by Vincent M. Higgs
(The following Tribute was given by Uncle Vincent at the funeral service for one of his closest friends, "Uncle Fred", as we affectionately knew him, on Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 3:00pm at Trinity Methodist Chrurch).
Friends, we are here today to pay our last respects and to remember someone who in my opinion is one of the finest sons The Bahamas has produced.
Fred was a compassionate person; he was always reluctant to receive help when offered because he didn't want to put anyone out. A friend told me once that when Fred called him, he spent the first few minutes apologizing for bothering him. Yet when it came to helping others he would go to any lengths to help, without even thinking or expecting thanks. Such was his nature.
In his personal life he had a great faith in God and he showed his christian life by putting it into practice. His family life was the same. He was devoted to his wife, Sheila, of fifty-six years, and to his three children Alison, Neal and Denise as well as their spouses. His greatest delight was reserved for his six grand-children whom he doted on.
He was an active member of Royal Victoria Lodge and eventually became Deputy to our Third Grand Master, Peter Cole. His participation in the brotherhood did not affect his christian faith, but rather enhanced it. Here is what Peter says about him;
"Fred was a dedicated Freemason and loved his lodge, being one of the old school. He was active in anything he joined. However, first and foremost his dedication was to his family and several years ago he devoted all his time to his beloved wife Sheila. I am sure that his greatest concern at his demise was that Sheila would be cared for in her twilight years. We have missed Fred's presence at our assemblies in recent years, and will continue to miss him as we move on."
In his early life he attended Ebenezer Methodist Church with his family, but when he started courting Sheila he started to come here to Trinity where Sheila's family was established. Trinity's gain was enormous because Fred was very active, especially when he was superintendent of a flourishing Sunday School. All the children loved him and many would remind him of the good times with him.
He had many friends, especially those with whom he went hunting, spear-fishing and sports, including softball, bowling and rugby. His favourite sport was rugby and he played with the Sea Scouts. They played against the local team and sometimes against British Royal Navy teams. One of his teammates said that in one particular game Fred scored several touchdowns and was so fast that not one hair on his head was out of place.
In his business life he was very successful and respected as fair-minded and a man of his word. As the property manager at Sassoon's, a Vice-President of the Bahamas Real Estate Association, his own real estate company and the founder of Whim Automotive Company which he managed until recent years.
He always had a great sense of humour and even in the last few years when both he and Sheila were having difficult health problems, he would show this at unexpected times.
He will be sorely missed by those of us who knew him well, especially his siblings and extended family.
Benjamin Franklin once said that "a brother may not always be a friend, but a friend would always be a bother".
And now as we bid farewell to our friend and brother we will always remember him and pray that he will be carried on wings of angels to his God and Father whom he served so well during his lifetime.
Amen and Amen.
This past week of events highlighted by the very vocal and visual reaction of students (COBUS) at the College of the Bahamas, has shown the deplorable state of our country and the ineptitude of of our politicians to come out with a definitive strategy to improve the status of Bahamians, especially that of the youth.
COBUS has demonstrated their dissatisfaction with the status quo, and the demand for improved opportunities in education, and the poor state of finances of the average Bahamian in our society. It is essential that the young must be able to participate in development and growth towards a mature society.
This has been supported by previous statements in the press by Olivia Saunders, NG 04/01/13, calling for a full University Status for the College; Dame Ivy Dumont, TR 12/02/13 exposing the exploitation of a dependent consumer on the poor service offered by our essential utilities; and Arinthia Komolafe, NG 12/02/13, in her call for increased opportunities for the ordinary Bahamian to actively participate in the country's growth and development.
Forty years after majority rule Bahamians are still dependent on a poor public educational system that equips school leavers to employment in the most basic subservience to a foreign led investment strategy where the political elite makes arbitrary decisions that do not foster genuine home grown ideas that benefit the welfare of Bahamians. The leadership demonstrated by business and religious institutions only highlights this trend.
The result is a populace totally dependent, and unable to rise to a level of self determination necessary for the mature development of our society.
On the surface our high GDP indicates a wealthy country that benefits its people. In fact the reality presents a different picture where the wealth is transferred laterally across the top professional levels of medical, financial, and law practitioners with very little filtering down to the mass of the population. The present recession has shown the inability of the ordinary Bahamian to survive without the vagaries of reliance on foreign investment. As a result many have lost their whole investment and future, with no chance of restitution.
Real opportunities for the youth to fully develop into mature and independent individuals do not exist, this being expressed by the increasing number of our youth who seek employment abroad rather than invest their skills in a static and manipulated economy that shows no real growth and development. Many of those that do remain invest their energies in the drug and gang culture where they are afforded some sort of fleeting survival.
The recent proposal of the formation of the Small and Medium size Enterprise Agency (SMEDA), in my opinion, is a clever way of renaming a failed Bahamas Development Bank, that gives no real thought to new strategies for entrepreneurial encouragement and the development of lower turnover businesses into successful ventures.
Education is the key to instituting a qualified and capable work force that has the ability to participate, and contribute to a healthy community where wealth is so much more than the accumulation of material and consumer products. The recent proposals by the government to cut into the education budget for our young people will only magnify the inability of the young to accede to a much better quality of life, with no chance of becoming independent, free thinking individuals, who can contribute to a healthy society.
It is high time that the political class stop playing games in “the sandpit of parliament“, and as a mature leadership direct their energies towards a realistic national development programme where every member of society is able to contribute and so also benefit. Wasteful and frivolous expenditure from the public purse must stop, and investment in essential services must be worked out so that the country as a whole can grow and mature into a strong and stable nation.
I fully support the demands of our youth and call on the government, with all parties and partisans, to re examine their strategies and come up with a long term plan that will benefit all Bahamians.
As Ms Komolafe so ably postulated, "The youth have come looking for the Bahamas".
J F Hedden
February 23, 2013
Contact Mr. Hedden here...
During the first half of the twentieth century, H. L. Mencken was the most outspoken defender of liberty in America. He spent thousands of dollars challenging restrictions on freedom of the press. He boldly denounced President Woodrow Wilson for whipping up patriotic fervor to enter World War I, which cost his job as a newspaper columnist. Mencken denounced Franklin Delano Roosevelt for amassing dangerous political power and for maneuvering to enter World War II, and he again lost his newspaper job. Moreover, the President ridiculed him by name.
“The government I live under has been my enemy all my active life,” Mencken declared. “When it has not been engaged in silencing me it has been engaged in robbing me. So far as I can recall I have never had any contact with it that was not an outrage on my dignity and an attack on my security.”
Though intensely controversial, Mencken earned respect as America’s foremost newspaperman and literary critic. He produced an estimated ten million words: some 30 books, contributions to 20 more books and thousands of newspaper columns. He wrote some 100,000 letters, or between 60 and 125 per working day. He hunted-and-pecked every word with his two forefingers—for years, he used a little Corona typewriter about the size of a cigar box.
Mencken had interesting things to say about politics, literature, food, health, religion, sports, and much more. No one knew more about our American language. Influential pundits of the past like Walter Lippmann are long forgotten, but people still read Mencken’s work. During the past decade, publishers have issued almost a dozen books about him or by him. Biographer William Nolte reports that Mencken ranks among the most frequently quoted American authors.
Certainly Mencken was among the wittiest. For example: “Puritanism—the haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy. . . . Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard. . . . The New Deal began, like the Salvation Army, by promising to save humanity. It ended, again like the Salvation Army, by running flophouses and disturbing the peace.”
Mencken stood about five feet, eight inches tall and weighed around 175 pounds. He parted his slick brown hair in the middle. He liked to chew on a cigar. He dressed with a pair of suspenders and a rumpled suit. According to one chronicler, Mencken at his best looked “like a plumber got up for church.”
Publisher Alfred Knopf had this to say about Mencken, a close friend for more than 40 years: “His public side was visible to everyone: tough, cynical, amusing, and exasperating by turns. The private man was something else again: sentimental, generous, and unwavering—sometimes almost blind—in his devotion to people of whom he felt fond . . . the most charming manners conceivable, manners I was to discover he always displayed in talking with women . . . he spent a fantastic amount of his time getting friends to and from doctors’ waiting rooms and hospitals, comforting them and keeping them company there.”
Mencken inspired friends of freedom. He helped cheer up stylish individualist author Albert Jay Nock, a frequent contributor to Mencken’s magazine the American Mercury, during Nock’s declining years. Mencken’s stalwart individualism awed young Ayn Rand who, in 1934, called him “one whom I admire as the greatest representative of a philosophy to which I want to dedicate my whole life.”
Henry Louis Mencken was born September 12, 1880, in Baltimore. His father, August Mencken, owned a cigar factory. His mother, Anna Abhau Mencken, like her husband, was a child of German immigrants. In 1883, the family moved to a three-story, red brick row house at 1524 Hollins Street. Here, except during his five-year marriage, Mencken lived for the rest of his life.
by Ian Mabon
In the midst of all the hysteria surrounding the soon to be held opinion poll for the legalization of the illegal numbers racket, cloaked in the disguise of a referendum, the populace and the clergy in particular have seemingly lost sight of the issue most deserving of and what would constitute a genuine and legal referendum, the upgrading of women’s rights in the Bahamas to the same status of those enjoyed by our men.
When this issue was last put to the vote under the FNM government it was so politicized that it was doomed to failure from the outset, although I still find it mindboggling that Bahamian women could have done themselves such a disservice.
Now instead of dirty politics it is the lure of dirty money which has once again derailed this vitally needed change to our Constitution, one that would put an end to the blatant discrimination currently practised and put our women on par with those in the rest of the civilized world.
But then such is the cultural uniqueness of our people, and as an old friend of mine is wont to say “They won’t let you down Mabes, they won’t disappoint you.”
"The fruits of this labor cannot be achieved overnight, or within a political term – it is a long-term, sustainable investment of time and energy in your own people that will take time and patience to develop and nurture."
First published in The Nassau Guardian, July 16, 2012 and reprinted here with the authors kind permission.
Every independence season I reflect on what this milestone means to our country – 39 years later I still question how independent we really are.
I read with interest an article in Thursday’s Nassau Guardian, by William Wong entitled “Mega resorts can cause big problems”. A former president of the Real Estate Association, Wong cautioned government to resist allowing foreign developers to construct inappropriate mega resorts in our Family Islands. I fully endorse this view.
We do not need towering monstrosities that require expensive artificial energy sources to litter our Family Island landscapes. Our ancestors solved those problems years ago by building shelters that were oriented to the natural breezes, that were raised from the ground to cool the floor and allow it to breathe, that pitched the roofs to drain off the torrential rain, that added porches, windows, shutters and trees to shade the structure and make them comfortable, naturally.
The developers of Schooner Bay in Abaco have applied these lessons and more to produce a beautiful and sustainable community. I would urge the new government to arrange a visit there to see why persons from all over the world are flocking to invest in a community that reflects a way to life like we used to.
As the new government looks to provide economic activity on the Family Islands, I trust that its former “anchor property” mega schemes will be re-examined as the current global debate on living is now focused on the importance of sustainable development. As my former husband preached, our answers lie not outside of our country, but are intimately intertwined within it if we can only “see what we lookin’ at” and embrace the lessons learned by our ancestors who have already done the work for us, having survived in harsh conditions by adopting commonsense solutions for their shelter, food, clothing and celebrating it with pride in our culture heritage.
Are we truly independent? Do we understand, appreciate, study and respect these same ancestors and learn from their valuable lessons? Or do we continue to let outsiders define who we are as a people and a country? If we truly respect and appreciate our past, we will not hesitate to make demands of those persons wishing to become a part of our wonderful archipelago to ensure that they abide by our rules and regulations, respect our heritage, adopt those practices that are best for our country, are suited to the scale of our country and reflect our sense of place.
If we are 39 years independent, colonialism is supposed to be dead. But is it? We will continued to be shackled in our mind if we continue to allow outsiders – just because they hold purse strings – to define us within their frames of reference and feel they have the power to dictate how and what we do in our country.
We can only be truly independent if:
The fruits of this labor cannot be achieved overnight, or within a political term – it is a long-term, sustainable investment of time and energy in your own people that will take time and patience to develop and nurture.
Our elderly people with their wisdom and our artisans and artists with their creativity, hold the key to unlock the closed door of treasures that are lying dormant and dusty behind the door of disuse. I hope that the country will take this opportunity to unite us once again in a community of Bahamian-ness so that we move forward, upward and onward together.
Government as Santa
Why is it that most people eventually abandon the idea of Santa Claus … and yet so many never abandon belief in an omnipotent government?
Santa Claus is magic. His toy sack never empties, he traverses the globe faster than lightning, his reindeer never tire, his elves never strike, and he’s never too fat for the chimney. Awed by his powers, young kids approach the Jolly One clutching wish lists that itemize the objects of their “unbridled avarice,” as a popular Christmas movie put it.
And why not? Santa’s little supplicants are prodded by plenty of parental encouragement. No toy is beyond the ability of Santa’s elves to build. Nothing Santa gives to one child takes away from what he can give to any other child. Plus, Santa knows who’s been naughty or nice, so the great toy distribution is bound to be fair in some cosmically satisfying way, with everyone getting what they deserve and probably a little bit more. Who wouldn’t want to live in such a world?
Too many adults treat government the way kids treat Santa. But government is not magic.
"Belief in Santa is endearing in children. Belief in magic government is sad, tragic and destructive in adults."
Most adults expect government to provide at least the basics of society like courts, police, defense, roads, mail and schools. Yet these so often seem beyond the reach of government that we may seriously question whether some of them, like schools, should be entrusted to government at all.
Many adults want government to cover everything under Santa’s flying sleigh. Their wish lists say, “subsidize my retirement, my big house, a year’s worth of unemployment, my medicine, my college loans, my electric car, my auto company, my union, my bank, my bad decisions in general, and my ethanol and solar companies.” But unlike Santa’s bottomless bag of toys, every subsidy government gives to someone must first be taken from someone else. For every happy kid there is another whose toy was ripped from his hands.
Adults then may expect that only the deserving ones get the goodies, but the dilemma of fairness inherent in forced redistribution needs no elaboration here. Let’s just say it takes a lot of magic government fairy dust to make it all fair.
My point is not to ridicule those who want government to provide what they believe they deserve, which would be rude and especially out of season at holiday time. Rather, it is to confront the reality of an extremely durable myth — government as Santa Claus — and to prevent belief in that fable from destroying our nation.
Children may be sad to realize there’s no Santa, but Mom and Dad can usually ameliorate that disappointment. No one will rescue us when our collective “unbridled avarice” runs up a debt so high it can never be repaid. All the little children will be crying then.
Belief in Santa is endearing in children. Belief in magic government is sad, tragic and destructive in adults. One of the greatest gifts we can give this holiday season is to help others confront the myth of magic government.
Taken on his cell phone by our son at the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary in British Columbia, Canada.
We've been there twice and it's a wonderful spot for bird watching or just a beautiful walk.
by Eileen Dupuch Carron
JAMES Smith, a former governor of the Central Bank and finance minister, wonders whether the Christie government recognises that it has “a very serious problem” in this country’s financial position. Obviously, not. This government seems to be playing a Nelson on us by putting its telescope to its blind eye, and murmuring: “I really do not see the signal!”
By Horatio Nelson ignoring the signal at the battle of Copenhagen in 1801, he turned a possible defeat for the British navy into a brilliant victory.
However, the Christie government has no chance of such a victory, especially in the National Insurance debacle where it appears that too many of “the boys” are searching for the “cookie jar.”
By ignoring the financial signals and continuing to increase, rather than reduce government spending, this country is headed for certain disaster.
Mr Smith says government has to start at the top to curb excessive spending. With the 2012-2013 fiscal debt projected to be $550 million, and the national debt almost $5 billion, he said that certain government entities – Water & Sewerage. Bahamasair, Broadcasting Corporation of the Bahamas and the Hotel Corporation —have to do more to justify the taxpayers dollars that they are receiving. He forgot to mention the National Insurance Board, which is being destroyed in a power struggle at the top.
It is urgent that Mr Christie neither waivers nor delays in getting to the bottom of this disaster before it is too late. In our opinion he has made his first blunder in his choice of persons he has selected to advise him of his next step forward.
What is happening at National Insurance — the repository of the people’s earnings — should be investigated by a completely independent body of persons whose only interest would be to see that justice is done and efficiency restored. None of them should be in any way involved with National Insurance, or its inner politics.
As Mr Smith has said — although National Insurance was not named in his line-up of corporations for targetting —these government agencies have to show more in terms of spending cuts and justification for continued taxpayer support.
From exceeding its budget for collections in the compliance department in the past few years, already in the six months of the Christie administration, NIB is more than $6 million behind target. Why is this so? What has gone wrong? Someone should move in immediately, firstly, to discover whether these reports are true, and if so to discover why.
Under the Ingraham government all sorts of shenanigans were discovered. For example, it was found that persons who had not paid their national insurance — and there were many — were being given letters of good standing by some NIB staff members — at a price of course. One can imagine the loss to National Insurance.
To control this it was decided to centralise the procedure under one department head instead of allowing it to function in several departments. The director of that single department then had better control of collections. It is understood that this department has since been decentralised. Could this be one of the problems?
At one time NIB staff from Nassau were sent to the Family Islands with a $2,000 per month allowance in addition to their salaries to run NIB offices there. To try to trim the budget, the Ingraham government recruited qualified locals in each Family Island to manage NIB offices. The $2,000 monthly allowance was discontinued at a tremendous savings to NIB. Today NIB has gone back to the old system. Only this time PLP supporters have been sent to the Family Islands in management positions. The $2,000 monthly allowance has been re-instated in addition to their salaries. How can National Insurance justify this? Remember this is the people’s money, not the piggy bank for government to keep whatever election promises it might have made.
What is interesting is the craven behaviour of the unions. The following clause is entrenched in their industrial agreement with NIB. Yet now that it is being breached on all sides, the unions have been unusually quiet.
Article III- Employment- 1 (c) of the agreement says as follows:
“Whenever a vacancy or new position occurs or is established within the Board, the employer shall post a vacancy notice on the staff notice boards or electronic system before advertising externally, showing the qualification and experience and other criteria required, for the information of the employees. Such notices shall be posted internally for a period of two weeks commencing from the first day the notice is posted.”
We are told that no notices have been posted, the union pretends ignorance, and yet janitresses, clerks, handymen in the facilities department, additional Human resources staff in management and non-management positions, a lady in the Freeport office — all without the usual vacancy notice. Vendor contracts have been granted without going out to tender. We are told that a preferred list of government supporters has been compiled. And, NIB is apparently circumventing the industrial contract by rehiring employees over the retirement age of 60 as “consultants.”
In this column yesterday we reported that 200 staff members are up for promotion without the usual assessment checks. A study of the list shows a fair smattering of family members and friends — all within the bosom of the PLP.
No wonder there is tension, dissatisfaction and a good deal of disillusionment — and, yes, even anger —at National Insurance.
The public would now like to know how much all this extra is costing the taxpayer. For example, it is important to know how much has been increased in salaries alone for a bloated work force.
This government has a lot of explaining to do.
Instead of presenting a plan with expenditure controls dealing specifically with efficiency and waste, as recommended by former finance minister James Smith, we see space being made for card-carrying party faithfuls — at the expense of the nation.
by J. Barrie Farrington, CBE
Posted with the kind permission of the author.
The debate on the legalization of a lottery rages on. It is regrettable that the issue is so divisive particularly when there are so many national issues requiring unified attention such as job creation, education reform, and crime eradication. But, it is what it is.
About 40 years ago while travelling through Connecticut, I discovered that a state operated lottery had been introduced with a declaration as to the use of revenue derived from the lottery.
When I returned to Nassau, I immediately wrote to Prime Minister Pindling suggesting the introduction of a national lottery in The Bahamas possibly along the lines of the one in Connecticut. The response from the Prime Minister, although polite, was that a lottery could not be considered at that time. Without being said, I felt that to move in that direction would unsettle the political landscape as well as religious community. However, we must remember that the Bahamian environment in those days was not dissimilar to what we are experiencing today. Lotteries, albeit “illegal” were in full flight. I am sure, many of us can recall the names of Percy Munnings, Stokes Thompson, Gene Toote, and so on. The biggest change in this activity from yester years has been the introduction of sophisticated electronic technology/communication.
Lotteries are virtually a way of life in the United States today. There is much good work being done for the benefit of individual states and citizens.
I personally favour the formalization of Bahamian based lottery subject to certain hard and unbreakable conditions being applied.
Much revenue can be generated for so many worthy causes in our country.
One of the many comes to mind right now. Take a moment and read the article that appeared in The Tribune , Wednesday, July 25, 2012, headed “Bahamas National Youth Choir Accomplishes Great Feat.” They won two gold medals and one silver at the World Choir Games in Cincinnati – this in the face of economic challenges. The statement that caught my attention was, “The Choir Games are held every two years. However, the Choir will not be participating in 2014.” The strain of raising money creates too much pressure. The Government subsidy is welcomed, but insufficient. “Some of the costumes are rotting on the back of the girls, but they prefer to stitch them up and go out and perform.”
This should never be and there is a remedy right before us.
I do not believe that a referendum on this issue is necessary. Generally speaking, we all understand that life is enshrouded in some uncertainty. What happens should the referendum reject the “legalization” of the lottery? Does anyone believe that this so-called illegal gambling will stop? That cannot possibly be an expectation.
In my opinion, the Government should without delay lead and approve the “formalization” of the lottery and commence the process of developing a legal and functional framework for implementation.
Here are some early thoughts on some ingredients:
We simply must proceed to introduce a national lottery; delay will be to the neglect of many of our social institutions and our citizens particularly the young and unemployed.
July 30, 2012