Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Idle talk and drugs


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I WAS in the bus stand the other morning, catching the bus to go home after an early foray in town to buy vegetables from the market. I heard two old women gossiping. One had a basket on her head and the other was in a wheelchair.
“Yuh hear the Government borrowing money to pay the 40 . . . public servants.”
“Girl, da in’t wuh I hear,” replied the other in the wheelchair. “Worsa than dat, dey borrowing from the private sector too.”
“Yuh lie, uh hope dey not giving the private sector any IOUs.”
“The private sector en’t tecking any dam IOUs, dey have got to get something worthwhile.”
“Like wuh?”
“I in’t know.”
Although my ears were pricked, I moved away from this kind of talk. I would rather listen to what the official position is than engage in idle, foolish talk. After all, what would the private sector take in exchange?
On another subject, if people are engaged in drug-related activities that would possibly be another nail in the coffin of legitimate traders.
Let me show you how it works. Trader A, through some connection, brings in x number of bags of weed either by trailer or by speedboat. Let us say 50 bags, each weighing 100 pounds – 5 000 pounds. Cost price, $2 000 per bag, overall price plus kickbacks and bribery, $200 000. When marketed to my friends who are weed-eaters, the sales take from the street and the heights is $2 million. If it is cocaine it would be $50 million.
Let us say that trader A has a sister – trader B – or a subsidiary who sells trinkets, kites and balloons, it can afford to sell those kites and balloons at a quarter of their cost price, that is at a loss.
Let’s say trader C is in the kites and balloons business, then trader C cannot compete, neither can trader D, E or F.
The moral of this rambling is that drugs are economically bad for the country. Mark you, it is bad in many other ways too. Either the country gets a bad reputation as a transshipment point or it suffers health issues from the cost of victims afflicted by the curse.
Those who are involved with the sale or the importation of illegal drugs deserve the harshest punishment, not a slap on the wrist; judges take note. When the fellows the other day got over 125 years in jail, I calculated that some of them would not emerge until they are 160 years old. They would then qualify as the oldest people on earth and serve a useful purpose by enhancing the reputation of Barbados for longevity of its people.
The corollary to pushing and importing drugs is money laundering. That business is more than a crime; it is an abomination to a nation. Those who participate in it, I am told, will enjoy neither milk and honey in heaven, nor the pleasure of 50 virgins, male or female.
The same two women got in the minibus with me.
It was packed to capacity, so I could overhear what they were saying.
“Buh yuh can’t blame the private sector, dey catching dey behind like everybody else.”
Then out of the blue one said, “You hear Kaddafi declare war on Europe?”
The other said: “NATO gine bom the . . . . (here she used an excremental expression) out of him.”  
• Harry Russell is banker. Email quijote70@gmail.com

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