Monday, April 22, 2024

THE LOWDOWN: This is hell – no balls


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THE ANCIENTS RATED FRUSTRATION as the ultimate worst punishment ever. Sisyphus pushing his boulder up a hill; each time it slips and rolls back to the bottom. Tantalus in a stream under a fruit-laden tree, hungry and thirsty. He reaches up, the fruit go higher; he bends down, the water recedes.

The story goes an avid golfer went to hell. Satan showed him immaculate greens, golf clubs, the works. “Wow!” exclaims the fellow, “think I’ll tee off right now” “Only one problem”, cautions Satan, “this is hell, we have no balls.”

Next came Mistah ben Wooddick. Satan presented him with 70 gorgeous, scantily-clad virgins. “All yours”, he says. Another wow! But suddenly ben Wooddick senses something isn’t right. He reaches down and screams in despair, “Help me, Satan.” “Nothing I can do”, replies the Devil, “like I told the golfer, this is hell, no . . . , exactly!”

If frustration is a measure of the hell we’re going through, then Barbados is ploughing through Stygian darkness. And now we hear that, as a cost-cutting measure, the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off.

Let’s try to work this out philosophically. Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results”.

Classic example, our sugar industry. Every year we start harvest late; end up in the wet season. Don’t fertilise. Yields plummet. Yet we do it over and over and expect what? Isn’t this insanity?

Thomas Sowell says: “Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what worked with what sounded good”.

That applies in many spheres. He also said: “Intellect is not wisdom”. And “there are no solutions, there are only trade-offs”.

Let’s take another example: those manually-operated road signs used when half of a road is under construction.

They used to be a big red “Stop!” and a big green “Go!” Visible from nine miles.

Then the intellectuals got involved. Now it’s “Stop” and “Slow”, the latter kinda indistinct on a dirty orangey-brown background.

Should you proceed?

Actually “Stop and Slow” is a very apt slogan for things around here.

Well, folks, I feel it’s time to get to hell out of hell. The only cure for frustration is overcoming one’s obstacles and getting results.

As Sowell says, we may have to accept trade-offs over solutions and go with the lesser of two evils. But let us at least try.

So let’s look at a few oft-mentioned problems and compare Government, common sense and intellectual approaches:

The Warrens roundabout madness as highlighted by Al Gilkes recently. Government way: do nothing; accidents there probably sell lots of cars for our friends at Simpson Motors.

Common sense way: accept that it’s a disaster. Get Gully Bop, Al or anybody to redesign.

Intellectual way: make drivers practise there on Sundays. Build replicas in all countries from which our tourists come and insist would-be visitors practise on them.

Violent crime. Government way: build fancy courts and prison. Try offenders maybe five years after the crime. Water down gun laws. Continue to have imprisonment as your only punishment although it is deterring no one.

Common sense way: bring back the cat and hanging which work.

Intellectual way: require not only police but also criminals to wear belt cameras.

Stray dogs killing livestock upsurge.

Government way: ignore unless dogs are attacking their party yard fowls.

Common sense way: eliminate stray dog menace by effective means like shooting or poison.

Intellectual way: instead of poison, bait dogs with date-rape drugs. Then mate dogs with intellectuals. Their offspring will most likely be vegetarian.

And so on. People, frustration is killing this country. The fighters for improvement grow weary. You can hear it in Bizzy’s voice as his projects are stonewalled by bureaucracy.

Sir Hilary recently backed down from confrontation with Froon and says he’s coming to live in a chattel house down by me. Yet Sir Hilary was perfectly right: for many working-class families, free university education has meant that one of their own can now reach the heights of society.

Where do we go from here? We must be innovative, see what works, be prepared to fail. Unfortunately that requires leaders well endowed with those same items apparently unavailable in Hell.

Richard Hoad is a farmer and social commentator. Email


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