Editorial: If it sounds too good . . .

We are all familiar with the oft-used expression: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!” Consumers are often warned to beware deals and bargains that seem to be extraordinarily good. In fact, the Latin expression “Caveat emptor” (Buyer beware) is the warning that we usually hear. Those warnings ought not to be taken lightly, especially if dealing with fast-talking salesmen and other hustlers. Of course, one of the world’s great fast-talking hustlers, and one who appealed to the lowest common factor in the American body politic, was President Donald J. Trump; he of the vain and flippant pledge to build a wall with Mexico paying for it.

Ah yes, to those who are concerned with building walls rather than bridges; to those concerned with abandoning the magnanimous Emma Lazarus creed in her poem, The New Colossus, and inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free; the wretched refuse of your teeming shore, send these, the homeless, the tempest-tossed to me . . .”; to those who went delirious at the reference to poor black people from Africa and the Caribbean as hailing from s**thole countries; and to those who delighted in the hateful rhetoric of “an army of invaders” filled with “rapists, terrorists, criminals, gang-members, drug-dealers and murderers,” the President’s pledge, especially the boastful part about Mexico paying for the wall, sounded exceedingly good.

But alas! It was too good to be true! Turns out Mexico is not paying for the wall. (Former Mexican president Vicente Fox had famously said as much in rather colourful language during the US presidential campaign). So now we are faced with an idle and thoughtless campaign promise that the president is desperately trying to keep, notwithstanding the fact that there is significant opposition from the Democrats, and the appropriation hurdles – Trump wanting US$5 billion is “a wall too high.” To their eternal credit, Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats show no sign of yielding and granting Trump his request – hence the government shutdown that now enters its third week!

Of course Trump is not the only snake oil salesman guilty of pitching a policy, a programme, a plan or a project that “seemed too good to be true.” We can think of the vain promise to fix the water situation in our fair state in 14 days. So too the equally thoughtless pledge to build 500 homes in 500 days. And four-lane highways. Not to mention the pledge to rebuild Barbuda better and stronger. And put together an “economic powerhouse.” Sigh! Folks are searching all over this blessed country and they cannot seem to locate this economic powerhouse or its turbines.

The numerous hyperbolic and unrealistic sales pitches and assurances that were too good to be true can be found in this administration’s 2014 Manifesto called, “THE PEOPLE’S RESCUE PLAN”. You see, we go back to 2014 because, never mind the passage of some four years, give or take a few months, and an early election, we are not seeing the “greater foreign direct investment,” strengthening of anticorruption laws (Don’t laugh) “to prevent conflicts of interest and other ethical breaches in public life,” a rebuilding of the Halcyon Cove and Half Moon Bay hotels, a “resuscitating” of the off-shore banking sector and “establishment of the University of Antigua and Barbuda . . . with the funds currently being collected by the Board of Education.”

Which obviously begs the question: Why the need for a proposed new 10 percent tax on banks, insurance firms and telecommunications companies in this year’s pending budget to support the fourth landed campus of the University of the West Indies at Five Islands? And so it goes: the fanciful spiel of matters that were to be addressed, and that sounded too good to be true, and were subsequently found to be not grounded in reality.

Ah, we almost forgot MP Paul “Chet” Greene’s “sweet-talk” pledge to fixing (perhaps dismantling) the Sunshine Hub car park right away. The dark and dank Sunshine Hub (the place is overrun with vermin and filled with fecal matter and urine, among other hazards), is a daily reminder of a ‘piein-the-sky’ sales-pitch made in the heat of a campaign, as far back as 2014, that had not been carefully considered and vetted by experts as to its feasibility. Perhaps Trump took his cue on too-good-to betruisms in 2016 from us folks here in the Caribbean. Ouch!