EVERY crisis throughout our recent history, post-Emancipation onwards, has revolved around economic confrontation and abuses by dishonest plantation owners, shopkeepers and in the 20th century, with crooked scales. The 1889 riots began with a quarrel between a young boy and a shop owner over a gill bread. “The working people as consumers erupted against the most accessible agents in the hierarchy of exploitation–not the plantation capitalists nor the big import–export firms– but the small shopkeepers.” Walter Rodney-A History of the Guyanese Working People, 1881-1905.
I have no knowledge that the Guyana dollar has been recently devalued, yet prices in the supermarkets have gone up over the past months. Is this politics? Because to squeeze the people towards betraying their own better interests have always been a mechanism of businesses wanting a special administration, in our case, who would waive taxes from them onto the public service workers who have carried our major tax burden since independence, or is it just the old proverbial greed?
There was a chicken crisis of sorts, prices went up, the crisis is over but chicken prices remained the same. We experienced this when oil prices went up and mini-bus fares rose. When the oil prices stabilised, transportation prices remained the same. Providers of electronics and computers are in a maze of their own. Most of the more recognisable offer no backup services and questionable items when it comes to related chargers, etc.
The comfortable nexus between inflicting price hikes and unreliable merchandise that keep consumers ‘hand to mouth’ must be challenged. It is a vicious, self-serving policy to enrich businesses who in the majority, have exhibited no corporate responsibility to support any area of sports, arts, or any social enhancement project, even a domino competition, or sponsor a school debate.
Now that we have entered the realm of nullifying dual citizenship in respect of participating in public administration, another area must be explored, a declaration of assets abroad, with financial sources clarified. Guyana, like all of the New World, in the period of the Atlantic Slave Trade, is populated by peoples who were not wealthy overlords from whence they came. Upon arrival to these shores, be they Mongolian or African tribesmen, Europeans and Asians alike, but they quickly fell in line with the purposely un-developing plural economic planter system that was supported by religious mythology, an aggressive edutainment propaganda system of definitions of where on earth heaven is.
Thus, creating no majority recognition towards new options and frontiers, simply put, with no vision, nor urge to build a new road, but rather rename one that already exists, and to compound this laziness of spirit, that refuses to immerse one’s being to add to the landscape a new spark, like the proverbial Kakaroach, creeps into whatever initiatives the sincere few had crafted and struggled into being, not to enhance any proven idea, whether it be trade unionism, political parties, NGOs or religious standards. This callous opportunistic aspect of our nature will proceed to postulate, con and extract whatever they could for themselves and closest families, sprouting disillusionment where hope and aspirations once existed.
The mocking irony is that they steal from this beautiful mudflat, where they wouldn’t voluntarily repair a bridge, or equip their old school with a laboratory and ensure it’s sustained, but right away they buy property(ies) in America, England and Canada. The fact is that history tells us that they are not unusual; this kind of clique has led to revolutions and social upheavals, even mass murders across time.
Now be clear on this: if one is resident in another country it is understood that real estate purchases there is a necessary option, what is ‘our’ concern is when you deny contributing here through taxes etcetera, leaving the burden on people who can hardly visit the dentist, while you willingly pay taxes where you will hardly, ever truly belong.
In our context, it is the lack of enforcement when laws are enacted, but however, laws must first exist to address deformities that have lasted far too long. If this country and its people as we are, are to survive outside of further confusion with respect to the social and economic ills that constantly creep into our lives, and instead hold on to the positive perspective of our country, we must continue to knock at doors, lobbying as best we can, in this world, as a nation without Ballistic missiles, then the thinking must evolve.
I’m compelled to use the opposition leader, then as president, as an example of a mode of reasoning that belongs to what must change, evolve, or mature and be rejected in our self-interpretation. September 2006, Stabroek News, The then President advocated to students, that since …”the Caribbean does not have the high number of export products as China, India, and the USA, we must sell services to the world, become the intellectual capital of the world,” but he did not expound to the students that he was addressing, what skills he was referring to that the rest of the world so badly needed, that we possessed an excess of?
Not for one moment did he contemplate or seem to recognise that both India and China had an excess of skills that they were eagerly trying to export or its qualified people were trying to privately export those very skills for external employment. This was a completely bizarre and ridiculous assessment by a president whose dismal vision of a nation (Guyana in particular) of tremendous resources as a hopeless vendor and remittance-subsidised economy, a perception, in four years another administration has begun to reverse.
There is need for an aggressive consumer-monitoring authority that is proactive and has its own prosecuting and education arm. There are too many intentional violations and a philosophy that for every 10 per cent rise of national wages, a subsequent 12 per cent rise must be levied on goods. This increase in prices of consumer items should be a requested item based on established norms; not all companies or businesses behave this way, but many do.
The trade unions must participate in rescuing both blue and lower-level white-collar workers. They in turn, after a worker has paid 20 years of union dues upon dismissal or retirement, the unions should present the worker with a percentage of dues paid, in good faith. We have got to address working-class relief, from 19th-century customs and practices, with new, progressive laws, and positively affect the social and domestic predicaments, that there’s so much pretence about, as to why our domestic life has so many fatal casualties.