Another pot boils on very low heat


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Category: Trinidad Politics 04 May 08


The sacking of former minister Keith Rowley has simply meant that another pot has been put to boil on very low heat.

Until attention gets diverted from fanning the fire, the pot cools and the billion-dollar project is sorted out the way it’s meant to be, in this small country, discreetly, behind closed doors, between big men who understand the ease of dealing in banana republics.

In these opaque scenarios, where the curtain has been drawn against transparency, on the shiny board table, with the drinks cabinet within easy reach, you could make a lot of money with a few carefully-chosen words.

Like the airport was. As long as millions are being thrown at Cepep and those at the bottom of the ladder remain sleeping like medicated, overfed, undereducated, unquestioning sheep, and it’s all good.

Eventually, the Udecott pot will cool as so many before them scraped out and discarded in the garbage of our national memory.

Ours is the way of tiny lawless countries.

Why? Because if the gods were to ask let the person who has not sinned cast the first stone or point a finger, we’d all have to retreat into our little holes.

After all, we all do it. It’s our culture to make up rules as we go along. Hardly anyone in the middle or upper classes has not called on someone they know to push things along.

A visa, a flight, a job application, an interview, a little contract, an introduction. A phone call, a chat at a cocktail party and it’s sorted; a little illegality.

The lower income groups are run by a tacit understanding not found in statute books. Community leaders tell the Government “you give us money without making us work too hard for it, and we will hold back on the bullets.”

To some extent, all societies work informally—through networking and favours, a way of slipping through the rules because of someone you know.

Informal legal system

But what happens when everybody drops the legal system entirely and weaves in and around the rules? What happens when our social contract between citizen, to follow the law, and government to protect citizens is broken?

Nothing, really. Everybody is happy. We park where we want, drive the way we like, dodge the law, until it affects us adversely. Then we want work ethic and transparency.

I saw a young girl nearly crush an old woman the other day at a zebra crossing, swearing at her as she swerved by.

The old dear wanted law then. I saw a young, dangerously ill boy wait for 11 hours in a doctor’s office. Then his-hot shot father wanted medical accountability.

When soldiers in uniform begin stealing our cars in malls, when the police are involved in kidnappings, we are on high alert to our widespread lawlessness defined as “chaos,” “randomness,” “antinomianism.”

This parallel to a failed legal system works only as long as money is being thrown at people to keep them quiet. What happens when it runs out?

People unused to law and order, deprived of a strong work ethic, will still want something for nothing. When the government is unable to throw money at them, they will turn on the whole society, a mighty lash of the tail of a cobra.

The sad thing is, in societies like ours, where there is a high level of criminality among the very rich and the very poor, it’s the foundation, the in-between middle class that will crumble.

The rich will get out. The very criminal don’t care if they die, once they are taking you with them.

It’s the people who prop up this country, the middle-classes whose rights are eroded every day without any exchange for government responsibility, will helplessly watch another hefty pot belonging to us all, fill, bubble, cool, emptied and discarded, and with it their hope for peace and economic stability.


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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur