People who read the Bible more than me say there is a passage somewhere that suggests that money solves all your problems. This, of course is confusing to me, since the most basic “want” in the Bible is salvation, and it clearly states that it cannot be bought. But this belief in the power of money to solve all problems has become the prime generator of effort by all sectors of the society. It is especially important to the political leadership, who attempt to “prove” their goodwill by spending the people’s money as if it would never end. The fact that the problems persist, and in some cases get worst, seems to suggest a need, in their minds, for even more money. The result is an humongous National Debt, a reputation for unsolved problems and bigger problems. Money does not solve most developmental problems.

Money cannot solve the problem of anti-social behavior we call Crime. The root of that behavior is a poor self-image, a direct result of a socializing system that fails to provide the nutrients for a strong, positive self-image. For example, there is little or no concern for the inculcation of basic cultural values (how THIS society defines good, bad, right, wrong, polite, respect etc.) at the Pre-school level, for making certain that EVERY child has the tools for the discovery of the wonders of this wide world (reading, communication skills and computing skills) at the Primary level, or for providing an overwhelmingly African majority of children with as deep an historical treasure chest of their history as their European brothers have access to throughout their development. These are not expenditure items. They are commitments not yet made, that cannot be replaced by money spent.

Money cannot solve the problem of lack of responsibility. As long as there is no level of government that invites the participation of the general populace in the running of their affairs (autonomously) there cannot be a taking of responsibility by that populace. Regardless of the money spent, they will perceive the government of the day as “them”, the only ones responsible for the chaos or order in the society. Of course, the political establishment would prefer to remain the ones seen to be “responsible” for the success fo the country, but the record shows that, despite their efforts and expenditures, the country is in bad shape, and it is therefore their fault. They will be responsible until there are other (autonomous) levels of government.

Money cannot solve the problem of access to wealth. No number of jobs created by large, government-driven projects will ever outpace the growth of the labor force. Nor, for that matter, do jobs create wealth for the worker. The National business, Tourism (77% of our income), is one of if not the largest source of wealth on the planet, yet few people even know how money is made in that business. In the past two decades there has not been ONE debate in Parliament on the subject (building more hotels is not about creating wealth). On the public side, there have been no talk-show hosts that found the subject even worth a show, let alone a series. In a business that begs the involvement of entrepreneurs, we have taught our people to chase menial jobs in hotel properties rather than take risk in untested businesses. The real money in Tourism is in giving access to the habitats, history, belief systems and lifestyles of the Bahamian people, and while there is certainly a need to spend money to solve the problem of ignorance, just throwing money at it has proven unsuccessful. We are no longer even in competition for the number one destination in the region. Having paid customers to come here, we record the highest numbers of customers, but among the lowest revenues. Business is measured by profits, not number of customers.

Money cannot make bad planning good. Planning is a discipline that creates order in the built environment while addressing the social, cultural, emotional and physical needs of the client or client body. No matter how much it costs or by whom it is done, if planning is presented without the needs of the client being addressed, it is bogus. Further, in the case of a downtown or a settlement, the whole of the community is the client, not just those privileged few who own properties in the area.

Some say money solves all things. I say money is a tool, with which you can build or destroy. Careful use of the tool has always been the tradesman’s creed, and we suggest that creed going forward.

March 8, 2015

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