Telling Brother Anancy stories

It has been said that poverty can be a prison as confining as any penitentiary; and I will now add that once a person has escaped from poverty they never want to return. The history of the West Indies has been mostly that of the incarcerations of a majority of its imported inhabitants, many of whom sought political office as the means of achieving for themselves and their families socio-economic mobility and respectability. However, even the most cleaver Caribbean politicians have not been Robin Hoods but instead brother Anancies, giving as little as possible to take as much as possible.

In the Caymanian Compass front page story of Friday, 11 May, titled, ‘Bush tells all’, the premier explains the Stan Thomas transaction, with the accompanying photograph of the Honourable William McKeeva Bush showing his apparently clean hands, reminded me of the Brother Anancy story we were taught with during childhood.

Suggesting that my comments made on the Rooster morning show, i.e.; that no gun was held to my head or leg to influence my cabinet vote in favour of the rezoning, would suggest that Mr. Bush the then Leader of Government Business could not be said to have used his influence on cabinet to achieve the rezoning.

It is true that neither the Premier nor any other person used their position in cabinet to influence my position on the re-zoning of this parcel of land. But I believe that the Premier knowingly influenced the timing of the presentation of the rezoning paper to cabinet. That he knew him or his wife’s company stood to benefit financially from the land deal between Gil Freytag and Stan Thomas, which depended upon the land being rezoned to create a much greater value. Therefore, if it was not illegal it would have to at least be unethical and against protocol for the leader of Government Business not to have reported to cabinet that he stood to benefit financially from the rezoning of the said property.

In the article the Premier stated that his role or the reason he or his wife’s company was invoicing Stan Thomas for the remaining US$350,000 was not as was stated in a first letter bearing his signature, which reads: “I have ensured that all of the proposed re-zoning issues have been agreed and approved by Cabinet”, but because he had persuaded Mr. Freytag to sell the land to Mr. Thomas rather than another potential purchaser.

Why then did he not show the reporter who wrote the Friday article some kind of contractual agreement between himself and Mr. Thomas if there was a standing agreement between the two? Further, if Mr. Richard Parchment was really the author of a first letter, which might incriminate the Premier, and a second letter to Mr. Thomas expressing that the language used in the first letter was incorrect, how did Mr. Parchment know of the re-zoning matters so as to make an error in his assumption about the reasons for the invoice for $350,000 in the first instance? Again, why did Mr. Parchment assume the invoice had to do with the Premier taking care of the issues of re-zoning property purchased from Mr. Freytag by Mr. Thomas?

There is nothing wrong with the concept of rags to riches; of poor boys and girls climbing to the top of the social and political ladders but there is something terribly wrong when getting to the top by any means necessary dominates our political culture. Because when politicians dominate us by catering to the greedy and the needy, government becomes aggressive and repressive. I therefore pray that the Brother Anancy antics published last Friday in this newspaper will be viewed as it should; because we know that when Brother Anancy sat down with his wife and child with only two bananas, he was so generous that rather than share one between his wife and child and keep the other one for himself, he gave one to his child and one to his wife; and they were so impressed by his generosity that each gave him half of their banana.

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  1. Sharing some light reading…

    Realism is aware of the moral significance of political action. It is also aware of the ineluctable tension between the moral command and the requirements of successful political action. And it is unwilling to gloss over and obliterate that tension and thus to obfuscate both the moral and the political issue by making it appear as though the stark facts of politics were morally more satisfying than they actually are, and the moral law less exacting than it actually is.

    Realism maintains that universal moral principles cannot be applied to the actions of states in their abstract universal formulation, but that they must be filtered through the concrete circumstances of time and place. The individual may say for himself: Fiat justitia, pereat mundus (Let justice be done, even if the world perish), but the state has no right to say so in the name of those who are in its care. Both individual and state must judge political action by universal moral principles, such as that of liberty. Yet while the individual has a moral right to sacrifice himself in defense of such a moral principle, the state has no right to let its moral disapprobation of the infringement of liberty get in the way of successful political action, itself inspired by the moral principle of national survival. There can be no political morality without prudence; that is, without consideration of the political consequences of seemingly moral action. Realism, then, considers prudence-the weighing of the consequences of alternative political actions-to be the supreme virtue in politics. Ethics in the abstract judges action by its conformity with the moral law; political ethics judges action by its political consequences. Classical and medieval philosophy knew this, and so did Lincoln when he said:

    I do the very best I know how, the very best I can, and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what is said against me won’t amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference.

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