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Monday, 26 July, 2021
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Schoolchildren talk too much

There is no denying that there now exists in Antigua and Barbuda a climate of fear. The prevailing sentiment is that those in high places have not been as forthcoming as they ought to be with the public. Things have gotten so bad, that whenever the dashboard is released, a goodly number of the citizenry question the veracity of the ‘new cases’ figure, as well as the ‘pending results’ figure. Seems, those in high places cannot be trusted. Think, withholding numbers in order to avoid bad international press. Nobody believes any of it.

Of course, in the face of government bungling, it is incumbent on all of us to go about our lives with scrupulous adherence to the health protocols suggested by WHO and PAHO, bearing in mind the fact that even after we’ve been vaccinated, the wearing of masks, social distancing, good coughing and sneezing etiquette, frequent washing of our hands, avoiding touching our faces, avoiding kissing and hugging, and so on and so forth, will be the order of the day, for a while yet. We’re talking personal responsibility, folks. We’re talking doing our bit to ensure that the entire population is safe.

In the meantime, we’re hearing schoolchildren talking about infections in a number of offices and businesses, here, there and everywhere, and inertia on the part of the authorities. Schoolchildren are talking about the privileged folks who imported vaccines for themselves only. They’re talking about inefficiencies at the Mount St. John’s Medical Centre. They’re talking about reports of a slack contact tracing regime. They’re talking about a person in a high place having an event in a playground that scores of people attended, with scant regard to social distancing and mask wearing. This, after the administration put the kibosh on pick-up football and basketball games, as well as a limit on church gatherings of no more than 25 people. Was this fun-and-games event so critically important? And why did the authorities not shut the silly thing down, much as they would have shut down a family gathering or a picnic with more than ten people? God forbid that there should be an outbreak as a result of yesterday’s irresponsible playground bash, our already strained contact tracing personnel would be overwhelmed.  And so it goes . . . a self-serving politician throwing caution to the wind.

Folks, notwithstanding the government’s propensity to ‘whistle past the graveyard,’ (no pun intended), all is not well in the State of Denmark. Never mind the government’s judicious attempt to control the narrative, schoolchildren are aware of the true state of affairs. Apparently, there are people in the various workplaces who are speaking out about cover-ups and hush-hush. Schoolchildren are convinced that the daily, carefully-scripted release of the dashboard numbers are designed to lull the population into a false sense of security; that is, convey the impression that the administration is in command, and things are not spiraling downwards.

But alas, consider the following. On January 31, the dashboard reported 14 new cases for a total of 234 laboratory confirmed cases. By January 7, the dashboard had jumped to an alarming 316 confirmed cases. It’s bad, and the numbers keep rising. Schoolchildren are suggesting that today’s dashboard figures will be just as grim. Unless they are fudged. Schoolchildren say that all kinds of things are fudged in the State of Denmark. It is the coin of the realm.

And the helter-skelter on the part of this administration is not limited only to our Covid-19 safety  response. We learned that the government is turning to the wonderful Chinese for US$25M loan to tide us over, even as the prospects for a turn around in our economy appear bleak, at best. We will be in this downturn for a while yet. Hmmmm! Whither the Economic Recovery Committee and its grand recommendations? Hmmmm! Whatever became of the Nomad Residency Visa programme? And where the hell are the 5,000 laptops (a version of which we’ve been hearing about forever) for our students who could be in remote learning for the foreseeable future? And what’s the deal with LIAT? Still burning through EC$17K per day? And when will those suffering LIAT workers be made whole, albeit with a haircut? Schoolchildren are saying that the answers to the above are anyone’s guess – a playground game of “Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Moe.”

This administration and its spectacular flailing reminds us of the amusing story of the recent discovery of the densest element known to man. It was discovered by Oxford University researchers, and dubbed, Governmentium.  According to the report, “Governmentium has one neutron, 25 assistant neutrons, 88 deputy neutrons, and 198 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 312. These 312 particles are held together by forces called morons. Since Governmentium has no electrons, it is inert. However, it can be detected because it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. A tiny amount of Governmentium can cause a reaction that would normally take less than a second, to take from 4 days to 4 years to complete . . . “.  Sigh! You get the point. Exhibits A – D:  the unopened polyclinics in Glanvilles and Villa, the unopened ADOMS building, the languishing Sunshine Hub car park, the incomplete hospital on Nugent Avenue. And the specious claim made weeks ago that the Booby Alley residents were supposed to move shortly. Folks, the list is as long as it is mind-boggling. Schoolchildren cannot keep up with the many ways in which this administration falls far short of promises and expectations. So sad!

But then, what do schoolchildren know? King Obstinate says that we ought not to pay them any mind. He says that their talk is only “children’s melee.”

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