Sir Courtney Blackman can be accused of failing to give the full picture when he chastises the Barbados Labour Party and the Democratic Labour Party for failing to warn Barbadians from the outset about the severity of the international recession, but neglects to acknowledge that he too – Barbados’ supposed greatest economics guru – also failed, in the early stages of the recession, to warn Barbadians about the severe crisis that was looming.
Furthermore, Sir Courtney fails to give credit where credit is due, for there was one organisation in Barbados that did warn Barbadians about the severity of the crisis from the very outset, and that organisation is the Peoples Empowerment Party!
Let the facts speak for themselves!
Almost six years ago – on Friday, September 28, 2007 – the PEP disseminated a press release and published an article … titled Dark Days Are On The Horizon, and stated as follows:
“Over the past month, all hell has broken loose in the banking and financial circles of the US and Europe, particularly Britain… The harsh reality is that the international capitalist system is facing a major blowout. Over the past two decades the banks, hedge funds and other financial institutions of North America and Europe have built up a massive mountain of worthless paper assets and unsustainable debt, and the whole edifice has now begun to implode…
“Without a doubt, these developments will bring in their train dire consequences for the Barbadian economy – particularly our tourism and international business or offshore industries.”
We also went on to ask: “What is Prime Minister Owen Arthur saying about any of this? … And do the BLP and the DLP have any notion of the dangers facing Barbados, and the need for proactive, defensive actions?”
The PEP was able to so quickly pick up on the crisis and its dire implications because six years earlier, in May 2001, the President of the PEP, David Comissiong, had carried out an analysis of the international capitalist system, and had penned the following words in his weekly newspaper column:
“[I]t is now estimated that the sum total value of purely financial instruments known as ‘derivatives’ in the world today is over US$140 trillion, a figure far in excess of the total real Gross National Products of all the nations of the world combined… In other words, the financial tycoons of this world have built a global financial ‘bubble’ that will eventually explode violently … and … when the financial bubble explodes and deep recession hits the North American and European tourist and financial services markets that Barbados depends so heavily upon, what will become of us? …The global crisis is coming to us here in Barbados. Let us ensure that we are prepared to face it.”
So, the President of the PEP issued his first warning about this crisis some 12 years ago! And he repeated this warning again and again in the months and years after September 2007! See, for example, the following PEP columns, which were all published in our weekly column: PEP’s Cure for High Prices (November 2, 2007); Know Nothing, Do Nothing (February 1, 2008); The Same Old Khaki Pants (February 15, 2008); How Could They Miss All That?, (May 16, 2008); PM’s Address A Monumental Letdown, (April 18, 2008); and the list goes on and on.
But what is amazing about all this is not the remarkable prescience of the PEP in being able to discern economic warning signs that virtually all of the mainstream economists failed to pick up! Rather, what is truly amazing is that having so ably demonstrated its economic insight, the PEP has never once been invited to participate in any of the economic pow wows that were held by the Government of Barbados to supposedly work out a way forward for Barbados economically.
And this is what is slowly killing Barbados – this failure to make use of the talent that exists in our country.
We have developed a degenerate two-party political system in which two narrow groups of rapacious political aspirants contend with each other to see which of them can win the general election and earn the “right” to monopolise the instruments of state power and to exclude and marginalise all those citizens who do not belong to their narrow incestuous political in-group.
Indeed, so degenerate has this system become that late Prime Minister David Thompson boldly and publicly declared himself to be a practitioner of the “politics of the fatted calf!”.
But the real tragedy resides in the fact that neither of the two political in-groups (DLP and BLP) possesses in its ranks sufficient intellectual talent required to strategise our way out of the deep economic crisis that we find ourselves in. Yet, that intellectual talent does exist in Barbadian society as a whole! The problem is that the degenerate two-party political system does not permit that talent to be invited to the table and to participate in a truly meaningful way!
Barbados has now come to a critical crossroads, and sadly, it will continue to decline if there is not some significant modification in the system of and approach to national governance.
* David Comissiong is president of the Peoples Empowerment Party.