Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Okay! I should say up front that I have absolutely no statistic to prove or disprove my belief in the real size of our population ... just a certain amount of skepticism and common sense. You see, for at least the last 20 or so years politicians (and everybody else for that matter) have been saying that we are a nation of about 1.3 million people. But that just can't be true! Look! The Elections & Boundaries Commission (EBC) said in the elections last year that there were more than 900,000 people on the electoral register (I can't remember the exact figure, which isn't important any way, for I am not dealing here with completely accurate figures). So, if that is the case, what percentage of the adult population do you think is not registered to vote? Ten percent? Twenty percent? Thirty percent? What? Most people that I ask this question say that they think that the percentage of the adult population that is not registered to vote is somewhere between twenty and thirty percent! (You see now why I said that I wasn't concerned with absolute accuracy of figures!) So, let's take the lower figure of twenty percent, and rounding it off we would say then that there are about 300,000 people who are not registered to vote. In other words, there are about 1.2 million adults in this country (900,000 registered voters plus 300,000 unregistered adults).

Now, if there are 1.2 million adults in the country, how many children do you think there are? (And by 'child' I mean anybody under the age of 18). Do you, for example, believe that the ratio of children to adults is one child to every adult? More? Less? Most people tell me that they think the ratio is about one and a half children to every adult. So, assuming (though not accepting ... but it sounds right) that this is so that would mean that there are about 1.8 million children in the country. Add this to the 1.2 million adults that we calculated above and you come up with a figure of about 3 million people living in this little twin island Republic.

Why is this important? Because if all of our plans, financial and otherwise, are based on a population of 1.3 million and the reality is that the population is more than double that then it must follow that all of our plans are useless! Our statistics as regards GDP would be wrong and the fiscal plans to prevent a further worsening of the recession would be totaly inadequate. We need to get a firm fix on where we are as regards poulation size ... and we need this information like yesterday! A census was done sometime ago. Its results need to be published ... now.

Monday, November 21, 2011

FLOODING (or, if it ain't my responsibility it ain't my fault)!

Have you ever noticed that when anything goes wrong in good old T&T that Nobody is to blame. Poor old Nobody! He gets in trouble all the time! But then it's always his fault! When you ask 'who did this?' or 'who is responsible?' you always get the answer 'Nobody'. As a result, nothing ever gets fixed. Nothing ever gets changed. And Nobody gets fired!

I know. I am being ridiculous. But, unfortunately, I am also being deadly accurate. Nobody ever gets blamed or punished for anything! It is never anybody's responsibility to make certain, for example, that applications for planning approvals for development include plans for proper drainage. It is never anybody's responsibility to deal with unapproved and unauthorised development ... even when this unauthorised development causes drainage (read "flooding") problems.

Patrick Manning used to boast about his Vision 20/20 plans. But in the seven year period in which he boasted and promoted it never once did I ever read of bench marks that would be able to tell us whether or not the implementation of this vision was on track. Even more importantly, nowhere did I ever read that people were going to be made responsible for things ... especially when they went wrong!

The flooding in Port of Spain and its western environs that took place after very heavy showers, that lasted only for about one hour, on Saturday has caused terrible damage and a great deal of unnecessary suffering that ought to have been avoidable. But when you ask whose fault it was you get answers like "developers" or "clogged drains" or some other vague reply. Who are these developers? What are their names? What developments? Who were the engineers? Who were the builders? Were things done according to approved plans? If so, who approved the plans? If the plans were not approved, then why didn't the relevant authority stop the development and do something about it? Bottom line: Who is responsible? And the answer? (Sound the trumpets) Nobody!

I am reluctantly coming to the very sad conclusion that we are all insane ... mad ... crazy! For we continue to do the same things over and over again and continue to expect a different result. Take the Office of Disaster and Preparedness Management (ODPM) for example. What exactly is its function? To hand out matteresses? If it is supposed to help prevent disasters then what exactly is it doing to prevent them? What? What steps has it taken to mitigate or prevent disasters? But what have we done to make this office function the way that it should? Where is the media in all this? Why doesn't the media ask for the names of those responsible and publicise them? Why? But Nobody has been fired from the ODPM for not doing his job!

And we continue to accept mediocrity. When somebody complains he/she is usually met with 'well, this is Trinidad!' as if that is a good reason (not even an excuse) to put up with the particular incompetence or inefficiency. We continue to allow ourselves to be sidetracked over stupid and unimportant issues (the PNM's present raging debate over whether or not their MP's should wear a balisier tie is a classic example of our collective stupidity on focusing on things that are unimportant) and do not tackle head on the things that are important and affect our lives, and most importantly, solve them!

But then Nobody is to blame for anything and everything. And the problem is that we can't fix it because it's Nobody's responsibility. Nobody will fix it ... we don't have to! But my guess is that Nobody is gonna fix things anytime soon. Why should he? We can't fire Nobody. He's got a job for life!

Thursday, November 10, 2011


A lot of people may not realise it, but we are witness to history right now. The once mighty and invincable PNM is on its death bed and the last rites have been read. Oh! Don't get me wrong. The brand will be around for a long time, but the once great Party and all that it stood for is effectively dead and gone and the present leadership is totally and completely incapable of bringing it back to life. It simply is no longer a credible alternative government and is totally and completely incapable of uniting this little country of ours.

Although most of us might not have recognised it at the time, with the benefit of hindsight the Party clearly was mortally ill long before the May 2010 elections which effectively dealt it a mortal blow. Indeed, there are a lot of people (especially PNM people) who simply cannot understand why Manning called the election so early. The obvious answer was that he was facing a potentially devastating vote of no confidence which was being brought by then Leader of the Opposition Kamla Persad Bissessar and he didn't want what the then Opposition had to say to come out. If it had, his moral authority (which was already tenuous thanks to the UDECOTT Commission of Enquiry and its very public revelations) would have evaporated completely. Further, he was was facing a very serious rebellion in his own ranks. Dr. Rowley, because of his attacks on Manning up to that point, would have had to join with the Opposition against Mr. Manning, or lose complete credibility both within as well as without his Party. It was also quite probable that Rowley would have pulled a few of his supporters with him. All of this meant that even if he had been able to defeat the vote of no confidence in the Parliament, Manning would have lost it outside ... and outside is where it really counts!

Fast forward some 17 months later and only the most obtuse would not recognise that his so-called apology was a case of too little too late. After a truly dismal record as Prime Minister Mr. Manning came forward to apologise to "all those whom I have caused to be disenfrachised". What? Who did he disenfranchise? The Indian community? Most certainly he did do that! But did he mean them? I doubt it. And if he did then I really don't believe that the apology was sincere. Sorry. But actions speak louder than words. He hasn't done a thing to show that community that he is truly sorry for his actions over the years that effectively discriminated against them. And he did, people. He did!

So who was he referring to? Those PNMites who were feeding at the public trough? Quite possibly. That at least would be more believable. But that apology was really too late. It could have and should have come a lot earlier.

But the truth is that Mr. Manning really couldn't care less. What he was (and is) trying to do is to undermine Dr. Rowley ... who, God bless him, is trying as hard as he can to help Mr. Manning do just that! Everybody understood what Mr. Manning meant when he said that he wasn't going to be like "a pothound chasing after every passing car". What he was doing was demoting Dr. Rowley from rottwheiller status to that of a pot hound. And good old Rowley has cheerfully re-confirmed that he does just that when he made such stupid and silly comments about businessmen Steve Ferguson and Ishwar Galbaransingh winning their extradition matter that it provoked a meeting of the Law Association to discuss whether the comments constitute a contempt of Court.

Rowley clearly did not bother to read the 57 page judgement nor did he bother to acquaint himself remotely with the law of extradition. If you are going to criticise, by all means do so. But at least do it from an informed perspective. Nobody says that you have to agree with everything a judge decides ... even if it is a decision coming from the Privy Council! But if you are going to disagree, then for crying out loud, do so from a point that clearly understands all of the arguments.

I don't want here to go into that "Ish & Steve" case. We can deal with it at another time if necessary. The point here is not the decision of the judge, but how Rowley dealt with it. Rowley simply does not have the intellectual capacity nor the political "smarts" to lead a national political party. He is clear evidence of the "Peter Principle" at work.

The PNM has no effective or national leadership. There is nobody in its present hierarchy that looks remotely like an alternative Prime Minister and the Party is reaching more and more down into its more racist elements in order to be able to show that it has some modicum of support. Most of its educated and more sober minded supporters now look on with not little dismay. They can't bring themselves over even to support the COP (and that tells us something about the COP ... but, again, that's another story), and certainly they feel most uncomfortable with the UNC, but they can't bring themselves to vote for the Party that led this country to independance almost 5o years ago. So, those voters are parked up now and the PNM is about to die (if it ain't dead already)!

The problem here for Kamla is that politics (like nature) abhors a vacuum. There is no guarantee that a new third force will not rise to take the PNM's place, and if it does, and the economy remains sluggish, it could cause serious problems for the Partnership. We'll all continue to watch with interest.