November 4, 2011 | By | Filed Under Features / Columnists, Peeping Tom 


Guyana has moved two places up the human development index and no doubt the government is hoping that with continued growth in the economy, and the major projects that they have lined up that in the coming years, Guyana will make steady progress and continue to climb in the rankings.
Development is a process that takes time. Rome was not built in a day and Guyana will never in its wildest dreams see double digit growth, regardless of which government takes power.
Guyana’s economy is too small, it is too brain-drained and its internal markets too tiny for it to achieve double digit growth ever. Do not let anyone fool you into believing that they have the answers to achieve that. It will never happen. As such Guyana has to satisfy itself with between 5- 6% growth in the future.
These are healthy targets, more so considering that the developed world is in serious crisis, with many persons not knowing whether the paycheck they received a few days ago is going to be the last for sometime, or whether they will be able to meet their mortgage payments and save their homes. Times are tough all over the world, but from the way Guyanese are enjoying themselves back home, you would believe that there is no financial crisis in the world.
When a few hundred thousand persons came out in the main square in Cairo earlier this year, the United States called for the President of Egypt to step down, despite that country having a population of some eighty million persons.
The Arab Spring was born. Now with the crisis getting worse in the Eurozone and with America feeling the pinch, the eyes of the youths of America are opening up to what they see as their government being held captive by the corporate community, and the protests on Wall Street represent the beginning of the Autumn Awakening in the United States. These protests are spreading, and in Oakland, the police attempted to put down the protests out of fear that it could spread.
Those trying to quell the protests on Wall Street and elsewhere are not interested in the face of Barack Obama, they are interested in the future of the corporations and the financial sector which is now under the microscope.
If one million persons take to the streets in Washington and if they are supported by another million in another part of the United States, then by the same rationale used to call for Mubarak to step down, there is going to be a strong case for Obama to step down.
Obama has failed the youth of America. He has turned out to be a huge disappointment, but those protesting are not targeting his presidency. They are going for the jugular. They want to change the way corporations and Wall Street deal with the American people and how the American people deal with corporate business.
They have a point. No one has been jailed for the largest oil spill in human history. Corporate executives are still receiving fat paychecks while some families are unable to pay their bills because of the financial crisis.
The people have had enough. They do not want the government to bail out the economy. They want to get to the heart of the problem, which is corporate greed.
This Christmas is probably going to be one of the bleakest in recent memory. The effects of the financial crisis are now beginning to sink in, even though there are signs that the economy has been recovering. That is macro-numbers, but there are far too many persons who are still on the breadline and far too many without work.
That is the lesson of human development. Forget about the big numbers. It is the people and their standards of living that matter.
Guyana, given where it is at economically, may well be inclined to settle for a few places up the human development ladder. But development is not about growth alone. It is about the quality of life that citizens enjoy. Their access to potable water, the quality of health care that is provided, how well-educated the children are, what are the opportunities to allow for the best to emerge from the people.
There can be improvements in Guyana’s human development index without any growth. Adjustments can be made that would make a big difference, allowing for more persons to be employed, kids to do better in schools, and for water supply to be drastically improved. All it will take is for someone to step forward and admit that while the large things such as inflation, growth and investment need to be taken care of, there is a far more pressing need to address the basic needs of our people, especially.
All it will take is for a leader to emerge and to forget about the rich and powerful. They can take care of themselves. What is needed is a leader who has been there and who knows what it feels like at the bottom, and who is willing to turn his or her back to those who are sucking this country dry. All it will take is a leader who is sincere about dealing with the basic needs of the people. Poor people do not ask for too much. They are not like those vampires who want to gobble up half the country.
When someone can stand up and say that for a resource-rich country like Guyana is it wrong for dressed greenheart to be selling at $325 per BM. It is wrong for land to be selling so expensive when seventy thousand house lots have been given out. It is wrong for rent to be so high and it wrong for anyone to be have to pay US$0.50 for a mango. When there emerges a leader who is prepared to not be smitten by the propertied class, Guyana will jump places up the human development index…even if growth stagnates.

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