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November 17, 2009

Comments

Rick Lowe

Good stuff.
I like your closing paragraph.
Should Mr. Walcott to offer alternatives to sustain economic growth?
Other than saying the government should promote the arts.
The artists should promote themselves like everyone else has to do locally to survive.
Maybe people don't want what we offer in that regard?

las


Just about every business here is protected or supported to some degree. I am not sure where we should strike the balance in terms of the arts, but I think the end justifies some means.

Erasmus Folly

@Larry
As always, well written. I agree with the sentiment and thrust of Walcott's polemical stance, but, taken literally, it is impractical. However, the points are very valid and should 'temper' our actual positions on development. For example, Baker's Bay is a complete disgrace, considering the pristine natural beauty of the Abaco's. Any development should attempt to truly 'harmonize' with the land - especially on fragile cays. I accept that main land New Providence, Grand Bahama and probably Great Abaco will get a variety of 'heavy' development, but, if we are smart, we can preserve more than 90% of the Bahamas and live there still - if we do it sustainably and right. Isn't that the kind of country, we want? I fully accept Atlantis as the engine of our growth, but who the hell wants an Atlantis on every island? This anchor idea is asinine! Keep up the great work!

Edward Hutcheson

Perhaps if we see most of the investment for what it is, we would exercise more wisdom regarding who or what we let in.
Mr.Smith's admission about the tax concessions that fund most investments, should wake us up.
Maybe the burgeois can have their cake and eat it too, but there is only so much land that can be given away. How many anchor projects and well dressed parasites driving around in late model vehicles can a culture stand? But they attend Junkanoo with the rest of us so, go figure

Erasmus Folly

Well dressed parasites? This isn't rational either. We need FDI and the foreign investors that come with it. Calling them or the tourists they bring parasites is disingenuous. It is our politicians and the lawyer class who function as the parasites in this relationship. They are our representatives and they pass laws, thus they have the power to determine the vision and scope of our development. Baker's Bay didn't happen without a Bahamian saying... hmmm... yes, that is a good idea. Our politicians have to BELIEVE in sustainable development, have a VISION for it and then make a DEVELOPMENT PLAN based on it! They simply don't have this: PLP or FNM and their 'petty politics' is destroying this country's opportunities!

Don't hate the player; hate the game. If we reform our game, then everyone benefits: Bahamians and foreigners! Nothing wrong with that, but we, as a nation, as a people and as a culture must take responsibility for that by demanding accountability and transparency from our politicians! Labelling foreigners and tourists as 'parasites' is counter-productive in the extreme. I assure you, this country falls apart without them. People need to think realistically as well!

larry smith

And let's not forget the role that corruption plays in the approval of these big projects.

There were at least two major contenders for what eventually became known as the Baha Mar project. Why was one favoured over the other? We may never know because of the lack of transparency.

Erasmus Folly

Totally agreed Larry. In a democracy, the people get the government they deserve. This is a sad tautology that cannot be denied. If we don't demand better, we have no right to expect better. PLP and FNM are both garbage in my view and completely unable to solve the problems facing this country. The only difference between them is the FNM gets a few of the things it promises done. The PLP promises everything and delivers nothing. Neither is good enough in 2009!

Rick Lowe

Hi Erasmus Folly:
Should Mr. Walcott offer alternatives to sustain economic growth?
What alternatives are we offering?
Do we presume that if get a new crop of politico's things will be different?

Erasmus Folly

Walcott, as a poet and writer, does not need to do the job of the economists, politicians and business people. The artists like him are there to help us preserve a workable, creative, dynamic and practical culture. They are there to criticize and provide insight and remind us there is more to life than just 'economic survival': that economics needs to serve humanity - not the other way around. I don't believe that a 'new crop' of politicos will make a difference, but I do believe that an energized citizenry that takes a stake in its own future can make a difference. We have to hold the fire to the feet of our politicians and demand transparency and accountability and freedom of information - that is the only way things can change. If that means a 'new crop' from time to time, so be it. Politicians mean little to me. They generally get in the way and serve their own interests, in this country, that is especially true. Ego is the name of the game here. The intellectual class (from whichever walks of life) have to demand more and speak vocally about the need for transparency, accountability and sustainability in the vision of the future for this country. Otherwise, all is lost.

Rick Lowe

So what alternatives are we offering Erasmus Folly?

Erasmus Folly

It isn't about that Rick. We lack a critical mass of an informed and responsible citizenry. Awareness of a 'serious problem' must be raised first, then you can start agitating for this or that policy. The 'alternatives', for lack of a better word are: increased investment in education, increased political emphasis in education, a greater call for government transparency via a Freedom of Information Act and a serious move towards ACCOUNTABILITY. This is where REFORM is seriously needed. To fund education, hammer through a National Lottery that goes to an Education Fund that is distinct from the Public Treasury. Start emphasizing, over and over, the need for REAL RULE OF LAW and the enforcement of the laws on our books. We have to energize 'civil society' in order to reform government. If we don't, the PLP and FNM will play pass the potato for the rest of eternity and laugh all the way to the bank, while the country falls apart. You want more alternatives, suggest them, but this isn't about that at this stage - this is about screaming at the top of your lungs - THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES. After that, you can make some clothes.

Erik

Larry, thank you for the great article. You posed this question, "...it is our job to come up with realistic solutions to prevent the loss of cultural identity and to exploit the opportunities that foreign investment can bring."

I think that we can look at other Caribbean examples for our answers. In short, everywhere where you have central government having a greater say over local communities...everywhere where megadevelopments are the strategy, everywhere where foreign investment comes in big doses for big projects, you completely destroy the culture, and sometimes the environment too.

I think the answer is in sustainable, small scale tourism, grown locally and slowly. This is the blue chip stock of Caribbean tourism, not the Worldcom stock, but it works. On my blog, I list so many examples of other Caribbean nations that are facing the same thing as Guana and Bimini...and the result is always a ruined economy. The facts lie in the history of other islands. Just go visit the southeast shores of Dominican Republican, where empty hotels line the beaches, caterpillar trucks have sunken in the mud.

Abaconians need to have control over the future of development. They know best what is right for their children and their environment. Small and sustainable is one answer, but taking control back from federal government is important too.

Erik
notesfromtheroad.com

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