Friday, April 19, 2024

AS I SEE THINGS: Our brothers’ keeper

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An article published in last week’s SUNDAY SUN stated that Moody’s analysis of Barbados’ economic challenges, and the measures being instituted by the Government to address those problems facing the country, might not be effective enough to improve the economic situation in the short to medium term.
Hence, the hardships that Barbadians are currently experiencing might continue and that even more stringent measures might need to be put in place in order for there to be a turnaround in our economic and fiscal situations.
Even without undertaking any comprehensive analysis of Moody’s position, it would be interesting to consider some simple questions that can put all of these economic fears into proper context and raise the alarm bell for urgent remedies. For example, how will Barbadians cope if there are more direct lay-offs from the public sector and statutory corporations; if statutory entities merge; and if the general public is called upon to pay more taxes?       
To me, it is clear that if Barbadians are to be able to cope effectively with the future social and economic challenges confronting the country, then maybe we as a people might very well have to return to some form of tradition where village life once prevailed. Why?
You see, the Barbadian society has changed dramatically over the last 50 years. The limited research that has been done has shown that village life as it was called then no longer exists. But if we are to survive these turbulent times in our country, we each must become our brothers’ keeper.
We have to return to the days when our neighbours were part of our extended family and the community (church, school, village doctor and the residents) came together to help its own in times of need. Granted the demographics of the society have changed, the baby boomers of the 1960s have grown up and many have moved away from their childhood homes and now live in the heights and terraces where they no longer know their neighbours.
The current socioeconomic economic situation in the country should therefore force a lot of us as citizens to re-examine our lifestyles and look for solutions from among ourselves. The Government can no longer provide the answers to all of our most pressing problems. Therefore, the onus is on us as individuals, families, neighbours, and communities to get together to create solutions for ourselves.
Solutions can be found, for example, by forming neighbourhood watches and associations to address the issue of safety and crime since crime is a social problem on the rise; by forming buying clubs to help reduce the cost of purchasing food; and by returning to the formation of the friendly societies and the meeting turns as a way of saving money.
These remedies, as simple as they might appear are extremely important because as a people we are all experiencing the fallout from whatever weaknesses that exist in our economy and society.  Hence, like it or not, if we are to survive the rough times, we must become our brothers’ keepers.  
Therefore, irrespective of Moody’s analysis and predictions for the local economy, we the people have the power to make a difference and ensure that our country returns to a sustained growth path in the not too distant future. But that can only happen if we get the basics right and work alongside our Government to find the appropriate solutions to our most critical predicaments.
Brian M. Francis, PhD, is a lecturer in the Department of Economics at the University of the West Indies Cave Hill Campus. Email: bfrancis@uwichill.edu.bb

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