Does it matter who assumes the office of Barbados’s Minister of Finance? Neville Clarke Opinion
The question must be asked: Does it really matter who assumes the office of Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs at this juncture of our economic history?
It is an incontrovertible fact that whoever assumes that high office, the people of Ivy, Licorish Village, Government Hill and Martinique Road would still be existing beyond the pale meaningful economic existence.
Meanwhile, persons believed to be “successful” in these depressed districts continue to be hounded down for assistance in kind and cash, while their parliamentary representatives take cover from the harassment in upmarket residential districts.
Barbadians may recall that the late Prime Minister, David Thompson, gave Barbadians the impression that he and his team possessed all the answers to the country’s economic challenges, yet three years later as this writer walks around in the districts identified above he can see young men who were unemployed in 2008 are yet to find gainful employment. Young men in their mid-thirties come to this writer and express in graphic terms the soul destroying experience of unemployment. In despair, some even contemplate entering a life of crime to exist.
Barbadians would be well advised to familiarise themselves with the publication, Black Swan, which was written by the author, Nassim Taleb. According to Talib, a Black Swan is an occurrence that lies outside the realm of regular expectations, for example, the meltdown on Wall Street, the bombing of the Twin Towers or closer to home, the collapse of CLICO.
Stressing man’s inability to predict with any degree of certainty in certain subject areas, Taleb said: “ Our inability to predict in environments subjected to the Black Swan, coupled with a general lack of awareness of this state of affairs, means that certain professionals, while believing they are experts, are in fact not. Based on their empirical record, they do not know more about the subject matter than the general population, but they are much better at narrating – or, worse, at smoking you with complicated mathematical models.”
Later in the publication he advised the general public against taking professionals too seriously and said: “ Let governments predict( it makes officials feel better about themselves and justifies their existence) but do not set too much store by what they say. Remember that the interest of these civil servants is to survive and self-perpetuate – not to get to the truth.”
It may be recalled that like Saul on the road to Damascus, Thompson made several references to this level of uncertainty in some subject areas during his brief sojourn at Illaro Court.
Stressing that there will always be a high level of uncertainty in certain disciplines, Taleb said: “For the applications of the sciences of uncertainty to real-world problems have had ridiculous effects. I have been privileged to see it in finance and economics. Go ask your portfolio manager for his definition of “risk” and odds are that he will supply you with a measure that excludes the possibility of the Black Swan- hence one that has no better predictive value for assessing the total risk than astrology.”