Saturday, March 2, 2024

THE LOWDOWN: Hard Knocks versus UWI pampered


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And the children of Israel said, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger. ­– Exodus 16:3
There is a lady of means and circumstance who has lived among us for many years. She is a fascinating raconteur of history and has first-hand experience of the hardships endured in the Second World War.
These days she talks much about making coal. And about growing food. And of driving a donkey cart. In Barbados? She’s joking, right?
That’s what I thought. Until recently the water went off for over a week. And the electricity was off for a while. And I got to thinking . . . .
Suppose Barbados runs out of foreign exchange to pay for fuel to generate electricity, to pump water, to power our vehicles. Suddenly a coal pot, donkey cart and home-grown victuals sound more than relevant.
Barbados has serious economic difficulties of our own making. It didn’t take an economic guru to predict that if we continued with the socialist freeness policies, the well would run dry sooner rather than later.
What’s really scary is that, in order not to let the Opposition score points, Governments make the handouts irreversible – no salary cuts, no increases in bus fares, school meals at a dollar a week, free this, that and the next. Like the Israelites of old, we apparently would rather return to slavery in Egypt, or under the International Monetary Fund in our case, rather than tough it through the temporary wilderness of these times.
Nor should we believe it can’t happen here.
Check the utter despair in Spain, Greece and Italy where young people have little hope of getting a job, far less realizing their dreams.
Amidst all this, the focus has been on the issue of asking university students to pay their tuition fees.
Or submit to a means test if they can’t. The question must therefore be asked: at a time of crisis, can we keep university students in their present state of pampered luxury?
Serjad Makmadeen never went to the University of the West Indies (UWI). Nor did wrought iron pioneer Gary Husbands, cement truck “Cow” Williams, horse-cart Goddard, breadfruit tree Roberts nor countless others. They went to UHK, the University of Hard Knocks. But let’s stay with Serjad.
The last of eight children, poverty forced him out of school at age ten. He worked as a gardener for three years, then got a job delivering bread.
On his own initiative, he gave any customer who bought 12 or more loaves an extra loaf paid for by himself. Soon he was top salesman.
Scrimping and saving, he bought a small soft drinks plant and sold his one or two cases a day while delivering bread. When European manufacturers wouldn’t answer his queries, he changed his name to Joseph Charles.
The rest is history and you should google it for yourself. Suffice it to say that the Joseph Charles Bottling Works and its popular Solo brand are today a multimillion-dollar success story.
UWI is a different story. Impressionable youths, many just out of their teens, leave home for the first time and find themselves suddenly in a haven of reckless abandon.
If you want to get drunk every weekend, have unlimited sex, visit whorehouses, party, whatever, no adult will call you to account. So long as you do your assignments and pass exams.
UWI also seems bent on indoctrinating students to destroy the Caribbean status quo. We had George Beckford and Lloyd Best for lecturers. Listened to Eric Williams and C.L.R. James in person.
Back in Barbados, a Cave Hill student who often visited my farm in the 1980s would tell me gleefully how “petit bourgeoisie” like myself would have our land taken away. And even now we see Cave Hill writers still clinging to their agenda of destroying the merchant class.
We gave the Serjad Makmadeens of this world nothing and they have brought untold economic prosperity to their countries. We give our UWI students a fine campus, spectacular sporting facilities, overpaid lecturers . . . .
Compared to the Hard Knocks graduates,
or those from the polytechnic and skills training programmes, have they delivered in return?
• Richard Hoad is a farmer and social commentator.


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