REV ROBERT DASH
COME ON people of TT, can’t you see where we are taking this lovely republic of ours? It is high time we wake up and smell the coffee. It is time to stop putting our heads in the sand, pretending that Carnival is not a major problem. For it sits on the list of the major problems of our nation and it must be stopped if we want to preserve the moral fabric of our nation.
This is a repeated call that I make each year and I know there are many hearers and no doers. I know this call will raise the eyebrows of the masses. But it is better that the masses raise their eyebrows at the call by this servant of Jesus Christ than to have their ears tingle by the news of the impending destruction that will befall our nation if we do not stop the Carnival.
Carnival lovers/supporters are determined to justify Carnival. The summary of their justification hinges on economics. Some argue that Carnival makes the income of the nation look very healthy. Tourism experiences a high during Carnival. The business sector’s coffers are boosted. Unemployment is reduced. The various artistes are able to make some money.
Even so, can one really compare a so-called healthy economy with a resultant sick nation, because that is what Carnival does to our nation. It leaves our people physically and spiritually sick. The effects of the Carnival ills far outweigh the economic benefits that it brings.
Carnival never brought any health to our economy. In the years when “money was no problem” the expenditure heavily outweighed the income. There were huge amounts of taxpayers’ money given to the Carnival organisations and most of them had bad money managers. They continue to just spend the money and not explore the importance of a good manager making the business viable. They see the State coffers as inexhaustible.
So it was nothing strange to have heard calypso tents crying out for instant release of taxpayers’ money in order to open their doors. They operated these tents over all these years with no savings.
They cannot survive for a week or a month without this State grant.
There has never been a Carnival without a threat to the nation’s health. The Minister of Health appealed long before the Carnival, “Get your flu shot before the fete.” These vaccines are an unnecessary drain on the Treasury in these difficult economic times.
And what about the sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies of the Carnival?
The minister called for responsible behaviour but the behaviour of Carnival people is indicated by their response to the provision of the flu vaccine. Only 11 per cent of those who should have taken it did so.
The Chief Medical Officer said the ministry was looking at food safety, food-borne illnesses and leptospirosis, and the EMA was seeking to control noise levels. All those efforts could have been channelled differently but for the Carnival.
The spiritual sickness that Carnival brings on the nation is of grave consequences. Carnival people are a strange type. They lose their moral moorings during the season. They possess a bankrupt vocabulary which is evident in most of the songs. Most of the singers keep repeating their vain words over and over and the masses gulp up the words.
This year saw the terror threat the police claim to have uncovered. This threat required a cancellation of the Carnival. But the mas went on.
We have to be very careful that we do not keep pretending that our society is not sick. For if one is sick and does not acknowledge it, one is in danger. For one will not seek medical attention and will surely die.
But is there really a verified economic argument to support Carnival? There is need for a statistical review of Carnival to see if the benefits outweigh the ills. And how will one get data on the ills of Carnival when most ills cannot be quantified? And surely no economic gain can be of more value than the moral fabric of our nation.
For certainly, the economics of Carnival do not paint a healthy picture. The Government took taxpayers’ money in these difficult economic times and gave it to the Carnival. There are so many other areas where this money could have been spent. What a waste of the people’s money in this “guava season.”
Rev Robert Dash is a Baptist pastor.