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Thursday, May 04, 2006

We wore black... Now a word from a guest...

My friend Colin, now resident is Canada, will surface occasionally and distribute to his circle a most insightful missve. Generally it's an update providing details of where he's been and what he's been up to in the months that we haven't seen or heard from him, together some sort of commentary. Further, it's delivered in the same tone and inflection with which he speaks, so to hear from Colin is often to really hear from Colin.

What most people appreciate is Colin's ability to not only tell it like it is and passionately so, but also his ability to hit the mark squarely on the topics that he chooses to comment. And always, his commentary is delivered with a dry wit that his compatriots have come to truly enjoy.

Colin wrote the piece that follows as a comment on one of the previous postings. However, I felt it deserved its own place in the sun. With his permission, his unedited commentary follows.

Keith is my oldest friend. (I'm not kidding folks, I've known him since I was 2 years old). Despite seperate life-paths,we've still managed to keep it going, no small feat in this age of instant gratification.

Which brings me to my comment. I am notorious for my disuse of blogs, or any web forum. I'm online all day in either MSN Instant Messenger or Skype, so I don't really have time (or inclination)to post or read postings.

But this one is different for a number of reasons. First, because Keith started this blog; I know that my time will be well-spent reading whatever is submitted.

Second, I love my country. And I have been deeply angry for years with the private sector and the apparently chronically supine 'leadership' of whatever has been passing for governments of Trinidad and Tobago.

It's that same inane mentality of instant gratification. The mindset that says "I want it, I want it all now, and if you don't like what I'm doing to get it, tough. You can't stop me anyway."

Since the oil boom days this has been going on: remember Lord Shorty taking Eric Williams to task for his flippant "money is no problem" statement? Things are pretty much the same now. 'Money is no problem' for some folks.

I agree with and appluad the calls for all of us to work together, but in my opinion, the buck (pun intended) stops squarely at the door of the most affluent members of the corporate sector; and this includes all the finincial institutions, the oil and associated industrial companies, and the entire telecommunications industry. There would be far less need for NGO's (and for that matter, government involvement) if greater GENUINE long-term entrepenuerial philanthropy was practised consistently by the larger enterprises(as opposed to self-serving Public Relations 'community activities').

There is an obscene amount of money circulating in T&T, but only among the upper echelons. Ever heard of that old 'trickle-down' theory of economics? Yah, well, there's something trickling down alright, and it ISN'T wealth.

The way I see it, and I am only too happy to be corrected, the private sector does whatever back-room deals it needs with whomever is wasting my vote in Government, to serve its own ends; and the citizenry-at-large be hanged. That whole Jack Warner/World Cup ticket fiasco is a great example of what is probably going on as a matter of course. Just that in this instance, more people were directly affected at one time than normal - and in a more public arena.

Which is not to say I don't think that the people we allow to administrate our lives could not do more as well. For one thing, they could hold both foreign investment groups and companies (BP, anyone?) and the local private sector socially accountable - perhaps stipulate that the conditions of any contracts being awarded or tariffs being lifted included a certain amount of money handed over (with full transparent auditing) for specific nation-building projects.

Such as what, you ask? How about a steady pipe-borne water supply for all; full training and vetting of all staff in the emergency and protective services (and yes, this may mean some cleaning up and bucking up among the veterans too, but at what price pride?);these are just two examples. But I trust you get my point.

Third (for those of keeping count) my father was held up with a gun in his face while I stood 2 feet away, last year, on the Sunday before Easter, at his own back door. I'm not going to go into any more details (it's far and away the worst thing I've ever experienced) except to say that the gunmen fled, my father was unharmed, and I have had to battle some serious vigilante impulses ever since.

So when that man, that Man-ning makes glib comments about crime being 'temporary', and I hear about the horrors that seem to be almost a daily staple of life in T&T, I just seethe with frustration. I moved to Canada just 4 months ago, and in that short timne, it seems to have become even more lawless. And that poor boy's death, coupled with what happened to my father have only made it harder for me to disagree with those who say it is unsafe.

I agree with you all about those who seem to go out of their way to lambaste the nation. But the sad fact is, T&T is unsafe. It certainly isn't the T&T Keith and I knew growing up in Diamond Vale (sad smile).

Keep good and safe, folks!

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