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Sunday 18 November 2018
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Commentary

TT – a nation designed to fail

RUDY CHATO PAUL JR

IN A period of less than 48 hours, this nation has had more than the amount of rainfall required to easily satisfy all water demands for at least five years. Ironically, we just watched on helplessly as the water wreaked devastation on numerous properties, destroyed farmers’ crops and livestock and inconvenienced hundreds of thousands of others.

Yet somehow we find ourselves isolated and mesmerized by this annual flooding ritual. And before the water has subsided, $25 million was allocated to deal with the damage. How geologists and pharmaceutical salesmen arrived at this figure is amazing. Nonetheless, we watched helplessly as water rose with such rapidity that individuals were unable to even move their vehicles to higher grounds.

Many individuals found themselves on rooftops turning to social media for help. Individuals whose vehicles were totally submerged will now learn from their respective insurance companies, which no doubt will refuse to compensate them, that their loss was not covered; that their loss was chalked up to “an act of God.”

All this, despite warnings a week earlier that this devastating weather pattern was heading our way. But God is Trini, ent? Decades earlier, a previous generation watched as the cocoa industry was destroyed by the energy and construction sectors. Cocoa was simply unable to keep up with the salaries offered by those two sectors. Others saw as history repeated itself with coconut, citrus and in recent times, sugarcane.

This beautiful island, was once known as the land of steelband, calypso and limbo. I recall limbo dying of neglect. Calypso is now on life-support, while the steelband has migrated. The few remaining pan-players are seasonal and they too, are totally dependent on government handouts to scratch out a meagre existence.

Our calypsoes, which once reflected national pride, are now as sour as the land itself. The few remaining artistes if they allow honesty to prevail, would reiterate my sentiments. Many of our artistes have died in poverty; others had to migrate just so survive, as our people continue to despise local artistes and the artforms, while clinging to foreign.

This planet has two, some say three, pitch-lakes; one located right here. We have recently been told that we now have to import bitumen, an asphalt product. And of course the icing on the cake: the decision to close Petrotrin. All this despite being told years ago that, "money is no problem."

The semi-rhetorical question becomes: how does such a tiny nation manage to go from having such natural resources, wealth, talent and potential, to a nation of "sufferers" (to borrow a term from the Blackman) in 56 short years? A cursory glance at other nations can perhaps lend some insight. The Singapore model has been repeatedly cited.

Dubai, a nation of sand and dust as recent as the 1990s, has emerged as a world leader. Meanwhile, we continue to be “back-backing,” as one might say. As someone involved in education, I can say without fear or favor, that our education system is dysfunctional at best. Education is the one institution that prepares a nation's greatest resources: its people.

In examining the other failed institutions, education is the common denominator. Of course TTUTA will argue, like the prisons and police, that there are only a "handful of bad teachers." Education is the one institution responsible for preparing citizens for all the other positions, from the highest office on downwards.

When we look closely at the office holders (pick any office you wish) and their performance or lack thereof, we see evidence of incompetence staring back at us. This nation has had misleaders who lack vision and who rely on tribal loyalty to become filthy rich. They are no different to the street thug who advocates, “get rich or die trying.”

They have systematically destroyed many opportunities which were available to earlier generations, while relying on tribal support. It is either we recognize that nothing in this nation works or that everything is working just fine: the way it was intended - designed to fail. A colleague’s theory on the American prison system, argued that "it was designed to fail."

He held it was the only way they could get more money...by failing. His theory can be applied to every institution in Trinidad and Tobago: designed to fail. This way everyone can become millionaires, even selling bottled water to the natives while they drown.

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