Finally waking up


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Category: Trinidad Society 16 Sep 07


Even to the most casual observer, this country is baffling. The markers point everywhere and no-where.


Just when the Ryder Scott report reminded us that energy will one day roll over and die; just when you thought the rate of murders is insane; just when you felt despair over the 15 per cent raise in Cepep salaries —and you went around saying, “I wish the government would just give Cepep ‘workers’ the money instead of the damaging mind-numbing, sheep creating, practice of ‘make-work’ and make it mandatory that in exchange for the ‘salary’ they enrol in an institution to learn a skill so we wouldn’t have to import labourers, health workers, people from just about every trade from China, India, Jamaica, Cuba, Africa;”—just when you wondered which team of pseudo economists were advising the government; just when you wondered in this season of plenty about the “protesting” workers from just about every government entity and don’t want to think of their multiplied wrath when the recession hits and they are laid off; just when you thought the noise about rising food prices would die down; just when you thought you’d heard everything, the chairman of the opposition UNC says he will fight to the death for the right of Cepep workers; just when you think this government has no opposition and we are in for a rule of the maximum leader for decade, you think it can’t get worse, it does.


You examine the 2006 UNDP development index and find Trinidad and Tobago embarrassingly low on the scale, the talk of Vision 2020 a hollow parody of who we actually are.


Drugged people

Norway, an oil-producing country, is the most developed. Barbados comes in proudly at 31, topping all developing counties. T&T, bafflingly, the second richest country in the Caribbean lumbers in at 57.


How does Barbados consistently beat us in the race for first world status?


They have no oil …just sea, sand and service.


The index is based on people’s life expectancy, combined enrolled ratio for primary, secondary and tertiary schools, GDP per capita, an adult literacy rate and education index.


Shocking then that our average citizen is poorer, sicker and less literate than Barbados. The languishing patients outside hospitals are a direct result of the low percentage of the GDP we spend on health.


T&T is one of the few countries that offers no adult literacy rate. No figures available. Only 67 per cent of our people enrol in schools and universities.


It doesn’t look good.

The other countries who beat us in the race for first world status after Barbados are, in order, Malta, Kuwait, Brunei Darussalam, Hungary, Argentina, Poland, Chile, Bahrain, Estonia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Uruguay, Croatia, Latvia, Qatar, Seychelles, Costa Rica, United Arab Emirates, Cuba, (socialism works) St Kitts and Nevis (why exactly is St Kitts ahead of us?) Bahamas, Mexico, Bulgaria, Tonga and Oman. Trinidad and Tobago lumbers in at a pathetic number 51. The figures show that our life expectancy at birth of 69.8 years is lower than that of dozens of countries beneath us in the Human Development Index such as the Jamaicans who, at number 104, are expected to live longer (70.7) than us.


Just when you reach a point when you want to put your head in your hands and bawl you get a sense of buoyancy. There is no-where to go but up. People care again. People are talking issues—crime, healthcare, inflation, education, agriculture and draft constitutions that encourage a more vigorous democracy.


Perhaps we, the drugged sheep, people are finally waking up.  

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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur