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LOW EARTH ORBIT – Money Talks



Money Talks

Now there’s another phrase that just about says it all. There’s been a whole lot of talk about money lately. People with a vested interest have even been dredging up high-class invective to throw at the rest of us … words like “filthy lucre,” for example.

By “people with a vested interest,” Yours Truly means practitioners of that necessary evil, politics. Ah … politicians: what would we ever do without them – if for nothing else besides comic relief?

Maybe politicians are meant to be something like women: can’t live with them, can’t live without them.

I know – that’s a silly sexist remark that I’ve never used before and plan never to use again … even if it is true. But the way things are going in these days that try men’s and women’s souls alike, I’m rooting for equal opportunity in everything else as well. And if members of the political elite can get away with talking arrant nonsense in public, Yours Truly demands my human right to make a public ass of myself and expect to be applauded for it. This might not exactly be the great U-S-of-A, but we do aspire to be an equal opportunity society.



So there … and a stamp of the foot … and a “push-up” mouth … all you too rude … I’m going to tell my mommy on you … you and your … your FILTHY LUCRE!

The only rational reaction to the sort of drivel that Barbuda Member of Parliament the Honorable Trevor Walker has been heard to serve up recently is: “Ah wha’ yah tarl!” The Queen’s English simply will not suffice. The sadly disillusioned MP has just woken up to the soul-shaking news that when the election bell rings in this unfair land of Antigua & Barbuda, money talks real loud. Anything else is just … well … the sounds of silence.

Now, Yours Truly is not proffering this little tidbit of “street intelligence” as gospel, but my multiple retractable broadband antennae are suggesting that a whole lot of canny voters are just lying low and biding their time. These street-smart, street-level political pundits are waiting with quiet confidence, sort of licking their chops like hungry mongooses eyeing a loosely-guarded chicken house. They are waiting for the unofficial United Progressive Party election campaign to kick off, marking that as the time when the ruling party will “bring out the money”.

This attitude translates into a wealth of experience garnered from earlier elections, when flows and infusions of cash from politicians of all persuasions brightened many a voter’s personal economic prospects as candidates jockeyed for access to their most precious possession – their vote. Yes, dearly beloved … as the election date draws nearer and the struggle for control of the machinery of government intensifies, the market value of a vote begins to spiral – and pretty soon parties and politicians are ready to deliver favours and pay prices that the grateful recipients are most pleased to quietly accept.

And there, dearly beloved, lies the rub. Here is where we run headlong into the “Catch-22” aspect of the whole scenario. Here, also, is where we find out why – never mind all the credible reports of cash and envelopes passing from hand, and all the naming of names – it is highly unlikely that anyone will ever be brought to book for any offence involving illegal inducements to voters.

This is the Catch-22 situation that permits all parties, the paymaster and the happy recipient, the corrupter and the willingly corrupted, to give and receive without fear – secure in the knowledge that no one will ever be caught and punished for what in our unfair land is seen as a victimless crime, if a crime at all.

No one will ever be caught or punished, for three sound reasons. First of all: no witness will ever be found to come forward and publicly identify, accuse, testify against and secure the conviction of any individual allegedly involved in offering or receiving any illegal payment or inducement in return for a vote. Yours Truly submits that in the absence (or even in the presence) of a hefty bounty, any potential witness will weigh all issues very carefully in the balance before venturing so rash an act.

The second reason why no one will ever be caught or punished for the crime of making or accepting an illegal payment to influence a vote is of the same order as the reason why world-class athletes are being caught using performance enhancing drugs every day: everybody is doing it. Well, okay – not really everybody, but so many people are doing it that nobody can afford to point a finger at anybody without possibly pointing a finger at some miscreant in their own camp.

There is, of course, the famous case of Member of Parliament for the ghost constituency of St Peter: the Honorable Asot Michael. That legend is far too well known, is far too widely accepted, and has been far too generally winked at for far too long to cut any ice with the body politic at this late stage. Besides, anybody with half a brain in their head must immediately understand why the UPP-controlled Electoral Boundaries Commission was so eager to wipe an unwinnable ALP stronghold off the electoral map.

The third reason why no one will ever be caught and convicted of any crime relating to illegal voter inducements is accounted for by endemic corruption within the political environment.

Strange as it may seem to the naïve and the innocent, the impulse toward political corruption in Antigua & Barbuda does not necessarily spring from politicians. It is buried deep in the hearts of the people, people who have been raised and nurtured in decades when our country staggered on into the future devoid of any ethical construct, blind sheep led by a half-blind shepherd.



The politicians know what they themselves have to do to “make it” in the dirty world of the people’s business, where the rules of the road are what we the people make them. And so too, are our politicians – what we the people make them. And so too, is our politics – what we the people make it: a business where “filthy lucre” rules the roost.

Hits: 1960

11 Comments In This Article   

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@ Jimmy ... Less "Sphincter Talk"

#11 Professor » 2013-03-27 21:53

Quote:
You can give anyone a gift as long as you don't ask them to vote for you in return.
I want you to familiarize yourself with the Representation of the People's Act and its Amendments, so you can be informed before you say something else else that earns you a golden duncecap.

Pay special attention to:
Section 39. Providing Money for Illegal Purposes
Section 40. Bribery
Section 41. Treating
Section 42 Undue Influence

Here are the links: Start with the first one ...
http://www.laws.gov.ag/acts/chapters/cap-379.pdf
http://www.laws.gov.ag/acts/2003/a2003-3.pdf
http://www.laws.gov.ag/acts/2002/a2002-11.pdf
http://www.laws.gov.ag/acts/2001/a2001-17.pdf
http://www.laws.gov.ag/acts/1999/a1999-5.pdf
http://www.laws.gov.ag/acts/2003/a2003-12.pdf
http://www.laws.gov.ag/acts/2002/a2002-18.pdf
http://www.laws.gov.ag/acts/2003/a2003-5.pdf
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Professor

Jimmy

#10 tenman » 2013-03-27 17:49

Jimmy so don't you think a better method to deal with this is to deal with it at the party financing level? Set caps on the maximum persons (including corporations) can contribute in cash or kind? Mandate that funding sources must be publicly declared yearly via newspapers especially on certain high amounts? Ensure that our procurement act is actually enforced? Ensure that the Integrity in public life act actually works by including things like random audits?

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tenman

@ Professor

#9 Jimmy » 2013-03-27 16:17

Boy you guys are so out of it! You can give anyone a gift as long as you don't ask them to vote for you in return.

In any case it is the UPP who needs to outspend to win the next elections. The Port can't take on any more employees like in 2009 - just before the elections...neither can APUA!

No money left in the treasury to pay for charter from Cuba to give students Blue and Yellow T-Shirts to vote for UPP.

By the way...who is it again who coined the phrase: "eat them out, drink them out, vote them out!"? Maybe you can explain that my dear Professor?
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Jimmy

Professor

#8 tenman » 2013-03-27 16:08

Professor, in agreement that all such persons should be dealt with. Lets remember the word all and not simply go after one person. I am concerned about programs like the school tablet programs which seem like bribery. I recall right after Blenman had ruled against the government, we heard of a similar program being offered in the affected constituencies (free internet). You and I both know, companies do not do such things out of the kindness of their hearts. Providing more evidence was the Digicel head stating that these agreements must be confidential. Essentially again, its the tax payers that pay the price for these measures

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tenman

@ Tenman ... Political Campaign Financing is the Devils Playground

#7 Professor » 2013-03-27 14:02

Well said. The representation of the People's Act and its Amendments deal with the issue of Bribery and even imposes penalties, but like Colin brilliantly points out, there are factors that work together to ensure that nothing will change.

Do not despair, we have a plan to catch AM and a strategy to secure a conviction against him in the upcomming election. Antigua is a small place and you know that the people in the villages who receive the fridges, stoves, computers, etc. feel so excited that they cannot keep it to themselves. That makes it easy to find out who they are in Antigua or Barbuda.

The plan is to get a few of these persons to sign legal affidavits (sworn statements) stating how they came by these gifts. We know that AM delivers the filthy lucre using agents, some of which are persons who cannot afford legal problems. They will be the ones to fold under pressure and give up the devil.
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Professor

Lord Have Mercy

#6 tenman » 2013-03-27 11:17

Lord Have Mercy as Colin stated there is a ready and demanding market for it. Perhaps we need to have a ethics class and political science class as part of our secondary schools curriculum. I also feel that if we deal with it from the funding of political parties side, more strides would be made in at least curtailing it. I recall the big debates before 2004, mostly via Observer Radio, about the need for proper campaign financing rules. Nothing has been done to fix that and since 2004 the debate has seemingly ended. Until then, the wild wild west continues and though some tax payers may get some trinkets, everyone will continue to pay dearly in the long run for the mess

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tenman

@ Lord Have Mercy

#5 Jimmy » 2013-03-27 10:33

Good Point! Wrong is wrong! And Worse Wrong is Worse Wrong! And - by extension, which is less acceptable: Bad governance or worse governance?

Go figure! :-* :-*
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Jimmy

@ Jimmy

#4 Lord Have Mercy » 2013-03-27 09:32

Come on man, you are a sensible person. The things you mentioned about what the UPP did are dead wrong. You also have to have the courage to say that what AM is doing is also wrong. Quit that nonsense about whose wrong is worse. Stand up like a man and say that wrong is wrong and not accept it from either side.
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Lord Have Mercy

skyewill

#3 Colin » 2013-03-27 08:34

Yeah.
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Colin

@ Colin

#2 Jimmy » 2013-03-27 07:40

What about all the cars and new homes and monthly payments to politicians to support rental of Buildings; purchase, at inflated prices, of old buildings?

You are right Sir!!! These are worst than the handouts given at Election Time to a few needy persons.

It is interesting to look at the vehicles and properties the Politicians owned before they were elected, and after only their first term in office!
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Jimmy

Bull CHIT walks

#1 skyewill » 2013-03-27 06:35

so take a hike UPP
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skyewill

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Mr. Colin Sampson

 Mr. Colin Sampson is a Journalist and the host of "The Colin Sampson Show" on Caribantigua TV 

 

 

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