Archives for 2009

Happy Independence Day!

Well actually, yesterday was our Independence Day anniversary, 31st August. After 47 years of independence we have a lot to be thankful for, but a lot more to yearn. There lacks a general sense of patriotism within the country.

Now Trinidad and Tobago did not win our independence, rather it was given to us freely, without a fight; so I believe that this is a big part of the lack of patriotism among the people. Without patriotism there is no sense of country or ownership – we do not see this as our country, just a place that we live in.

We have so much crime, corruption and selfishness all around us. Within the government party politics trumps the benefit and the good of the people. URP, CEPEP and a variety of government run institutions all keep thousands of people in a dependence and entitlement mentality. Can we really and truly call ourselves independent?

We deserve better! Time to free our minds and become truly independent!

Trinidad and Tobago Flag

Trinidad and Tobago Flag

Using Cell Phones as Teaching Aids

Some time ago there was a huge scandal where some students used cell phones to record videos of themselves engaging in sexual activity. This blew up into a storm of fury and calls of banning cell phones, that way the students can have sex and we won’t know. Well the Ministry of Education did not heed that call and thankfully so – the cell phones did not make the students sexually active.

I know the Ministry does have somewhere in the back of their minds that the mobile phone will someday play a part in education; there were some requirements for projects that I came across that stated that the solution should allow connectivity or have the capability to allow connectivity of mobile devices. Well there is one school district that has moved way further in making that happen.

The Keller Indepedent School District (ISD) has started a pilot project that uses smart phones for a 5th Grade class at Trinity Meadows Intermediate School. The phones can’t be used to make calls or send text messages, but otherwise all the functionality is there including MP3 player and camera. The educational applications built-in are tailored for the lessons being taught.

The idea behind the whole thing as I see it, is that the smart phone is a tool that students can have access to at all times and allows different methods and mechanisms for teaching concepts at a practical level.

The idea is not a novel one, as I know that Japan has been using the concepts for a long time and has so far gone to use the Nintendo DS in the classroom, but it does mean that the idea is catching on.

I strongly believe in education and anything that improves the chances of having better educated children and a society as a whole I am certainly for. Maybe, our Ministry should also look at this; with the amount of money that they are wildly spending they should at least put some to good use.

Recession on hold until after carnival

The Central Bank governor is saying that Clico is in a far bigger mess than what they thought, which has led to CL Financial sources saying that the CBTT is being harsh to them. I say that CL Financial got themselves into this mess and not the governor.

What is surprising to me is the lack of real concern by the masses of the turn of events. There was much brouhaha after the press conference announcing the buyout conditions for CL Financial by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago (GoRTT), but that has died down tremendously. I think that people only have Carnival in their heads and not taking on the goings on with CL Financial, but wait till Carnival finish and they have no money to buy everything that they are accustomed to.

Signs of a recession?

When the financial crisis hit the US (and other part of the world), our Government ministers went on record to say that we are in no trouble, then later the Prime Minister went on TV to saying, “time to tighten your belts“. After that, Finance Minister Karen Nunez-Tesheira says that the crisis won’t last for ever.

Now on the heels of plant shutdowns and government cutbacks, we get breaking news – Government Bails Out Clico! It seems that CLICO Investment Bank (CIB) just does not have enough liquidity – basically no cash – unlike the other banks that have truckloads of the stuff (while I don’t). Not being liquid, especially in these turbulent times, opens the door for panic and even legal action.

I cannot understand a few things though:

  • CL Financial is a privately owned company, not under the scrutiny of the public eye or shareholders.
  • Lawrence Duprey is like a gagillionaire, and under this plan he reduces his liability (and probably loses little as well)
  • CLICO gives millions of dollars in sponsorship every year to sports, parties and fireworks shows, is it that they were being really supportive, or just didn’t know what the heck was happening.

So why are we pulling Clico out of this jam with taxpayer’s money? The CL Financial Group is the parent company of CLICO (Colonial Life
Insurance Company) and manages assets of over $38 Billion Dollars (I
assume TT), which is about a quarter of T&T’s Gross Domestic
Product (GDP). That’s a really huge chunk of moola we’re talking about,
so we really cannot afford for the group to fail, but at the same time, I hope that someone is held accountable for this, as I am sure that there was signs of trouble long ago.

The question is whether the recession is here? Well, technically no, although it’s pretty close. We define a recession as two quarters of consecutive negative grown (positive shrinkage?), so what we have is really a slowdown, and depending on how it is managed, we can get through the current world economic crisis without going into a recession. It is to be seen what will come and what the goverment and people will do. Our actions alone will determine how we get out of this, so act wisely.

The New American President

So the new President of the United States of America, Barack Hussein Obama, has been elected and taken office. I must admit that I really, really got tired of everyone in Trinidad (and the Caribbean) singing praises for the American President, especially when we have our own mess here to clean up.

I certainly do not expect in any stretch of the imagination that President Obama will put any emphasis on trying to help our Caribbean countries, especially when he has inherited a real sad state of affairs. I think that too much is expected of President Obama and we must realise that he is one man and that his priority is going to be trying to jump start the american economy once again and prevent a long and serious recession.

I am very happy for the new president, but I don’t accept that there is real change in the government. Change is not about colour, but about the way things are done. I guess only time will tell on that one.

In the meantime, stop showering praises and expectations on the man, and try stepping up to help yourself and your community.