Small change

BC Pires -
BC Pires -



NO PATRIOT should complain about spending $7.5 million on the celebration of our 60th anniversary of independence. By TT “petro-duller” standards, US$1 million is “small morney” to spend on a national party.

We’re accustomed to spending far more than that for far less.

Too besides, how it go look if the Government puts exactly $0 towards independence celebrations and, days later, a Carnival band charged masqueraders $5K for a costume comprising a pair of short pants, a handful of beads on rubber bands and a kind of feathery thing you stick on your forehead?

So-called governments of TT have to look like they have billions of dollars to pelt wildly, like powder in a sailor mas band, because their only function is to throw ’way the multinational energy tax.

That is why their voters elect them: to take what we might in this context properly call “the white people morney” and give it to either brown or black people, according as their T-shirts at political rallies are yellow or red. In TT, if your racial tribe isn’t in the Red House, you feel blue; if it is, you collect blue notes ($100 bills) by the truckload.

Bishop Desmond Tutu probably had something else in mind when he called us a “rainbow country.”

In the early 1970s, when OPEC threatened to make us rich, world-renowned economist Lloyd Best suggested we just leave the oil in the ground. No one listened to him, of course. The more it became apparent that Lloyd was right about nearly everything, the more important it became, in our corridors of power, to dismiss him as “an intellectual.” (Anyone in Trinidad could tell you we’ve always preferred to be led by dunces.)

But suppose we had capped the oil wells? We could dig that money out of the ground when we really needed it, viz, now. But, far better, all the impossible changes that unearned money allowed almost at once in our infrastructure – and in our minds and hearts – would not have happened. We would have had to get by on what we earned. We would have been Barbados now, instead of watching Guyana become us as we teetered towards Haiti.

And a Carnival costume of short pants and glitter might have run us $50, not $5,000.

And Carnival might be invigorating instead of exhausting.

In TT, anyone at all, regardless of what IQ they were born with or what privilege they inherited, can make themselves 100 per cent right about any subject with minimalist effort. You don’t need research, a UN grant, a doctorate, years of experience or special connections. You don’t even have to think out your own position on anything.

All you have to do to be sure you have the right perspective on everything from abortion through agriculture to freedom of assembly is to find out what the official government policy is – and go 180 degrees in the opposite direction; about-turn on whatever the PNM or UNC did and you turn lead into gold.

Using that guide, to celebrate our 60th anniversary of independence, we should cut $7.5 million from our celebrations budget, which, of course, is exactly what we should do right this minute. So expect the budget to be raised.

This applies to everything any putative government of ours has ever done. If, instead of opening the economy, we had retained foreign-exchange controls, would we be debating today whether we should allocate more reserves to cancer treatment or to Cap’n Crunch?

If we had retained prohibitive taxes on foreign used cars, would three hours of every working person’s day be spent sitting immobile, inhaling exhaust fumes? If we had bent wire and raided chicken coops to make Trinidad Carnival costumes, would we be paying close to US$1K for a bathing suit from China?

If we had looked at murder not as a tool of the drug trade and, ergo, a criminal problem, but as a social one, arising out of our failure to educate our children into responsible adults, would life be so cheap here that, whenever a dancehall artist came to town, two-three murders might be perpetrated, towards sneakers?

So $7.5 million is small money to pay for the chance to wrestle with big problems.

Or to forget them entirely. Again.

BC Pires is a gunpowder puff boi. Read the full version of this column on Saturday at


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