Editorial: Cynicism abounds

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In addition to the hurricane season, the “silly season” is upon us! It is the time of the year when politicians climb atop a soapbox and utter speculative, wild-eyed and fanciful inanities in order to garner headlines It happens all over the world especially when there is a slow news cycle, or an upcoming election. Mercifully, much of what they have to say, “silly season” or not, is rejected out of hand by a discerning citizenry. Indeed, the summary dismissal of the “chaff” emanating from the mouths of our world’s politicians is now the default reaction of a jaded public that shakes its head and demurs that all the political “huffing and puffing” (an unwelcome pun at this wind-tossed time of year) is just a politician being, well . . . a politician. So, in this extremely active and destructive hurricane season, and one in which we should all have the utmost confidence in our leaders to do right by its citizens, cynicism abounds. Apparently, one of the casualties of Irma, Jose and Maria is trust!
Consider. When one friendly government airlifts cargo planes with supplies to a hurricane-ravaged country, the motives and friendships between those governments are questioned in some circles; so too, when one government hands over a big, fat cheque to another. And not to mention, when one hurricane-ravaged country promises to share its relief supplies with another. Indeed, in almost all of these ostensibly noble humanitarian gestures, eyebrows are often raised and motives are often scrutinised. The cynical questions on many lips are usually something akin to “Huh?” “Say what?”
With relief supplies pouring in from all over the world, and with relief bank accounts being set up, many, who are inclined to make donations, often wonder as to the stewardship of the donation. And that is certainly not a good thing, because at a time when we need donations most, perhaps more than at any time in our history, no one should be suspicious about the integrity of the disbursement of those donated monies and supplies. In fact, it was in response to the ethos of distrust and doubt that one politician basically admitted that those of his profession cannot be trusted when he uttered words to the effect that, “No politician would be placed in charge of hurricane relief bank accounts!” Hmmm! Talk about a “Freudian slip!”
Meanwhile, the seemingly gracious gesture by our prime minister with regard to freehold land ownership in Barbuda is being met with more than an abundance of cynicism and mistrust in many quarters, with accusations running rampant. So too the rampant accusations when it was reported in some circles that the great state of St. Kitts and Nevis was slashing its Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) fees by 50 percent in order to gain a material advantage over its other CIP competitors. Of course, it turned out that the St. Kitts and Nevis government was actually setting up a CIP hurricane recovery fund, and not slashing fees as was previously reported. But who cared? In this climate of innuendo, aspersion, speculation and yes, cynicism, anything goes.
Which is a crying shame! And politicians have only themselves to blame for the crippling atmosphere of fingerpointing and mistrust that pervades the body politic. After all, many of our politicians have not distinguished themselves in the past! Think “self-dealing,” “double-speaking,” “hidden agendas,” and “ulterior motivation,” and you will quickly see the reasons for the enormous disdain that the public harbours for grandiose pronouncements of altruism from the powers that be.
Having said all of that, we here at OBSERVER media urge restraint before a rush to judgement and a questioning of motives. Furthermore, we caution against casting aspersions on the character and ‘bona fide’ efforts by the authorities to do right by the citizenry. Be it in St. Maarten, Cuba, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda or other stricken Caribbean countries, we submit that nothing so impedes a recovery effort as internal squabbling and fingerpointing. Perhaps we ought to take a step back and give the politicos a chance to do their work.
But alas! Patience and trust are scarce commodities, and cynicism abounds! Indeed, the atrocious handling of the recovery effort in Haiti in the aftermath of Hurricane Tomas in 2010 and the bickering between the republicans and democrats over the apportionment of relief funds in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2012 are glaring examples of why this is so.
Again, we insist that a history of “smoke and mirrors” and an egregious lack of transparency on the part of those who hold the levers of power are the reasons for this pervasive lack of trust, so forgive us if we are not “crying for thee, Argentina!” And how pervasive the disillusionment? Consider the August 3, 2017 Quinnipiac poll that placed Congress’ approval rating at a miserable 10 percent. In other words, even the very people that elected them think that their congressmen and congresswomen are doing a lousy job! Oh, and Congress did not fare much better on questions of trust-worthiness and accountability. And it is not only the US Congress. Seems, in just about every world capital, cynicism is the order of the day! It is being served a la carte! For shame!

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