Saturday, April 20, 2024

THE LOWDOWN: Taking a bull

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LIFE IS TOO SHORT to waste time being a worker. Not me. I’m 100 per cent playboy. Yet I live by St Ignatius of Loyola’s prayer: “to toil and not to seek for rest; to labour and not to ask for any reward. . . .” Paradox? Not really. Let me explain.

After my first job at Sugar Producers, I served three years at the Ministry of Agriculture. Until a new law decreed I must take vacation. I told them I don’t seek for rest. They didn’t dig St Ig. So I resigned on a Friday and started a new job the next Monday. Three months vacation untaken.

Since the wife and I went into dairying in 1975, we haven’t had a day off. Except for two bouts of sickness. I’ve had a stroke, but I won’t strike.

By now you’re saying: Lowdown talking bare foolishness today.

But look at it this way. The plantation overseer and I rode horses together. Same activity. Mine was pleasure, his was work. You pay to lift weights in a gym, pleasure activity; I lift bags of feed, work. Tourists come here to go fishing, pleasure; fishermen “toil” to catch fish, work. Tourists lying on the beach, pleasure; politicians lying, work.

Work and play, same thing

You get my drift. Work and play are the same thing. It’s only your mind makes them different. You may get lucky with a few tourist dames on a cruise; I get to fondle 240 breasts a day milking the goats. Match that!

Nor am I into job security and employment rights. In a sense I’ve “worked” for the Nation for over 26 years straight. Whenever they feel I’m not delivering, one phone call will end it all. No severance, no nothing.

I would have it no other way. Given the near impossibility of finding honest, reliable, hard-working employees nowadays, none but inept sluggards need fear termination.

Which brings us to the shutdown talk. The young union Turks want to flex their muscles. Wrong time, wrong place, wrong people, wrong everything. In my opinion.

Our first Prime Minister called the Civil Service “an army of occupation”. Our present Prime Minister has called their union bullies. The unions need to face up to reality. In harsh economic times a largely unproductive public service is draining government’s finances; and taxpayers’ pockets. Too many public servants do little or no work while drawing full pay; they cannot be disciplined; they cannot be fired or retired (unlike, say, the governor of the Central Bank). They are a human sargassum choking this little island.

There are those who want to bring down this government by making the country ungovernable. As they did with the big march and Sandi. Thank God Sir Leroy didn’t bow to the rabble urging him to cross the Rubicon. Sandi fell, but legally. The present union leaders should beware of wrecking this island’s economy for short-term gain.

We are rapidly slipping into a Greece situation. Bloated, unsustainable socialism. Dr Morgan Job’s solution: “hard work by young Greeks (or Bajans) to open new businesses which earn export revenue; ipso facto, end the socialist delusion . . .” Guy Verhofstadt goes further: “end the privileges, the political corruption, trade union looting, downsize the public sector . . . .”

Dr Terrence Farrell says Trinidad must “die to diversify”. They have to get rid of government dominance in employment and the dependency syndrome. Owen Arthur has long pointed out that you have to die to get to heaven; we must all “make the necessary adjustments”.

It can be done. Latvia had a debt crisis in 2009. It imposed swinging budget cuts and tax increases. Output fell, unemployment soared, people left. By the second half of 2010, however, the economy rebounded. Soon it was among the fastest growing countries in the EU with exports at record levels.

The political scientists rejoicing that the unions have trumped the government aren’t telling you that it can only mean more taxes for all of us.

It’s time to take the bull by the horns. Taking a bull isn’t easy. I’ve kept many. Will it be the lot of Froon, Mia, Grenville Phillips or David Comissiong?

I don’t know. But, friends, it’s got to be done.

Richard Hoad is a farmer and social commentator. Email porkhoad@gmail.com

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