Black Stalin’s lyrics in his 1988 calypso ‘We could make it if we try’ have been occupying a space in my brain.
He sang: ‘So the Treasury broke and they say that recession jamming/And so to foreign countries Trinis start migrating/
They lose faith in their country, they say we gone down the drain…’
I can think of three waves of migration from Trinidad and Tobago. People left after the 1970 Revolution and after the 1990 uprising; and there has been an uptick over the past three or four years.
This uptick in migration will continue because the country has flatlined and, again in the words of Stalin: ‘Now the Treasury flat and the country come back to Square One’.
Once people leave, they are unlikely to return.
Covid has brought us to a different ‘square one’ where we need a combination of good people, ideas and innovation to reset our economy and help our country rebound. However, when I tune into the Parliament Channel, I am confronted with a phalanx of persons who display arrogance and a passion for destroying those ‘on the other side’—seemingly at any cost, with the entire country as collateral damage.
Taxpayers (the vendors in the street, the office worker, pensioners, others and I) have funded the lifestyle of these members for more than ten years.
But, I ask, to what end?
Every year through an oppressive web of taxes, we surrender more than a third of our income—which we earn at significant cost to our physical and mental well-being—for nearly non-existent government services. In some cases, we are paying for our own abuse, as government offices have us going back and forth all over the city for simple transactions.
There is neither vibrancy nor eagerness for tackling our deep problems. More than 25% of the current Parliament have been MP’s for more than 10 years and they appear stuck, unable to pivot in a different direction.
For employees who have this very syndrome, the Private Sector has a term: incompetent.
In the corporate world, there is continuous assessment of the performance of leaders; if you have not delivered according to your KPIs (key performance indicators), there are consequences.
Unfortunately, our population has no opportunity to assess performance other than the ritual of quinquennial general elections. And, like dishonest employees, MPs routinely promise to ‘do better next time’.
So this moribund group continues a weekly parliamentary charade, pretending to be going about the country’s business. If a contractor behaved like that in the corporate world, he would very likely find himself in court, charged with fraud.
If you have been in Parliament for more than ten years, you have presided over economic decline which began long before the Covid pandemic took root. You are responsible for the annual 500-plus murders we have been experiencing, either because you created the cumbersome system to select a commissioner of police or you interfered with the selection process.
You have either ignored or facilitated the transformation of our society into the ‘narco state’ some allege we have become. You have contributed to the collective decay we are all experiencing. You have contributed to the brain drain.
Worst of all, you don’t think you are doing something wrong or your conscience doesn’t seem to bother you.
In some places, you would have been escorted out of the building for failure to perform. You would have been required to go home and enjoy the permanent pension which you are guaranteed for the rest of your life.
In other places, you might have been taken to court, stripped of your benefits or even jailed for gross mismanagement of public funds.
From your own personal reflection, you should have accepted that if, after more than ten years, you have not made a difference, you have failed. You should give someone else the opportunity to make a difference.
Your conscience should tell you to resign. Since, however, it appears you no longer have a conscience, here’s my ask on behalf of the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago:
All Members of Parliament who have served for more than ten years, either as an elected MP or appointed to the Senate or both, please submit your resignation—with immediate effect.
PS: Please stay out of politics. Permanently.