09 January, 2009

Gov warns: social instability ahead

The government, through the Finance Minister has “warned of threats to social stability as the Government moves to make further budgetary cutbacks as a result of the continuing global financial crisis.”

“…threats to social stability…”. In what forms would these threats appear? How do we, average citizens, prepare for such threats? How do we defend against them? Is there a comprehensive plan to deal with said threats? Will the citizenry suffer like we did in the 1980s? George Santayana’s oft-quoted words, come to mind: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Will we really repeat the mistakes of the 80s, as some are predicting? Will the coming period be known as ‘1980s 2.0’ among local and regional economists?

Resilient communities should survive well. Now is the time to revisit our firearms laws, allow the law-abiding (and mentally healthy) citizens to arm themselves defensively, and institute compulsory national service for our restless youth. There is no room for idle hands, nor idle minds in this period of transition.

Pay attention to agriculture. It is an area that could generate a positive spiral. Skills learned, food security for communities, entrepreneurs developed, healthier individuals, less demand on the public health system, less cost to government. If more individuals are armed, then agricultural communities can institute their own ‘farm watch’ programs–with co-operation from the police–to deal with praedial larceny. Less demands on professional law enforcement.

Neigbourhood watch groups will need to be reformed, with laws allowing armed citizens to patrol their own neigbourhoods in concert with each other and the police.
Community policing with ‘teeth’. Bandits injured during altercations with members of these legitimate groups, should be prosecuted and rehabilitated. NWGs members should be provided with professional counseling–rather than prosecution–after such traumatic incidents. Consistent, continuous, standardised training and practice in a number of skill sets will be vital.

A civilian defense body, with grassroots support, can be born out of this trying period. This would be a part of the solution to potential social instability. Perhaps in partnership with the TT Cadet Force, TT Defence Force, TT Police Service, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management, the Special Anti Crime Unit and the relevant government ministries.

Who knows, perhaps with innovation (we invented the steelpan), expertise (we have many MBAs, PhDs, MDs, Engineers), resolve (despite the seemingly insurmountable hurdles, and controversy, Carnival is enjoyed every year, by tens of thousands) and the will to survive (just look at some of our older politicians) and thrive, 2010-2020 can be the period that history records us as reinventing ourselves as a sovereign nation and people, whilst providing a model for other small nation states to emulate.
- Trini Funshooter

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