Tuesday, December 27, 2011

When we look out on the world... and back at The Bahamas, we agree with those who say that Bahamians -- despite hard times -- have much to be thankful for

The Bahamas has much to be thankful for

tribune242 editorial

Nassau, The Bahamas

IN his Christmas message, published in The Tribune on Thursday, Catholic Archbishop Patrick Pinder pointed out that compared with other nations, the little Bahamas has much for which to pause and give thanks this Christmas. And so, although the dark clouds of crime threaten our islands, yet there are still many signs to encourage Bahamians to believe that there is reason to hope for a brighter future.

The Archbishop shared with our readers the contents of an e-mail, which had been sent to him. It said: "If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week.

"If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 500 million in the world.

"If you can attend church without fear of harassment, arrest, torture or death, you are more blessed than three billion people in the world.

"If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful, you are blessed because the majority can, but most do not.

"If you can hold someone's hand, hug them or even touch them on the shoulder, you are blessed because you can offer the healing touch.

"If you can read this message, you just received a double blessing in that someone was thinking of you, and furthermore, you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world who cannot read at all."

When seen in this light Bahamians have much to be thankful for. Our economy started to drag after the Lehman Brothers bank crash at the end of 2008. The seismic shock was felt worldwide. It was like a bowling alley gone wild, with one international house after another displaying warning flags until eventually Wall Street was hit and took a tumble. The world banking system is so interwoven that when one stumbled, the others came tumbling after. Not only was the world in financial trouble, but it was also in political turmoil with the Middle East on fire and headed for destruction.

Analysts blamed the financial crash on the "greed, ambition and reckless risk-taking that is now carrying the economy into the worst recession for a century."

The Bahamas was not immune. It too felt the shock waves. Greece was in meltdown, unemployment was out of control with the civil service being cut to bring spending into line. Around the world the first people to feel the belt tightening were the civil servants whose jobs disappeared almost overnight.

The civil service is the first place that governments look to cut costs when their treasuries are under pressure.

Here in the Bahamas, the Prime Minister would have been justified in trimming what for years has been recognised as a bloated and inefficient civil service. He did not.

As Prime Minister Ingraham said today in his Christmas message to the nation -- which will be broadcast by ZNS TV and radio at 8 o'clock tonight -- through prudent planning his government was able to "preserve jobs in the public service and to avoid salary cuts or lay-offs within the public sector as experienced in many developed and developing countries."

This is not to minimise the suffering of many Bahamians during this crisis. Many have lost their jobs, their homes, and really don't know where the next penny is coming from, but when one compares Bahamians' problems with the suffering of the world, the majority of our people have much for which to be thankful.

Government has been criticised for not investing in people during this lean period. However, not only is government investing in people by providing infrastructural jobs, but through these jobs it has enabled many workmen to maintain their dignity by enabling them to earn enough to support themselves and their families.

Government has been criticised for borrowing funds for roadworks. In the end, however, it will be money well spent -- not only will citizens see where their tax dollars have gone, but the infrastructure will have been so improved that it will raise the Bahamian's standard of living and enhance our tourist product -- better roads, better quality and delivery of water and electrical supplies.

Nor has the government neglected the youth. It staff has encouraged the business community to take on young people for training. And many have done so.

Next year, Bahamians face an election. When we look out at the rest of the world -- rioting and killing in the streets to overthrow governments -- we should be grateful for our democratic system. Every five years - although there is a lot of manoeuvring and name calling before hand - Bahamians go to the polls and in an orderly fashion vote their governments in or out. Just look at the turmoil and backwardness of the Middle East whose people have never experienced free elections. Earlier this year after months of street demonstrations and violence, Tunisia's president ended a 23-year rule by fleeing to Saudi Arabia. Tunisia was followed by the ousting of Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, again followed by a full scale civil war in Libya, that took out Mummar Gaddafi. That 42-year rule ended in Gaddafi's murder. And now the populace is beating at the doors of Syria's regime. A forest fire is sweeping across the Middle East echoing a people's cry against unemployment, food inflation, corruption, lack of freedom of speech, and assembly and other democratic freedoms -- all the freedoms that we take for granted in our society.

When we look out on the world, and back at the Bahamas, we agree with those who say that Bahamians -- despite hard times -- have much to be thankful for.

And it is on this note that we wish all of our readers a peaceful, and happy Christmas with family and friends, and hope that the New Year will be filled with many blessings.

We also thank our advertisers for their valued business and assure them that The Tribune will give them even better service in the New Year.

December 23, 2011

tribune242 editorial