Our Continuous Government

ManipulationThe great bard, immortal William Shakespeare, is justly famed for having penned the lines:

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances
And one man in his time plays many parts …
(As You Like It – Act II, Scene VII)

William Shakespeare often diverted himself in his writing by drawing a parallel between life and the stage on which he spent so much of his own time, making his daily bread. The comparison is very apt, as any person who has ever lived and endured the games people play will testify.

In the real world, plots have a way of working themselves out in the end, often in ways that vary significantly from the intentions of the actors in the drama. Human beings have a built-in evolutionary instinct for self-preservation, the survival instinct being one of the traits common to all higher forms of life. The will to survive is the most basic of all motivations, springing from the original muck, reptilian in its response to any threat.

Abraham Maslow’s concept of the Hierarchy of Needs describes this basic will to survive as a motive force that, when pressed to the extreme by adverse conditions, will block out any other impulse from the human mind. According to Maslow’s construct human beings must effectively fulfill their most fundamental need for security before they are able even to engage in social intercourse. As the saying goes, “a hungry man is an angry man”.

In a very real-world sense the generalized lack of security (in its broadest definition) that plagues Antigua & Barbuda accounts neatly for the levels of crime and other forms of abuse and un-civility that afflict our unfair land. Human beings – covetous, greedy, hungry, desperate and sociopathic as we are prone to be – will prey on one another in ways that illustrate the deterministic law of “Nature, red in tooth and claw”. One species provides food for another: the one organism grows stronger as it devours the other. Parasitism too, is a natural phenomenon, as anyone who has seen the work of a plant called the “Strangler Fig” – or endured intestinal worms – will readily testify.

In nature there are diseases that actually help protect sufferers from other illnesses – while killing them nevertheless. Sickle Cell Anemia is one such affliction. Genetic in its transmission, this inherited blood condition causes red corpuscles to elongate and curve: forming a “sickle” shape. Sickle-shaped cells clump together, creating clots that can block blood flow and cause severe suffering … even death. Those afflicted with full-blown Sickle Cell Anemia face a relatively short life span liberally gifted with pain.

Sickle Cell Anemia has its good side, though; and this is what has enabled the disease to naturally select itself into the African genome. While making life uncomfortable for those in its grip it also protects them from other illnesses that might otherwise kill them, like Malaria for instance. Thus Sickle Cell Anemia, an illness that can kill, paradoxically survives because it saves lives.

Governance is very much like Sickle Cell Anemia and other afflictions that provide protection against other illnesses while themselves preying on the sufferer. Government also, protects and serves the citizens while acting as a parasite on the people. Applying Occam’s Razor to the science of governance readily demonstrates that government provides the community with several essential services – but at a price.

The price is exacted in more than taxes. As history has repeatedly shown those who fail to remember it, only too often the process of government encourages citizens to concentrate too much power in the hands of the governors. This tendency is well warned against by the Roman poet Juvenal, who famously asked: “Who will guard (the citizen against) the guards?”

The tendency to award excessive power to governments, necessary as they are, takes its effect imperceptibly, as the community reacts to stimuli or acts to protect itself from threats. Self-preservation being a very selfish urge, human beings will gladly fudge any issue if it suits their need of the moment. This bad human habit means that governments tend to accumulate responsibilities – and with responsibilities comes the convenient trust of lazy people who would rather leave important matters up to others while we mind our own business.

One dangerous outcome of this tendency not to mind the store is that the governors are provided with endless opportunities to manipulate an inattentive people. This the governors will certainly do, simply because no one is guarding the citizens against them. In fact, according to the rules as established by the governors, they – the governors – are the ones who are supposed to be doing the guarding … in the people’s interest, of course.

Antigua & Barbuda is now enduring the effects of a long saga of manipulation, deceit and exploitation applied to the nation’s premier social support mechanism, a brilliant scheme called Social Security. At long last, as real world realities impinge upon our Alice in Wonderland fantasy existence, an abused nation is having its collective nose well rubbed in the enormity of the rape perpetrated against our treasured Social Security Scheme. As that very human instinct toward self preservation rouses itself to a fight it cannot flee, the realization is dawning within the body politic that our continuous government is attempting to take the easy way out of a bad situation, saddling its social partners in the private sector with the immediate pain of pulling the social security chestnuts out of the fire.

This attempt by the governors to shift the load of saving Social Security onto the back of the private sector while making no painful adjustments on the government side has alerted the social partners to a serious threat to their own survival – and the very real principles underlying Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs are having their very real effect.

Disgusted by the slighting treatment handed out by the governors, and sensing very real desperation inside the Ministry of Finance & the Economy, the social partners are gearing up to impress upon their continuous government that on the matter of saving Social Security more decisive leadership is expected from the government side.

It seems the private sector believes it has given all it can at this time – it is now up to the governors to devise internal solutions that do not place the entire immediate cost on the innocent social partners, who have kept the Scheme alive up to now.

Hits: 1855

1 Comments In This Article   


everyone play their part

#1 tenman » 2013-04-20 07:31

Yep, without the store owner paying attention, the store (democracy) is in jeopardy. Government must do its part to restore confidence in SS. Part of this is to ensure that proper governance mechanisms are in place. You have a board and management which sat for years and no audits (external) were done. The flimsy excuse offered by Mathias could explain a delay of a few months, not at least 4 years (last report completed in 2008). A start in the fix must include having the board and top management replaced. No longer can the director be a civil servant. The investment committee must be made impartial and have the required competence. Audits (including directors notes), actuarial report (detailed) must be easily available to the public (eg. published via web site for free access and easily picked up at the office for a nominal fee), contributors must at least get yearly statements. GOVERNMENT, INCLUDING BODIES IT OWNS, MUST PAY.



Add comment

Mr. Colin Sampson

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



Follow us on Facebook

Spotlight on Education

Previous Next
Govt to give Two Uniforms
Antigua St. John's - Minister of Education Dr Jacqui Quinn-Leandro has confirmed...  Read more

Latest Opinions by Colin Sampson


Android LogoDownload Caribarena's Android App Click To Download

Find us on Twitter!