TRIUMPH  OF  THE  “UNDERCLASS” –  By Hubert Williams

TRIUMPH  OF  THE  “UNDERCLASS”  (Written almost 5 years ago)

      By  Hubert  Williams

Boston, Massachusetts, October 21, 2014 — In 2003, in a lengthy document sent the office of Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton, reacting to her extremely well presented book “Living History”, I had expressed misgivings over societal weaknesses and the emerging role of well-educated, highly-placed working women which could have the unintended consequence under Democracy of an ‘underclass’ literally controlling small jurisdictions such as those in the English-speaking Caribbean… and, in the fullness of time, large jurisdictions, too.

She is absolutely a “women’s libber” and a very strong proponent of an education system which separates girls and boys, particularly at the secondary and tertiary levels. Of her own experience at Wellesley College in Boston (one of the world’s foremost women’s universities), she wrote:             

“Unlike some of the smart girls in my high school, who felt pressure to forsake their own ambitions for more traditional lives, my Wellesley classmates wanted to be recognized for their ability, hard work and achievements. This may explain why there is a disproportionate number of women’s college graduates in professions in which women tend to be under-represented.”

Obviously, traditionalism is not Hillary Clinton’s way. Indeed, she was very caustic about some of her bright high school classmates who, with boyfriend blinkers, were diverted from the path to higher academic achievements. I repeat – they “felt pressure to forsake their own ambitions for more traditional lives…”

My document to Mrs. Clinton’s Office noted that there were other critical considerations…. “Herself the mother of only one, and with many outstanding women from the Wellesley-type university system highly successful but childless, Hillary Clinton could well have raised another education-linked issue of international import and significance… for it would seem that the super qualified, highly disciplined, professionally well located women who one might consider to be superbly prepared for guiding the lives of children into responsible adulthood and citizenship are having few or no children, whereas there is virtual mass production at the lower end of the education/economic/social/moral spectrum. By force of sheer numbers, their offspring will in time come to dominate, if not terrorize, these societies.

“The solution to America’s distressing inner city problem might”, I had written in 2003, “therefore appear to lie less in the greater access to health care and other social services for which Hillary Clinton has so courageously campaigned, and more in upper and middle class women stop behaving as though babies were an unbearable burden in the justifiable struggle for rights and respect and therefore a barrier to women’s elevation.”

It is time for the educated and professionally well-positioned women to begin trying to manage larger families because the safety and survival of their future generations depend on it. Adoption wouldn’t work; for there can never by any certainty what quality genes are being brought into the household. There is a fundamental woman’s role that, however smart they are, men cannot assume: they can’t get babies.

The signs are clear throughout the Commonwealth Caribbean that with the social/legal stigma of illegitimacy a thing of the past, it is the teenagers and school dropouts who are mostly productive, some of them by age 30 could have as many as six children. I knew of one who was a grandmother before 30, for her eldest daughter began reproducing at the same early age that she did… with virtually no education, little knowledge of hygiene, poor nutrition habits, and likely to “drag up” their offspring very much in the manner they were. There was the case in the Barbados Nation newspaper recently of an injured and unwed 23-year-old who already had three children and was heavily pregnant with the fourth.

Let’s look at a 2006 report in the same newspaper, quoting figures from the Island’s Statistical Bureau: Eight 14-year-olds became mothers in 2005, twenty-one 15-year-olds;  fifty-six 16-year-olds;  eighty-eight 17-year-olds;  and 358   18-and-19-year-olds; and among the lot were “some with their second and third pregnancies”. In that year, the total population of this 430 sq. km. (166 sq. ml) island was about 270,000.

The figures above refer only to teens who got their babies at the government hospital. The report said it was the first time in 8 years that no births were recorded there for 13-year-olds; the first time since 1979 that less than ninety 17-year-olds had given birth, and the second lowest number of births recorded for 19-year-olds in ten years”.

A family physician remarked that the statistics had not shown how many schoolchildren actually got pregnant, had miscarriages, were forced to have terminations for medical reasons, or even requested abortions.

Some women in the Region tend to consider children their “riches” and “blessings” and struggle to bring them up as best they can, in many cases without partners.

This kind of numbers game was best exemplified years ago in a Windward Island hospital maternity ward during the visit of a distinguished British personage well known for humourous asides. At one bed he asked the patient cuddling her new baby how many children she now had, and the response was “8, Sir”. As he moved on to the next bed, the response was “10, Sir”, and to the same question at a third bed, the new baby made it “13, Sir”… at which the distinguished personage turned to his aides and remarked “this must be some sort of factory”.

Limited cost-free educational opportunities for the Region’s poor (even now being whittled away in Barbados and some other jurisdictions through economic stringencies) and an abnormally high drop-out rate are combining to place large numbers of Caribbean youth not only into the rising tide of the unemployed, but increasingly in the ranks of the ill-prepared and unemployables. They are not really equipped to do anything an employer would want. Rampant technology and widespread mechanization are combining to sideline manual labour; and many who have neither education nor skills will likely seek survival through unlawful means. In Guyana, for instance, the crime rate is alarmingly high… with Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and a few other islands experiencing disturbing increases.

One regional prime minister had sought to avoid distorting his island’s unemployment profile by placing some of the jobless into a different category he called the “voluntarily idle”… by which he meant that even if there were jobs available, some young people just don’t want to work.

However, regardless of the lack of education, their state of unemployment, minuscule knowledge of life in general, and incapacity to make any worthwhile contribution to economic and social development, they are young, robust and producing children like crazy. Mark you, a minority of these children will – as some children do everywhere – rise well beyond the level of their environment, embrace education, strive hard and succeed; but the pity is, they will certainly then have far fewer children than those (my Mother would have said good-for-nothing) grow-mates who they have left behind.

That’s part of the problem to which I referred in the document to Mrs. Clinton’s office (I hope she read it). Successful women like herself are afraid to have more than one or two babies, whereas those who have achieved little or nothing are having them ‘fast and furious’.

The unsuitable and very challenging environment in which many children are being brought up gives cause for grave concern. So often one sees the poor standards demonstrated on the streets. A school bus has mechanical failure outside my home in Barbados and during the waiting time for a relief vehicle there is a constant stream of expletives, from both boys and girls, in casual conversation. Worse, it didn’t matter to them that adults were within hearing.

A young woman with three tiny-mites trailing behind her thumps one’s head with her fist because he wasn’t walking fast enough, and shouts coarse language to a bigger one because, she said, he was talking too much. And I asked “Do you have to ill-treat them because of that?”… and she says “It’s none of your ‘so-and-so’ business”.

Such scenes are played out daily and it is a matter of concern the extent to which, in a previously very civil and courteous society, angry parents are using any kinds of words in scolding their young children… thus helping to create a widening swathe of the unlearned and the uncouth in the society;  all the while, scrupulous selection in the embassies/high commissions of foreign states give most of their entry visas to the educated, and deportees versed in big city crime continue to stream back to the Region. Recent figures out of Guyana say that about 85% of those graduating from the university and other tertiary level institutions migrate northwards.

Overworked, underpaid and insufficiently appreciated teachers will not only have to face increasing indiscipline and mal-performance in the classroom from resistant students, but also threats from some ignorant, ill-informed and angry parents outside the school precincts.

Not surprisingly, a drug culture is becoming dominant among many of the young, not merely personal use, but serious trafficking, with gunplay and murder becoming disturbingly frequent, particularly so since abolition of the death penalty. The gunner who has no fear of losing his own life is always likely to shoot at will, and, if caught and convicted knows that he will only spend some time in jail, at Her Majesty’s pleasure.

Whatever the incapacities of the broadening cadre of school drop-outs and social deviants, Democracy accords each man and woman (except specifically disqualified) one vote – from 18 years up…  It is this burgeoning uneducated underbelly of West Indian society, as I’ve said, with the youth and strength for rapid reproduction (often incapable of wise choices or the knowledge and skill to rear children well) that will eventually determine in what direction these small societies go.

Their votes will largely dictate who governs, the kind of administration that results, the level of professionalism and  fairness within both the Police and Defence Forces (Guyana has a number of examples of policemen and soldiers committing  crimes), who are the taxi and minibus drivers, and the extent to which people in the “Heights”, the “Terraces” and “Gated Communities” depend on wrought iron grills, barbed wire fences, fierce dogs and (particularly in Guyana and Jamaica) armed guards for home security.

Democracy is resulting in social reorganization, sometimes to a distressing degree, in these small mainly tourism-dependent jurisdictions where those wielding political power are discovering that it is a really tough job to manage social change.

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Comments

  • kamtanblog  On July 23, 2019 at 1:18 am

    A very damning report …long on facts …short on solutions. Hope politicians read these
    articles and act on them. My concerns are
    that with the new wealth “black gold” discoveries will things get better or worse.
    Cite what oil wealth has done to trim Ila death.
    Will the guns and drug culture take over the capital city GT.
    Only time will tell
    Dont hold your breath!
    We will soon discover

    Kamtan

    • kamtanblog  On July 23, 2019 at 3:33 am

      Obvious mistake

      “What oil wealth has done to Triniland”
      Etc etc

    • Trevor  On July 23, 2019 at 11:51 am

      The oil is hundreds of miles away from the coastline, Venezuela and Suriname are watching us closely for any border disputes, and most of the oil is being refined in T&T, even when a few wealthy businessmen are willing to invest in constructing oil rigs and oil refinery plants in Berbice and Vreed-en-Hoop.

  • wally n  On July 23, 2019 at 12:20 pm

    For me, the weak link, is the T&T connection. Unfortunately might be the best connection for the refinery. Everyday I read how the country is going to be robbed
    by the Oil companies, possibly, the sure bet might be the rip off will come from the association with T&T

    • kamtanblog  On July 23, 2019 at 5:27 pm

      Most likely…T+T used as “pawns” in the
      money laundering game these corporate giants play. How it will play out is very predictable.
      There will be winners and loosers
      Mostly loosers …the common/ordinary guyanese people !

      Kamtan

  • wally n  On July 23, 2019 at 6:14 pm

    How I see it, you can’t really lose, if you starting with nothing? So, the bar is set low, very low.
    Let the games BEGIN?

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