Changing The System

SOME time ago we made the point that there were many St Lucians, capable, qualified and successful in their chosen career paths who were quietly contributing their ideas and prescriptions for curing some of the maladies afflicting our country, but were not being given attention in the right quarters.

We referenced our first Nobel Laureate Sir Arthur Lewis and the fame which he was able to garner internationally because of his models of economic development, some of which were taken up for implementation by other countries, but sadly, never by his own.

In the face of the economic downturn being experienced here these last few years, a number of ideas and bits of advice are being advanced, especially in the media, mainly by persons in the private sector, that are intended to lift our country out of its present state of hopelessness. We would have been considered lucky to have heard even further debate on these various suggestions that have been put forward, but the response that we have in fact got has been deafening silence.

For more than 60 years, the people of this country have committed their fate into the hands of a handful of people, first 10 then 17 men and women who sat in the elected chamber of parliament and from whom an even smaller number (the cabinet) was chosen to cut our path. We foolishly believed that this small minority was endowed with all the wisdom and ability that was required to get the job done. Even when it was obvious that this formula was not working, we continued to persist with it hoping to generate a different result. But this has not happened; change has not come and as a country, we are not reaching our true potential.

Whether it is the St. Lucia Labour Party or the United Workers Party that is in power, the fact of the matter is that the men and women of the calibre that we elect into office in this country, do not have the ability to take us far and it is time we recognize that. We can swap them as much and as often as we want, in the end we will wind up with the same kind of public disenchantment and unfulfilment that results from official incompetence and inability to perform, notwithstanding all the rhetoric that we are bombarded with from loud-mouths and boasters, especially at election time.

So why are those who have proved to be incapable of taking us forward—and again we stress that this refers to both main political parties—not coming to the realization that the membership of the entity that is called government needs to be broadened to allow other ideas to contend, ideas advanced by people who have established track records of success and accomplishment in their chosen field and are willing, ready and able to put their talent and intellect at the disposal of their country. We do not even need to change the constitution to accommodate this system of expanded government.

Interestingly, isn’t this suggestion in sync with the rationale behind the government-appointed National Vision Commission that is currently at work? Isn’t it charged with broadening the field of ideas and creating an enlarged vision from which we hope to push our country? Do we honestly think that time is on our side that we can afford to dilly dally with the future of our country while it races downhill into the abyss?

We recognize that present-day politicians do not like to admit failure but both our main parties have been found wanting and will continue to be so in the future unless we quickly determine a new course of action that would use all the talent that is at our disposal for the betterment of our country.

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