EXPOSING THE MIND OF THE CURRENT GOVERNMENT

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DPF Interim Political Leader Bernard Hurtault
Political Leader of the Dominica Freedom Party (DFP) Bernard Hurtault

What people and organizations say are often ideological facades meant to construct certain realities in targeted minds. Such manipulators often state surface goals incompatible with their underlying goals, beliefs, and attitudes. By deliberate masking, hidden goals are pursued not the stated ones. But with intellectual labor, the analysis of key public statements can unearth these hidden goals and values.

Let’s use that idea and the recently presented 2021 budget to get at the hidden mind of the current administration. Further, while a line-by-line analysis is possible we believe focusing on every tree will distract us from the patterns in the forest. Far more illuminating is to expose the hidden mind of the current administration via a few selected windows. Such an analysis shows that this government:

  • Does not really care about developing and embracing Dominica’s human capital
  • Does not truly grasp the future
  • Does not understand how wealth is truly created
  • Does not understand or care about opportunity cost

This article will cover the first two insights. A follow-on article will discuss the last two.

LACK OF UNDERSTANDING OF HUMAN CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT

The current administration budget boasts that their allocation of 11.8% percent of the national budget to education shows that human capital development is a top priority. But is that an authentic statement? Let’s peer inside. First, most of the education budget is for physical infrastructure. And while getting students into classrooms is important, the current administration seems unaware that schooling does not automatically translate into education. For schooling to educate, creative, knowledgeable, relevantly skilled citizens, must be the outcome.

But nowhere in this budget are there plans for things like early childhood education to foster creativity and teamwork in our citizens of the future. Nowhere are there plans for developing 21st-century curriculums to take advantage of the digital age crashing upon us. Budget after budget the current administration shows itself only capable of reproducing a colonial-era education not in building 21st-century minds. This lack of understanding continues. The administration congratulates itself for university scholarships. But these scholarships are awarded without understanding where the future is heading, without developing strategic plans to get there, and without proactively training the island’s human resources to actualize those plans. Further, the administration awards scholarships based on political affiliation leaving much of the island’s best human capital sidelined.

Finally, the government espouses but does not view university students as respected partners in national development. This is revealed by the callous, rude, and dismissive remarks of top leaders of the administration. Asking young women to shake their behinds or accusing students in Cuba of being greedy, selfish brats shows what this government really thinks about our educated talent. Pulling back the veil shows that creating and leveraging the island’s human capital is not the true goal. The true goal is only to be perceived as a champion of education in order to cement political advantage.

LACK OF UNDERSTANDING OF THE FUTURE

The national budget touts a 75-million-dollar investment to catalyze a digital economy. But much of the money is earmarked for digitizing the records of the government and enabling electronic transactions. And while this has value, it reveals a very limited understanding of a digital economy. A truly digital economy means capitalizing on the 4th industrial revolution underway. This new economy is driven by the internet of things, cloud computing, data analytics, smart manufacturing, etc. But the budget has no strategic plans or investments in these fields. Nowhere does the budget mention education programs, training labs, or technology parks to research and develop these jobs of the future. There is also no realization that a particular social environment is required for such an economy to flourish.

A digital economy is one based on ability, creativity, self-expression, innovation. But no part of the budget discusses programs to cultivate these values and attitudes in society. Rather, the administration creates a social environment based on pull strings, not merit, on restricting free expression not encouraging it, on top-down authoritarianism, not team-based collaboration. But these beliefs and values are toxic to a dynamic, innovation-driven economy. As a result, almost all innovation and idea-driven initiatives of this government fail.

The current government simply does not grasp that to encourage and enable innovation it must create an equal playing field – an enabling ecosystem – where all good ideas bloom regardless of the originator. But to create such an open-access economy, and not one based on hand-outs would weaken the real goal of being the people’s messiah. Once again, a surface goal of creating a digital economy is undermined by this administration’s underlying priorities and values.