Editorial: No big deal

0
18
- Advertisement -

It was the callous way in which he dismissed the spending of EC$350,000 as ‘no big deal’ that raised many eyebrows. How could a Prime Minister, a man who, by his own admission, came from ‘Regular Joe’ beginnings – a putative ‘man of the people,’ a populist who feels the pain of those who lead lives of quiet desperation, be so flippant?
How could he so breezily dismiss the expenditure of that enormous amount of money on a (gasp!) “free” and absolutely unnecessary concert, some three weeks after the revelry and rejoicing of Christmas? How could the leader of a people, many of whom live at, or below, the poverty level, and who may never see that kind of money in their lifetime, so nonchalantly downplay an expenditure of funds that could have been used to great effect to alleviate the plight of many in Point and Grays Farm?
We’re talking the impoverished denizens of the ghettoes who struggle daily to put a meal on the table. We submit that many of the working poverty-stricken among us could have used the little monetary assistance rather than see it used for a mindless bacchanalian orgy. True, as the PM was so careful to point out, albeit with a glib chuckle and much to the titillation of his audience, in the overall scheme of our multi-million dollar budget, $350K is a “drop in the bucket,” but it is a helluva sum of money when you have nothing.
And many Antiguans and Barbudans have nothing! With very little hope of getting anything, because this administration, its protestations and pretensions notwithstanding, is not really interested in empowering the people. After all, an empowered people will not be easily bought and paid for; an empowered people will not be beholden to the government for crumbs from the administration’s sumptuous table. An empowered people will not be pliant and in a sad supplication for ham and turkey.
That a ham and turkey handout from the government is such a critical component of whether some have a good Christmas or not, is a lamentable testament to the state of penury in a nation where “Each are endeavouring, but very few are achieving!” So, for the rich and powerful who drive in luxury SUVs and have yachts, for the wealthy few who, after a few short years have amassed a vast fortune, for those who live in multi-million-dollar mansions and can afford to send their children to private schools, $350K is no big deal – a mere bag of shells.
Good for them! But we submit, that when one has arrived at a point where thrift, prudence and frugality over the spending of $350k is shrugged off with much levity and hilarity, then such a one has lost touch with the ordinary man. Which brings us to the infamous Marie Antoinette, she of high living and royal excess in eighteenth-century France.
It is said that when told that the starving people of France were beginning to get frustrated and impatient, she uncaringly remarked, “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche!” (French, “Let them eat cake!”) In like manner, when our leaders were told that the $350K (and we seriously doubt that low-ball figure, by the way) for the One Nation concert could have been better spent, and that the optics of bacchanal in the middle of deprivation were poor, and that the people are frustrated with the crumbling government offices and the sketchy delivery of essential services, not to mention the high cost of living and increasing taxes and low wages and so on and so forth, caverlierly retorted words to the effect, “Let them dance and prance!” Marie Antoinette is blushing!It was the callous way in which he dismissed the spending of EC$350,000 as ‘no big deal’ that raised many eyebrows.
How could a Prime Minister, a man who, by his own admission, came from ‘Regular Joe’ beginnings – a putative ‘man of the people,’ a populist who feels the pain of those who lead lives of quiet desperation, be so flippant? How could he so breezily dismiss the expenditure of that enormous amount of money on a (gasp!) “free” and absolutely unnecessary concert, some three weeks after the revelry and rejoicing of Christmas? How could the leader of a people, many of whom live at, or below, the poverty level, and who may never see that kind of money in their lifetime, so nonchalantly downplay an expenditure of funds that could have been used to great effect to alleviate the plight of many in Point and Grays Farm? We’re talking the impoverished denizens of the ghettoes who struggle daily to put a meal on the table.
We submit that many of the working poverty-stricken among us could have used the little monetary assistance rather than see it used for a mindless bacchanalian orgy. True, as the PM was so careful to point out, albeit with a glib chuckle and much to the titillation of his audience, in the overall scheme of our multi-million dollar budget, $350K is a “drop in the bucket,” but it is a helluva sum of money when you have nothing. And many Antiguans and Barbudans have nothing! With very little hope of getting anything, because this administration, its protestations and pretensions notwithstanding, is not really interested in empowering the people. After all, an empowered people will not be easily bought and paid for; an empowered people will not be beholden to the government for crumbs from the administration’s sumptuous table.
An empowered people will not be pliant and in a sad supplication for ham and turkey. That a ham and turkey handout from the government is such a critical component of whether some have a good Christmas or not, is a lamentable testament to the state of penury in a nation where “Each are endeavouring, but very few are achieving!” So, for the rich and powerful who drive in luxury SUVs and have yachts, for the wealthy few who, after a few short years have amassed a vast fortune, for those who live in multi-million-dollar mansions and can afford to send their children to private schools, $350K is no big deal – a mere bag of shells.
Good for them! But we submit, that when one has arrived at a point where thrift, prudence and frugality over the spending of $350k is shrugged off with much levity and hilarity, then such a one has lost touch with the ordinary man. Which brings us to the infamous Marie Antoinette, she of high living and royal excess in eighteenth-century France. It is said that when told that the starving people of France were beginning to get frustrated and impatient, she uncaringly remarked, “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche!” (French, “Let them eat cake!”)
In like manner, when our leaders were told that the $350K (and we seriously doubt that low-ball figure, by the way) for the One Nation concert could have been better spent, and that the optics of bacchanal in the middle of deprivation were poor, and that the people are frustrated with the crumbling government offices and the sketchy delivery of essential services, not to mention the high cost of living and increasing taxes and low wages and so on and so forth, caverlierly retorted words to the effect, “Let them dance and prance!” Marie Antoinette is blushing!

- Advertisement -

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here