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Killing the Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
September 03, 2018

Aesop, an enslaved man from Ethiopia, once told a fable, "The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg." It goes like this:

A man and his wife owned a very special goose. Every day the goose would lay a golden egg, which made the couple very rich.

"Just think," said the man's wife, "If we could have all the golden eggs that are inside the goose, we could be richer much faster."

"You're right," said her husband, "We wouldn't have to wait for the goose to lay her egg every day."

So, the couple killed the goose and cut her open, only to find that she was just like every other goose. She had no golden eggs inside of her at all, and they had no more golden eggs.

Anyone who examines the PetroTrin debacle cannot but empathize with a PetroTrin worker who, seeing her dreams crushed to the ground, exclaimed: "I was looking at a bright future. Now every thing has gone dark" (Express, August 30).

After the announcement of PetroTrin's closure, the Joint Trade Union Movement called upon its members to engage "in a day of rest and reflection" on the PNM's third anniversary in Government.

Shiraz Khan, the president of the Sheep and Goat Farmers Association, declared: "We are not going to take that damn stupidness from you, [Keith] Rowley.…The farmer' union stands…against your nasty actions against the ordinary people of this country."

Not wanting to repeat the mistake George Chambers made with Texaco in 1985 (New York Times, April 15, 1985), Dr. Rowley decided to close down the refinery operations of PetroTrin. His action will lead to PNM's defeat in 2020. In anticipation of this outcome, he announced that he does not care if he loses that election.

Dr. Rowley is not the only person to blame for this impasse. Malcolm Jones must also assume part of the blame. I look at the union workers who intend to "rest and reflect" (that is, bank workers, nurses, teachers, and oil field workers, to which I add physicians and other professionals) and wonder if they can say truthfully that they do a conscientious day's work for a day's pay.

Ewart Williams, governor of the Central Bank (2002-2012), reduced the bank's staff to approximately 550 people during his tenure. Following Williams' departure, the bank's staff was increased by 250 permanent positions.

When the UNC demitted office in 2015, it left a bill of $5 billion in wage arrears for the present government to pay. It also settled with PSA for a 14 percent increase over three years and other unions except OWTU. I wonder if Dr. Roodlal Moonilal considered those actions "callous, cold, heartless and wicked moves." (Express, August 31)

When Watson Duke and others demand "more money," I often wonder where this money is supposed to come from. Is there some financial spigot that yields an unending flow of dollars to which the government can turn?

In 1956 I contracted osteomyelitis in my left leg while I was playing soccer. I was placed in the Port of Spain General Hospital to die. There were two orthopedic surgeons in the island: Dr. Watson, an Australian, and Dr. Roberson, a Trinidadian, who worked at Port of Spain and San Fernando General hospitals respectively.

Dr. Watson treated my leg for six months until I was able to walk again. Every day he pushed his long Australian nose into my open wound to see if it was being affected with gangrene.

This treatment did not cost my mother a cent although she experienced difficulty in raising the six cents to visit me once a week.

Today, the government pays physicians (we call them consultants) lots of money to take care of citizens. A person is feeling ill. He goes to the hospital. Rather than treat him for his illness the physician refers him to his private practice where he makes additional money. Many physicians do this.

The sanctity of the public's interest or the sacredness of the Hippocratic Oath (to treat the ill to the best of one's ability) never occurs to our physicians. Making as much money as possible becomes the sine qua non of their existence.

Early last year my friend Jerome Lewis took me to buy a flat screen TV from an establishment in Princess Town. I paid the storeowner about $5,000 (TT) for the television. About thirteen months after the purchase, the TV went black. The storeowner claimed that the warranty had expired a month before the TV stop working.

I am told the TV was repaired. It will cost me another $1,000 to get it back.

As workers rest and reflect, presumably on the society, it might be nice of them to reflect on the part they play (and have played) in throwing this land into an era of darkness.

There is a connection between freedom and slavery. It is called individual responsibility.

Each citizen must take responsibility for his or her actions. On this Independence weekend it is wise to ask: Who killed (or are killing) the goose that laid the golden eggs?

Or, to put it another way, is our gimme, gimme attitude killing our nation?

[Next week I will conclude my articles on V. S. Naipaul.]

Professor Cudjoe's email address is He can be reached @ProfessorCudjoe.

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The Slave Master of Trinidad by Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
The Slave Master of Trinidad by Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe