There are among us many who believe the nature of man is such as will not permit him to carry out a contemplated evil unless convinced that circumstances have rendered it absolutely necessary.
There are also those of us that faithfully adhere to the notion that man was by God’s loving hand created evil; that we are indeed what we first ate via Eve’s umbilical cord, and what courses through our veins is actually a devilish cocktail of lust, gluttony, avarice, pride, wrath, envy and sloth, also known as “the seven deadly sins.”
Most of us would agree, however, that whatever might be the excuse for the evil that men do, for man’s inhumanity to man, always there have been the casualties, too many of whom, alas, perpetuate their own victimization.
“I’ve spent the last two years in Purgatory,” roared a sweating red devil not so long ago from his fiery perch, to the drunken applause of an over-heated, temporarily insane audience. “Yes, after two years in Purgatory I am ready again to lead!”
Taking full advantage of the perpetuated wall-to-wall ignorance, the devil’s not-so-red disciples further promoted the self-hatred that fueled the night’s irrational exuberance: “If they can’t handle the global crisis, then let them get out and make room for another government that can. We’ve handled crises before!”
“The UWP has never been a friend of the worker,” hissed another Garden-variety serpent. “The UWP hates workers. Our leader would’ve sat down with the workers; consulted with them. The UWP made promises to the workers and now they refuse to deliver. If some people want to say what we’re doing here tonight is just politics, then so be it.”
The year was 2009. By mid-2011, and with general elections imminent, the perennial victims were more than ever catching hell. But with palpable contempt for the people’s plight, largely engineered over the years by the very individuals who had sworn to do right by them, the divide-and-rule purveyors of deceit had stepped up their game. “Promise them anything” was their theme.
Among other baits they offered multi-millions of dollars and jobs for everyone, if elected. All they asked for was payment in advance of a little cross scrawled near their names on Polling Day.
Meanwhile the other self-proclaimed lesser evils from their own side of the divide were silent, self-convinced they had Taiwanese-buttered enough bread to guarantee their reelection.
When they should’ve been guarding the gates of hell, the foolish virgins slept. By the time they awoke from their fool’s slumber the ostensibly rewired purgatory graduates were back in business; rulers of the roost. The foolish virgins were locked out. No more King of the hill. The returned lesser evils had repositioned themselves to be great evils.
The rest, recent history, nevertheless deserves revisiting. Reminiscent of its cannibal behavior in the aftermath of its devastating 1997 elections defeat, when a special committee of in-house consultants had blamed the crippling loss on the party leader’s alleged proclivities, the biggest losers in 2011 had declared war on colleagues who, despite non-stop bombardment by their common enemy, had somehow retained their parliamentary seats.
A new party leader was the result of an apparently ill-conceived conspiracy fueled only by brother-against-brother bitterness, not party loyalty. Not long afterward, the leader of the parliamentary opposition was replaced with a candidate of no particular renown, consequently further dividing the long-neglected shaky house that John Compton had constructed before the majority of today’s Saint Lucians were conceived.
Meanwhile, the new party leader is without a political home to call his own and, for reasons unannounced, evidently spending more and more time off-island.
From the vantage of the man in the street, it appears the energized removers of their former prime minister and leader of the House opposition have run out of steam—if not confidence in their new captain, whose father now hosts a Sunday evening TV program curiously named Open Mike, never mind it’s the only show of its kind that accommodates no callers.
It is anyone’s guess what is the show’s raison d’être. It’s host, famous (notorious?) as a captain of local industry, among other things—seldom mentions his son, yet regularly sings the praises of his son’s chief tormentor, the prime minister—except for this past Sunday.
Anyone watching the last episode of Open Mike would be excused for believing the night’s guest was not only the CSA’s recently elected new president but also the UWP leader-in-waiting.
Mary Isaac on TV is riveting. I just love how she under-dresses for public appearances: light-colored short-sleeved Polo shirt, gray-streaked hair pulled back, her imperfect face apparently devoid of cosmetics.
Prurient thoughts are not what immediately spring to mind when watching Mary Isaac on TV. Which is not to say the image she projects is not all woman, wholesomely sexy, cool under pressure, unafraid to speak out—more than equipped to do what on this Rock of Sages is generally perceived as a man’s job. (Is the word I’ve been looking for to describe her TV persona “androgynous”—as has often been used by writers in their flattering references to both the actress Nastassja Kinski and the Rolling Stone’s Mick Jagger?)
On Sunday’s Open Mike, the host disagreed with nothing the CSA president said. He even served her a lame family joke concerning a grandson that had a squealing Mary Isaac addressing him as “the father-in-law I didn’t know I had!”
Meanwhile I was wondering: Why doesn’t he ask his guest, who had put in several plugs for her minister Emma Hippolyte, about the invisible squad recently referred to by the prime minister as “the so-called consultants” on the public payroll. Their number varies, depending on the supplier, between 40 and 13.
Alas, the show ended with my secret wish undelivered. But the evening was not a total disappointment. While browsing the pages of a recent edition of a favorite magazine, I came upon an article by the editor of the UK’s Independent newspaper Amol Rajan, arrestingly entitled “The Art of Selling Nothing.”
As you’d never guess, dear reader, the subject of the piece was consultants, of whom Rajan had written: “In my experience, nine out of ten will admit their job requires feigning knowledge and authority on subjects in which they are profoundly ignorant.”
He adds: “The giving of bad advice is now an industry so vast and omnipotent that it is perfectly normal to make fun, in public, of the private gains that accrue from it to anyone with a penchant for crisp suits and talking bollocks.”
Several times I put the magazine down in a failed effort to recall an occasion when any of our 40 (13?) government consultants was identified, either by name or in association with a particular endeavor.
Not only did I draw blanks, I also couldn’t remember precisely how they earned their large amounts of our scarce tax dollars. And shame on us journalists that so few of us had thought to seek elucidation from our prime minister or his gap-toothed alter ego.
Mary Isaac might find instructive this quote from the cited Independent article: “Among their many sins, consultants have added to the sinister well of jargon in corporate life, not least with the term ‘delayering,’” code for sending a third of the workers home.
By Rajan’s account, in 2009 the British government spent 1.5 billion pounds on consultants. This rose the following year to 1.8 billion. “Thankfully, the austerity pushed through by the coalition led to a significant reduction, so that research published by the UK Management Consultancies Association in 2012 noted a 19 percent drop in fee income from the public sector.”
Then there is this: “In the public sector, management consultants often provide the illusion of authority for civil servants and elected officials who, for whatever reason, lack that authority.”
The basic premise of the consultancy industry is that the advice of smart people is a scarce commodity. But Rajan considers that “complete tosh.”
“The majority of management consultants,” he says, “are ludicrously ignorant of the subject matter on which they advise.”
Which may be among the reasons our government seems so reluctant to expose its own secret army of consultants to public scrutiny.
On Sunday, in the course of discussing how the government might save money and spare public servants threatened with 5 percent salary cuts, the CSA president revealed that her membership often were required to advise the government’s greenhorn consultants on rudimentary matters.
Her suggestion was that few, if any, had any work experience, let alone special skills related to the public service—which tended to account for why they had been unable to find work in the private sector.
Then there were the well-placed party hacks who had been dismal failures at their own private businesses and needed some means by which to sustain their unsustainable lifestyles.
Asked Rajan, finally: “If management consultants are such wastrels, how come they’re so well paid in an era of tight money?”
He supplies his own answer: “Many of them are very intelligent and industrious people; indeed, probably the smartest of my friends from university is now a management consultant. [He is referring to the UK private sector, remember!] However, between consultants . . . the industry is a world of corporate sin. By preying on the insecurities of CEOs, and the delusion that a fresh pair of eyes always trumps the experienced hand, these mountebanks on the march are defrauding the public, providing cover for cowards, and taking a ride on the biggest gravy train in modern commerce. They are industrializing bullshit, and sending suckers like you and me the bill.”
And now, dear reader, I am more than ever hungry for information relating to our own tax-funded management consultants. Aren’t you?