Prize winner sitting on the UWI stage delivering a harsh truth in a tone
that was unexpectedly tender: “You can see the future in the present,” was
an unforgettable gift. VS Naipaul gave us a clear lens with which to see
The signs are
everywhere. We must be prepared for an uncontrollable inflation, a possible
devaluation and a “bust up” between the people who depend on government for
their daily bread and everyone else. It will be an ugly encounter.
that is the definition of a pessimist, but I prefer to call myself a
Where do the
unlike the UK and the US, our housing market appears to be slowing down.
Real estate agents are complaining that properties remain on the market for
years (not months) and first-time buyers are finding it difficult unless
they are lucky enough to get a government house. Rents have shot up.
In the UK and
the US it is suggested that the slowing property market could be the
precursor to a “recession.”
despite its continual wrestling with inflation is now reeling with the shock
of the collapse of Northern Rock, one of the top five mortgage lenders in
commenting in the UK’s Guardian blamed this shocking collapse on populist
government policies that have interfered with the economics, “Home ownership
in Britain—termed a ‘right’ by Gordon Brown—has been indulged beyond
economic reason. It has sucked savings out of the productive sector. It has
tied up pension money that should be helping the economy in the stock
if a bank in the UK, with its strong currency and stable inflation,
collapses due to one populist policy regarding housing; where does that
leave us given that all our policies are populist?
We are living
in a fog of the Government’s runaway construction, with lavish sums assigned
to transport infrastructure (sadly the roads are bad as ever, the traffic
clogged everywhere), port development and 26 government buildings.
shoemakers in the night, Chinese construction workers are erecting buildings
like magic. Nobody knows how much this is going to cost us.
Due to the
lack of information we can only conclude that most of these projects are
being run by quangos—quasi autonomous government organisations.
Government appears to have set up various companies of which it is the only
shareholder. There was concern this was being done to facilitate corruption
but the Government argued these organisations allow more efficient
If this is so
we can say these “organisations” have treated their only shareholder with
contempt. We have seen no accounts, no numbers. What we will probably see is
huge costs overruns, corruptions and wasted money. And more inflation.
is food price inflation. People are charging more because there is too much
money chasing too few goods.
partially international. World rice and wheat prices have gone up, but also
because the Government has pandered to populist policies.
The cost of
labour has shot up. Nobody wants to do manual labour on local farms to
produce local food unless they get paid more than a Cepep worker, who just
had a 15 per cent hike in wages.
farms can’t match that. The cost of land has shot up. If agriculture is not
profitable, you sell. Concrete is devouring agricultural land.
The lights are flashing red. The signs are everywhere. Populism ends in
tears. The future is here, in our present.