Bahamians are a tough, hardy people. Before tourism we lived exclusively by what we could catch, grow and salvage. Our ancestors survived storm after storm. Droughts, diseases, crop failures, Spanish raids and the age of piracy: we survived it all. We weathered many natural hurricanes. But it seems it is the hurricanes we are creating for ourselves that might do us in.
The hurricane of poverty, both financial poverty and intellectual poverty, robs us of our will despite of, and in the face of, the true richness of this nation. The hurricane of failing education leaves our youth incapable of solving tomorrow’s problems. The hurricane of crime belittles us. These hurricanes and many more are converging to form a perfect storm.
But other nations face and have faced these storms. In fact we have faced them in the past as well and succeeded. But the most damaging part about these storms is this: our weathermen are away from their posts. They’re out to lunch while the dark clouds keep building.
Our elected representatives are failing us. It seems like they don’t even have the radar switched on. The current government’s solutions to the massive debt the previous government built up are disastrously misplaced. And the Government’s Opposition can’t even get on the same page with themselves, let alone put up a strong defense.
A week before the Regatta, the largest event Abaco hosts which fills marinas from the north to the south of this island, they pass along the arbitrary jump in cruising permits. Any boater on the fence about spending money on our shores got the message: “Not welcome.”
Yes, that one tax was withdrawn, or put on hold, or selectively enforced. Actually, does anyone know the true current state of that law?
Coupled with that is the perplexing $150 additional fee tacked onto planes coming and going. It’s an insult to the private pilots (you know: the ones who can afford their own planes and spend money here accordingly?) It’s a disincentive to legacy carriers who operate on small enough margins already. And it kills the entrepreneurs on this island who rely on drop-shipping to sell products to their customers.
It directly raises the cost of living and reduces the amount of tourists whose spending would negate those rising costs.
The big airliners have already stated their dissatisfaction and have threatened reducing airlift. The Government’s response seems to be an emphatic “Oh, well.”
I’m giving it to the end of August before I comment again about the roads and airport. Right now I think the “Pothole Preservation Society” has the right idea (see page 22.)
Now if I sat here and ended this editorial right now while painting the Government and Opposition with these broad, unforgiving strokes I would be just as guilty of the blindness I’m accusing them of. There are some examples of weathermen in our political system who I believe are honestly trying to prevent and prepare for the hurricanes this country will face. One that immediately comes to my mind is Abaco’s own Renardo Curry.
And, again, we don’t always need to wait for the “professional” weathermen to tell us how to shape our country. We’ve been doing it long enough: keeping an eye on the water, noticing the changes, battening down the hatches when we need to, taking the risks when necessary and marching forwards, upwards and onwards together.