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Fete - The Opiate of the People
Posted: Wednesday, February 15, 2006

By Michael De Gale

I want to go out on a limb here, - without the benefit of statistical data - which should but may or may not be available. I want to make a prediction that the incidences of violent crimes in T&T will hit a low point for one, perhaps two weeks after Carnival has officially ended. I am putting forward a theory; in fact, calling it a theory without some supporting evidence is stretching it. Let's just call it what it really is a guess or better yet an educated guess which may or may not be substantiated.

I am basing this "educated guess" on the knowledge that anything that is under pressure for an extended period will explode if it finds no way to relieve itself. The presence of "safety valves" help to avert what would otherwise result in a major catastrophe. It is my contention that Carnival is such a valve. Carnival provides the opportunity for people to vent, to sing, to dance, and to release the pressure of everyday living in T&T. Carnival is the big release, the ultimate orgasm if you prefer. In fact, the series of fetes and limes that are characteristic of life in T&T are similarly, valves that reduces the build up of pressure in the society and helps to maintain the nation's sanity. These valves provide psychological relief from the stress of unemployment, lawlessness, corruption and the myriad of pressing social issues that plagues this nation state. They are valves for which the Government and the ruling class should be eternally grateful.

Never in its history has T&T experienced a period of unprecedented wealth as it is enjoying today and for the foreseeable future. As a previously colonized country -and one in which people allegedly take great pride we should seize this opportunity to build this nation as strong as we know how by investing heavily in our citizens and communities, with the natural resources that is undoubtedly making us the envy of others. It hurts the very heart of me, when I see light shining in the heavens and darkness continues to be rolled up on one side. While some are basking in the sunshine of unfathomable wealth, too many remains mired in grinding poverty, without access to quality health care, education, housing and other social services.

Governments are not supposed to be reactive but rather proactive. They plan not only for today, but also for future generations. In this regard, it is imperative that investments be made in communities to encourage entrepreneurship for future sustainability; in public works projects to reduce the time lost in traffic congestions and improved productivity. Invests in industries outside of oil and gas to broaden the nation's export capacity and create alternative forms of employment. Very importantly, invest in the agricultural sector to reduce the price of food and the dependence on unnecessary basic food imports. As man cannot live by bread alone, invest in culture, sports and the arts to help rescue future generations from a life of crime and similarly self-destructive behaviour. Moreover, invest in people. These are some of the measures, which must be taken to build a strong and prosperous nation for the benefit of all citizens. Create a model for others to emulate. Vulgar consumption and narrow self-interest, could only lead to destruction and discord. Political ambitions for self-aggrandizement must sideline its self to make way for the greater good and allow the nation's interest to take center stage

The Canadian economist Kenneth Galbraith puts it best when he said, " can be as well rewarded by buying better schools and better parks as by buying bigger automobiles. It is scarcely sensible that we should satisfy our wants in private goods with reckless abundance, while in the case of public goods, we practice extreme self-denial."

I propose, that in the presence of unimaginative wealth and the absence of investments in public goods and people, it is the proliferation of the fete mentality that stops the people from making revolution. In his Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right, Karl Marx concluded that "religion is the opiate of the people", in T&T, I suggest that the opiate is fete.

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