash that flows in and out for a specific time period) are different from the balance sheets (the accumulated wealth generated and left in the business).

Photo: Derek Chin is the owner of MovieTowne.

But like the other businesspeople who got caught with their displays of ignorance since March 2020, the default position is always about our need to consider the welfare of their employees. They apparently hold no responsibility for their actions.

He separates the world into businesspeople and thinkers. Is it that businesspeople are not thinkers? The most successful regional businessmen are deep strategic thinkers. They understand that making profits is not inconsistent with caring for the wider community.

For them, the notion of social responsibility is not the handing over of a cheque. They do the hard work of understanding their customers and so are able to tweak their business models. But all of that requires them to be more than traders.

While invoking the picture of businessmen on their knees, he pokes fun at our faith community and taunts them to pray about the current crisis. It is fine if one does not have faith in God—this group is the fastest growing religious one in our country—but that does not give anyone the right to make fun of those who believe. This is downright disrespectful.

He urges Dr Keith Rowley to discard the medical professionals and their advice. He believes that Dr Rowley should give businessmen a chance to ‘save’ our country.

Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley (centre) at the BPTT Technology opening in 2019.
(via OPM)

Does this typify an attitude of dispensing people once they have served their needs? Or is it that he believes that they no longer are able to deliver benefits? No middle ground?

Dripping with sarcasm, he further lampoons the health care system on which the poor rely with no acknowledgment of tax leakages which contribute to that mess. This is jaw dropping.

It may just be that he has recently arrived and does not understand the pain that this creaky health system delivers while other businessmen/doctors make off like the proverbial bandits, having been educated on our dime.

If the consequences were not tragic, it would be laughable. Our business community must do better than support this rant. We have a nation to save.

About Noble Philip

Noble Philip
Noble Philip, a retired business executive, is trying to interpret Jesus’ relationships with the poor and rich among us. A Seeker, not a Saint.

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9 comments

  1. If we as Trinidadians and Tobagonians just for once would step out of our narrow bubble of self-satisfaction we will see and understand the brilliance of this article. There were those who kept referring to the UK and Europe as exemplars of opening our economy once again, for some strange reasons these voices have gone silent. These countries who thought they were leading the way by reopening quickly are now into tighter lockdowns than before. In Belgium the Doctors still have to work even though they are infected. The PM and his team have been miles ahead in terms of their foresight with regards to this virus. We need to applaud that.

  2. Brilliant article. I have been saying this myself. Let businessmen save the economy – we see that playing out in both the US and Brazil right before our eyes (both led by ‘successful’ businessmen). No thank you.

    • Agree!! What we are witnessing is a stunning level of arrogance, intolerance, selfishness, greed, bigotry and in most instances dishonesty on the part of these ‘businessmen’. Notice they are all either willing to or have already instituted protocols that exceed those established by the public health officials. When in our lifetime have you seen businesses so eager to follow the prescribed rules? How do you reconcile those supposed actions with their unwillingness to recognize that persons spending a long time i.e. in-house dining in an enclosed setting poses the greatest risk for the spread of the coronavirus. I suppose the sacrifice of a couple lives is all fair game in their march to acquire the almighty dollar.

  3. Absurdly arrogant stance by Noble Philip.
    His livelihood may not depend on the existence of this industry so his position is that anyone representing the industry’s interest with passionate dn commitment is arrogant. Would he call the union leaders who fight for workers rights with similar energy and passion arrogant?
    Shameful

    • Earl Best

      Clearly this is the first Noble Philip piece you’re reading.

      Let me invite you to read a handful of his other pieces, chosen at random, right here on Wired868. Then, if you’re not ashamed of the crap you spouted here, you can come back and have a civil discussion with us and we ‘ll pretend we don’t see your tail between your legs.

  4. In tough times there are tough decisions to be made. But in these times looking at what other countries have done is not so bad. Other countries have passed from what Trinidad has passed and have been able to open the business sector along side observing protocols that help mantain a safe environment. Other have been able to do this why not Trinidad.

    The easiest thing to do is not do anything and then blame anyone that complains. And that is not acceptable

    • Georgie
      Other societies like where? Other societies that hold “the business community” accountable as contributors to SOLVING THE PROBLEM and not merely parasitic, oligarchical spectators with nothing to offer the masses but contemptuous, coded, racist (anti-african) language?
      Please!

  5. Earl Best

    Tone-deaf–with a vengeance!