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May 28, 2008



PBS aired a great program in Harlem, NY recently. It is called "IMPACT" and was started by one man after the murder of a teen in his neighborhood. It begins with a 'boot camp' and commitment to the ideals of the group. Education is at the forefront. Former gang members are now getting 90s in school.


The free market and its nasty side effects- joblessness, wage inequality and the social break down and crime afterwards.

Education, the great stop gap, has been broken. Thank's to the unions on the last great effort. Thank's now to lack of cooperation between the teachers and the Ministry. Before that we had conservative thinking, which held out and took to scorn new age perceptions and concepts out intelectual outreach of our kids- before we assess the grading system!

We are losing our battle.....more needs to be done!


Bob Knaus

Larry, as a foreigner I'm curious -- why the emphasis on foreign police officers and foreign judges? Is there something wrong with Bahamians that they are incapable of impartial enforcement and justice?

Mind you, I'm all in favor of taking advice from foreigners. I've blathered on at length regarding many subjects, myself. But it seems to me that Bahamians ought to be the ones doing the work.

larry smith

Our society is too small and interconnected for police and judges to be free of conflicts. And in the case of judges, there are not enough qualified Bahamian lawyers who are prepared to give up huge incomes in order to serve.


If one examines our colonial past, the colonizers, the British, used people from other "colonies" to enforce law and order.
I.E. Bajan and Jamaican prison and police officers, permanent secretaries, civil sevants in general, along with some career Brits.
Upon Maj. Rule, these were removed over a few years, and replaced by Bahamians, so while there were always some Bahamians in place in the Civil service, they now were dominant.
Given that Majority rule was empowering, the rules and procedures kinda slid out the window. A rejection of the colonial and his rules. The result? today's decay.
I do not believe this can be disputed, but we do not yet rationalize or acknowledge these realities.
I will say though, that I do not believe that this would have been unique to Bahamians, as any peoples turned loose like that would have issues.
Britain was not exactly fighting to keep us as a colony, so transitional preparation was minimal.
This is unlikely to be a popular view but

Bob Knaus

Interesting reply, Larry.

Iceland has about the same population as the Bahamas. It is even more interconnected, not having the advantage of Haiti, Cuba, and the USA nearby to increase the pool of relatives. Yet, Iceland has no trouble supplying its own policemen and judges.

What's different with the Bahamas?

larry smith

Good question.


Hi Bob,

The difference with Iceland and the Bahamas is that 1. Iceland is in a culturally cohesive region, where support and cross national support is available and support that is not far from their national interest- even from a hegemonic standpoint.

2. Iceland had supported a social model, which went against any semblance of free-market liberalism and did not pervade such depridation of their human resources, with ill regard for collective reprecussion. Simply put, the all for me baby thinking of the west, is not the foundation of which iceland started- they seek to take care of the collective first, and leave individualism as a priority, but, as a priority only seen through the collective benefit.

3. Iceland has, like most European countries, heavy tax systems and has money to throw at the issues, like heavier police states.

To top all of that off, Iceland, has allot of other political infastructure, which supports it in regards to the paradoxical liberal theories of 1. social liberty and 2. high welfare protectionist states.

The Bahamas had no such basis, and, if we adopted one, it would go against the popular thought, which dominates western hemispheric popular thought on what liberal ideology is and how that is supposed to function.



larry smith

Perhaps more importantly - Iceland is a developed nation with a first world mentality.

anthony kelly

I enjoy reading your column each week, but thought this one was excellent and so accurate in pin-pointing our current social problems.

Keep up the good work.

Bob Knaus

Bill - the Bahamas is not socially cohesive? These islands are a prime example of groupthink. They have not tried collectivist models? Review the history of the Pindling years. I will grant you, the tax burden here has never been heavy under any regime.

Larry - the Bahamas is 1st world! It would be a better candidate for admission as the 51st US state than Puerto Rico.

Does anyone seriously think that foreign policemen and judges are part of the solution to Bahamian cultural decline? Bahamians that I know are intensely proud of their country... to the point of being prickly and sensitive about it. Bringing in foreigners to perform such essential social functions would rub most Bahamaians the wrong way, and rightly so.

larry smith

The absence of large numbers of people living in abject poverty does not make us a first world nation.

Bahamians are prickly and sensitive about everything. So what?

Fact is, we can't find enough lawyers to fill judicial positions - maybe that's why we have to recruit compromised lawyers.


Hi Bob,

In the past few years, the idea's of us moving past a socially cohesive bond, into a more individualistic style mentality, is what we have engendered on purpose; for many different reasons. But, the chief reason is this western liberal perception of individuality, which dominates popular thought world wide.

There is no such thing as 'group think' anymore in the Bahamas. In fact, what we have is tribalism at its core. But, that is not 'group think' for net social gain. That's 'follow the leader'. And this, is built on the premise that 'follow the leader', means that you as an individual will eat tomorrow- net individual gain.

That being said, we can't forget which back-yard we are in. The conflicting perceptions of western patterns and influences and developing country underpinnings and needs, is where our chief conflict arises. This is top down dictation, to the root level of our society. Ultimately, the buck starts and stops, literally, with that- as with any organization, you influence who allocates and how they should allocate, you simply just as much allocated what you needed into a society.

Iceland- while it may sound nice to compare- has an older more developed society, which never had major conflict as permeating as a war, or, social, like plantation style confusions as well as them being 'multi-ethnic/racial'.

We, on the other hand, at least state wise, are 30+ years young. We have three major conflicting patterns of thought on our sociology- British, US and plantation confusions.

On top of all of that, we are made up of 1. Not only different races; white, black, Chinese. , but, different Caribbean identities as Jamaican, Haitian, African American and West Indian as well as the differences in social living within those sub-groups- tribes from Nigeria to Uganda.

All of these things, as you would know, would make finding true consensus on true socially accepted norms, problematic- early US social consensus, and up until now as noted by groups like the CFR and PNAC, have identified that this continuation of multi-ethnic voices into the democratic process, would further weaken the possibility of finding true consensus and that would be problematic to decision making. This has crucial and particular value- both critically and analytically.

The confusions of African American thought, is a great parallel to understanding the factors of Bahamian social development. The one big thing, and you can take it as you like, for us in regards to maintaining order, is for the fact that we are a tourist destination and that feeds and binds us and with that acknowledgement, we are under hegemonic rule from the US- which dictates what we do, no matter how we feel about it.

That being said, this is no plug for anything, let alone US imperial power. However, would it, or, would it not be worse, if we did not solve some of our root problems, is debatable on many levels if we want to talk about best results.



Ultimately I would like to add; you can't expect persons who act for net social benefit, when you engender individuality through free-market liberalism.

You can't expect people to work for little, or, for free, socially, when you have not engendered the type of social safety nets, which accompanies this or encouraged higher payments.

Can't have it both ways, no matter how much you cry about it. Pay people, or, make them secure in their philanthropy as many social welfare, or, developed market economies do....



Bob Knaus

"Bahamians are prickly and sensitive about everything. So what?"

ROFL -- good one, Larry -- you win :D

Maybe one of these days we will meet in person.

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