Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Politics is their meal ticket


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IN A SMALL society like Barbados, political service, though temporary, is seen by its holders as a job – one of the highest-paying jobs.

It is their meal ticket; it takes care of their mortgage and car instalments; it sends their children to university; it pays their credit card debt; and some of it will go towards assisting their supporters.

When you question politicians’ policies and programmes, they see that as a direct assault on their livelihood and they will maul you like rabid Rottweilers. If they have the added facility of language they will carve you up in polysyllabic slices. Sorry for you if they know anything about the skeletons in your ancestors’ closets!

They see criticism – no matter how constructive – as taking bread out of their mouths and they take it very personally. They are the most insecure of temporary workers. They know they can be laid off in five or ten years. Sooner, if their contracts are not renewed.

What can they do if they are not ministers or parliamentary secretaries or consultants? Become talk show hosts or open boutiques or one-door offices in Bridgetown with a secretary/typist and a messenger?

When the possibility of a pension looms – after only two terms – they will hang on for dear life like people thrown into the water from capsized boats. When pension time comes, they’re home and dry.

There was a time in Barbados when politicians were not paid. The people who went to Parliament owned Barbados; the productive land was theirs and, on top of that, they were handsomely compensated after the abolition of slavery.

One English historian recently calculated that the compensation landowners in the British West Indies received would translate to US$16 billion – with a ‘b’ – in today’s currency.

Most Barbadians wouldn’t wish to go back there, and I agree with Mr Grenville Phillips II that capable people are needed to run a country. They should also possess character and should be well paid.

They should deliver or move on and find other employment.

– Carl Moore


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