Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by this author are their own and do not represent the official position of the Barbados Today Inc.
I am not going to get into the debate re the appropriateness of Nelson’s statue in Hero’s Square, mainly because it is a no win debate.
I do know Hegel was correct when he said, “What we learn from history is we do not learn from history.”
Nelson was 12 when he entered service in the Royal Navy. Slavery was an economic force around the world long before he was born and long after he died. The Royal Navy was an instrument of foreign policy enforcement, and he had a job to do as an officer.
That said, the fact is the statements made by Grenville Phillips are, in my opinion, absolutely correct after 40 years of travel to Barbados.
The GDP of Barbados in 1984 was about $5, 300 per capita, and rose steadily until 2008 when it reached $17, 250. It fell off and took eight years to more or less return to the 2008 level. In spite of Ms Mottley’s efforts, the GDP today is only about $1, 500 higher than in 2008, and is projected to be still under $20,000 per capita in 2022.
In that time, the ruling class and big businesses have prospered, yet the average family struggles under low wages and high taxation and fees.
The lowest unemployment rate in the last 20 years was in 2007 at around 7.5 per cent before the world economic crisis hit in 2008. It peaked at 12.2 per cent in 2014 and sits just under ten per cent today.
That, I submit, is not a function of slavery.
Since 1966, this country has been independent. All matters of governance have been made by duly elected parliaments. I proudly wear a T-shirt I got in 2016 that says “Pride & Industry.”
So who is really responsible for the state of affairs the average citizen struggles with?
Here in Canada, the province of Alberta hangs on desperately to securing revenue from its oil reserves which are expensive to recover, expensive to transport and refine and for which there is no market for the products. In addition, the major players are selling their stakes because they see the handwriting on the wall.
It is said that Tourism contributes 12 per cent directly and 40 per cent indirectly to the GDP of Barbados, but it is not enough for the people to prosper. It also makes them extremely vulnerable to world events such as happened in 2008 and what we are living today.
The Borgen Project suggested that household unemployment moved from 8.7 per cent to 15 per cent in the period 1996-2016 and individual unemployment from 13.9 per cent to 19.3 per cent. Yet, there are no signs that I can find that the government is any different from Alberta when it comes to looking to the future.
The drive to create diverse and sustainable job creating businesses to reduce dependency on tourism is absent and has been for decades.
Seventy per cent of households are led by women making much less than males, if they can find work at all.
Nelson is not the issue when it comes to the well being of the wonderful people of Barbados today. It’s the folks in the building behind the statue that are the real problem.
North Saanich BC