The Big White Bogey Man.

First Published: 1999-07-13

      In recent months we have seen resurgence in fear mongering, directed primarily at some unknown people whom I refer to these days as the big white bogeyman. However, I am convinced that generally we are well meaning as a people and this is an "anti-capitalist mentality" rather than racism.

      The problem this anti-everything approach has however is that for the most part, meaningful alternatives are not forthcoming.

      Ludwig von Mises suggested that "An -anti-something- movement displays a purely negative attitude. It has no chance whatever to succeed. Its passionate diatribes virtually advertise the program that they attack. People must fight for something that they want to achieve, not simply reject an evil, however bad it may be…"

Human nature and confidence.

      As soon as we are comfortable with an achievement or material things, we want more. Take the computer for example. The first day we get one we have the feeling that this will suit our needs for years to come. Then the newest home accounting package is released and we can-t resist getting it. This is human nature, and is what drives each of us to do better and companies to find products that satisfy their existing clients and attract new ones.

      While we have the passion for the material things this world has to offer, I submit that we do not yet have the confidence in our own ability to succeed against the big white bogeyman. The Bahamian success stories abound. Look at Lowe-s Pharmacy (no relation), look at Pioneer Shipping, Look at RND Cinema-s. The list goes on and on. Yet we still get cries that we are held down or opportunities are being taken away.

Economic differences.

      I have yet to find anyone to address this subject better than Dr. Thomas Sowell. Here-s what he had to say in Race and Culture. A World View: "Economic differences between peoples are the most demonstrable, not only in terms of incomes or occupations but also, to a considerable extent in terms of productivity differences. As already noted, even among educated and unskilled rubber plantation labourers in Colonial Malaya, those who were Chinese produced more than double the output of those who were Malay. Not surprisingly, the Chinese earned more than double the income of the Malays.

      Chinese plantation workers were also preferred to Indian plantation workers as far away as British Guiana. When railroads first began to be built in nineteenth-century France, British labourers averaged three or four times as much earth moved as did the French labourers."

      Dr. Sowell also points out the dramatic shift in Japanese Culture after World War II. They went from poor copiers to world leaders in technology, innovation and production. All from accepting and responding to ideas that were new.

The Capitalist Mentality.

      The capitalist mentality, I believe is the big white bogeyman we are all afraid of. If the Hubert Ingraham-s, Cedric Saunders- and Jackson Burnside-s had not overcome their internal fears they would not have succeeded either.

      Believe it or not, the most successful people and countries around the world have adapted to capitalism. This has not deprived them of their own identity. The Japanese still worship the same way they did thousands of years ago. We still have Junkanoo and the only thing that can deprive us this and our other cultural idiosyncrasies is if we close ourselves away from new ideas and the changes in world events, by exaggerating our identity. Like the Chinese and Russians who became insular when they thought they didn-t need the outside world we will close in on ourselves and will not have the advantage of the opportunity to succeed that we have today.

The cost of exaggerated "identity."

      "The long-run costs of exaggerated -identity- can be especially high to groups lagging behind their contemporaries in education, income, and all the social consequences that flow from these. Throughout history, one of the great sources of cultural achievement, both for groups and for nations and even civilisations, has been a borrowing of cultural features from others who happened to be more advanced in given fields at a given time. Medieval Jews in Spain copied the science and mathematics developed in the Islamic world, and only later began to make their own original contributions. Western civilisation as a whole absorbed both technologies and science from China and the Islamic world (including parts of the Indian subcontinent) as the foundation for its own ascent to world leadership in these fields." (Dr. Thomas Sowell, Race and Culture. A World View.)

Let-s create a Bahamian bogeyman.

      We should continue to improve our ability and expand opportunities by allowing the big white bogeyman to share his or her expertise in areas we can continue to take advantage of. We can use this knowledge to create a Bahamian bogeyman that all our neighbours will fear when we move in to teach them how to run hotels, cinemas, off shore banks or Internet service companies and the like.

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