An educated and informed electorate? In Trinidad and Tobago? Not seeing it!

A friend wrote this recently in response to a mailing list thread about development and national wealth building.
Trinidad and Tobago Government has indicated that their goal is for us to attain developed nation status by 2020.

"Please be aware that we have raised a bunch of politicians, the majority of which are only interested in the prestige and money without handling the responsibility.

We have let them get away with it for so long that it is WE who are to blame. We have been lazy in choosing representatives. We need to make the younger generation understand that voting is essentially hiring a group of SERVANTS to run the country.

Prime Minister is not KING. He is HEAD SERVANT.

When the politicians understand that, we may actually have a stab at building a "developed country".

/mike/"


and this is what I wrote in response (I have been thinking on this for a while)

In any democracy , it is the RESPONSIBILITY of the electorate to:

1) Educate themselves abouthte issues

2) Debate in a REASONED manner

3) Decide based on REASON who we are going to put to run the country the way we want them to

4) Hold them to certain standards, and

5) REMOVE them if they do not uphold the standards we set

Unfortunately we have not got 1 or 2, and hence the rest simply cannot follow.

What we have is a mass of people who consistently look for a paternalistic government to “give them this and that” and “take care of them” – totally missing the point that the Government has NOTHING to give. It is OUR patrimony, and we determine who we put as TRUSTEE of the national assets. It is not for Manning or Panday or Dookeran or any one of them to give us anything. It is already ours.

We have grossly abdicated our responsibility as citizens. We have handed over our assets, without any checking on who is managing it and what they intend to do with it. WHenn they unilaterally change the terms of the contract under which we allow them to manage our stuff, we do not complain (Draft constitution anyone? Systematic ignoring of Parliament? Defacto passing of laws by Cabinet instead of Parliament? Postponing of local government elections illegally for 2 years? – the 1 year postponement was legal, the extension wasn’t .)

If we allow people to push the line, the line goes further and further each time. We do not stand up and say – this is enough, we don’t like what you are doing.

Of course, they ALL do the same thing, and now people see Government as being a big bran tub, so anyone going into politics, I tend to assume (until they show me otherwise) that they only going to get their chance to dip.

The only solution to this is rational debate and discussion by the population, but with the total lack of literacy and critical thought that exists in this nation - I have serious doubts that this will happen.

For example – the last generation of thinkers are dying out. Who is there to take the place of Lloyd Best in the national discourse? We have stopped creating the intellectual class, who are so necessary to debate and create these ideas.

UWI is hugely responsible – it has been a training college and not a UNIVERSITY. UWI no longer teaches people to think, to exercise intellectual curiosity, and mental honesty. It teaches people to pass the exams, get the paper and get a wuk.

Getting a wuk is not conducive to development or national wealth building.

And as to how it encompasses computers – ICT is vital for development, but it needs to be understood and deployed in a sensible and rational manner by people who UNDERSTAND. If we cannot manage basic literacy for a large proportion of the population, imagine the level of technical illiteracy.

There are many people I encounter who STILL look at a computer as if it were a strange and wonderful thing dropped from the heavens by a beneficial god.

So – when Dookeran says things like – we will give the people 100,000 computers – they are more likely to go - OOOH! How wonderful. And not to think about the HOW, the WHY , the OUTCOMES of such a move. And then say – that’s crap because 1,2,3 or – that could work because a,b,c…

We ignore the BECAUSE. We make statements with no reference to fact or logic to distract from the beauty of the words forming the argument, the malapropisms, the sheer joy of hearing one’s own voice (green verbs, mispronunciations, and all)

AND WE DO NOT CALL PEOPLE ON IT. Where is the back story, where are the facts on which you based this opinion? Are those “facts” even really facts, or are they more opinion, rumour and hearsay dressed up in beads and feathers like Carnival Tuesday and masquerading as “fact”?



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