The View from Mount Oblivion

Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! Let it be known that I recently acquired my very own corner at the back of a way overcrowded, unlit and urine-soaked cave on the edge of Mount Oblivion, where the sun never shines and it seems more than half the population has lately taken refuge. With little fear of contradiction, my similarly minded fellow cave dwellers had long ago convinced themselves that they are the nation’s best brains, as much because they had attended a certain school as for the fact that their forebears had passed on to them the secret to surviving a society that sees and hears no evil—unless of course such evil is colored yellow or red!
Actually, no one can tell the real reason they are here. But it would be extremely difficult to discount the palpable cowardice oozing from their pores and other unspeakable orifices, its choking smell enough to make a skunk embraceable!
I imagine the reader reasonably asking: If coexisting with obnoxious anonymous bloggers and phone callers is as nauseating as I’ve suggested, if the devil’s cowardice-and-piss cocktail makes me want to puke, then why on God’s green earth have I deserted—even temporarily—the relatively irenic frontline environment to be with the scum of the earth?
Please be generous and permit me to answer in the fashion of Socrates with another question: “Why do people visit zoos?” The obvious answer to which is: “To study the animals.” And a fascinating study it has been these last several weeks here in Mount Oblivion’s communal bat cave. Consider the common reaction to Ubaldus Raymond’s announced resignation as Emma Hippolyte’s parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Commerce.
An interested reader might well ask: What does a parliamentary secretary do for the $7000 paid him from the public purse? Ministerial go-fer duties, perhaps? Can a ministry function without his input? Does he also get to go scouting for foreign investors in Rio, Vegas and other hotspots? How does his salary compare with that of, er, foreign affairs advisor Vaughan Lewis, who, if he hadn’t already done so, is now properly placed to pay the prime minister (via the taxpayer’s jugular!) court-ordered damages amounting to tens of thousands of dollars? Readers will doubtless recall Lewis had once been so reckless as to suggest the prime minister was not nearly as pure as the nation had imagined.
But as Bruce Wayne used to say back in the day, to the bat cave. Never mind that Ubaldus Raymond had painstakingly explained via Choice TV why he could no longer stomach playing second fiddle to a minister not nearly as qualified as he to deliver what the country most needed at this particularly hazardous
time; never mind that his studies in the US had earned him a doctorate in the field where Sir Arthur Lewis had made his indelible Nobel-winning mark, Raymond claimed he was treated, well, as if he were just another party hack in need of a handout.
He evidently expected his prime minister to treat him with more respect. Too late Raymond would discover the best way to win friends and influence prime ministers in Saint Lucia was not to remind them of how little they know about economics, about development economics, in particular. It certainly didn’t help Raymond’s cause when he openly implied at one of the budget sessions that the finance minister didn’t know the difference between Recurrent and Capital Expenditure, let alone how to promote economic growth. For crying out loud, Dr Raymond should’ve spent more time studying Hansard!
As he told Choice TV, the prime minister had never seen fit, not even once, to consult him in advance of reestablishing STEP. Neither did he seek out Dr Raymond before giving birth to LEAP and her sisters—one of which a local wit recently described as “disgustingly ugly under its NICE clothes!” Even when Emma Hippolyte was off-island (doubtless offering novenas for our deliverance), the prime minister never once thought to let her parliamentary secretary take her place in Cabinet. It was as if the prime minister had decided Dr Raymond had nothing in his medicine kit that might be of use to a comatose economy.
Then again perhaps the prime minister knew all along what was going on in Raymond’s head and didn’t want any of it spilled all over his Cabinet room, in front of impressionable young politicians who were as green as were banana leaves once upon a time and knew only how to toe the line for their own good.
Raymond’s Choice TV appearance notwithstanding, the anonymous cave campers were soon filling the airwaves with stories about how the former parliamentary secretary had decided to move to Turks & Caicos because he had been offered more money
than he received at
home. Another way of
saying Raymond’s resignation was motivated by naked greed.
Others were nicer. Their sugared opinion was that you couldn’t blame a man for seeking more bread for himself and his family. Which was the same as saying Raymond had placed his family’s interests above the interests of the people. Gosh, imagine that!
But where did all of that come from, anyway? The man had clearly stated the reasons for his resignation. Not once had he mentioned personal reward. Everyone knows you don’t go into politics to get rich, right? Everyone knows the sacrifices our MPs make in our nation’s best interests, right? Raymond had spoken only of being “under-utilized, disrespected and ignored.” When did these quoted words translate into an unconscionable demand for more pay? Some callers from the bat cave actually labeled Dr Raymond an ingrate for not appreciating the opportunity handed him by the prime minister despite that the electorate had earlier rejected him. Why couldn’t Raymond have been more like the ever so gracious Castries Central senator?
By all he said on Choice TV, all poor Raymond wanted was an opportunity to put at his country’s service what he had learned from years of special schooling—which will now go to the evidently more appreciative people of Turks & Caicos. Ah, but consider the silver lining: Already the foreign minister has declared Dr Raymond living proof that in the St Lucia Labour Party there are more intellectual giants than any one country can use, therefore why not export the excess baggage?
Did someone say brain drain? It remains to be seen what will be Dr. Raymond’s next move. It’s not as if he has no other choice. The economist could decide to take up Stephenson King’s televised offer—if only to confuse Mount Oblivion’s cave
dwellers, convinced as they are that nothing makes the mare fly like money!

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