For those not in the know, we have replaced the word “economy” with “stupidity” in today’s title. The title is a play on the de facto campaign slogan of the successful Bill Clinton 1992 presidential campaign: “IT’S THE ECONOMY, STUPID!” The slogan, coined by campaign manager James Carville, and originally intended as an internal talking point, was so popular that it was placed on campaign signs – like the one seen in our front-page photo! Those signs lined the streets and highways all over the United States, and are widely credited with helping candidate Clinton defeat incumbent President George H. W. Bush, since they spoke to the reality that many Americans were feeling – economic hardship, made all the more painful by a president who seemed out of touch with that reality.
Here in Antigua and Barbuda, we are seeing several signs at the sides of the ridiculously painful-to-drive-on Sir George Walter Highway and Friar’s Hill Road, and we cannot help but think of the Bill Clinton slogans at the sides of the American roads and highways. The huge difference is that the American road users could clearly read the slogan from their passing vehicles. Here in Antigua and Barbuda, only grazing goat and sheep (at least, those animals that dare brave the dust and exhaust fumes from slowed traffic) can see what the hell is written on our signs. Oh, the stupidity – nay, the absurdity – of placing signs with print so small that it is impossible for road users to read them from their passing vehicles! Lawd, bless our eye-sight!
Which begs the head-scratching question: Is this another in a long series of insults and disrespect to Antiguans and Barbudans by those charged with building those grandiose highways; the highways to nowhere, the highways to hell, the highways that are “paved” . . . er . . . make that “unpaved” with good/bad intentions? Or is this yet another example of the undeniable stupidity of the bumbling idiots who can’t seem to do any blessed thing right. Talk about “Pity my stupidity!”
Of course the idiotic and useless signs at the sides of our aforementioned roads are a metaphor for all that is wrong here in our bit of paradise. Drive-by grand announcements of deals (with far-reaching implications) with nary an input or consultation with the people. Drive-by reading and passage of bills in parliament. Drive-by signing of contracts with rip-off and usurious companies. And what is more: the preposterous signs at the sides of those roads could easily be a reminder to all Antiguans and Barbudans that IT’S OUR PATRIMONY, STUPID! IT’S THE INCOMPETENCE, STUPID! IT’S THE USE-YOUR-CONTACTS, STUPID! IT’S THE FAILED PROMISES, STUPID! IT’S THE CREATIVE ENRICHMENT, STUPID! IT’S THE CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, STUPID! IT’S THE DELAYED JUSTICE, STUPID! IT’S THE LIES, STUPID! IT’S THE DELUXE BAILOUT, STUPID! IT’S THE STAGNANT ECONOMY, STUPID!
Those signs at the sides of the road will serve no useful purpose, save to remind all Antiguans and Barbudans of all that ails our poor country. Be reminded, my brothers and sisters. When you slow down to strain to read the minute lettering on the asinine signs, please be reminded that those are just more acts of folly in the theatre of the absurd!