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Inside Politics - The Politics of Suicide

The Politics of SuicideOver the past week two men, about 30 years apart in age, made attempts to end their lives. One was successful.

I found it quite curious that unlike in the past when grown men made attempts at ending their lives, immediately following the events, there were not the usual suggestions that the men were driven to this most cruel action because of a love affair that went sour. Instead, even a cursory glance at the comments that followed both stories on Caribarena.com would reveal that several readers blamed the current economic crisis gripping the country.



I was taken aback when the morning after the reports that the Golden Grove man had taken his life were published, a colleague of mine, who has over the years adhered to a very strict policy of not discussing politics or indicate her political preference, drew parallels between the suicide and the state of the national economy.

“Everton,” she stated in an unsolicited statement, “people in this country have it real hard. I believe this man committed suicide because he was under stress. Plenty people out there are having serious economic stress.”

For someone who has practiced a stony silence on matters of politics, that observation in my mind spoke volumes. I juxtaposed that with comments I heard at the scene of the attempted suicide last Saturday night. As can be expected, an incident such as that drew several curious onlookers. I decided to listen intently to the comments they were making and again the issue of the economy was suggested as a possible reason for the suicide attempt.

This speaks to deep-seated concerns among the body politic of the country, that the economy is in a real bad shape. It also signals a serious problem for the government wishing to seek a third consecutive term in a mere 19 months from now.

As a political observer and commentator, I am going to make a statement that may surprise many readers. The 2014 general elections will not be won or lost on the issues surrounding the Wadadli Power Plant; it will not be won or lost on the issues surrounding the fencing scandal; it will not be won or lost on the issues of government corruption. All these issues are important and will be contributing factors. The 2014 general elections will be won or lost on the issue of the economy.

The people of Antigua & Barbuda have always voted on economic grounds. In 2004, after 28 unbroken years in office by the Antigua Labour Party, the people voted for a change. In 2009, enough people felt that the party ought to be given a second opportunity to implement its programmes. The UPP Administration therefore secured a second term following an intensely fought and close general election.



The question that will very likely frame the elections of 2014 is: Are you better off today than in 2004 or even 2009? The people who would answer ‘yes’ to that question are likely to be UPP Cabinet ministers, senior party officials and hangers-on placed in positions to ‘feather their nests’.

The problem for the government is that the majority of people in the country feel that the economy is in an awful state. Many people are struggling to meet even basic necessities, and in many homes people are going to bed hungry much too often. (My evidence is anecdotal, but surveys will support my claims).

The difficulty that the government faces is that there is a view, even among its core supporters, that the government’s best shot has not done anything to improve their lot. Put another way, too many people feel that the government is incapable of coming up with the solutions to the nation’s problems and fixing the economy.

One of the challenges that the government has working against it, is its pre-occupation with things tangential to its main task; fixing the economy. The government has expended much money and resources in a vain attempt to correct an imaginary problem at the Antigua & Barbuda Electoral Commission. Thus after (perhaps) millions of dollars, it has nothing to show for it but a series of defeats in the judicial system. That money would have been better served in sprucing up St John’s to make it more attractive to our cruise visitors and may have swayed the cruise lines to schedule more calls to St John’s.

Then there’s the government’s other obsession; complete re-registration. The expensive tribunal has already proven that the hem and haw over an ‘unclean’ Voters List, was just that; much smoke and no fire. Former UPP Chairman Leon ‘Chaku’ Symister was only able to suggest the names of six people who he claimed got their names on the Electoral List fraudulently.

For a Voters List of over 52,000 people and with only six people getting onto the list fraudulently, this suggests to me that Antigua & Barbuda has one of the cleanest Voters’ Lists anywhere in the world. The government would be well-advised to contest the 2014 on the current list - and here’s why.

As I move around the country, the enthusiasm factor for the government is at an all-time low. The government will have a Herculean task to get even some of its hard core supporters to register. A person cannot vote if that person is not registered.

At least, if that person remains registered, the government may have a chance to convince that person to go out and vote at election time. I expect ALP supporters to re-register in droves should a re-registration take place. Then there is the cost. For a government struggling to pay basic things such as salaries, spending the estimated $30 million on such an exercise would again raise questions about priority. This, as parliament could extend the life of the current ID cards beyond 2013. The strongest reason is simple: the UPP won twice using the current list.



As the clock ticks down to 2014, both the government and the UPP must do two things; turn around the economy after four consecutive years of decline and, secondly, convince the country that they have the wherewithal to do the job. For the UPP, failure is not an option, for failure means being branded as the most incompetent government in modern Antigua & Barbuda.

Is the UPP up the task? Only time will tell.

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9 Comments In This Article   

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RE: Inside Politics - The Politics of Suicide

#9 Tonge in cheek » 2012-09-13 09:14

After Job hunting for more than 2 years I am fed up and about to give up. Despite significant academic achievement in the field of Business and years of experience in the field, at 55 years old I am unemployable in Antigua and Barbuda. I have resigned myself to losing my home and my car and my dignity, what stops me from suicide, to some degree my faith in God he has
the strength to carry on when I wanted to go to sleep and never wake up. The second incentive is the I don't want to leave behind a defeatist example for my adult children who I believe would be very disappointed and perhaps guilt ridden in that they did not see my need and did not try to do more to help me. I tell myself while there is life there is hope and pray every day for gods providence and strength. It is hard but today I am still here I wont take my own life today.
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Slythatguy

#8 Get Real » 2012-09-11 15:16

Excellent comments....
Its a sorry state of affair when you are being thumbed down for stating the truth..the problem I have is that neither Baldwin(UPP) or Lester(ALP) should be allowed the opportunity to lead this country.....
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Get Real

Options...........

#7 Dreamer » 2012-09-11 15:12

The thing that really scares me is that, the only options we have for leadership in Antigua & Barbuda are the parties that have shown they do not have the knowledge, the skill set, or the character to lead us.
Some of use elude to 2014.....
What are we going to do? Elect the ALP who have shown that they are not capable.... or God forbid UPP who are also not capable?
Jerry Simon, Mr Barnes et al who deliver these great articles with inspiring and forward thinking insights..Please help to stop this cycle of negligent leadership
Just Dreaming...
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RE: Inside Politics - The Politics of Suicide

#6 ANTIGUAN WOMAN » 2012-09-10 09:52

I agree with Everton,it is easy to remain irelevant to issues that we may think has no direct impact on us, it is not that easy however,for someone to dismiss the reality of a continuous struggle to survive.Unless the Govt can work some miracle and revive the economy,put people to work and reduce the high cost of living,they dont stand a chance in winning another election,since they do not have the know how to do any of the above,Thank God 2014 cannot come fast enough for me.
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@ Everton barnes

#5 Clergy » 2012-09-10 08:10

Dear Everton,

CNN just presented the following article:
http://edition.cnn.com/2012/09/10/business/italy-economy-suicide/index.html?hpt=hp_c1

You have been vindicated - or is it they (CNN) who have been vindicated?

Keep up the commentary!
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Clergy

Roger Dodger

#4 tenman » 2012-09-10 00:08

Roger Dodger, there was a sept 11 2011 article in the Daily Observer, which had a Counselor, Koren Norton, here indicating that the state of the economy is a major cause of suicides. She said suicides are on the increase. Miss Norton is attached to Mount St John’s Medical Centre. Among the things she stated was:
Quote:
In most cases, the men are more successful because they choose to shoot themselves or hanging, and most of the females opt for ingestion,” she said. “While that is not a good thing to do, the effects do not seem to be as harmful as the methods men choose. So there are more female attempts but more men are successful.
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There have been other reports, in the Daily Observer, from other sociologists which confirm Miss Norton's conclusion.

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tenman

RE: Inside Politics - The Politics of Suicide

#3 Roger Dodger » 2012-09-09 13:27

Where are the surveys which suggest that it is the state of the economy that is responsible for the recent (attempted) suicides.
There has not been any conclusive evidence on the fellow from Golden Grove. There has been indication that such a scene could be staged.
If EB feels the need to write an article, please do not seek justification by piggybacking on such a hurtful bandwagon.
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RE: Inside Politics - The Politics of Suicide

#2 SlyThatGuy » 2012-09-09 13:00

The opinions of some of these bloggers and writers at Caribarena are bias because they are supporters of the Antigua Labor Party. Do we have a way to know for sure that the poor economic condition played a role in these two incidents? Of course not, but they are trying to give the impression (because they want you to believe ) that it did. They also want you to think that If Lester Bird and the ALP were in power when the global market collapsed Antigua & Barbuda would have already been out of this poor economic condition,because Lester Bird would have certainly done a much better job than Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer in creating many jobs to boost the economy that our cups would be running over. But I wonder how that could have been possible,considering many leading countries - including France, Canada,and the United States - are still struggling to recover from the collapsed. But in any case,when making the decision to put Lester Bird and the ALP back in power,it's important to remember the kind of leader he was and why it was important for you to take him out in the first place.
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author

#1 tenman » 2012-09-09 12:39

Quote:
A lot of the politicians in Antigua have come down the avenue of trade unionism. They have no training or experience in management of organizations...Their political speeches consist of agression, untruths and defamation of character of their opponents. Thus providing free stand up comedy entertainment for the Antigua people who love ugly ---C. Wade (UPP Gov in eclipse)
The writer makes some salient points about the effects of current disenchantment with the UPP. The problem is the government has already committed to this action and will proceed with the same effect as it did with the Voluntary severance. The head of this commission, has already shown his ability to cause a mess with his handling of the marriage of ABIIT and Ministry of education. The cause of the failures is that the government does not see that its key persons lack management experience. They never seem to understand their roles and for many they are simply just loud mouths.
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