We Need to Wake Up

// Published January 11, 2008 in Barbados Nation News
WE NEED TO WAKE UP . . . . In our system of elections (first past the post) in Barbados, we have constituencies, each with its own representative whom we elect to Parliament to represent us Bajans. However, as everyone knows, it's really the party and its policies most of us are supporting.

Having said that, should your party's representative receive 1 999 votes while the other party's representative receives 2 000, you and the other 1 998 voters could as well as have gone shopping, or to the cinema at voting time. That's not too fair at all.

Could it be improved? Proportional representation is the other elective process, which treats the entire country as one big constituency, but which also has its own drawbacks. This is primarily the problem of possibly not producing a clear winner, leading to coalition governments.

Perhaps, a coalition government isn't as big a problem as it may seem. A coalition (if one did occur) would (I hope) force the major parties to work together, instead of trying to knock each other for six, and the island as a whole would benefit. Barbados does indeed need a unity of its brightest and best minds to lead us and preserve our standard of living as a potentially darker future looms.

What am I rambling on about, you ask? It's like this. The earth has seen a lot of "ages" in its history: the stone age, the bronze age, the iron age, the age of sail, the steam age, the industrial age, the age of coal, the age of oil, and so on.

What's all that to do with Barbados, you may wonder? Well, we've seen "ages" too – the age of slavery, and age of sugar, the age of air travel and the age of tourism.

What most of these ages have in common is the fact that most of them ended – and they ended because something better came around. Stone age gave way to bronze age. Sail to steam, coal to oil, and so forth.

Here in Barbados we essentially moved from the ages of slavery and sugar to steam and sugar. From the age of sugar as our mainstay, we have moved to an age of tourism.

Now the age of tourism seems, by and large, to be reliant heavily on the "age of air travel" and in turn, airplanes didn't take off, so to speak, until someone came up with an internal combustion engine light and powerful enough to carry a person. And it's unlikely for a passenger plane to be powered by wind power. You need the age of oil for planes to fly.

This is all well and good, except that at the rate humans are consuming oil, we may not have enough time before a really viable replacement is invented and perfected. Don't get me wrong – oil won't actually run out. Nope it will just get scarcer, bit by bit, and more expensive to extract.

The price of oil will naturally affect our customers in United States and Europe and at some point more and more people will decide that they can't afford that leisure vacation in the islands, because of the rising cost of airfare and living in general because of higher oil prices.

So, you start to see the potential problem? Fewer and fewer tourists means lesser and lesser money to buy oil and the other essentials that make our standard of living possible here in little old Barbados.

It will all work out fine, silly-billy, you say? I hope so.

Either way, it's coming and we need the best leaders or fusion to help us prepare and adapt as best we can.