Bahamians love a juicy story. They love reveling in the gory details of other people’s mistakes or misdeeds, embellishing them as they take every available opportunity to share them with friends, neighbors or just anyone who’ll listen. Social media has been the most liberating new vehicle for sharing the juiciest of these stories through YouTube, WhatsApp, Facebook or Twitter.

In fact, the juicy story has replaced the concern for finding solutions to the problems that lead to the juicy stories in the first place, and talk show hosts, letters to the Editor and conversations around the water cooler all join in to keep the conversations juicy.

Most people prefer to repeat the story of the building contractor who had no insurance, embellishing it with the details of his political relationships, rather than question the policies and procedures that cause almost every major project headed by the Ministry of Works to end in controversy.

They prefer to repeat the outrage of the public and the lateness of the choice of a headliner for the Carnival, as if the failure of any project done in their name would have no effect on their reputation. There is no questioning of the role or intended role of the project in the income with which they will buy the benefits they demand of their government.

The demand for a Freedom of Information Act is driven by the possibility of more juicy stories, not better governance. In a country of 350,000 people, where almost everybody is either related or spent time in school, sports or Lodge together, there is not much that is really secret. This kind of act, which may well be needed as part of the structure of good government, falls behind the discussion of the basic structure of government, which presently does not empower citizens to be involved in governance, and recall, since there is no accountability without consequence.

The juicy story is, in the middle of an administration, the same distraction that good, political rally entertainment is during the campaign. While distracted, there is no encouragement to question the principles with which the political leaders are committed to building the Nation.

For example, here are a few basic principles we believe should have been the subject of public discussion long ago, if not for the use of the juicy story.

Recall

Unless you can fire me, how can you hold me accountable?

A Single-Level Government

A second level of Government is necessary both to engage the citizen in the governance of the country and to train those interested in political life for the national stage. What we presently have is not Local Government, but an extension of the National Government, controlled by the Minister and the Treasury.

Education

Education is the society’s way of preparing EVERY CITIZEN for productive participation in the life of the country. Is that what our schools are doing?

Tourism

If 77% of our income comes from Tourism, then we are all in the Tourism business. We, the citizens, own a National business. Do we know how it makes money, or are we really happy just having a job in Tourism? As shareholders, we should know enough to demand more of our managers.

Planning

A Master Plan is a Dream. It represents what the Owners of the property or project would like the project to be at some distant time. Having had several so-called Master Plans sanctioned by our various governments, have we ever been asked what our dreams are for the future? In fact, do we have dreams for the future?

These are the kinds of really juicy stories our children and grandchildren need us to share on the internet. They may not be as entertaining, but they might just make our national journey through the next few generations more rewarding.

March 15, 2015

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