Since the CSO (Central Statistical Office) no longer regularly provides statistics on population and employment, it is possible that many of us outside academia have escaped our notice of how much the mark of socialism Dr. Eric Williams’ statehood as a philosophy of governance has not been gradually eroded but replaced over the years by private sector entrepreneurs who have not been able to get the satisfaction of the state enterprises they were made to wait.
There was nothing malicious about chess. It was like trying to apply the management systems of an Oxford university to a primary school in Penal. One size never fits and can never fit everyone.
In the 1900s, state-owned enterprises in the metropolis were established to provide people with medical care, security, police, education, sanitation, and support for the dispossessed, disabled, and working elderly. in parallel with traditional family and denominational systems that have evolved over generations.
They were intended to replace systems made insufficient by industrialization. In terms of efficiency, they seem to have been gradually overtaken by private sector capitalism, resulting in the binary system in which we now operate.
Business leaders have encouraged and benefited tremendously from change and top performers are now providing benevolent near-paternalistic support to keep the new system in place where government-run businesses are seen as never successful, have become corrupt or, by being endowed with political supporters whose qualifications for managing authority were based solely on their political support, and not on their education, management standards, ethics and abilities, have simply failed.
I don’t need to list them… they are in the press every day.
It’s not a big secret. I came across an article written in 1973 which commented on the observable beginnings of the trend, predicting what was to come and, in fact, what happened.
It wasn’t just here. At the time, there was an international debate about the inefficiency and productivity observed around the world in state-owned enterprises.
Orwell’s famous book Animal Farm was a metaphor for what happened when the animals took over the farm. It illustrated the terms: “participation of workers in management”, “taking charge of the peaks of the economy”, “nationalization of resources” and “worker ownership of enterprises”.
Servol, of which I was an enthusiastic member, was proud of the bakery that its workers had created. The National Union of Food, Hotel, Beverage and Allied Workers started their own grocery business to show how workers could provide food better and cheaper than the 1%.
Neither had management training or experience, just the belief that they could do it better. Neither had the political skills necessary to obtain favorable treatment in order to eliminate competition. They went there honestly. Neither lasted more than a year.
The intention was honorable: to replace the misery suffered by human beings under secular systems across the world of slavery, covenant and feudalism. Although it is fashionable these days to claim that one’s own ethnic or racial ancestors were the victims of all this oppression, current research shows that it has been around as long as civilization in any part of the world. world. Apparently, the exploitation of the weak by the strong is written in human DNA.
Socialism was the philosophy that would alleviate this misery by providing “to each according to his needs, to each according to his abilities”. I believed it. It was both honorable and admirable. But it didn’t work. As in Animal Farm, it became a case of “all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others”.
Although there are still state service commissions, made up of highly qualified and knowledgeable people with high moral and ethical standards, there are not enough of them in leadership positions. Socialism is based on high standards, but it only works in a culture that supports and promotes these standards, otherwise it seems to slide into dependence and belief in a right.
Capitalism does not require for its essential functions founding members with these moral and ethical qualifications. Capitalism is founded on greed, determination, strict discipline, hard work and sacrifice, often not only of oneself, but also of families and employees.
It’s not pretty, but it often leads to material success. As a result, many functions in unproductive state enterprises have been contracted out to private enterprises. Security companies have taken over where police standards have fallen.
As food, sheets, cutlery and medical supplies disappeared from public hospitals and clinics, nursing homes and private hospitals were built and thrived. No one even wonders why they are more expensive because they have the resources that state facilities lack, the continuously trained staff who show up on time, the focused and often strict management, the close supervision and the safety of all stakeholders. Anyone who wants it can get it, but someone has to pay for it.
Police vehicles collapse and lie in dumps by the thousands while our roads are crowded with easy-to-maintain second-hand, third-hand private taxis. Different shots for different people.
As teachers with questionable literacy levels themselves, who just wanted a job, not wanting to teach children, were accepted into public schools, the educational standards that produced people like Sir Trevor McDonald of Belmont who went to the UK to teach English how to speak properly, and CLR James of Woodbrook whose immense intellect influenced people around the world were replaced by a narrow, politically directed parochial.
So, religious organizations with high professional ethics sought out and eagerly welcomed into what are now called their denominational schools teachers with proven qualifications, backgrounds, high standards, relentless monitoring and strict management. The results speak for themselves, severely criticized as discriminatory by those who “don’t understand”.
The care of the elderly, the infirm, people born with different disabilities, animal welfare, environmental concern, all at the very heart of socialist doctrines have been devalued by successive governments, fearing that socialism will turn into Communism.
Squatting on private and state lands is done with eagerness, boasted and unpunished. Illegal quarrying and deforestation continue and government inspectors shrug their shoulders. They are on the farm “more equal than the others”.
Lately, however, there has been a decline. Banks provide social support that the government does not. Food stamps and baskets promised by politicians but “not yet” delivered (officials are on rotation, you know) have been donated, collected and distributed by NGOs.
Republic Bank helped reestablish the shelter for battered, neglected and abused women and children in Port of Spain. Scotiabank is disinfecting and renovating classrooms across the country.
Large private companies such as Ansa McAl quietly have year after year, even before the pandemic, grants that maintain a myriad of small community organizations run by citizens and save hundreds of lives.
Internationally renowned Digicel and L’Oréal are funding the Coalition Against Domestic Violence as well as other NGOs, taking over the support promised by the government. They are mostly run by unpaid professionals, doing work that government employees, demanding salary increases, will not and in fact cannot do.
Is it possible that a new binary system is rising through private enterprise from below, outside the rhetoric and false promises of our sad politics? Are there good people everywhere changing civilization while others sit and watch?