It Is Only Governments That Can Make Immoral Behaviour, Appear Respectable.

A few days ago my wife was sharing with me an experience she had with a coconut water vendor.

This was a new vendor in the area. She asked someone nearby about the vendor’s prices. That person said that the vendor charged $10.00 for the small bottle of coconut water.

Knowing that that was the price we were accustomed to paying, she approached the vendor. When she enquired directly about the price, the vendor told her that the coconut water was $11.00. Needless to say, my wife was no longer interested in buying. She felt like the vendor was attempting to take advantage of her. I then said to my wife, “You must look like have plenty money”.

She was very indignant that the vendor could be so greedy, indeed she thought that this vendor’s behaviour was quite immoral.

I then quipped, “there you go!” You have just experienced what governments call “Progressive Taxation”. They even give it a nice sounding name, progressive! Who would not want progress?

If you would be honest with yourself, you too would be enraged by the thought that an unscrupulous vendor would dare charge you more because you look like you could afford more. Regrettably, that is the basis of progressive taxes, in that you are charged more because you can afford more.

If it is unscrupulous for a private citizen, in this case the vendor, to behave this way, then should it not be equally unjustified for government to behave in the same fashion?

Morality is not conditional!

The Government of Antigua and Barbuda has Acted Immorally!

The government of Antigua and Barbuda has arbitrarily forbidden two out of the three main licensed internet service providers from delivering internet services to consumers through the medium of optical fiber. At the same time, it has invested multimillions in its state-owned-enterprise, APUA Inet, to deploy fiber.

You may say, so what is immoral about that?

Before I start to explain what I regard immoral, let me first define immoral.

The Oxford dictionary defines immoral as: “not conforming to accepted standards of morality”. Some synonyms are unethical, bad, wrongful, wicked, evil and unprincipled.

In this particular context, I wish to convey the meanings of unethical, wicked and unprincipled.

The best way to make you understand the unethical nature of the Government’s decision is expressed in the scenario I describe below.

Let us suppose that you have been pursuing a promotion to the next senior level in your career but in order to achieve that you require completing academic courses that run during working hours.

Let us also suppose that you have a coworker who is pursuing the same career and has the same ambitions as you. You both work in the same department and share the same boss. However, you learned that your department is paying for your coworker’s courses and allowing your coworker time-off with pay to attend the required courses. At the same time when asked, your boss refuses to give you any time-off, and makes it clear that your only choice is quitting your job in order to pursue your academic goals at your own expense.

If you were the employee that was required to quit, how would you feel about the treatment you got?

I would like to suggest that this scenario describes what the government has done to Flow and Digicel.

APUA Inet is the employee who has received the time-off with pay and has its tuition covered by the boss.

Do you think that this behaviour by the boss can be characterised as principled? Is that really fair? This treatment goes beyond favourtism, it is aimed at sabotaging your career!

Would you not immediately think that that unfair treatment was evil and wicked?

To think otherwise would be dishonest, in my opinion.

Let me explain why the situation with the government, Flow/Digicel, and APUA inet is exactly like the scenario I described.

If anyone of you can remember, when internet services were first offered to the public, it was done so via a dialup telephone line. It was slow allowing speeds up to 56kbps. As the last mile technology evolved, we saw higher internet speeds delivered through the use of wireless and DSL technology. Today that next speed improvement comes in the form of optical fiber.

Any internet service provider who is unable to offer fiber connectivity will inevitably go the way of the Dodo bird, particularly if another service provider is able to offer fiber.

This is the exact scenario that the Government of Antigua and Barbuda has highhandedly orchestrated. By allowing APUA to deploy fiber exclusively, it has robbed the ability of the other licensed internet service providers, in this case Digicel and Flow, from staying in business in the near future.

By comparison, it is like saying to Flow and Digicel, you are only allowed to provide slow speed dialup internet service while APUA inet can provide high speed DSL service. No consumer in his right mind would buy slow speed internet service from Flow or Digicel when APUA Inet has higher speeds.

It therefore stands that to restrict Flow and Digicel to the slower technologies while APUA Inet is allowed to deliver high speed optical fiber technologies, is tantamount to putting those companies out of business in the long run. This is what I consider most immoral and unethical.

As citizens, we expect our government to be fair and balanced in its dealings with everybody. In this situation, there is no appearance of fairness.

It appears that the government deliberately wants to put Flow and Digicel out of business. Incidentally, Flow and Digicel are significant contributors to the treasury of the government. The minister concerned mentioned that they received over $22M in the last tax cycle.

The lesson you should learn from this, is if your government can treat these large companies like this, what is to say that they would not destroy your small business tomorrow in a similar way.

The government’s handling of this situation is a prime example of where power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

I call on the government to do what is moral!

Render therefore unto Caesar… Did we get it wrong?

I have been contemplating writing on this subject for awhile now.

For years I have blindly accepted the popular interpretation of this passage of scripture, never having any reason to question it. However two years ago while doing a routine personal bible study of the relevant passages of scripture in Luke chapter 20, Matthew chapter 22 and Mark chapter 12, I stumbled on what appears to me as a clearer understanding of the text.

I did not set out to find fault or even challenge this orthodoxy. It just so happened that as I was routinely studying these passages of scripture, it struck me that the context of the interaction between Jesus and the chief priests and scribes suggested something different than what was emphasised traditionally in my church circles.

In all humility and as a student of the Bible, I am always willing to change my view as I toil daily to rightly divide the word of truth.

I cannot begin to layout my understanding of this passage without first giving the reader a summary of one of the passages of scripture that describes what I am about to discuss. I will examine the apostle Luke’s account of the event.

The following is my precis of Luke chapter 20 verses 1-26. Verses 1 to 8, describes a scene where Jesus is teaching and preaching the gospel to the people in the temple, when he is accosted by the chief priests and scribes, questioning Jesus on whose authority that he was teaching and preaching to the people in the temple. Jesus, being perceptive that this question was aimed at undermining his legitimacy in the eyes of those he was teaching, answered their question with a question.

He asked the chief priest and the scribes: “The baptism of John, was it from heaven or of men?

The significance of that question was that despite John the Baptist not coming up through the ranks like the chief priests and scribes, he earned legitimacy as a prophet of God. Since John himself baptised Jesus, this was proof positive that Jesus was likewise legitimate. The chief priests and scribes knew that if they agreed that John was a true prophet who obviously got his authority directly from God, then they would have to acknowledge Jesus’s legitimacy by association. On the other hand if they denied that John was a prophet, then they risked being stoned by the people, who never questioned John’s legitimacy.

Knowing that the only safe answer to that question was that John the Baptist was authorized by God, thereby legitimising Jesus, they chose not to answer. Their aim was to discredit Jesus after all.

In verses 9 to 18, we see Jesus turning his attention back to the people in the temple and using this encounter with the chief priests and scribes as a teachable moment. He proceeded to tell a parable.

In this parable the story is told of a man who planted a vineyard and who decides to lease out that vineyard to a number of farmers. It is said that this man travelled to a far country and stayed away for a long time. Sometime later the man sent a servant to collect his rent from the farmers but they beat the servant and sent him on his way emptyhanded.

The man, again in two separate occasions sent two other servants, who sadly, suffered a similar fate as the very first servant.

Having had no success with sending servants, the man concludes that if he sent his son, the farmers would surely pay him respect and take the matter of paying their debt, seriously.

Unfortunately, the farmers had a sinister idea. They thought that with the son being the only heir of the man, killing his son would give them a good chance of inheriting the vineyard themselves. So they killed the man’s son, as the parable goes.

It is at this point of the parable that Jesus ask the people to whom he was speaking, what do you think the lord of the vineyard should do unto them? The people appeared to agree that the farmers’ deeds warranted punishment.

Drawing a parallel between the parable and his own situation as the son of God, Jesus reminds the people that the scriptures prophesied that the stone, referring to himself, that the builders rejected would become the main corner stone. Likewise as the parable alluded, that rejection of the stone would result in punishment: whether falling on the stone or having the stone fall on you.

The chief priests and scribes were paying attention to this parable and immediately surmised that Jesus was referring to them as the farmers. This made them want to put a whooping on Jesus but they “feared the people” and what the people might do if they laid hands on Jesus.From verse 19, the scriptures indicates that the chief priests and scribes plotted to get even with Jesus for embarrassing them and for exposing them as evil individuals.

They decided that they would have Jesus followed by spies who would listen to him speak and hopefully “take hold of his words” that appear to be antagonistic to the Roman authorities so that they can trap him.

Having seemingly figured that Jesus had a point of view contrary to the Roman rulers on the matter of giving tributes, the chief priests and scribes proceeded to flatter Jesus, calling him Master while encouraging him to speak freely. They affirmed that they know that he does not have respect of persons when it comes to speaking the truth. They sounded as if they were buttering up Jesus to fall into their trap.

Thinking that they could get Jesus off-guard by their flattery, they then asked him the following question:

Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar or no? (verse 22).Verse 23 indicates that Jesus perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye me? He clearly understood their ruse.

Without skipping a beat, Jesus immediately asked someone to show him a penny. He then proceeds to ask, “Whose image and superscription” is on that penny? They answered and said, Caesar’s; to which he responded:

“Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s and unto God the things which be God’s”. Bam!

The passage ends by concluding that the chief priests and scribes “could not take hold of his words before the people”: and they (chief priests and scribes) marvelled at his answer and held their peace. They marvelled because they thought that there was no answer to that question that would not put Jesus in a spot of bother.

Now that I have summarized the passage, let me proceed to put the story in context.

1. This passage was meant to demonstrate that Jesus “came onto his own and his own received him not”, John 1:11. We see this demonstrated by the chief priests and scribes questioning Jesus’s legitimacy in verse 1. The parable of the lord of the vineyard and the farmers brings home that same theme. Further, Jesus highlights scripture, referring to himself as the stone that the builders rejected. This is the crux of the passage.

2. During the interactions between Jesus and the chief priests and scribes we are shown how Jesus trapped them with his question about John the Baptist and later we see how they retaliated in an attempt trap Jesus in a similar manner. Whereas the chief priests and scribes could not answer their question, Jesus was able to give an answer that totally threw them off course.

3. The chief priests and scribes had spies follow Jesus to “take hold of his word” to use against him. They knew that if Jesus is who he said he was, he could not lie in the presence of the people and lose credibility. They figured out that if they could capture something Jesus said that was antagonistic to the Roman authorities, they could get him in big trouble. Remember that the aim of the question was to get Jesus in trouble with the Roman authorities. It is clear from the passage that the chief priests and scribes knew for certain that what they planned to ask would put Jesus in trouble with the Roman authorities. So the question I ask myself is, what answer to their question would put Jesus in direct conflict with the Roman authorities? It is therefore obvious that Jesus was not in agreement with the Jews giving tributes to Caesar.

4. The question itself is a clue. The question states: “is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar or no?” First off, why would the chief priests and scribes ask whether it was lawful? That is rather dumb to ask! It stands to reason that if Caesar is the lawgiver and mandates that you must give tribute, then it follows that it is lawful. Unless the “lawful” here does not refer to Roman law but rather the law of God, namely, the ten commandments. In the context of the Roman empire, the Jews had to give the Roman authorities a regular “ransom” (tribute) to avoid being annihilated. The passage in 1 Kings 9:20-21 gives testimony to that practice. The fact is, “tribute” is theft by the threat of death. The fact that an immoral practice has been legitimised over time does not make the act intrinsically moral in the sight of God. Why do we behave as if God has one law for human leaders/kings and another for everyone else? The law that is being violated is “thou shall not steal”. It is therefore not lawful to give tribute. Saying that it is not moral does not mean that you should not comply for the sake of your life.

5. The answer given by Jesus did not answer the question. The answer that Jesus gave would be a response to a question that was more like: should you give tribute to God or Caesar? The actual question had nothing to do with where ones allegiance should be. Jesus’ answer was skillful. It diverted the thinking of the listeners which allowed Jesus to evade answering the question, directly. We see skilled politicians use this technique all of the time to evade difficult questions. In fact, I daresay that Jesus’ answer worked so well that even readers today are still confused by his response.

The question that Jesus was asked had to be answered. He could not openly admit that the Jews should give tribute because that would be a lie, since the spies had already heard him speak otherwise; On the other hand he could not openly encourage rebellion to giving tribute to Caesar. Moreover, since there were Roman sympathizers amongst the crowd, to remain silent to this question would be construed as supporting a rebellion against giving tribute to Caesar. That too could get Jesus in trouble.

6. This story was not a treatise on why the Jews should be giving tribute or paying obeisance to Roman authorities. The whole issue of giving tributes is only covered in four of twenty six verses. It surprises me how the substantive message of the passage of Jesus being rejected is supplanted by a deliberately misleading response to a devious question. To conclude, the answer Jesus gave was simply a clever answer to a crafty question and was never intended to be a doctrinal treatise. What is interpreted from the statement: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things unto Caesar the things on to God the things unto God”, is no more Bible doctrine as Cain’s answer of “Am I my brother’s keeper?”.

Most of the teachings that is derived from Jesus’ answer in this passage is conjecture, in my humble opinion.

Should Our Submission to Government Be Absolute?

I am not disagreeing with the teaching that as Christians we ought to respect those in authority over us.

It has been my observation, that most teachers on this doctrine give the impression that the authority given to our leaders has no limit in scope.

I am convinced from 1 Samuel 8::20 and other parts of scripture that our leaders’ scope of rule is specifically limited to:

a) fighting the battles of the nation and;

b) administering justice, which includes policing and adjudicating disputes among the people in accordance with God’s commandments.

The ruler’s role as protector of the people from outside threats is clearly communicated when God appointed Saul to be “captain” (1 Sam 9:16). Further, Rom 13:1 to 4 refers to the justice and policing role of the rulers.

However, most teachers of this doctrine often fall short of emphasizing that it’s God’s expectation that rulers are always to act in a God-fearing manner. Romans 13, affirms that rulers “are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.”

Just reading the books of Kings, where there is a chronology of kings who “did right in the sight of God” or those that did not, signals God’s expectation of righteousness.

There appears to be a tendency in our increasingly socialist societies to expand that sphere of rule to: education, health care, job creation, trade, welfare, etc. Rulers today have been allowed to intrude into areas of an individual’s responsibility that were never God’s intentions.

I am not convinced that it was God’s will that we be reliant on Government.

However what I see today is a reliance on Government to do everything for us. To me, an over-reliance on Government is tantamount to making Government your god.

I get a sense that because biblical teachers fail to make the distinction of the rulers rightful limits, by their own omission, leave the impression that it is ok to submit to Government to the same degree as if Government were God.

This is where the line is drawn for me!

I believe that this omission in our biblical exposition has created the ideal environment for Revelation chapter 13 to be a reality. The pandemic, in my humble opinion, gave us a glimpse of that and unfortunately many Christians were not able to discern it.

Many Christians, in my opinion, could not see the “spiritual wickedness in high places”, because they were told to unequivocally trust their Government.

I am not convinced that the scripture teaches us to blindly trust our Government. Respect and submit to it, yes, but not be accommodating to its overreach or wickedness.

Herd Immunity Conundrum

Can the drugs that are being offered for our protection against this world-wide disease be really called a vaccine by the CDC’s definition?

The CDC defines Immunity as follows:

“Protection from an infectious disease. If you are immune to a disease, you can be exposed to it without becoming infected.

They also define a vaccine as:

A product that stimulates a person’s immune system to produce immunity to a specific disease, protecting the person from that disease. Vaccines are usually administered through needle injections, but can also be administered by mouth or sprayed into the nose.

Let us first examine what is meant by immunity. The definition says that “if you are immune to a disease, you can be exposed to it without becoming infected”. What? But wait! Don’t we see people who took the drug still getting infected, in significant numbers? In fact has some not died? How can you be immune if after you take the drug you can be infected again? Sounds a bit fishy?

Now let us examine the definition of vaccine. From what we gleaned, can anyone in good conscience say that the “vaccines” being offered are producing immunity to a specific disease? Don’t we all still have to wear masks, even the vaccinated? Before you jump to respond that these drugs lessen the symptoms, then please note that lessening the severity is not part of the definition. What we have learned is that a vaccine is a product that stimulates a person’s immune system to produce immunity to a specific disease and immunity means that you can be exposed to the disease without becoming infected.

This brings me to the next question. So if the drugs we are being encouraged to take do not provide immunity as was promised, how can we then achieve “herd immunity” when the drug does not provide immunity by the CDC’s definition?

I would really like that question answered.

I have provided a link to the CDC website with the definitions for your convenience:

https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/imz-basics.htm

 

Our God-given Right to Choose

I decided to post this commentary having been on the Big Issues for August 1, 2021 on Radio Observer where I experienced for the first time what it feels like to have one’s speech censored.

When I was invited to be on the radio program, I honestly thought that the objective was to genuinely invite various views to discuss the notion of forced vaccinations as a public health policy. In my own case, it was my intent to defend the unvaccinated’s freedom of choice.

The radio panel consisted of myself and three other panelists, which included a doctor, a senator and a political activist. After the first round of comments, it became very apparent to me that my view was the only one defending the right of choice.

Despite my willingness to engage in an open debate, it did not take me long to realise that I was merely a token to give the appearance that another view was being entertained for the sake of the program. However, it appeared to me that there was never genuine intent or curiosity to entertain other views other than what the other three panelists championed.

I waited patiently as the other guests were offered copious time to comment before I got a chance to speak. Not only was I the last panelist to be invited to comment in each round, but I was routinely interrupted, muted and prevented from developing my points fully. At no point was I disrespectful as the good doctor, yet he had more than his fair share of airtime.

One has to really question whether the Observer Radio we know today warrants the moniker: “Voice of the People”.

Sadly, it is this very act of censorship by the media that continues to spawn such high levels of distrust.

I am a firm believer that if something is true, it should be able to survive a preponderance of harsh scrutiny and attacks. Any so-called truth that must be protected from scrutiny, like I am witnessing, is always highly suspect.

This attempt to “protect” the truth, is a typical tool used by ALL totalitarian states to maintain control of the minds of the masses. They rely on keeping all views that are not the official parties own, suppressed. North Korea and China both do that with enormous efficiency. In those countries you are put to death or sent to re-education camps for even conceiving a different view.

Is this the type of state the Antiguan and Barbudans people want?

Since I did not get the chance to complete my arguments on radio, I have decided to use this medium.

My simple point is that all individuals should reserve the right to choose whether they wish to be vaccinated or not, for their own reasons and without being demonized, one way or the other.

I hasten to add that this position has nothing to do with the efficacy of any vaccine. I would be the first to acknowledge that the vaccines, from all accounts, appear to be beneficial.

However, it is my contention that the messaging from the official media, is so designed to deliberately plant the notion in the minds of the public that the unvaccinated is irresponsible and dangerous. This is most unfortunate. Unless something has changed recently, I was told that someone has to pass on the virus to an unvaccinated person before that person can be infected. The unvaccinated are victims like they did from the very beginning. If there is anyone to blame, then blame China!

Planting this subliminal message in the minds of citizens has naturally polarized the population at a time when we all should be encouraged to work together. I believe wholeheartedly that this messaging was specifically crafted for the effect it is now having. The idea is to create peer pressure by branding as enemies, those who wish not to be vaccinated. Politicians are expert at this type of messaging. No where other than totalitarian states like China and North Korea is this tactic most effectively done. This is what turns neighbours and family into spies and bounty hunters.

It surprises me, that as a western country that attest to espousing the values of democracy and human rights, that we have not studied history enough to understand that in all cases where a people lost their freedom, it all started out with making small, seemingly innocuous concessions for the sake of safety. I challenge the reader to study the rise of all totalitarian states today.

The other thing that surprises me is, that for a people with a legacy of slavery, we appear not to be sensitive to those things that currently protect our ultimate freedom. I am rather shocked to observe individuals who purport to associate themselves with Black Liberation and Reparations to not even understand the nuances of what it takes to maintain freedom. These same individuals claim they cherish freedom but ironically support the arbitrary curtailment of rights under the pretext of safety. We know that those who fail to learn from history will be doomed to repeat it.

In every case I know, people have lost their freedoms because of the state. Whether the state is ruled by colonialists or people of our same color and race,  makes no difference. We appear to have been lulled into a sense of false security, not realizing that we are still subject to the human nature that could lead to our collective betrayal. Our freedom can easily be lost for economic means, just like it was for our ancestors. Let us never forget that African slavery was first an economic expedient, before it was a race issue. It was the African’s suitability to the climate that made them very suitable for the cane industry in the colonies. They tried the indigenous peoples first but they could not withstand the conditions.

It is time to turn off all of the sports and entertainment and take a hard look at what is happening in the world around us.

We have been fed ideology that has brainwashed us into believing that somehow our rights as individuals comes from the state. The truth of the matter is that our life and liberty come from God, only.  And even God has given each of us a free will to choose or reject Himself. That should mean something.

I contend that we enact laws to collectively prevent the violation of our lives and freedoms. In other words, to prevent injustice. This protection from injustice must be equally applicable to the state as it is to other individuals. If your doctor will never be lawfully allowed to inject you without your permission, regardless of how good his injection, so too the state should not break the law to perpetrate such a crime against any citizen.

Today, we not only see our right to express our views demonized and forbidden but we also see evidence that there are plans to take away our very God-given freedom to choose.

Am I My Brother’s Keeper?

Those who suggest or imply that the unvaccinated ought to do the responsible thing by complying with a biblical interpretation of Genesis chapter 4 verse 9, are grossly mistaken.

I will prove it here.

In Genesis chapter 4 verse chapter 9, Cain replies to a question from God about the whereabouts of his brother, Abel by saying: … Am I my brother’s keeper?,.

It is my observation that this question that Cain ask God is often changed into an affirmative statement, suggesting that yes, you are your brother’s keeper. Moreover, this statement is often taken to mean that you, as an individual should always put the “welfare” of the country or all of humanity above yourself at all times.

Let us stop for a moment and examine whether that is what this passage of scripture is really saying?

First of all, it needs to be emphasized that this statement was Cain’s own words and not an admonition from God.

So, what was Cain actually saying by this question, in the context of Genesis chapter 4 verses 1 to 13?

As a quick summary, in verse 9, Cain had already slain his brother, Abel and God is now confronting Cain by asking him a rhetorical question about the whereabouts of his brother. Cain responds nonchalantly, even disrespectfully, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

To unlock the true biblical meaning of that phrase, there are two words that are key to understanding the true meaning of Cain’s response: the words are keeper and brother.

I will examine the meaning of keeper first.

To understand what a word means in Scripture, it is good practice to find out where else in Scripture such a word is used and to see if there is any pattern.

Let us examine three other contexts in which the word keeper is used. The first is Genesis chapter 4 verse 2 where the scriptures say that … Abel was a keeper of sheep… The second is Genesis chapter 39 verse 21 where it refers to “…keeper of the prison. Nehemiah chapter 3 verse 29 refers to “…keeper of the east gate”

The Hebrew word used for keeper is shamar, which means to guard, attend or watch over.

The word brother in the context of Genesis chapter 4 verse 9 refers specifically to blood brother. Abel and Cain shared the same parents, Adam and Eve. The word brother clearly is not referring to humanity in a general sense as some are wont to teach, erroneously.

So, what is Cain really saying?

If I were to put Cain’s response to God in our modern vernacular, it would be more like: “Is it my job to keep track of where my brother is?” Putting it another way, Cain is saying: Am I responsible for keeping watch over my brother? Cain’s question was not a doctrinal statement.

Cain’s response was meant to be derogatory. This cannot be refuted. Therefore, to use “Am I my brother’s keeper” out of context is the reason why unenlightened individuals quickly quip that the Bible contradicts itself. In all cases, the Bible does not contradict itself, it is merely spiritually undiscerning individuals misapplying and misinterpreting the Bible. And this is a case in point.

The conclusion that can be drawn from what I have so outlined, is that the “Am I my brother’s keeper”? question does not have anything to do with any Biblical admonition to “christians” to put the country’s needs above oneself.  The bible is very specific about who are Christians and who are brothers. All of us are not brothers and sisters! Some of us have the Devil as our father.

I therefore assert that the unvaccinated have no moral obligation to acquiesce to the demands of being injected with a drug they do not wish to have. And it really does not matter what the reason for refusing, regardless of how stupid it may sound.

Stop Demonizing the Unvaccinated!

I would challenge anyone that the growing sentiments towards the forcible vaccination of unwilling citizens is not a public health issue but rather a moral one.

Morality is defined by Dictionary.com as “principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong and good and bad behaviour”.

We have been told from childhood, that doing right and acting right are what makes us moral individuals. Moreover, we were always told that the ends never justify the means. In other words, regardless of the enormous good that would result from our action, accomplishing that supposed good by doing an immoral act does not make the results good. This is why money laundering is not good. This is why sweat shops are not good.

So, if your mother is in desperate need of a kidney to save her life, taking a random stranger’s life to get her a kidney, will never be morally justified. I doubt anyone would look on such act as a loving gesture to your mother. I daresay that most people would be repulsed by such action.

Likewise, we have been told not to imbibe any substance that may harm our body because that would not be considered good and acceptable behaviour. There are laws against you and me taking “illegal” drugs that will harm us. Naturally, I assumed that a drug is declared “illegal” because it is harmful.

Many a Rasta and Marijuana smoker has been arrested and jailed for simply possessing an “illegal” drug. Some jurisdictions would even put you to death for possessing “illegal” drugs.

What I draw from all of this is that abstaining or refusing to take a drug that I consider harmful or potentially harmful to me would be considered a very moral thing to do in the sight of the law and society. If I abstained from taking harmful drugs, I would have assumed that I behaved in a manner that is right and acceptable by law and the society at large.

It however cannot be refuted, regardless of how rare, that these vaccines (drugs) may be harmful, even fatal, to a very small number of individuals. Therefore, if you feel that a drug being offered to you could potentially be harmful to you, should you not be allowed to exercise your God-given, moral right to refuse it?

It is as an unfortunate contradiction that for simply following your moral instinct, you are now told that you need to do the “responsible” thing by taking a drug that you feel may be harmful to your person. It is very convenient to be nonchalant and declare that only a small minority might suffer statistically, forgetting that those that suffer are real, living people, who will be left to bear the consequence alone.

When you cut through the rhetoric, what you hear is: not putting yourself at risk is putting others at risk. Taking a drug that could potentially do harm to you is now a justifiable means to a public health end. I would put it bluntly by concluding that it is justified to commit suicide for the public good!

I can no longer agree with my history teachers that the ancient people were barbaric to sacrifice one of their own to appease the gods, who if not taken seriously could cause imminent and catastrophic disaster on the whole population. This rationale is no different to what I am hearing today. We cannot fairly call such people barbaric. They too had a public welfare crisis!

Sacrificing a single human was justified to appease the wrath of the gods. After all, the death of one human is well worth the lives of thousands of other humans. It is the best we can do for humanity’s sake! For them, the end does justify the means in this instance. Indeed, they reason, it is for the common good!

You may choose to dismiss the human sacrifice illustration as comparing two different things.  I would just like to remind you, that the leaders of today are no better predictors of impending disaster, even though, like their ancient predecessors, they would never admit.

Does simply saying that we have a “public health” issue, constitute justifiable grounds for suspending the moral principles that have been established throughout time? When the Rastas for years have argued that taking Marijuana was part of their religious rite, did that matter to the lawgivers?  Countless law breakers were caught and locked up, regardless.

It appears to me that there is a major moral question here.

I always thought that morality was based on godly principles that were absolute and timeless. However, I am being persuaded to believe that morality is circumstantial: it depends on the whims and selective interpretation of imperfect government officials, acting ostensibly in the public interest.

In my opinion, the moral dilemma we find ourselves, is fraught with contradiction.

I do and still believe that the ends never justify the means, regardless of good intentions.  To ignore this principle would put our society on a slippery moral slope. History has demonstrated that is was a number of seemingly innocuous compromises of natural principles that eventually culminated in the terror of Adolf Hitler.

It appears to me that the lesson we are being taught is that once an imperfect government official says it is “good”, regardless of how immoral it is, it must be ultimately good. Again, history is littered with examples of this myth.

Let us not forget that slavery was ok by government decree, even though it was an immoral act.

Let us not continue to demonize individuals for simply exercising the good moral judgement that they have been taught.

The 850MHz Iceberg

As I listen to the mud slinging going on in the public media, I refuse to reduce my thinking to that level.

I am really only interested in understanding what are the underlying, big-picture facts and having determined what those are then I will seek to suggest a principled approach on how we might achieve a fix to the situation in which we find ourselves.

As the debate wages on on what is considered the “fair” allocation of radio spectrum, the first question you must ask yourself is: who has the power to allocate radio frequencies? The second is: can APUA, C&W or Digicel allocate frequencies to themselves?

I daresay that only the government of Antigua and Barbuda has the authority to allocate radio frequencies. So what can we conclude from this?

The logical conclusion that can be inferred from all of this, is if we now find ourselves in a situation where spectrum has been unfairly allocated, then the only one culpable for this state of affairs, is the government of Antigua and Barbuda, regardless of political administration.

It is therefore fair to say that had the government being operating in a “fair” and neutral way from the beginning we would not have found ourselves in this quagmire.

I believe that understanding who or what is responsible for this confusion sets the context for how we might fix the problem.

If we start from the premise that government is responsible for this crisis, then it means that it cannot rightfully pass the blame onto anyone else. It also means that the government cannot rightfully take the moral high ground on this issue.

The government must adopt a stance that it, and no one else, is to blame. It therefore, cannot blame the players in the telecom industry for rightfully looking after their self-interests. It is for this reason that the government regulates this industry in the first place.  It is well understood that if the independent players we left to themselves to decide how frequency spectrum were divvied up, there would be vastly unfair allocations and far more fights like this.

So how did we get here despite the government’s authority to regulate fairly? This answer is left open to wide speculation.

So how do we go about remedying this issue?

For me the only acceptable approach is to bring all parties behind closed doors and have a reasonable discussion on the matter. This matter, in my humble opinion, should have never been brought into the public domain.

It is clear to me that there is an underlying breakdown of trust between the government and those that it regulates. Consequently, we now see this matter brought before the legal courts and the court of public opinion for resolution.

None of those two courts may necessarily produce an optimal solution that is in the best interest of all stakeholders including the tax payers of this country.

I do not agree that the solution should be a unilateral decree of the government to compulsorily revoke leased property when there is no evidence that the players broke the law in having more than what is considered their fair share.

Now that this matter has reached this far, we see that we are on the cusp of violating principles that we claim we espouse as a nation. What I am witnessing is that the government is now set to violate the principles of  “property rights” for the sake of expediency. This is a big thing for me because it transcends this current issue.

To bring this issue into focus more clearly, let me draw a corollary to the current situation by way of example.

Let us suppose that you went to the government of the day and after completing all of the legal requirements of your application, you were successful in gaining a 20 year lease to 1 acre of land for your farming project.

With your 20 year lease in hand you go about buying your tools, machinery and equipment;  you buy your seeds; you hire your workers; you get a loan; and you plow the plot. From your business plan you determine that you would break even by year 10. How would you feel if in year 8 of operating your farm, you get a notice from government telling you that in the interest of ‘fair’ allocation of farm lands, you are now forced to give up 50% of the land immediately?  How fair is that? You followed the rules, you did nothing to break the law but yet, you are now asked to suffer loss by no fault of your own!

That act of government, in my opinion, is a violation of your property rights. The concept of property rights is the foundation of any free market economy. This is one of the concepts behind the “Ease of Doing Business” surveys.

Is Antigua and Barbuda a totalitarian state?

What message is the government sending to the business community? Is it saying that on a whim it can randomly take away the rights of legitimate individuals or companies to enjoy the benefits of the property they own or lease?

To me, this is an omen. Today, the telecom industry is pillaged and nationalized, tomorrow it may be the hotel industry and thereafter, it may be my private home. Where will this end?

My conclusion to all of this is that this problem was created by government and therefore government should not simply violate the “property rights” of the players in the industry as an ostensible means to fix the mess it created. This creates a double whammy for the industry.

This matter needs to go back to the negotiating table behind closed doors and with a spirit that the property rights of each player will be respected. If the government wants something that someone rightfully holds, the only way it can have it is: a) by the involved party willingly giving it up or; b) by taking it by force, and it such case, the dispossessed party is entitled to a fair market price for his property, as the laws of compulsory acquisition already dictate.

Personally, I am never in favour of forcibly taking away someone’s legitimate property. This is normally called theft, whether done by an individual, a group of individuals or the government.

Let’s get back to the negotiating table.

What’s the Purpose of an ID Card?

I have always thought that the purpose of an ID card is to vouch for an individual who we have never met before and who wishes to perform a transaction for which we need to confirm the identity of that person.

In this context, the ID card issuer acts as a trusted third party who we expect would have done its due diligence on the person in question and who would have issued a picture ID to confirm the same. This then gives you the confidence to proceed with the transaction with the assurance that the person is who he says he is.

Recently, my life has been turned upside down with the incessant request for unexpired picture IDs from institutions with which I have been doing weekly business for more than 5 to 15 years. Continue reading What’s the Purpose of an ID Card?