Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author(s) do not represent the official position of Barbados TODAY.
by Walter Edey
Principles, precepts, and frameworks are foundations of good decision-making and governance. The Barbados government should secure and suspend the use of borrowed money. The reason. Barbados needs a public, published, and accepted development model.
A set of principles sets the behaviour and tone of nature.
Energy and other forms of transfer occur in precise and complementary ways.
Heat is not borrowed or transferred in a vacuum. Leaves borrow the carbon dioxide humans exhale photosynthesize it and produce carbon products.
Trees transfer water from the earth to the clouds that keep the water cycle alive. Borrowed money is no different.
It has strings.
Some are visible like the roots of trees. Others are like the veins inside the trunk of trees, functional but invisible.
Borrowed money has a heavy price that the scale of commonsense should first weigh.
Barbados had a measured scale of doing and living. Young Barbadian folk inherited and enjoyed the family property. Some of these properties were once wooden homes. Purchased and moved after the acquisition of land.
Homes were renovated and upgraded in stages. Many of these staged-built homes are wall bungalows of value. There are also other families who in the 1970s bought a basic home (some on cement stilts). Those homes are now things of beauty. Still, others acquired government properties and turned them into gems.
These home adventures used a model. They lived on what they had and within their means. They added a roof or a room at a time. They allowed them to keep their children at secondary school. They sought the help of skilled craftsmen.
They worked their savings and stayed away from large loans.
Some sold things from home.
But stories of small businessmen who did not exercise restraint and constraint exist. Some accepted credit built big edifices that others now own. After the initial boom years, creditors snapped the whip.
The principles that underpin these stories are simple. They are not wrapped in academic postulates or proven economic theories. They came from the Proverbs. Taught and enforced by primary school graduates many of whom could not read nor write with acclaim but turned pennies into dollars.
Prevention is better than cure is a pragmatic spiritual principle. Wearing a hat in the sun and the rain reduced the likelihood of catching a cold or pneumonia. That practice was an economic decision. A hat or a cap was cheaper than the medicine or the doctor’s visit. It was social.
People shied away from you if you coughed or sneezed.
Looking before you leap, addressed life-changing decisions.
It spoke to relational and cultural values. A stitch in time expressed life as a timeline; as a series of steps and stitches. It was a money-saving device. Architects advocated the creation of a design. They also tell that it is best to make changes to the blueprint rather than after the fact.
Barbados has stashes of borrowed money. The upcoming general election will increase the temptation to spend. But where are or what are the foundational principles guiding the spending. Lenders have frameworks, principles, and conditions for lending.
Scripture advises that it is better to be a lender than a borrower. Why not break projects into doable bites? Why not first explore areas of savings? One can only guess that taking your time is a crime. This is contrary to the proven survival of Bajan strategies. Strategies, which laid the foundation of today’s political class.
For Barbados, the price of borrowing is more than the principal and the accrued interest. It is living life without a framework or set of principles. Excessive borrowing without a generative foundation is a recipe for self-destruction and chaos.
Walter Edey is a retired math and science educator.