A Trini friend of mine residing in Boston, USA, with his right eye on Bloomberg Technology Reports from Boston and his left eye on the coming Trini election sent me some documents with a view to advising Trinidadians on their plans for voting on August 10.
The documents first showed the struggles of nations all over the world to combat Covid-19 and its pathways of economic and social destruction that are laid to flourish in the aftermath of the passing of this dreadful disease.
“Are Trinidadians,” he asked, “au courant with the Covid struggle? Are they aware that in Florida alone last Friday 11,000 new cases came to the fore? Do they know that in the US, on that very day, 63,900 new cases were unearthed? Do they know what can happen in Trinidad if, foolishly, the Government should open the borders or a section of the borders to all?”
“Well,” he continued, “before a Trini votes on August 10, he should ask himself or herself: which is the best political party to manage the Covid epidemic after August 10? Judging from the deaths, inequalities, hospital shortages, hunger and protests that are happening all over the world from Covid, if an incompetent, uneducated Prime Minister, or a visionless party or parliament is selected in Trinidad and Tobago, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth for Trinis all in the months ahead.”
He admonished: “Tell Trinis therefore, don’t vote race, vote Covid.”
My Trini friend went on to show me, via another Bloomberg document drawn up by learned professors in the UK and the US, that Trinis have a way of voting tribally instead of with economics in mind, and they foolishly blame the Government for every micro, economic failing, without seeing the macro, wider picture.
Therefore, instead of blaming Finance Minister Colm Imbert for the present drop in our finances, and instead of demanding from him unpaid salaries and more money for lost employment and needs that may indeed be just and equitable, and instead of jumping up and dancing with “wanna-be” parliamentarians, Trinis should take a deep look at what is happening to some companies and countries the world over, because of Covid-19.
Accordingly, before Trinis vote, they must bear in mind that Zara in the US closed 1,200 stores thus far; La Chapelle withdrew 4,391 of its shops; Victoria’s Secret and Gold’s Gym have declared bankruptcy and Chanel, Hermes, Rolex and Patek Phillipe have discontinued their operations, all on account of the ravages of Covid-19.
Furthermore, Nike already set aside US$23 billion for its second stage of layoffs; the popular Starbucks has brought closure to 400 of its stores and in the US, the largest car rental company (Hertz), along with the biggest trucking company (Comcar) have also filed for bankruptcy.
I had to stop my friend from speaking and sending me more sad business news, especially when he mentioned that JC Penney, my retail store when I am in New York, and the Mall of America are all folding up.
What Mariano Browne and Ralph Maraj have not told Trinidadians, my friend declared, is that although our finances are in poor shape on account of Covid and the decline in oil and gas, the biggest investment company in the world (Black Rock) is in trouble; the most reputable airline, Emirates, has laid off 30 per cent of its employees; South Africa with its electrical demands is having daily blackouts; India’s Central Bank is in pain; the euro zones of Europe are in a financial crisis; Kenya’s airlines are closing down; nearer home, LIAT gone through; US stocks are currently overvalued; China and Japan are tottering financially; and in the US alone, close to 15,000 stores have closed their doors.
Moreover, by August 10, our election date, J.Crew, Gap, Sears, Forever 21, Walgreens, Pier 1, Nordstrom, Papyrus, Chicos, Modells, Macy’s, Bose, Art Van Furniture, Olympia Sports and several others, too numerous to mention, will be unheard of, while we in Trinidad and Tobago keep listening to tribal demands for money to bathe our pockets to vote for who gives us the biggest handout, the most jerseys and the biggest hamper.
One good thing is yet in our neck of the woods: we have freedom of speech, freedom to protest. Unlike the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey has just passed a bill to silence all critics of the ruling party and the government.
“Give Praise, Give Praise children.”
Am I hearing you singing with David Rudder?
Dr Hollis “Chalkdust” Liverpool is a veteran calypsonian and an Honorary Distinguished Fellow of the University of Trinidad and Tobago.