“WHERE THERE IS NO VISION”

anguillian
By anguillian May 30, 2016 09:56 Updated

 

 

 

“Where there is no vision, people will invariably perish from the earth” (Proverbs 29:18).

In our history, special days have always stood out: the day that we decided to go it alone, the day that we were invaded by Great Britain, the day that we were finally given our release from St. Kitts. I say release for that is what it felt like. But no date will go down in infamy like the 22nd of April 2016 for that is the day when, if things continue on the same trajectory, we lost it all. The day that we were sold out by one Victor Franklin Banks, the erstwhile Minister of Finance and current Chief Minister of Anguilla.

All people who do not have a vision inevitably will perish from this earth. Those words, a variation of Proverbs 29:18, are actually the words of King Konris, the four time winner of the Leeward Islands Calypso Competition which is put on as the crown jewel of the Anguilla Summer Festival. Konris’ words were in reference to his own homeland of St. Kitts and the condition that it found itself in. That being said, they can also apply to us here in Anguilla, now, more so than ever.

We are simply at a loss for words, for we’ve said just about everything there is to be said, to the point now where every utterance is being redundant. We have said all there is to say. It is now the time for action and, as the saying goes, action speaks louder than words.

But before we go any further, maybe we ought to give some thought to how did we get here. Charles Wilkin QC offers some insight into this phenomenon in his recent book “Breaking the Cycle” in which he attributes the detrimental effects to political tribalism, the weaknesses in our constitutions which, in his words, effectively creates an ‘elective dictatorship’ saved only by “the critical role played by the courts, as the only truly independent branch of government.”

Mr. Wilkin further identifies some of the weaknesses in our systems and why these need to be addressed if we are to break the cycle of patronage and tribalism in order to avoid similar crises in the future. True, Mr. Wilkins’ book was a direct reference to his own country of St. Kitts, but all one has to do is replace St. Kitts and insert Anguilla and the situations would be the same. In his assessment of the current state of affairs, he offers several remedies, among them constitutional and electoral reform to create greater accountability and transparency. He goes on to say that this can only be achieved with the full involvement of a civil society if the country is to reverse the tribal trends and to promote issue-based politics.

Speaking of issues, we have had to face issue after issue, many of which could have been avoided. For a people who pretty much adapted a wait and see attitude, we found ourselves suffering from conditions not of our own making. Conditions such as a nonexistent economy, a government that fails to engage the people, the controversial bills that were passed without debate and, of course, the loss of our proudest accomplishments – our two indigenous banks. So here we are once more being devoured by greedy and incompetent charlatans.

In Greek mythology King Minos hides a wretched beast inside the palace’s basement, known as the Labyrinth. The Minotaur, the beast’s name, had a voracious appetite that only human flesh could satiate. The Minotaur had to be fed or the king’s reign would be cut short by the wrath of the gods. As long as the beast continued to be fed, King Minos’ peace and prosperity continued.

While Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek Minister of Finance, uses this mythological tale to describe the current European monetary crisis, we in Anguilla can see the similarities. We have our own Minotaur and it is in the form of our very own government with the help of the Central Bank.

And while the Greek situation was based on a secret that lurked in the King’s basement – the result of a forbidden relationship and the cost to keep it a secret – our situation runs a parallel course with Minos, for we too have secrets at least that are being kept from us. And, despite that, our Minotaur continues to feed on unsuspecting victims, the people of Anguilla – the carnage continues.

We have been unwitting victims in a scheme that is both immoral and illegal and we are still waiting for the lawyer with large enough balls to take on both the Anguilla and British governments. Our narrative resembles the myth and what has been allowed to happen. There is an old saying that: “when you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.” When will we stop digging?

In a sense we mirrored what has been happening in Europe. And as Winston Churchill once said: “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.” We have a local bank that’s struggling, just bleeding money all over the place, making decisions that didn’t make sense, incompetent leadership and a total disrespect for generally accepted practices of good governance, and on the other hand, a Central Bank that lacked the authority to make changes, which came in and let the two indigenous banks, NBA and CCB, the second of which was not as badly off as the first, and, which actually had an infusion of capital mandated by the Central Bank lined up, but was never allowed to follow through, for the Central Bank took over the banks before anything could be done.

Our Minotaur is the gift that keeps on giving, for with every passing day something new is revealed. We now know that neither the Chief Minister Mr. Banks nor the court appointed administrator Mr. Tacon, allegedly has a clue as to what to do. We know that the depositors are up in arms, as they should be, about their money. Our Governor, Ms Scott, was correct in her assertion that the actions of this government will have farreaching consequences for future generations of Anguillians. We the people will be footing the bill for years to come – for the arrogant behavior of our government.

Though we’ve complained and marched, and made demands of our government, we are still none the wiser. Is it because they don’t know what to do, or is it that they just don’t care? It is said that history repeats itself every 500 years or so, but I think we may not have to wait that long. Right now Great Britain is again getting ready to decide whether or not it will exit the European Union. Margaret Thatcher was probably the only one to see what was happening for what it really was. She said the Euro was all about politics, a way of turning democracies into, as she saw it, empty shirts hanging out to dry on an unaccountable central bank’s clothesline (Varoufakis).

Thatcher feared that the single currency, the Euro, constituted “European Federation by the backdoor.” She saw the Euro as a Trojan horse with which to smuggle through Europe’s defenses a Federation that Europeans would have otherwise rejected, unready and unwilling to transfer political authority from their national parliament to some federal institution in Brussels (Varoufakis).

Margaret Thatcher’s fears would soon be realized. Daniel Hannan writing in “Inventing Freedom” had this to say: “…Our generation has squandered its heritage.” He went on to say that the abandonment has gone furthest in the United Kingdom.
“As it has surrendered its sovereignty to the EU, so it has progressively surrendered the various elements of its national distinctiveness.”

What does this all have to do with us? Quite a bit, I might add. Thatcher who was not an intellectual, but could read the tea leaves, saw what was coming. And with the passing of the Banking Act, by our government, we see the very same thing happening. We have relinquished our sovereignty to the Central Bank which let our indigenous banks languish for three years with the deposits and investments of over 4000 Anguillians. And not only is the banking bill a backdoor way of holding on to Anguilla – a way of dragging us back into a federation masquerading as the OECS. It opens a larger can of worms that no one except Miss Lolita Davis is talking about.

It’s all about land. It’s all about the OECS – an organization that, to us, will be the kiss of death right behind Victor and his government. At this point in time we cannot rely on our government to do what is best for Anguilla. They have not done so in the past and there is no reason to expect them to do so in the future. We have in our midst a Trojan horse and what comes out of its belly is anyone’s guess. Can we afford to take that chance? This coupling between Anguilla and this government is irretrievably broken, and once something is irretrievably broken, emancipation is the next order of things.

Anguilla Day is fast upon us, and while it’s a day that we recognize our heroes, and some worthy person would present a scholarly paper which honored my father Walter Hodge, this year we will probably listen to Victor thump his chest about his accomplishments. We will know how he truly feels about us as a people. It will be a hollow sound.

Maybe the people are correct in their demands for a boycott of Anguilla Day. What is it that we have to celebrate? Are we celebrating the return of Anguilla to the clutches of St. Kitts? Just what is it that we are going to celebrate? Are we celebrating the loss of our indigenous banks? Are we celebrating that the Stabilization Levy is still in place and we are about to be taxed to the nines without any way of paying the said taxes? Has this government lost its marbles? How the hell do you expect people to pay more taxes when you haven’t provided them with jobs to try and earn a living? What is it that we plan to celebrate?

It will be an insult to all of those brave men and women who put everything on the line, to stand or sit in the stands and listen to someone pontificate about his shallow accomplishments. At this time I remember my father Walter Hodge, Atlin Harrigan, John Webster, Ronald Webster, Cardigan Hodge, Bevan Hodge, Bob Rogers, Peter Adams, Wallace Rey, Jerry Gumbs and, of course, the women. Where would we be without the women? My apologies to the candidates who are to be honored, but I think it will be a hard sell to stand on that stage and accept anything from this government given what they have just done to us. You will get your reward. It would be inappropriate to accept it from this government.

We seem to be at the mercy of eight Ministers of Finance (of the ECCU) and their whims. We cannot let those eight men determine what happens to our homeland. Once again, where there is no vision a people will invariably perish. Can we afford to let that happen? So in the words of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States: “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” My fellow Anguillians, what have you done for your country? What will you do? So till next time,

anguillian
By anguillian May 30, 2016 09:56 Updated

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