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Think of the last time you went somewhere overseas. Maybe it was to Fort Lauderdale, Orlando or London. Or maybe it was a cruise. What made it worthwhile? How did you measure its value in relation to its cost? In all likelihood, it was the specialness of the memories you shared with friends and relative, even after many year. Just listen to a grandmother share the memories of her honeymoon in Acapulco decades ago with her teenage grand-daughter. The gleam in her eye transforms her whole face. The cost of the trip was well worth whatever it was.

The business of Tourism is all about the creation of memories.

The way memories are shaped for a tourist – including you and me when we travel – is by getting the inside story of the lives and stories of the people in the places they visit. They get to experience the special places, share the unique history and lifestyle of those people. And the door through which visitors are invited into these inner stories are the stock of attractions created to share that story.

  • Tours, the most important attraction, provide safe, guided access to the unique and special details of local life.
  • Events bring them to places where they can be exposed to local lifestyle and customs.
  • Resorts expose special natural or man-made attractions while hosting visitors.
  • Retail attractions are the point-of-sale for the creative output of the community.

 

This is how the visitor gets what every tourist has always looked for– memories and tales to share with those they love.

I hear you asking, “But how does this affect the economy?”

Well, attractions require a wide range of skills, from business planners to architects and their many consultants, from human resource training and supply to creative consultants and performers, from marketing and promotional specialists to producers and many others. Attractions are one of the most potent ways for a tourist destination to provide employment and build wealth while building market success.

They are, indeed, “economic indicators”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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As Bahamians, we underperform. As individuals, we are phenomenal. For a country of under 400,000 we produce a simply freakish number of high achievers. Yet as a community we underperform in every aspect of public life. We underperform in business, education, cultural development and in our responsibility for the environment. Why?

One answer is, we give ourselves permission with our words. Language is such a powerful tool, one we use most aggressively to support our underperformance. Listen to these:

It’s our Colonial heritage”

“It’s a hold-over from slavery”

“Black people can’t work together”

“The white man holdin’ us down”

“Politicians only wan’ keep the power for themselves”

“The Chinese get’n all the business”

“I’s a small man”

None of these statements is either true or relevant. Our Colonial heritage is only the framework from which we make the decisions about our future, from which we choose the objectives to work towards. There is no ghost of Queen Victoria that forces us to decide against our own interest. We are responsible for our decisions, and if our decisions are not producing positive results for us, we are responsible for changing those decisions. Not the Colonial past. Imagine believing that I have to be a drunkard because my grandfather was one. Or maintaining an education system that does not produce productive citizens because it was introduced by colonists.

Black people CAN work together. In business, the Sunshine Boys proved that. The early PLP proved it in politics. Junkanoo groups prove it every parade. The idea is clearly nonsense. In any case, our citizens are not all black, so why is that important? We should instead be focused on all of us learning to work together.

There is no such thing as a small man. There are men who have not yet discovered their value or their potential, but there are no small men. In this arrangement, is a small man’s child also a small man? I hope not.

These things we repeat without thinking get their power from our repetition, whether they are true or false, positive or negative. Unless we repeat them, they have no power and they are not truths for our children.

So perhaps it is time to take the first step in improving our national circumstance. Rather than searching for some messiah to “cure” the mantras with which we keep ourselves enslaved, we might simply stop repeating them. Marley said it this way:

“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds.”

It is time we stop giving ourselves permission to underachieve.

December 1st 2017

Fish Fry at Anchor Bay – 6pm- Location: Anchor Bay, Eleuthera RECURRING: CLICK LINK FOR MORE DETAILS

The Hero World Challenge – Location: Albany, Nassau

Grill & Chill- Location: Great Harbour Cay Marina

Creative Nassau Market – Location: Pompey Square, Nassau

Festival Of Lights – 6PM- Eleuthera

 

December 2nd 2017

Neely’s Under The Tree- Location: Berry Islands

The Hero World Challenge – Location: Albany, Nassau

Authentically Bahamian Marketplace- Location: Pompey Square, Nassau

Annual Abaco Christmas Festival – 12PM- Location: Abaco

Berry Islands Jollification- Location: Berry Islands

December 3rd 2017

Authentically Bahamian Marketplace- Location: Pompey Square, Nassau

Manuka Doctor Necker Cup – Location: Bahamar

Sunday Jazz- 3pm- Coral Harbour, Nassau

December 4th 2017

Living History at Fort Charlotte- 11:30am- Location: Fort Charlotte, Nassau

December 5th 2017

December 6th 2017

Living History at Fort Charlotte- 11:30am- Location: Fort Charlotte, Nassau

Expressions: Wine, Poetry & Open Mic- Location: Bistro Underground, Nassau- Time: 8pm

Valentine’s Farmers Market- Location: Duncan Town, Harbour Island

Creative Nassau Market – Location: Pompey Square, Nassau

December 7th 2017

Wahoo Smackdown IX- Location: Bimini

Best of the Best – Location: Nassau

December 8th 2017

Best of the Best – Location: Nassau

Wahoo Smackdown IX- Location: Bimini

Changing of the Guard- 11am – Location: Governor’s House, Nassau

Grill & Chill- Location: Great Harbour Cay Marina

Creative Nassau Market – Location: Pompey Square, Nassau

December 9th 2017

Authentically Bahamian Marketplace- Location: Pompey Square, Nassau

Neely’s Under The Tree- Location: Berry Islands

Best of the Best – Location: Nassau

Junior Junkanoo: Location -12PM – Nassau

Wahoo Smackdown IX- Location: Bimini

December 10th 2017

Best of the Best – Location: Nassau

Wahoo Smackdown IX- Location: Bimini

Sunday Jazz- 3pm- Coral Harbour, Nassau

Authentically Bahamian Marketplace- Location: Pompey Square, Nassau

December 11th 2017

Living History at Fort Charlotte- 11:30am- Location: Fort Charlotte, Nassau

December 12th 2017

December 13th 2017

Expressions: Wine, Poetry & Open Mic- Location: Bistro Underground, Nassau- Time: 8pm

Living History at Fort Charlotte- 11:30am- Location: Fort Charlotte, Nassau

Valentine’s Farmers Market- Location: Duncan Town, Harbour Island

Creative Nassau Market – Location: Pompey Square, Nassau

December 14th 2017

Atlantis Crown Gymnastics Invitational

December 15th 2017

Atlantis Crown Gymnastics Invitational

Grill & Chill- Location: Great Harbour Cay Marina

Creative Nassau Market – Location: Pompey Square, Nassau

December 16th 2017

Atlantis Crown Gymnastics Invitational

December 17th 2017

Atlantis Crown Gymnastics Invitational

December 18th 2017

Living History at Fort Charlotte- 11:30am- Location: Fort Charlotte, Nassau

December 19th 2017

December 20th 2017

Living History at Fort Charlotte- 11:30am- Location: Fort Charlotte, Nassau

Valentine’s Farmers Market- Location: Duncan Town, Harbour Island

Creative Nassau Market – Location: Pompey Square, Nassau

Expressions: Wine, Poetry & Open Mic- Location: Bistro Underground, Nassau- Time: 8pm

December 21st 2017

December 22nd 2017

Bahamas Bowl-12:30pm – Location: National Stadium

Grill & Chill- Location: Great Harbour Cay Marina

Creative Nassau Market – Location: Pompey Square, Nassau

December 23rd 2017

Berry Islands Jollification- Location: Berry Islands

December 24th 2017

Sunday Jazz- 3pm- Coral Harbour, Nassau

Authentically Bahamian Marketplace- Location: Pompey Square, Nassau

December 25th 2017 (MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!!)

The People’s Rush & Christmas Junkanoo Parade- 8PM- Location: Berry Islands

Christmas Day Junkanoo Parade: Gregory Town- 8PM- Location: Eleuthera

December 26th 2017

Boxing Day Junkanoo Parade- Location: Nassau

St. Peters & St. Pauls Catholic Church Bazaar: Location Long Island

The People’s Rush & Christmas Junkanoo Parade- 8PM- Location: Berry Islands

 

December 27th 2017

Living History at Fort Charlotte- 11:30am- Location: Fort Charlotte, Nassau

Valentine’s Farmers Market- Location: Duncan Town, Harbour Island

Creative Nassau Market – Location: Pompey Square, Nassau

Expressions: Wine, Poetry & Open Mic- Location: Bistro Underground, Nassau- Time: 8pm

Boxing Day Junkanoo Parade- Location: Nassau

 

December 28th 2017

December 29th 2017

Grill & Chill- Location: Great Harbour Cay Marina

Creative Nassau Market – Location: Pompey Square, Nassau

December 30th 2017

December 31st 2017

Stella Maris New Years Eve Formal Dinner Party: Location – Long Island

Authentically Bahamian Marketplace- Location: Pompey Square, Nassau

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Cascadilla

I read with some concern the article in the Tribune by Diane Phillips, someone I respect, entitled “It takes courage to go where you haven’t gone before”. My first observation, unfortunately, was that what the article promotes would take no courage at all. It is what the downtown landowners, realtors and some politicians have lobbied for for many years. I am told the previous government administration had already agreed to that position and the present one is ready to do the same. They have all bought into the argument that vertical construction (that is, building skyscrapers) is the only way to “make the numbers work” on such expensive waterfront property. Further, they have been convinced that there is an urgent need for waterfront residences so that people can be convinced to move back downtown. Unfortunately, these two “urgencies” are built on fundamental untruths.

The need to “build vertical” is based upon the so-called “value” of the waterfront property. That is, it is so expensive that an investor could not make his money back without being allowed to build three or four times the allowable area of building on it. The first question to ask is how the value for the property is established. Some years ago, a friend of mine had his waterfront property declared a “no-build” property, supposedly for planning reasons. When he asked to be paid the commercial value of his property if he could not use it for the purpose intended, the then Prime Minister is reputed to have said, “If you can’t build on it, it ain’ worth nut’n”. The fact is that if a property has restrictions, the value of that property can only be based upon what is possible under those restrictions. If the property is valued such that it cannot be developed, I would argue that it is not properly valued.

The second untruth is that no one lives in the city. This would only be true if the city limits extended only from the sea to the back of Government House grounds, a definition that last existed in the 1840’s, when the then Governor declared that Africans could not live within the city limits. I trust that we all agree that the City of Nassau extends well beyond Government House, at least to Wulff Road, and that the people of Bain Town, Grants Town and Mason’s Addition all do live in the City of Nassau. What is meant by the suggestion is that no one lives in the downtown, which is true. And the key observation is the successful downtowns have lots of people living there. But downtowns are not successful because people live there. People live there because the downtown is successful. When a downtown is created that is convenient to live in and provides an exciting urban experience, people will return. Importing oranges to an orange grove does not create a productive orange grove. The trees must be planted and nurtured so that it produces oranges.

The roots of these misdirections are two-fold.

The first is the idea that limiting the “historic zone” to the area west of East Street is a matter of convenience. Having already lost such treasures as Cascadilla, half the buildings on Elizabeth Avenue and the whole of Dowdeswell Street, and been fortunate enough to find productive uses for a few of the buildings near the bridge, there are people who believe it would be OK to lose those important remaining areas from East Street to the Pond, especially if the promise is a vibrant, new downtown.

The second is the idea that building residences on the waterfront would bring people (and therefore life) back to the downtown.

Both are misguided. The historic zone is what it is. St. Matthews, which anchors the eastern end of the zone, is one of our most treasured historic resources. Dowdeswell Street, Victoria and Elizabeth Avenues still has examples of the style that was created by the elegant two-story, delicately detailed residences that we celebrate as our building heritage. Sears Road and Sweeting Lane still celebrate the ship-building details, the narrow streets and the tiny gardens that we call Bahamian with pride. The suggestion that continuing to turn our backs on this heritage to build buildings that would be just as successful outside the historic zone is ridiculous.

Let me be clear. I support vertical construction on New Providence. Unequivocally! I believe the cost of housing and the advancement of other areas of the City would benefit from increased densities. What I do not support is the short-term thinking that trades convenience and laziness for opportunities to pursue real development. The American organization “Project For People Places”, which provides guidance for the development of successful downtowns, among other things, offers us two bits of advice.

The first is to avoid building on the waterfront downtown. Rather, leave the water’s edge to people and the ability to connect the points of interest in the downtown.

The second, from an article entitled “9 Steps To A Successful Waterfront”, suggests

“2. Make Sure Public Goals are the Primary Objective

Waterfronts everywhere are too valuable to simply allow developers to dictate what happens there. . This is not to say that private development is unwelcome and should be discouraged – on the contrary, it is often necessary to the future of a healthy waterfront. But the best solutions for revamping waterfronts put public goals first, not private short-term financial objective. As long as redevelopment plans adhere to the notion that the waterfront is an inherently public asset, it will be relatively easy to follow the rest of the steps here.  “

The question, then, is not one of verticality. This conversation would not be happening if the proposals were for another part of the city, like the top of the hill or over the hill. It is all about avoiding the establishing of an historic zone that maximizes the preservation of our Old Nassau heritage. Especially because our national business is telling our story, the preservation of our heritage should be the basis on which we propose development, not its destruction. More importantly, the question of the preservation of our heritage must be the subject of public debate, rather than hoping someone else will “look after our interest”. Please, let’s talk about our own business.

 

 

I love magic. The magician waves his white-gloved hand, the drums roll, there is a puff of smoke and…….ta-dah….. his assistant vanishes into thin air! Where’d she go? The magician jokes with the audience for a minute, then raises his magic wand, shouts his favorite magic words and…..poof!….. The spotlight suddenly finds the assistant waving from a faraway balcony seat. How’d he do that? I just love it.

Of course, magic is the art of distraction. The waving hand, the smoke, the jokes are all designed to distract the audience from the execution of the illusion (which is usually very clever and requires lots of practice and preparation) and to help maintain that sense of wonder and surprise.

So I consider the way we are running the Bahamas an example of an attempt at magic. We have become accustomed – no, addicted – to avoiding the core issues of our national development by creating elaborate distractions. Supposedly, the desired results will magically appear at some pre-determined climactic moment. In the meantime, all we seem to have are waving hands and puffs of smoke.

Let’s take the subject of the economy, for example. What is needed is to increase everybody’s income while reducing the cost of running the country. Now since more than two thirds of the country’s income comes from tourism, and since tourism is the most profitable business in the world, the logical place to look for more income would be from tourism. This means involving the population in the creation and maintenance of more and more tourism product and providing a larger range of services to that sector.

Instead, we distract the public from their wealth-building opportunities by suggesting that tourism is an inadequate base for the development of the economy (while more of the countries in the world are building their economies through it) and needs to be replaced, that there is a need to “diversify”, and that hotels, not the destination’s unique geography, history, belief systems and lifestyle, are the keys to a successful tourism business. Further, even when we focus on tourism, we distract ourselves with statistics that “show” that we are the leaders in the region. Unfortunately, we also know that those numbers are mostly (75%) someone else’s customers, who account for just over a tenth of our income. Our own 90% customer, who spends between 16 and 22 times as much as the cruise visitor, is seldom even part of our conversation, and nor is how to attract them. When our customers tell us that we have nothing for them to do, we distract ourselves by changing marketing organizations and increasing the budget rather than building attractions to satisfy that need. There is an opportunity to develop real wealth through the development of an attractions industry yet we are satisfied with the distraction of opportunities to have jobs in new hotels.

Or the subject might be Downtown Development. The need is to create an environment that is first of all a thriving marketplace, then a repository for our rich history, a celebration of our accomplishments and our personality and an icon for our civilization or sense of order. Most of all, however, it must be characterized by lots of people enjoying life, which demands a preponderance of opportunities for dining, entertainment and cultural activity, designed primarily for local consumption.

How does the magician distract us this time?

First, by making property ownership and value the most important part of the conversation. Then by promoting mantras from “studies” that have no real role in the development of a successful downtown, although they may be features in one:

“You have to have people living downtown”

“We’ve got to allow taller buildings to encourage development.”

“We should pedestrianize Bay Street.”

“We’re going to build a Boardwalk.”

None of these suggestions create a sustainable customer base or what is called critical mass of customers on the sidewalks, enjoying their experience. But they do distract us from asking what does.

Finally, we distract ourselves by making downtown an idea dedicated to short-stay cruise tourists, with programs of “cultural” activity that last a few weeks at a time. After over thirty years, locals still avoid the downtown, the sidewalks are still bare, and the area is still shut down after six, when most spending takes place. The magician’s jokes are beginning to annoy us, but we still somehow expect the rabbit to pop out of the hat someday soon.

As far as running the country for less, while the largest key to that object is reducing the size of the national payroll, the distraction is remaining the nation’s largest employer and being proud of it.

I really love magic. But my favorite part is trying to spot the key to the illusion. I know it’s an illusion, but the magic in magic is that it is also real. It produces results. Whether I spot the key to the illusion or not, the rabbit is real when it pops up, to everyone’s delight. There is a very real purpose for the magician’s distractions. They give him time to do his thing.

But then there is empty attempted magic that does not work. There is the waving of the hand, the drum rolls, the puffs of smoke, then……nothing happens.  Just meaningless distraction. Now that’s a drag. At least at a magic show I can get up and leave.

It is interesting that much of the discussion about the treatment of former Government Ministers before the Courts has centered on whether they deserve it or not, or whether they should be treated differently than other accused persons. The almost universal response has been that anyone objecting to their treatment is either blindly PLP or is asking for special treatment for politicians.

How hypocritical we are!

We take developers to court (in some cases to the Privy Council) because we are appalled by the treatment of dolphins – actually holding them in pens and making them perform for us. We demand prosecution for horse or dog owners caught mistreating their animals. The nation a aggrieved when the swimming pigs are suspected of being fed bad food. Yet when it comes to other human beings, we roll in the aisles over their humiliation. We rejoice, even representatives of the Church, when they are treated worse than we would treat our domestic animals. What a terrible indictment of a so-called Christian nation!

I recall a sermon years ago that emphasized that the Jews were so wrapped up in their anger and hatred towards Jesus (who had failed to save them from the Romans) that they preferred to have a convicted killer released into their midst JUST TO MAKE SURE JESUS WOULD BE CRUCIFIED. Clearly a self-destructive mind-set.

I have been watching foreign TV news for about a half century, and in that time I cannot remember having seen a newscast that showed an accused person being paraded through the crowd on the way into Court, hand-cuffs or not. Yet we – good Christians and animal lovers – look forward to the videos of the humiliation of our brothers and sisters AS ENTERTAINMENT, ready to re-post them to all our contacts, with our spiteful comments added.

It’s not about Shane, my friend. It’s about our humanity.

What is “Mobocracy?” It is the belief that appropriate social behavior is determined by the majority. For example, while it is clearly socially destructive for people to film a murder rather than trying to prevent it, it has become accepted behavior to reach for the phone, not to call the Police, but to begin shooting a video of the attack or tragedy, then immediately, with no thought about the ramifications, to post the video to social media, then monitor the extent to which it goes viral. Then, to extend the benefit of the mob behavior, there is such buy-in to this counter-productive behavior that it is immediately forwarded by all and sundry to all and sundry.

There are those who call this democracy in action. The problem is that the majority-rules form of democracy was never meant to apply to social behavior. The principle of Democracy was meant to apply to political behavior. Social behavior is meant to be guided by the principle of Morality.

So, in the Bahamas, Mobocracy is the current greatest threat to Morality. In fact the evidence shows that we have finally fully accepted that Morality is determined by majority vote. We can now say proudly, “The Bahamas is a Mobocracy.”

During the recent election campaign, I heard several politicians justify their entry into politics or their remaining on the scene by promising Bahamians a “better quality of life”. Unfortunately, while it appears many people responded to that promise, judging from the talk-show callers, that is a promise no politician can deliver on. What they really mean (giving them the benefit of the doubt) is a better standard of living.

Quality of life is the personal, perceived experience, which results from a set of personal, inner commitments, and is not primarily the result of outer conditions. Quality of life is not determined by the “facts”, but by the inner lens through which those “facts” are seen. A “positive” person, one who is generally thankful for life, forgiving and generous and has developed a strong relationship with his or her “God”, and a “negative” person, whose life is driven  by regret and the conviction that they are always victims, will experience a different quality of life in identical circumstances. One may experience peace, while the other experiences paranoia. So for a politician to promise a better quality of life assumes he or she is aware of those inner conditions for a whole group of people. That is clearly impossible.

On the other hand, a better standard of living is definable. You either have a roof over your head or you don’t. You either have electricity and running water or you don’t. You either have inside toilets or an out-house. You are an owner, renter or a squatter. These are “facts” that apply equally across the board, and as a politician, they are the things he or she can promise to deliver. Their effort can in fact improve your standard of living. That is the job they have applied for, and not the result of their generosity.

This clarification may seem unimportant, but it is very important, especially now. In promising a better quality of life by delivering a better standard of living, they are supporting an assumption that has had disastrous effects on our nation. In its crudest form they are supporting the assumption that money buys happiness (assuming that happiness is a better quality of life than unhappiness).

The consequence? It is the belief that the answer to any social or environmental problem is more money. It is the belief that getting money, however it is gotten, will somehow make a miserable person experience gratitude, a person whose experience of their world is “negative” would somehow experience a “positive” world with more money.

We all know these assumptions are not true, yet we allow our children to hear us affirming them daily. Then, when they disrupt the quality of our lives with their efforts to “buy” happiness, we are shocked! Where did this materialistic attitude come from?

The Chinese proverb goes something like this, “The greatest change in the world results from a change in my point of view.”

Standard of living is the purpose for the political structures we create. Quality of life is what we experience as a result of the vitality of our inner lives. Then there’ this, compliment of Bob Proctor:

I’ve learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends on our dispositions and not on our circumstances.

Martha Washington – 1731-1802, Former First Lady of the United States

 

Obviously, the title of this post is borrowed from former President Bill Clinton’s campaign of a few years ago, “It’s the Economy, Stupid”. After the crushing defeat of the PLP by the FNM two weeks ago, the public has turned its attention to the satisfaction of only one political promise – punishing the wrong-doers. That is the agenda being advanced by most of the people calling talk-shows, the hosts of those shows and letters to the editor.

But I have another agenda. My agenda is based upon the satisfaction of the things those same people were asking for just a few weeks ago. Then they were asking for three things:

  • Inclusion in the process of governance.
  • Accountability
  • Access to business opportunities

 

In response, during the campaign politicians committed themselves to providing all of these things. Unfortunately, the public believes the delivery of those promises is provided by a combination of executive integrity and resolve. But the sustained success of any political benefit requires a commitment to systems that themselves are based upon principles of governance.

The three principles underlying the demands listed above are:

  1. Inclusion in governance requires more than a single level of government administration.
  2. There can be no accountability without consequence.
  3. Opportunities are created for those prepared to take them.

The rhetoric of politics is designed to convince voters that individual integrity and resolve are the keys to delivery of the desired conditions, and while no doubt most politicians know that little is possible without the establishment and maintenance of systems, their agenda is often framed by the need to appear to “deliver” personally on their promises. But it is the systems that allow the delivery of the results needed, and attention to those systems is the key to successful governance.

My agenda for the moment, therefore, is a review of the systems intended to provide good governance generally, but immediate attention to the three systems necessary for the delivery of the most demanded items during the election campaign, as noted above: inclusion, accountability and opportunity. Those three systems are:

  • The creation of an autonomous system of Local Government
  • The creation of a recall system for elected officials
  • The re-definition of the education system as the preparation of all Bahamians for productive participation.

This is the foundational infrastructure for the development of a more productive Bahamian society. I believe the new administration is committed to this kind of agenda. I hope it is an agenda the public has the patience to adopt.

 

Listening to talk shows or political campaign speeches, it is obvious that the criteria for making a choice between parties or candidates are very vague. When pressed for a reason for their support, answers from voters sound like this:

“I’m looking for someone who has the interest of the country at heart”.

“I want someone who believes in Bahamian first.”

“It’s time to give someone else a chance.”

“You cyan’ do much worse dan ‘dis!”

When asked to explain how these statements help identify a choice, the explanations are even mare vague. Frustrated respondents make reference to one of three beliefs:

  1. The belief that people go into politics primarily to line their own pockets.
  2. The belief that political power is used to unfairly benefit “friends and family”.
  3. The belief that Government should take care of their personal needs, as represented by their mortgage, their child’s schooling or their ability to find a job.

In other words, as long as a candidate or their party would promise to take care of us – by finding us jobs, negotiating high salaries, offering free education, healthcare or electricity – whether they actually know how to do the job they are applying for or not is not important. After all, others in the past have proven incompetent, and the country is still standing!

This seems a little fatalistic to me. At least during the interview process, we should require applicants to present something that shows that they know what the job is, and have both the commitment and the ability to do it. Declaring that the present staff is incompetent or that the other applicants have no experience is just not good enough.

What makes this process even more difficult is that it’s necessary to recognize that the voter’s choice is not one choice, but two. First, there is the choice of the party whose policies a voter would like to see in place. Government is formed by the party that forms the government, not by the individual candidates, and citizens should know what policies would deliver good government so as to make that first choice. Then, and only then does the choice of the individual candidate become relevant. Candidates must be able to discuss their party’s policies with voters and to commit to support them. But without knowing the requirements of good government, any choice is simply based upon emotion, more often than not just desperation.

So, I have a suggestion. For those who may be looking for a guideline for assessing the success of a government or to evaluate those seeking support to run the government, and assuming that the government’s purpose really is to provide for the satisfaction of the basic needs of its people, I suggest the use of Maslow’s list of human needs to help define the job.

Need #1: Food and Shelter

The way Government ensures the sustained ability to meet the basic, physical survival needs of its citizens is by developing and maintaining adequate trade and a healthy economy. All other services require that these are healthy. Therefore candidates and their parties must be able to demonstrate an understanding of the structure and workings of both trade and the economy, and to present strategies for expanding both.

Need #2: Safety and Security

What makes us feel safe primarily is the rule of law and the institutionalization of the protective agencies. The proper functioning of the justice system and the constant improvement of the framework for the application of the law is the most important form of satisfaction.

Need #3: Belonging

The development of communities requires government to recognize that communities exist, and to develop those agents that provide for the sharing of the value systems and traditions that create and strengthen them. Cultural activity, both formal and informal, is the primary agent for the sustained development of communities, local and national. Government must provide the facilities and opportunities for expanded cultural expression.

Need #4: Self Worth

The sharing of history and of the accomplishments of the members of the community are the most important activities in the satisfaction of this need. Parties and candidates should understand the importance of historical preservation, the teaching of history, monument-building, cultural activity, civic design and the honouring of locally-defined heroes.

Need #5: Self Actualization

This is about “being all you can be”. It is about dreaming. It is about the creation of a mindset that celebrates the act of dreaming, reduces the social impact of failure and provides the infrastructure for self-improvement. It is not about the safety of welfare or protection from the outside world, but rather the pursuit of personally-defined dreams. Both the parties and the candidates must commit to facilitating that pursuit.

Today we are inches from the milestone of another election. We speak of our democracy and our political maturity. It must, by now, be time to demand that political parties and candidates speak of the satisfaction of the real basic needs of the Bahamian citizenry, not just about the dis-honesty or self-destructive behavior of their opponents, or trying to excite us with promises of “free” stuff.

Political parties exist to offer alternative ways to address the satisfaction of our needs. Maybe it’s time for us to require them to do so, or to stop wasting our time, our energy or, most importantly, our dreams for the future.

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ARTICLES BY PAT RAHMING