IN Guyana, politics remains mainly about office and power, but the power to doâ¦? “THE well-dressed boy in the back seat of his father’s car remarked as he was being driven to school, ‘Daddy, why don’t those little boys go to school? Aren’t they bad boys, selling papers barefooted all over town, instead of going to school?’ The middle-aged man behind the wheel did not answer, because he knew some of the reasons, but how many knew? The reporter/journalist continued in the same lack of wider perception that prevails today, as follows: “The truth is, there are some bad boys whose only motive is to steal from their contemporaries, pickpockets or play dice and cards for coins. But the majority of them are earnest, hardworking lads who sell newspapers because they have a big responsibility at home.” Sunday Graphic August 19, 1962. This was the British Guiana that went into independence; Forbes Burnham instituted wide training for young Guyana, aware of the needs for meaningful contributions from its young, and that our CARICOM neighbours could not all afford the Youth Corps and GNS, this paid off in numerous ways.
When the hard times of the oil crisis tumbled Guyana, many qualified young Guyanese were able to migrate, earn and send back monies to relatives at home while located in the Caribbean. It’s unfortunate and imperative that I include the following: I spent the first 14 years of my life with my Godparents at Mahaica, where strong political and racial divisions exist, amidst a contradictory human empathy and collaboration. One has to live in it to understand its schizophrenic cultural and deep, inherited divisive dispositions, along with its humanity, dispositions, that swiftly emerge when least expected, most of the youth on the other cultural side laughed at my perceived future. “Yuh gon become a public servant and wuk fuh slave wages.” They were also instructed with bizarre stories not to join the GYC or GNS. Most of those stories were directed at young women who in the patriarchal culture that enveloped them wanted the freedoms and natural rights of the sisters of the other culture; none of this have we explored for its impact on social behaviour today.
Of the business organisations and commissions that frequent the newspapers and electronic media as champions of business, shouting out their views on the economy, know who should politically lead the country in their interest, so they can be exempt from paying taxes. Fact is that it is the public workers who have carried the tax burden since independence. These organisations from legal to business have never had a public view on the late 90s early 2000s deployment of government-organised death squads, once their children were not affected. They hid behind racial and social stereotypes to protect their own prejudices and perceptions on the stratagem towards the major economic beneficiaries of the dual nature of our neo-colonial-independent Guyana.
Incidentally, it is rumoured that many of them were linked to the selection and financing of the death squads, using streetwise underprivileged Afro-Guyanese youth for their malevolent schemes. While in the national interest they have never produced a two-leaf document with projections to remedy or to inform (to my knowledge) on the labour situation for the past 40 years; it is unwise to think that any form of patriotism prevails among the loudest voices of criticism we hear. What we are burdened with is an eruption of deception and greed.
We know where jobs have been lost, because many of us, like me, have witnessed and experienced it. When political arson burnt the GRB, the loss of employment could be counted in the thousands. This was a place that worked in most cases around the clock. Also, how many jobs were lost between 1973-79 as a result of the pressures of the ‘Oil Crisis’ and the collapse of the manufacturing sector? There are no official records for study and assessment by the public.
What we have had and must recognise is an inner core of self-centredness masquerading as having a social consciousness, and it has possibly duped some good people who are too naive to see hustlers for what they are behind the social masks, which can only be torn apart by simply assessing the practised philosophy as against the clique announcements allowed and further slanted by confederates in the media. The philosophy and the limited public concerns are one and the same, and explore the individual history in relation to the absence of empowerment of their workforce, as against the benefits reaped from political patronage and you will realise they would support ALI Baba if they can safely become, or have become, one of his 40 thieves.
Guyana continues to lose jobs — most times it is not political — and somebody should tell the politicians not to talk the ‘blame game’ with respect to youth employment. The CDB research document in 2015 declared that Guyana’s youth employment since 2000 was at a dismal 40 per cent, continuously. Political propaganda will be analysed, whether it is shouted out with loud, misconceived confidence.
Returning to the topic of how we are continuing to lose jobs. Advertising agencies were a popular niche of employment and creative competition and unfair clique competition. I survived because I used original art in that arena. With Facebook and other platforms, the advertising industry has diminished. Businesses cry out, but ignore that online shopping and their providers are eating into their markets and will grow; the latter must also take stock because group shopping to avoid their astronomical prices will impact on them also. By 2022, Analogue TV transmissions will be replaced by Digital. How will TV businesses flourish? Where is the varied local content?
There is no conversation going on with the authorities involved, nor from the businesses who will be affected. Is it just part of our chronic backwardness that comes with anticipated callous opportunism, waiting for it to collapse, so I will be the only creature by the water hole?
The two main recent terminations of employment outside of Bauxite were A: the ports that sustained legally and illegally over 30 percent of Georgetown, from as far back as the 1840s, the age of the stevedores vanished simply because merchant marine shipping modernised. And B: the sugar industry that was heralded from 2003 for a decline.
To subsidise them the 16 percent VAT was created. The burden fell mainly on the then poorly paid public servants, pushing them towards the subsidy of corruption. What was meaningful and callous about that, was that the government who declared themselves owners of the sugar workers received a subvention under the government of the time. That money did not go to the sugar workers. But overall, its decline was not due to internal decisions, though the sugar workers did burn the cane under political directives during the 70s/80s. It was due to the ‘trade winds of our times’ and the neglect of not creating alternative products from either sugar and bauxite and a provincial, fossilised political position that is still with us, and no amount of rhetoric can change what a man has lived and stood a witness to.
LINK ORIGINAL: Guyana Chronicle