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It was President Jimmy Carter who first used the expression that we have selected as the title for todays editorial offering. It came by way of a nationally televised address in 1979, widely referred to as “The malaise speech.” In it, he lamented the apathy and disillusionment that he claimed had gripped the body politic, what with high interest rates, high energy prices, high unemployment, high inflation, a moribund economy and a prevailing mood of doom and gloom. Perhaps it was the sense that America was weak and ineffective as a world power that prompted the Iranian students to seize 52 Americans and hold them hostage for some 444 days.  Andrew Glass, a contributor at POLITICO [July 13, 2013] quotes the president as ruefully declaring: Many Americans view the federal government as a stagnant, bloated bureaucracy that is failing to serve the people. The political world is corrupt, inefficient and evasive. The crisis has led to domestic turmoil and the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation.”

Now if all of that sounds more than a little familiar, we suggest that that’s because it is. There is a crisis of confidence here in Antigua and Barbuda. The citizenry is in a foul mood because we are saddled with the kind of government that existed during the Jimmy Carter years – “corrupt, inefficient and evasive.” Just read the text of letters and messages from those in high places. Just read the letter with its sordid claims in today’s paper. We cannot vouch for its veracity, but it speaks to the squabbling and the finger-pointing and the infighting and the accusations amongst the ruling cabal.         

In case we had doubts before, our worst fears have been confirmed. We submit that Charles Dickens would recognise much of the conditions that exist today – promises made, precious little kept; many investors promised, very few actually arrive with their briefcases and three-piece suits, (for whatever that’s worth), pensioners and public servants bawling for their pensions and remunerations, the woeful lack of transparency, the cronyism, the YIDA disaster, the double-speak by those in high places, the AWOL-ism by  the constituency representatives of the ruling party. And on and on it goes. It is quite sad!

We here at NEWSCO have been keeping our ears to the ground and taking the pulses of the people, and it is manifest that they are not amused. Who could not be of a melancholy humour with word from tourism officials that this upcoming tourist season will be about 50 percent less than last year’s, which was already one of the worst that we’d seen in a long time? Who could be amused by silly talk from those in high places that there will be no stimulus because the poor will use the stimulus to do their hair and nails? Or that the poor must use their savings and tighten their belts to get by? The poor have neither savings nor belts. What little they had put away has already been depleted. Ask the hotel workers. Moreover, the belts have already been tightened to their limits. But the trousers are yet falling to the floors.

So here we are begging Roger Ver to provide 1,000 laptops to our high school students, the infamous over-priced e-books which were supposed to go to the primary school students, still don’t work and still have a paucity of content; our Covid numbers are rising; the tracking bracelets are supposedly coming in a few weeks; the adjunct hospital on Nugent Avenue is still incomplete; and the future does not look bright. In other words, nothing is going to change for the better under this administration – at least not anytime soon. If ever at all.

As you can imagine, we are not hopeful. After all, we have seen six years of their bluster and bluff, and we are not impressed. We mean, who could be impressed by the absolutely atrocious manner in which the people of Barbuda are being treated, and by extension, Mother Nature, so that rich folks can have their precious little golf course? We mean, things are so bad that our major post-Covid recovery plank is dependent on the subjugation and denigration of Barbuda and the Barbudans. Sigh! Remember it was our Prime Minister who candidly declared words to the effect that ‘he will fight the Barbudans, and would rather resign’ than yield an inch to their concerns. When it comes to giving Peace, Love and Happiness (PLH) whatever it wants, our PM is all in.  No wonder there is a crisis of confidence!

We decided to write about the ‘crisis of confidence’ after listening to the political leader of the United Progressive Party in his gripping appearance on the Snakepit this past Saturday afternoon. He mentioned the non-payment and profligate borrowing and spending of the  Social Security fund by the Antigua Labour Party (ALP) administration for 28 years. He mentioned that the mismanagement of the ALP back in the day, is strikingly similar to the mismanagement of this ABLP, and its “reckless disregard for money.” He cited the braggadocio and boasting about prosperity then and now. It was all a mirage then, much as it is now. He spoke with passion as he lamented how the people are being treated like dirt, as though they are beneath the political directorate. For example, he cited how LIAT workers, who have a legal entitlement to their monies, have been threatened, insulted and “let go with an attitude.”

The people of Antigua and Barbuda have lost faith with their government. This administration cannot be trusted to do right by the ordinary citizens. There is a crisis of confidence! Jimmy Carter would recognise it and weep.

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