We’re on a road to nowhere
Come on inside
Takin that ride to nowhere
Well take that ride
I’m feelin okay this mornin
And you know,
We’re on the road to paradise
Here we go, here we go
Road to Nowhere, Talking Heads
I can’t believe I’m actually going to say this, but George Dubya Bush might actually be right about something.
It’s taken him just shy of eight years of barely literate speeches but here in our newspapers this week appears this most eloquent of statements. The man’s been more wrong than the fashion choices at a passa passa dance, but it might actually be possible that he got something right this time.
And it’s exceptional that the thing that he got right was something to do with T&T.
Outside of all the economic speak, the thing that stood out the most in the whole story in Wednesday’s paper was the statement T&T is too rich.
Too rich to get access to preferential trade. Now we have to fight up with all the countries that have centuries of experience in trading, wanton destruction, not to mention exploiting child and sweat shop labour.
But this is practice for 2020. When, hey presto, we will be developed. We will all of a sudden be civilised, whatever that means, and advanced and so rich from the fruits of our labours that it won’t matter if America is giving us preferential trade or not.
It is a mark of our rapid development that even Dubya can see that we’re too rich.
Pull the gas out of the ground faster than you can say environmental impact assessment and you’ll see that we’re too rich to protect our citizens from the industrialisation fall-out.
Put plenty police cars on the streets and as they blare and scream our wealth into the congested streets you might miss the howls of prisoners in overcrowded cells.
We are too rich for preferential treatment from America. We’re so rich we can walk over homeless people and not feel ahow.
We’re so rich we can more than afford the international embarrassment of a Prime Minister who goes to big conferences and speaks so movingly about sharing global concerns about global warming, cutting CO2 emissions and such like, but then comes back home and tells the citizens to put a smelter in they pipe and smoke it.
We’re so rich, the EMA can host nice conferences and sweet competitions for schoolchildren to talk about environmental protection.
Meanwhile a steel mill gets clearance in Claxton Bay in the middle of a community and in the middle of the rainy season they’re planning to destroy some acres of mangrove. But we’re too rich to care about mangrove.
We’re so rich there’s a secondary school place for every child sitting the SEA. We’re so rich, I hear in a taxi that the children who pass for a junior sec beat up the one child that passed for a seven-year school.
We’re so rich, we don’t have to pave the roads, because everyone can afford to buy a truck with really good shocks so you don’t notice that you’re driving on an obstacle course.
We are rich enough to have a lot of tall buildings in Port-of-Spain to shade the vagrants and the pipers from the sting of the noonday sun.
And we’re too rich to have child protection legislation. And we’re too rich to have a good healthcare system. Why bother if everyone is rich enough to go away and get treatment?
What is perhaps jokiest about this whole being-too-rich thing is that this statement is made just a week after Papa Patos signed a US$400 million loan with the Chinese Government.
Maybe we should take this latest Bushism as a sign that we’re changing colonisers again.
After all, Chinese technology and sand and building blocks and sand and workers are being used for Alutrint’s smelter. Chinese labour is building our schools, our Prime Minister’s residence, our arts academy.
If we switch colonisers, it won’t matter whether Dubya thinks we’re too rich or not. It won’t matter if we’re rich or poor in America’s eyes.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who is the buyer when you are a sell-out.