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Sunday, May 31, 2015

The 2015 Budget Communication. What's new?

The prime minister, and also the minister for finance, The Right Honourable Perry G. Christie, presented his 2015/2016 budget to the parliament on Wednesday, May 27th.

As expected, there were cheers for the budget, and of course also a few jeers. Some said that the persons responsible for bringing the Value Added Tax to being in January, 2015 should be Knighted. A little exuberant, but you can give them that if you wish.

Of course, some opposite asked if raising taxes was a pre-requisite for Knighthood these days? Of course the answer is no! Tax reform should be however, and we have had too little of that but a great deal more of just plain old taxes.

There are some good things to be really hopeful for if presented in truth in this year's communication, even though a great deal of it was said last year in almost the exact same manner.

The most hopeful thing in this budget was that they did raise, since January's implementation of VAT, an extra $150 million as a result of the measure.

Last year's recurrent revenue was $1.465 billion, and this year it is expected to reach $1.771 billion. A turn around of about $300 million, with VAT receipts amounting for $150 million of that total take. The total tax take from VAT was projected through a full fiscal year to be $300 million.

What's striking to note that while this would be the third consecutive year under the current administration that The Department of Customs has not completed their reformation exercise, with Customs being the top revenue agency, the government netted an extra $150 million in addition to the $150 million they added from VAT. But, if rings true, and of course the figures are subject to be revised, then it is a good achievement thus far and it is one thing we can feel comfortable on that something has been done.

Expenditure on the other hand is expected to increase on the backs of a few large initiatives proposed in the budget communication, inclusive of $60 million towards upgrading the hospital; $20 million for the Urban Renewal Programme; Increased welfare through Social Services; and a Bond issuance for the construction of 1,000 new homes.

Also, and this may affect the revenue side and the balance between revenue and expenditure in light of the additional taxes expected from VAT, tariffs on car imports in addition to exemptions for first time home owners are expected to be reduced. In addition, a ban will be placed on cars over 10 years old.

As some would know already, but just to state clearly, vehicles are thee main source of revenue through Customs. It is the largest, line item on the customs revenue side. The tariff rates are expected to be decreased from 65% to 45%. Coupled with the ban on cars over 10 years, the revenue side will look dramatically different even in light of the VAT efforts.

Nevertheless, VAT is set to offset these reductions. However, by how much will be the question. Just to give you a scenario: If all else remains the same, and less car imports are as a result, and VAT on car imports was $10 million. If car imports were to decrease by 20%, then the VAT take on car imports would also decrease. Get the drift? So, if one were to rationalize that based on the 65% rate that VAT receipts from car imports would be $10 million, if the rates are decreased, with the effect of lesser car imports, revenue enhancement measures may be thwarted.

This is also under the assumption that car imports would decrease, based on the relatively high rate of even 45% on car imports. This is also assuming that people have money to buy cars at the rate of which it is expected to receive a return from Customs and VAT receipts.

By and large, car imports may seem as a small issue compared to the overall economic trajectory of The Bahamas, even though it is important to the revenue side of our fiscal affairs.

More importantly, and in this author's estimation, efforts were missed with regard to pro-growth initiatives for the many. After the last budget communication, 2013/2014, up until the presentation of the mid-term budget in February, 2015, people have been advocating to more progressive forms of economic inducements.

Thus far the efforts for such have been limited. Notwithstanding the measure to reduce business license fees, which within itself does more for the bottom lines for individual companies during these still yet soft periods of economic activities, than it would boost growth in the main. But it is welcomed.

Issues such as trade, economic liberalisation for Bahamian citizens, the opening of services for smaller firms to participate with the government, other private sector tools to boost economic activity both locally and internationally, have been missed.

Of course, the saying is that the government does not create jobs, or spur economic activity. But it is the private sector that does that. However, when we speak in terms of regulations, allowances, contracts, corporate tools and business environment systems that the government can and has employed in the past to suit efforts, we can safely say that little to nothing has been done for the majority or in an encompassing manner that speaks to the nature of those below. Quite frankly, this is the most appalling part of the budget communication this year, and of previous years.

Particularly in light of the issues with the BahaMar Resort not being ready to open, management contracts to external firms, some of which were not articulated in last year's budget that they would be engaged, little or next to nothing is expected in the short term with regard to growth and opportunities.

We just can't all go the prime minister's office and wait for assistance, which seems to be the norm with some. We also all can't do the same thing. We certainly can't sit there and allow opportunities to slip by while those outside get the lion's share. It just won't cut it for the future.

As an aside, issues such as the ever present inflationary pressures, which can be classified as naked stagflation, coupled with financial transparency and accountability measures, we have to continue to push for a loftier goal for all and sundry. Forward, Upward, Onward, Together!

In total, with all things articulated in this submission, we must continue to push for better. We deserve it!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Prepare, the Ingrahamites are near!

Ever since the opposition party, The Free National Movement, elected their leader, Dr. Hubert Minnis, in a snap mini-convention and with Dr. Minnis having staved off and cut off a surging challenge from his fellow opposition member of parliament colleague, Mrs. Loretta Butler-Turner, his leadership has been met with fierce criticism from persons within his own party. Most of which are from a small, but yet powerful faction of persons loyal to their former leader and former prime minister of The Bahamas, The Right Honourable Hubert Ingraham.

None more prominent in the cacophony of discontent within The Free National Movement with their leadership is that of the former deputy prime minister under Mr. Ingraham, Frank Watson.

Mr. Watson has said that the current leader of the FNM is tone-deaf to his, and other's, suggestions on how the party should proceed. He also said that the party is in serious problems if Dr. Minnis's current style of management continues. He was directly quoted as saying that the current Chairman of the FNM is "talking nonsense" and that the Chairman is "out of the loop" with the real players in the party. And that was just last week!

Without a doubt Mr. Ingraham has left an indelible mark on Bahamian politics. The first prime minister in the era post the near invincible Sir Lynden Pindling, and having served three terms to boot. Quite a feat in a modern and fair democratic government process for anyone from anywhere in the world to have served as leader for more than ten years, whether consecutively or non-consecutively.

Of course, this means that there are a lot of people that are very, very loyal to Mr. Ingraham. No doubt, he has in fact helped a great deal of people. He also had an uncanny knack for placing people in strategic positions in the public and private sector, persons who have been able to maintain and make valuable contributions to our country.

However, as with many a leader in democratic, and not-so-democratic fashion, the love affair between them and the people often go sour after it becomes stale and methods become ineffective. Good enough for us that his departure from front line politics was met with peaceful transition, and not with a coup or some form of violence. I am proud to be a Bahamian on that score. Truly.

Mr. Ingraham was beaten by his immediate predecessor and his successor to his first term in office. To be succinct: The current prime minister, The Right Honourable Perry Christie, had a one term stint in between Mr. Ingraham's terms of service. Mr. Christie won in 2002, lost in 2007 and then won again in 2012.

What's also a pretty well known fact is that Mr. Christie and Mr. Ingraham share a very funny distinction: They were both fired as cabinet ministers at the same time on the same day under the same circumstances under the Sir Lynden Pindling government.

Without labouring through the often times murky and gossipy reasons as to why they were fired, to cut a long story short: Mr. Christie and Mr. Ingraham ran as independents in that subsequent election that the governing party, The Progressive Liberal Party, won, with Mr. Christie opting to go back to the PLP and Mr. Ingraham opting to go with the FNM and then becoming prime minister in 1992.

Sure enough, along with that distinction, they also, as reports claim, share a close bond and friendship. They were former law partners in addition to standing as God parents for each other's children. They also share the same, small group of friends and associates.

Leading anyone who does not fall into the spell of the occult-like style of politics in The Bahamas: We have essentially been ruled and governed by the same small group of people for over the last 20 plus years.

Regardless of what anyone tells you, even with a strong man like Mr. Ingraham: No one runs a country by themselves. All strong leaders, and more so with not-so-strong leaders, have supporters, cronies, lackeys, bag men, go to guys, key writers, image makers, covert operatives and public relations gurus that all play a part in making them look on the ball, as well as their relational associates and family ties that hold them down, at all times.

To go even further with this relationship that both men share, during the 2007 campaign and at a campaign rally when Mr. Ingraham won that election year, Mr. Ingraham remarked in a quite jovial, but yet sneering and mocking manner, at a point where then sitting prime minister Christie, during a time where he had fallen ill and had to take an indeterminate time of leave, had asked him to "run" the cabinet and the country until he had time to convalesce and get back on his game. By-passing his then deputy, Cynthia "Mother" Pratt and the rest of his cabinet ministers in the PLP.

So, essentially the "Ingrahamites" aren't just near, they probably never left. Which is quite important for our country, because as mentioned previously: Ideas, ways of doing business, methods, people and their minds become stale and ineffective. While continuity is important, quite frankly, when you look at our daunting issues: Who wishes that?

When you sit in one spot for too long you become immune and blind to what's around you. You don't see "the problems", you just continue with your solutions which you feel worked 20 years ago and so they must work today. This is even worse for those that are eating their fair-square 3 meals a day and have no worries about those meals tomorrow.

This clearly suggests, at least over the last 10 years, the same solutions have not been productive or user friendly. To say the very least.

With all of that being said however, I think this is a perfect time to hear from former prime minister Ingraham.

The way he left after the 2012 election was, to put it quite mildly, abrupt, seemingly callous and a little selfish. It was like the Bahamian taxpayers wasn't allowing him a salary and leeway to do what it is he was charged to do. This was a lot worse than the first time he left the scene, more or less, at the height of a mild recession after he had lost in 2002. The state of affairs then was not "this bad".

The country has not fully recovered since the 2008 global recession. Unemployment is still stubbornly up; the ease of doing business rankings are slipping; investment, both local and foreign, is not vibrant and with the latter we need less of and more of the former; crime is still miles high; public services are still reeling from the ravages of the recession and morale is low because more burdens were placed on them;  and the overall sentiment from Bahamians is one of hopelessness amidst waves and waves of missteps and oversights that turned into full-blown fiascos under the current administration, all at a time when we need concerned and concerted consistency and clarity on all fronts.

I mentioned to one of my colleagues just recently that I would like to hear from Mr. Ingraham about all and sundry, regardless of how it looks now: From the current state of the economy, the way we look internationally, how he feels businesses can be better served, how the small and not-so-small can better integrate themselves into the process he left behind and his overall outlook on his party, the FNM and the fighting that is looking very, very nasty.

To be fair, he did not give us our just due as citizens in giving a full account of his tenure. A de-briefing, of sorts.

Even a very prominent businessman, Franklyn Wilson of Arawak Homes, feels the same way as I do. He too also wants to know, and in particular, why did Mr. Ingraham leave South Eleuthera at such a disadvantage as Mr. Wilson has lamented in one of his recent discussions with reporters.

Some have suggested, and this is probably why persons like Mr. Ingraham's former deputy Frank Watson and a few others have been getting antsy and vocal as of late, that Mr. Ingraham is planning a comeback. Stronger than when many feel he usurped power of the FNM from leader elect Tommy Turnquest and put his name in the hat at the FNM's convention leading up to the 2007 general election.

I can only laugh, especially considering all we know now and all we read in only this submission. Laugh because Mr. Ingraham, Mr. Watson and the others loyal to the Ingrahamite cause, if this is the case, may as well come out as full, card carrying members of the governing PLP. That ought to make this into the full scale spectacle that those and sundry want us to be embroiled in and one that it appears to be.

One of my colleagues, a very seasoned man and one who was in the mix back in the day and knows both Mr. Christie and Mr. Ingraham very well, assured me that both men speak to each other on a regular basis on governing The Bahamas and that Mr. Ingraham's input is seen and felt every day. I can believe that! **sips tea**

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Terrorism on the shores of The Caribbean!

The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism's website was hacked last week. Apparently, a group out of Tunisia calling themselves the "Fallaga Team" is responsible for the attack. They took over the servers that hosted the websites and posted a few items, as it is reported, and tried to do much more probing once inside an official government site.

Just earlier this month the website and subsequent government domain name of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines was hacked by a group calling themselves "The Moroccanwolf- Islamic State".

Both websites were immediately cleaned up as a matter of priority. The Bahamian government had to end parliament early that day and hold a special cabinet meeting to address the matter. It goes to show how much cyber security and electronic information takes precedent in today's modern world.

This raises, in an odd sense, the matter of Islamic terrorism in the region. Who would have thought that Islamic hard-liners would have their eyes focused on The Bahamas? Or any small, nation state in the Caribbean? Not me, for one. But apparently they do.

First and foremost, I reject the radical fundamentalists that parade around behind their religion to hurt, main and attack other people who do not agree. The cyber-attack is just another episode in the perversions of some of those radical Muslims hell bent on starting their One World Caliphate. It won't happen!

With respect to the Caribbean: It was widely known that there were Caribbean nationals that went on the front line to fight with the new terror group in the Middle East, ISIS, also known as "The Islamic State and the Levant". A group fighting in the border lands between Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan, with those five countries (and a little more if we take into account the island of Cyprus and a small portion of Western Iraq) comprising what scholars and historians call "The Levant".

ISIS is responsible for shocking atrocities in the Middle East. From beheadings, to public burnings, to tossing those not of their views off of buildings, and much, much more. Quite a nasty group of individuals. The perverted nature of their atrocities are quite stunning. It's like they make new ways to kill, maim and torture people.

The ISIS PR machine is also strikingly different from any other terror group. For starters, the videos of their atrocities and barbarism appear to be very well produced. If you dare to watch anything from them, which I have out of sheer curiosity, you would see the intense attention to cinematic effect and detail. Music production, panning in when death is near, various angles for the method of torture and murder, and quite verbose (and intelligently written) speeches before and after their sickening acts.

The top man in ISIS is a British national born in Kuwait. He goes by the nickname (given to him by those he captured and later evolved into something more comic-book like by the press), Jihadi John. His real name is Mohammed Emwazi.

Now, before you scream "irony" and say that the country where Jihadi John was born, Kuwait, was the small, Middle Eastern state that was liberated from Saddam Hussein's Iraq during the first Gulf War by America, in addition to Jihadi John becoming a British citizen, the second largest coalition member in both Gulf Wars, let me ask you to tamper down a little bit of that self-joy and understand the problem it now presents.

Without a doubt people are radicalized in the Islamic faith. That's patently obvious. It's also obvious that persons were radicalized into the Islamic faith from its inception and no one act done by America or the rest of the Western World made them so.

Having read The Quran, the Islamic holy book, I would have to say that it's not primarily a book about peace. To be quite frank about it.

I would encourage the reader to actually read The Quran for one’s self. Not that one is any less wrong in being opposed to them based on the violent acts perpetrated around the world based on Islam. But at least to understand more fundamentally what really fuels this anti-Western, anti-Christian and anti-anything opposed to the prophet Muhammad and The Holy Quran.

I say that because there is this Orwellian "Newspeak" styled euphemism floating around about Islam being a religion of peace. It's almost as insulting as calling the military and agency for "Peace and Reconciliation"; calling America's overhanded, direct, covert and/or subversive international tactics it uses with its partners "US foreign policy and diplomacy"; or calling poor people "economically unintegrated urbanites". Just a patent insult to any right thinking individual that reads more than 5 chapters of The Quran.

Well, you can also say that if the Western media has gotten away with that type of wicked-language for the better half of the last 200 years, then it really is par for the course if modernized Muslims use it and try to get away with it as well. As they say: Turnabout is fair play.

What The Quran does speak about with regard to peace particularly, and primarily, is meant for persons that think along the lines of The Quran itself. The only other time it mentions being at peace with anyone else, or any other group of people for that matter, is only when they are allowing for mercy to the subjected persons within their realm. Of course, this tolerance has a shelf life and is left to the time and moment that Sharia (Islamic law based on The Quran) is to be interpreted on the matter of the offense of the subjected class of people. Even those included in the Abrahamic, mono-theistic religions of Judaism and Christianity born out of the same region.

So, do we have a problem on our hands in the Caribbean? The Tunisian and Moroccan cyber-terror nitwits are possibly idle teenagers looking to get their kicks. They are no better or worse than the locals spying on each other, however. No worse than teenage gamers based in Paris, California or London trying out their new cyber-worm programme; no worse than any other notable cyber terror or hacker groups like the PirateBay or Anonymous; and certainly no worse than America's National Security Agency, who reports have it have been running several surveillance operations around the world with regard to cellular phone taps, and done primarily in The Bahamas under an operation called SOMALGET.

The main, and more serious problem, is in our immigration policy. Essentially, who we allow in to our country, and for that matter, who we allow to return to our respective countries, based on the reports of Caribbean fighters joining the Jihad and Jihadi John in Syria and the Levant, is vitally important.

The second, most fundamental problem, particularly with offshore banking, is are we allowing for terrorist financing from these operations.

To that regard, a great deal of cooperation between the G-8 countries and the offshore banking jurisdictions were done post September 11 attacks.

Surely no one can solve this Islamic World vs. The Western World problem in my lifetime, although I would hope that it does get solved. The only thing small countries like us can do is wait and try to make sure we watch our borders, and watch what money is transacted from within our borders with institutions domiciled. That's the only way we can fight terror!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

You get swing! The lingering matter of fraud!

Have you ever given someone that was taking a trip to America or Canada money in hopes that they would "bring back" a few items for you, but they never returned with the items or the money? Particularly for automobiles and consumer related items? Or, have you ever heard of a case where an employee was hired for a particular position, but the benefits, scope of work or work environment was not what was told on the interview? I think we all can say that there is a fair amount of that happening not just in The Bahamas, but throughout the world.

In The Bahamas we have a saying: You get swing! A song, produced and sung by one of our local artists, Geno D., describes what it means and what it is to get "swing". But, even in his light-hearted approach to the matter, it really is no laughing matter.

The seemingly national art-form of "swinging" must be condemned, at all costs. But it is something so engrained in our psyche, so inherently and distinctive to Bahamian living, one just simply can't waive a magic wand and say the magic words and Voila!, we all started practicing decency like we are indeed a Christian nation with a strong understanding of giving a fair weight and just balances to those you do business with: Something the prosperity gospel in particular misses out on, as well as the fire and brimstone, holy-rolling brand of Christianity misses as well.

It has gotten to such an extent that people and companies by extension, can get away with massive fraud and rip-offs, relatively speaking for the size and position of the Bahamian economy, where it has even been noticed by the American Embassy in The Bahamas where they issued a warning to American citizens looking to buy property in The Bahamas.

Apparently, Americans were coming to The Bahamas to buy land from less than reputable companies, and in many instances buying directly from locals, which of course they were summarily cheated and ripped off.

Some would say that it served them right for trying to buy land through a "hook up", or through a "sweetheart deal", by-passing established real estate companies with a track record and history of doing business fair and transparently. In any case, the image of our piracy, rum-running days, being a nation for sale and the like, is still alive and well and much to our displeasure.

The amount of corporate fraud that happens in this town probably outweighs the amount of murder cases by 100 fold. The lack of proper record keeping, clean and transparent for the public to identify, is also something that lends to the overall nature of doing business in The Bahamas.

However, the last released data on white collar crime in The Bahamas was in 2012. Or at least as far back as this author could possibly find without pulling hair out or having to have a special knock, twist in the wind and incantation for the information to magically appear on my desk.

Reportedly, white collar crime totalled to over $11.5 million dollars in stolen goods, with over 400 cases.  There were 111 murders for the year, 2012, just for your information.

Of course, as we can imagine, white collar crimes were underreported. That's a given. But a significant amount was reported.

To go even further, the compilation of white collar crimes based on their focus- which seems to boil down to petty theft and petty fraud directed through or towards businesses- is just a small tip of the iceberg. In fact, the limited focus on white collar crime only speaks to one demographic, as if employers and institutions are faultless at committing fraud. This is clearly not the case.

Just to give some context, corporate crime is a well defined parameter in law. To sum that up, any crime committed by a company or business that promotes itself for one interest but is working against the very same interest it has gone on record stating that they are supposed to be promoting or protecting.

Essentially, this understanding carries under it a whole host of criminal behaviour, from accounting scandals like what happened with the American energy corporate Enron, where they hid massive losses from their shareholders from various projects; the accounting firm Arthur Anderson, also in America, where the company knowingly shredded and destroyed documents relating to the Enron scandal; and the mining company, Bre-X in Canada, which fraudulently claimed that it had found gold deposits in Indonesia that caused investors to be prompted to buy shares in the company.

In The Bahamas, one can add to that the overwhelming amount of fraud committed by businesses on the public. Some of them flatly promote products and services knowing full well they do not have the capacity to do what it is they promote.

In addition to fraudulent promotion or services committed by businesses on the public, there are countless cases of fraud committed by businesses and persons on the state and from persons within the state machinery that also go underreported and are not reflected in the overall white-collar matrix of criminal behaviour.

Often times cases that happen within the state can easily be brushed aside and made whole again, making crime or the criminal act a "new" (but make no mistake about it being sometimes arbitrary) policy, regardless if the new policy is set in stone or in fact ethical.

To go even further, and this is the main focus of this submission, is that employer to employee theft and business to business fraud happens far too frequently.

As a small business owner, the amount of times entities and individuals "tried" to get work done for free is abysmally saddening. It makes one wonder if the same persons wanting freebies from me, would try the same in America, or even against one of the larger institutions or businesses and get things off the top without paying for what it is they requested.

Countless cases of employees left without pay-checks during the weekend, for work they have done and submitted; cases of employees being dismissed without their proper severance; or just cases of one side not even having the slightest inclination of honouring their side of the agreement, should not be a part of life in The Bahamas as a "regular", run of the mil practice that one can do nothing about.

This type of anti-social depravity does not happen to that extent anywhere in the civilized and developed world, and it is not something that should be glorified or made light of with seemingly no recourse or remedy to alleviate some of the social implications from such depraved and anti-social behaviour. I would go as far as to say that it borders on a regulated system of indentured servitude, with regulators being non-intervening celestial bodies that make it a practice of non-interventionism in mortal affairs.

Along with the criminality and unethical behaviour, I find the approach to these matters, no matter how small it is, to be somewhat appalling and very telling for our society.

What must be done? Certainly there needs to be a review of the agencies and legislation that monitors white-collar crime; fraud; employer malfeasance; and employee fraud as well.

Asking the government to "tighten up" on some of their own practices seems to be a cheap way of letting off some steam for the anarchist in us, but a call we must make in the spirit and totality of what it is we are faced with.

Ultimately, you cannot have a vibrant, growing and dynamic economy for all and sundry, if contracts are not being enforced, property rights are infringed upon and disregarded, and fraud seems to be the order of the day. One simply just cannot have that!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Bahamas in the future: A look at politics.

I felt the need to continue on the trend I haphazardly started with last week with regard to The Bahamas and what the future may look like for the Church in our daily lives. I also prefaced that submission with the understanding that we can't look into the future in a linear fashion: In that, I mean to say is that we can't think about the future and say with any broad stroke that "this" is where The Bahamas would be in general or overall, but rather where we would be and what we would look like on several fronts.

As said, last week was about the role of the Church. Politics, in this vein, is no different in terms of evolution, even though how it impacts the general population and what it means for the majority of us matters significantly different than that of the Church.

What's really trending in Bahamian Politics? The short hand is that the major parties are fracturing. Not quite unexpected, because as the population grows, the larger organizations will find it challenging to serve all of the people under their tent.

This is not to say that the larger parties are unorganized and can't muster up enough coordination to serve all of the people under it's tent, but the fact of the matter is we're dealing with people. People and by extension organizations and the society at large, have hierarchies. Totem Poles. A pecking order. So, often times, gifts and hand-outs start from the top and filter down to the bottom.

As you can imagine, the people at the top got there because of their selfishness, aggression and to some extent greed. The higher up and more distant they become, the more likelihood of them becoming disengaged from the average citizen. It's easier for a camel to enter into the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

I'm not excusing the disengagement at all. I find it deplorable, particularly for a still, relatively, small and intimate country like The Bahamas. But, to some extent, the people in charge must look like the people in charge: If that means subjugating, creating distance, and subordinating the so called "lesser-folk", then so be it. If only by the sheer nature of the job. As they say, it's lonely at the top.

The Bahamas has a unique problem within that matrix: The baby-boomer leadership is deeply conservative with an ever increasingly liberal youth demographic (Generation Y and beyond), mixed in with a frustrated Generation X that feels stifled and cheated because of the baby-boomer generation's staying power and cling to power. For whatever reason. .

Seriously however, not only the age group differences pose a direct challenge, the baby-boomer generation has had a significant amount of staying power. Something that should be commended, but also be concerning because as they hold on to power, their ideas become stale, their way of thinking about doing business is outdated, in addition to their incestuously uncanny ability to select people of "like mind"; i.e., people within their own age grouping and also persons from younger generations who, even if only, feign interest in whatever programme that comes out of that baby-boomer think-tank.

Without a doubt there will be a conflict of ideas coming out of the age-group differences as we move forward. As we are seeing more and more intently now, the younger generations have too much information at their finger-tips to be given the same story of the same issues that have not worked. One only has to read Facebook for 30 minutes to find out how much they know, where did they know it from, how it was confirmed and who is being straight up and honest about it.

What we are currently seeing develop is an era of duplicity in politics. One in which is as seedy as much as it is unpredictable.

We have often times heard terms used, particularly within the last 10 to 15 years: "PLP's for (insert name of leader of the FNM), or "FMM's for (insert name of the leader of the PLP). In fact, the 2007 election was centred around such duplicitous, cloak and dagger gimmickry that one may liken to a Pink Panther movie, just with real life effects and consequences. The 2012 election was no different either, but less pronounced with more action post election by the then governing party.

The era of duplicity is also going to be very challenging, due to the fact that the chain that binds the generations has a rusted and shop-worn link: That is the flow of information that Generation Y (Millennials) has at their fingertips right now that the preceding Generation X did not have enough of to make their assessments. We can't overlook that, at all. And as equally important, the knowledge of the tools and templates to use in their assessments.

Along with the oncoming era of duplicity and one can also say a lack blind loyalty, we also have now a developed culture of distrust, chugging it's fuel from the years and years of obeisance under a "Dark" Bahamas. We have a Generation Y that has a greater chance and opportunity to review the ideas and issues form the past, juxtaposed with current affairs, and how it has shaped us to where we are today. All at the same time, the perceived source of much ire, the baby-boomer generation, is still in control if only psychologically, yet again adding to the frustration and sentiments of being cheated by Generation X while being simultaneously being greeted with disgusted sneers and sarcastic grunts from Generation Y.

Within the next 25 years, at least, as the baby-boomers are taken to their eternal glory at the very least, we will have a little challenge reconciling the following generations: Generation X will want to reclaim what they feel was stolen from them by the baby-boomer generation, and Generation Y will begin to say that you can't steal from me so easily and so openly as your predecessors did to you. This is going to create conflict. Even though there is a lot for all, the fact of the matter is we can't ever quantify feelings and sentiments: Being cheated and lied to on the one hand, and pervasive false need that borders on extreme avarice on the other.

All within the same time the political process will become more fractured, distrust will build and build in thee most acrimonious ways. It will take tremendous acts of courage to mend the fences and provide equal opportunity for all. Regardless of where you started from, or where you are now.

This is not to say all is shot to hell right now as we speak, but I think everyone with an ounce of intelligence can see quite clearly that the policies of 50 years ago have not worked in the last 15 years, at the very least; it's obvious that the proceeding generations' time is being eaten up by a generation, the baby-boomers, that have simply exhausted their usefulness (quite respectfully speaking); the cannibalization and lack of security for the future is based on old ideas that are not working and at best deleterious to the future development of The Bahamas, long after the baby boomers would have finally exited the stage; and the current carry-over of failed concepts of managing country-wide problems is not going over smoothly, and will become more problematic for anyone coming afterwards trying to implement the baby-boomer's methodology of doing things.
The era of distrust and duplicity is upon us. As with all countries, from large empires to small fiefdoms, there have always been successive years of "challenge periods". The Bahamas is right up next to our very own, made worse by the global financial collapse in, 2008 and prior to which was taken strong note of as a result of the September 11 Attacks and what many analyst claim precipitated the attacks which was, essentially, stinking thinking!

This is not to prophecy of things to be, but a warning of what may happen if we do not summon the courage, intelligence, decency and tact to handle this matter in a judicious manner. But first we must understand the problem. To which I humbly rest my submission on the matter on the table for perusal.