Shut up and lis­ten

Daily Nation (Barbados) - - Opinion - Richard Hoad is a farmer and so­cial com­men­ta­tor. Email

. . Dis­cussing your ideas with or­di­nary peo­ple be­fore rush­ing out with fait ac­com­pli edicts makes sense.

“Grandad is the best! The home­work bad! Bad! Bad! Bad! Not me. Home­work is bad!”

Found this old heart­felt note by seven-year-old Do­minic in the kitchen. Stuck it on the fridge. In a house where com­pli­ments al­most never flow in my di­rec­tion, it’s great that some­one thinks I’m the best. And has put it in writ­ing. By the way, I share his views on home­work.

Ernesto Sirolli tells how Amer­i­can Peace Corps vol­un­teers were work­ing in a vil­lage in Gu­atemala which grew fan­tas­tic crops but couldn’t get the pro­duce over a rag­ing river to sell to their neigh­bours.

“We’ll build you a bridge,” they told the na­tives.

“But you can’t build a bridge here,” they were told. “We’re Amer­i­cans,” bragged the Yan­kees, “just watch!”

So af­ter months of bull­doz­ing a road through the jun­gle, they con­structed mas­sive ramps on ei­ther bank to sup­port the bridge.

Then the rains came. The river’s course shifted one mile away, leav­ing their struc­tures with noth­ing in be­tween. Shades of Green­land land­fill. When there’s lo­cal opin­ion around Ernesto ad­vises: “Shut up and lis­ten!”

I wouldn’t put it that bluntly, but dis­cussing your ideas with or­di­nary peo­ple be­fore rush­ing out with fait ac­com­pli edicts makes sense. The dream team has at­tracted com­ments like “fum­ble­ma­nia” and “bungling”. Michael Rud­der ad­vises them to “take your time. Get it right first time”.

Like those C li­cence plates. As pointed out else­where, East In­dian traders, sno cone ven­dors, sev­eral oth­ers use ve­hi­cles for com­mer­cial pur­poses with­out any com­mer­cial des­ig­na­tion. It can’t be fair to tar­get some and not oth­ers.

Be­sides, Ba­jans love their ve­hi­cle num­bers. A69 rocks! One prom­i­nent me­dia per­son didn’t so much mind los­ing his wife in a divorce as los­ing his 69 num­ber. Why not just put a C in front? Hope­fully the girls will think “CA69” means “Call any­time – 69”.

A min­is­ter men­tioned pros­e­cut­ing own­ers whose dogs killed do­mes­tic live­stock. Trust me, as one who had yet an­other doe sav­aged by five hounds last week, waste of time. Bait­ing stray dogs in prob­lem ar­eas is the only an­swer.

The goat milk and cheese in­dus­try has po­ten­tial for ex­port. Not long ago we were ap­par­ently ahead of our neigh­bours. Now I hear the Tri­nis plan to sell goat’s milk here. Why has our in­dus­try stag­nated? Sim­ply be­cause Gov­ern­ment in­sists on sell­ing milk be­low a com­mer­cial price. Other play­ers who tried have dropped out. We sur­vive by us­ing un­paid fam­ily labour.

A min­is­ter wants to make home in­sur­ance com­pul­sory. Af­ter three bad ex­pe­ri­ences with in­sur­ance com­pa­nies, I am wary of such com­pul­sion. The raw anger one feels on such oc­ca­sions is far worse than the ac­tual dam­age sus­tained.

So much for the dream team. Bishop Ather­ley is telling us “il­le­gal squat­ting is re­ally a cry for help by those with lit­tle ca­pac­ity to af­ford hous­ing”. Has the bishop seen the houses squat­ters can af­ford? I lost my job with a new, soon-to-be-preg­nant wife, nowhere to live. We spent a year in a lit­tle tent, later mov­ing to an old bus. We didn’t squat. Don’t ex­cuse it.

To the union bosses: Even the lowli­est work­ers are say­ing it, “Send home those who do lit­tle or noth­ing”. “Last in, first out” makes no sense if we hope to im­prove the pub­lic ser­vice. Don’t pe­nalise the pro­duc­tive to re­ward non-per­form­ers.

Fi­nally, a word to West In­di­ans about to vote on the Caribbean Court of Jus­tice. Check the doc­u­men­tary on the Dole Chadee ex­e­cu­tion. Chadee built a mas­sive drug em­pire, bru­tally elim­i­nat­ing com­pe­ti­tion. Vir­tu­ally un­touch­able by the law, he “owned” se­nior po­lice­men, three mag­is­trates, even a sol­dier will­ing to kill a wit­ness for a mil­lion dol­lars. He lost his fi­nal ap­peal at the Privy Coun­cil and was hanged. We have Dole Chadees to deal with.

Is it not far bet­ter that such de­ci­sions be left to face­less, re­mote per­son­nel at the Privy Coun­cil?

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