Think rationally

Barack Obama was last night re-elected as president of the United States, and while commentators speak to the fact that Republican challenger Mitt Romney did well to garner almost 48 per cent of the popular vote, in this brand of politics there is little genuine regard for second place.

Obama is the president of the US for four more years; Romney returns to his former life!

But it is interesting how supporters of one side or another can arrive at the decision on how they will vote in an election.

If the polls were an accurate reflection of the feeling of Americans, and the polls were numerous, the biggest concern of Americans was the state of the economy, and all the attendant fiscal and social challenges many face as a result.

Interestingly, many of those same polls suggested that Americans felt more comfortable, and apparently hopeful, with the policy proposals advanced by Romney than they did with Obama’s. It would appear, based on the polls prior to actual voting, that they would have preferred Romney to manage the economy.

Are there any lessons in the outcome of the US election for us in Barbados, where general elections are expected any day now? For certain, some individuals are already presenting their own rationalisations.

For instance, before the Obama win was announced, one person with whom the Freundel Stuart Democratic Labour Party has not found favour, was not anxious to see Obama returned to the White House. His reason? He does not want Barbadians to believe that since Obama got a second term the Dems here deserve one too.

Interestingly enough, a staunch DLP supporter was not averse to a similar reasoning: Americans recognise that the economy could not be fixed in one term and they returned Obama to complete the job, and clear-thinking Barbadians should apply the same reasoning to the Government here.

We can’t begin to suppose which argument will win out when Stuart finally decides to call the elections, but there can be no doubt that matters of the economy are of greater interest to Barbadian electors than any other issue or category of issues.

We suspect too that is why the Dems are not easing up on their accusation that an Owen Arthur Administration will immediately send home large numbers of public servants. Yes, Arthur has denied this is one of their strategies for bringing Government’s expenditure under control, but it is an emotive issue and it will be a source of contention until the last hour of polling.

No thinking Barbadian can fail to understand the importance of the need for sensible, dynamic leadership of our economy and that it will be impossible to do this, at least in the short to medium term, without trimming, maybe even slashing, expenses — regardless of who occupies Bay Street.

That’s why it is not enough for the Dems to accuse the BLP of having a plan to send home 10,000 civil servants, while at the same time shouting they will not cut a single job. Retaining the public service at any size will not result from political posturing — but simply the ability to pay the wages bill each time it becomes due.

Any Barbadian who does not have some nervousness about how close we sail to the edge these days would have to be naive. Look, for instance, at the University of the West Indies. Government’s debt to this institution is now approaching $200 million, we are told, in spite of all the promises and public posturing. Those who work at Cave Hill may not be public servants, but if this debt is not a threat to their pay cheques, then we don’t know the meaning of threat.

Slinging accusations by either side ought not to stand between Barbadians and their ability to think rationally.

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