The Jack­ass Is Not Only Stupid But Stub­born To A Fault

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT - ---Peter Josie

Re­cently this news­pa­per pub­lished an item I wrote about those who pre­tended to be hurt by the UWP leader’s use of the word “jack­ass” from his party’s plat­form in Wil­liam Peter Boule­vard. Let me be clear: I am still of the opin­ion that the best re­but­tal for one who lev­els the word "jack­ass" at an­other is that it takes one to know an­other. The other handy push back is, “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never harm me.” And then there’s this from moth­ers whose chil­dren were hurt by some­one calling them that other word for don­key: “Don’t worry, he’s a big­ger jack­ass.”

I re­turn to the al­leged of­fen­sive word re­call­ing that al­most from the mo­ment he showed an in­ter­est in pub­lic of­fice there were per­sons who op­posed Allen Chas­tanet for rea­sons that had noth­ing to do with politics. They first in­ti­mated that he was an Amer­i­can ci­ti­zen, born out­side Saint Lu­cia, and there­fore in­el­i­gi­ble to par­tic­i­pate in the politics of Saint Lu­cia. They tried to por­tray him as an id­iot; a non-aca­demic. In other words, a jack­ass. In the pe­riod lead­ing up to the con­ven­tions of the UWP prior to 2016, cer­tain el­e­ments within the op­po­si­tion SLP can­vassed against Allen Chas­tanet in an at­tempt to in­flu­ence the UWP to re­ject him as leader. The UWP del­e­gates de­nied the SLP their wish. They voted over­whelm­ingly for Chas­tanet as po­lit­i­cal leader—on three sep­a­rate oc­ca­sions.

In­ter­est­ingly, those in the SLP who most feared Chas­tanet, for what­ever rea­sons, have not given up their point­less stone throw­ing. Those who were asleep dur­ing the cre­ation of the St. Jude Hos­pi­tal fi­asco threw the first stone. They then threw stones at his fam­ily, es­pe­cially his fa­ther who owned shares in a lo­cal su­per­mar­ket chain. When these at­tacks failed they turned to health in­surance and the open­ing of the OKEU hos­pi­tal. The same group threw stones at the DSH pro­pos­als for Vieux Fort. Of late the hue and cry of stone throw­ers is to free-up the herb. These stone throw­ers hope to de­feat Chas­tanet by what­ever means, in­clud­ing un­think­able in­sur­rec­tion. Sour grapes?

As a per­son who loves politics above ev­ery­thing else, save for my chil­dren and grand­chil­dren, I am en­joy­ing the fact that some jack­ass (who knows him­self) is now out to prove that Allen Chas­tanet is a clue­less leader. They fear us­ing the word "jack­ass" as it may draw too much at­ten­tion to them­selves. How does a failed jack­ass sud­denly be­come an ex­pert econ­o­mist and a na­tion builder? An­swer: By sug­gest­ing to Prime Min­is­ter Chas­tanet that he should re-im­pose the value added tax (VAT) to its for­mer bur­den­some-self of fif­teen per cent and that he uses the “new” two and one­half per cent ad­di­tional in­come to pay for health in­surance. It re­minded me of the devil’s at­tempt to per­suade Je­sus to do his bid­ding. Who knew the devil was so bold­faced? Have we for­got­ten that one of the rea­sons Allen Chas­tanet and his party were elected to of­fice 11-6 was that he promised to re­duce the VAT soon af­ter tak­ing of­fice, with a view to do­ing away with it al­to­gether in the long term? Mean­while, the leader of the SLP, who, prior to 2011, de­scribed VAT as “op­pres­sive, anti-worker and anti-poor,” was find­ing ev­ery rea­son to re­tain and even in­crease the tax. The peo­ple spoke; they wished to get the VAT load off their backs.

I could not re­sist the temp­ta­tion to fol­low-up on such ad­vice with my own bit of wis­dom. I wish to re­mind the prime min­is­ter that I was one of his staunch­est sup­port­ers long be­fore he was elected leader of the UWP. He did not ask for my sup­port. I of­fered it free of charge be­cause I love my coun­try and thought then (and still do) that he would be the best leader to take Saint Lu­cia from the dumps where the mis­lead­ers in the SLP had brought it. I am a se­nior ci­ti­zen of Saint Lu­cia who has served his coun­try as a min­is­ter of the gov­ern­ment and as a Sen­a­tor and an agron­o­mist in the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture.

I re­peat here what I have pre­vi­ously said to both Mr. Ubal­dus Ray­mond, Min­is­ter in the Min­istry of Fi­nance and to the prime min­is­ter him­self on sep­a­rate oc­ca­sions. I have also writ­ten and made my views known on the ques­tion of the VAT and its re­duc­tion. The next move which the gov­ern­ment should (must?) make on the value added tax if it is sin­cere about help­ing the work­ing peo­ple of Saint Lu­cia is to lower the VAT rate to 10%. I also say that, at some point later, they should seek to lower VAT still fur­ther. I say no more on the sub­ject un­til pro­voked.

There are, of course, some jack­asses from the same op­po­si­tion sta­bles who want Chas­tanet to step down for the good of the UWP. Per­haps they wish to have a leader they be­lieve they can walk over at will. Again I imag­ine Satan tempt­ing Je­sus! That par­tic­u­lar sug­ges­tion does not merit more than mere men­tion to say that, had it orig­i­nated from a gen­uine na­tional con­cern, the UWP brethren would have been of­fered a choice of at least three as­pir­ing lead­ers from their party, from which to choose the one who would de­feat their op­po­nents at the next polls. I would sup­port the re­place­ment of Allen Chas­tanet if it be­came ob­vi­ous that he had lost his zeal and de­ter­mi­na­tion to lead the UWP to vic­tory at the next gen­eral elec­tions. And my sug­ges­tion for his re­place­ment would be some­one who could lead the UWP to an­other elec­toral vic­tory over the SLP.

When last I checked, this is­land was still a democ­racy. The UWP leader and the gov­ern­ment are elected by a ma­jor­ity. If in 2025 or ’26 Chas­tanet de­cides to re­tire from politics he may still have a say in who re­places him. In the mean­time, it may be best for the smart-men and sa­vants on the other side to re­build their party af­ter their avari­cious friends al­most de­stroyed it. Re­mem­ber, the SLP turned VAT against the poor and now they wish to fill un­sus­pect­ing heads with smoke (the herb), to fool them again.

In clos­ing, I prom­ise to add my voice and ex­am­ine the pros and cons of free­ing the herb in a fu­ture ar­ti­cle. In the mean­time I ven­ture to say that if there had not been a change of gov­ern­ment in Saint Lu­cia in 2016, the rate of VAT would have risen to 18% and no jack­ass would have been al­lowed to bray. The Chas­tanet haters would have put their tails be­tween their hind legs, kept their mouths shut and moved on. We ought never to for­get that some folks leave univer­sity as qual­i­fied jack­asses!

When cam­paign­ing for of­fice Allen Chas­tanet promised the elec­torate he would, soon af­ter tak­ing of­fice, re­duce the 15 per cent VAT im­posed by the Kenny Anthony Ad­min­is­tra­tion. His op­po­nent promised to re­tain it and, in con­se­quence, lost the elec­tion to the UWP.

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