Colour Me Uninspired, Uninventive and Redundant

21 November 2011

In the game of life it’s a good idea to have a few early losses, which relieves you of the pressure of trying to maintain an undefeated season.  ~ Bill Vaughan

I’d say neither side of the Upper nor Lower Houses of Parliament should worry about an ‘undefeated season’. We’re well past that stage.

Though R&B vocal group Color Me Badd’s ‘glory days’ are well behind us, I feel especially compelled to lighten the mood with some word-play considering the current global economic situation. Crisis is compounding catastrophe on quite a regular basis so it’s only healthy to have a laugh in the midst of it all. But, where am I going with this? Colour Me Orange is my destination for today’s Weekly Report; Colour Me Orange, the latest attempt by the current administration to productively employ today’s disenchanted, and in some cases underprivileged, youth.

This is “Colour Me Orange” in a nutshell: “unemployed HDC tenants are hired for three months to repair and refurbish the HDC developments where they live.”

I’m all for a community helping themselves, but looking at the big picture, does this really help us as a nation?

Before we proceed, let’s all attempt to remove the yoke of political partisanship from around our necks, or if the situation is more dire, please take your head out of the political sand. CEPEP, URP, and now Colour Me Orange have stretched across time and party lines to provide our country with…sameness if I had to hazard a guess.

Is it a short term solution? Maybe. Potential distraction for the criminal element? Another maybe. However, how is any of this facilitating economic growth? I can appreciate the sights of neatly cut grass and well-manicured plants as much as anyone else, but I didn’t expect Colour Me Orange to be one of the first post-budget directives.

What happened to teaching a man to fish? Plans for diversification, including the development of a self-sufficient agriculture industry and the surrounding excitement, is now reduced to a buzzword with little substance. Why not employ these same individuals within the agricultural sector? While I agree that our main cities are eyesores, more importantly we need to depart from cosmetic approaches and create sustainable development. Just imagine, an S&P rating review saying this:

“Trinidad and Tobago has made tremendous strides in developing the non-energy sector, and as such, remains better able to withstand the effects of contagion. The emergence of local agriculture has reduced their Balance of Payments deficit, given their previous dependence on food imports.”

Makes for sexy reading if you ask me!

Does the local financial market have a part to play in this? On the surface, any connectivity may appear a long-winding and indirect one, but I think there is an important nexus. Consider a bond issue (e.g. GOTT, NAMDEVCO, ADB) which could absorb some of our excess liquidity and provide funds for the development of arable lands. I can only speak for myself but I’m sure I won’t be alone when I say that eating home-grown quality produce instils much more pride than viewing a clean drain or a freshly painted wall (the latter two being of a much shorter duration than the former in any case!)

When you fly over France, the sight of neatly, and intensively laid out agriculture is awe-inspiring. Consider such a sight for Trinidad & Tobago. What we need to apply for ourselves must be a link between maintenance of the environment and the productive economic activity that is agriculture. Planned husbandry of the environment which would include hillside forestry, retention ponds, water use and irrigation can address such intractable issues as flooding.

I know the cynic inside you is wondering if and or when such a detailed plan may ever be implemented and whether it would work. While there are also other sectors to consider and many accompanying problems, I’ll leave you with another quote on mistakes:

If you don’t make mistakes, you’re not working on hard enough problems.  And that’s a big mistake. ~ F. Wikzek

Gerard Stephens
Account Executive

4 Responses to “Colour Me Uninspired, Uninventive and Redundant”

  1. Denise says:

    Mr. Stephens I agree with your comments. Well said. While the idea may have a bit of good intention, the fact of the matter is that this is not a long term and/or concrete or appropriate solution to the various problems that we are experiencing and by extension I certainly don’t think that this will be effective in controlling/reducing crime. People’s mind set and attitude are big players in this scenario and without any change in them, we will be spinning top in mud and going right back to square one.

    • Gerard says:

      Exactly, sustainable development is the name of the game. The attitude is really borne out of dependency, and these programs enable the behaviour. Once we can get past stop-gap measures, I’d say T&T would always be at least one step ahead economically.

  2. Xena says:

    Well the thing is Gerard, I’m not even certain if teaching a man to fish was considered when all this colouring was taking place.

    Could it be that the heads of T&T have decided that gang leadership may work in their “bestest” interest ,and taking a shot at it themselves ?

    If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.~ Mark Twain

    These aren’t NO dogs !

  3. Gerard says:

    Regardless of the approach being in the government’s interest or not, those signing up for the program have parts to play as well. I’d say a herd instinct combined with a severe dependency on government to provide employment adds to to the situation’s complexity.