Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 25th 2017 Contents A18 commentary
guardian.co.tt Wednesday, January 25, 2017
CARNIVAL MONEY---BY THE NUMBERS
Yes folks, it's that time of year
again, where the beastly feast
of frenzy and fascism fulminates
in full frontal force, and everybody
pretends it's something other than
fulsome. Yes, I mean Carnival. No,
it's not that I don't like a good time;
it's that I don't like lying, tiefing,
depravity, child abuse, noise and
ignorance thrown at me, and being
told that's my culture.
As usual, I'll start with a disclaim-
er---if what's below sounds familiar,
it's because it responds to identical
statements pelted about every year.
If Carnivalists feel free to repeat
their insane incantations verbatim
every year, I feel free to respond with
the same evidence and arguments.
So let's get to it. Carnival and
money. The Minister of Tourism,
the Hon Shamfa Cudjoe, said the
following in Parliament last October
11 (unrevised Hansard): "as a Min-
ister of Tourism and also as a mas-
querader, Madam Speaker, it would
be remiss of me if I mention niche
areas and not mention Carnival,
because Carnival alone brings over
nine per cent of our total arrivals for
the year, and they spend about 13 to
"The average tourist spends $154
more than the other tourists who
come for other reasons other than
Carnival. So, Madam Speaker, I
think that this year Carnival alone
would have generated $354 million,
and each tourist would have spent
about $9,597. So, Carnival goes a
long way for us. This is a testimony
of what the development of our
cultural expression can do for our
economy. So we welcome the sus-
tainable development of all cultural
celebrations: the Ramleelas, the Di-
vali and all that Trinidad and Tobago
has to offer."
It's very politic of the Minister to
mention Ramleela and Divali, but
they're equally spurious as tourism
events. I went to Felicity at Divali
couple of years ago to see what
they were offering tourists. I saw a
few maxi-taxis filled with slightly
shell-shocked tourists (I could tell
from their outfits) trying their best
to "respect local culture"
were shell-shocked from the piles
of speaker boxes every few metres
blasting what I imagined to be Divali
music, to entice them. The deeyas
and lights were incidental, as were
the decorations, streamers, and
Christmas lights across the main
road. It all seemed a little desperate
and a lot fake.
But Carnival. I was again struck
by the Minister's confident asser-
tion that Carnival 2016 generated
$354 million. It's a little more con-
servative than the billion-plus figure
bandied about some years ago, but
is it accurate? We always seem to get
an aggregate, but no clue as to how it
was arrived at.
I wrote to the Minister on January
4, via email, asking her whether she
could provide some details. I haven't
received a response. She was prob-
ably busy attending the funeral for
Nonetheless, the numbers remain
wobbly. Last year, just before Car-
nival one Baz Dreisinger, writing
in Forbes magazine, reported the
revenues of Carnival were estimated
to be at (US) $30 million. Lower than
the Minister's estimate, but no clue
as to where that number came from,
The Express editorialised in re-
sponse on February 10, that it was
time to let go of the fantasy that
Carnival tourists bring profit. I think
this idea is slowly taking hold, as
times get harder, money gets scarc-
er, and crime gets bolder.
The Government last year issued
a detailed press release "Tourism
Ministry capitalises on Carnival",
which, up to yesterday, was on news.
gov. It reiterated (was probably the
provenance) of what the Minister
said, and gave its source as the CSO.
Which means it's about as reliable
as Facebook. There was also another
statistic in that release, which said
Carnival visitors had increased by
3.97 per cent.
But if there was an increase in
visitors, why were fetes and Carni-
val events bussing last year? What
about the loss of labour produc-
tivity, from Carnival Friday till the
Monday after Carnival Monday?
And the cost in terms of social cap-
ital like the noise levels, which have
neighbourhood associations chal-
lenging Carnival events in court?
And where is/was all the scarce US$
these tourists were bringing in?
Could it be that most tourists are
visiting nationals who would come
anyway? Is it that most of the mon-
ey visiting nationals spend would be
or have been in remittances over the
course of the year, or sold to relatives
with whom they stay? Could the fo-
rex leakage Carnival causes in terms
of imported costumes and so forth,
actually leave us in a net negative
foreign exchange position? (That is,
we spend more than we take in.)
And finally, those felicific num-
bers beg the question: if the invest-
ment of a quarter-billion dollars
(last year) brought a return of $354
million, why was the subvention
cut this year? Why not increase it
to increase revenue this year when
shortfalls are so pronounced? Un-
less those numbers are invented,
and they all know it.
You might ask, financial con-
siderations aside, why would the
Government, or anyone, need to
justify the expenditure on Carnival?
It's the national festival, in which
everyone participates, right? When
all o' we become one? I'm glad you
The reason Carnival apologists
need to constantly reiterate the
economic and nationalist justifica-
tions is that they're such gigantic
lies, they need to be constantly
reinforced as reality keeps showing
the opposite. And there is a large
majority of the population that
doesn't believe a word of it, and
doesn't participate, that needs to
be browbeaten into silence. There's
also the persistent ethnic element in
the Carnival that keeps insisting it's
"African," ergo all o' we is not one.
(To be continued)
TWENTY ALTERNATIVE FACTS
FACT#1. Men who find 12- and
14-year-old girls sexually attractive
are paedophiles and ephebophiles.
Alternative Fact: Men who
marry 12- and 14-year-old girls are
obeying God's laws.
FACT#2. Homosexuality is de-
termined by genetic and hormonal
Alternative Fact: Homosexu-
als choose to be gay because they
like fornication, musicals and pink
FACT#3. The universe had no
beginning, since time and space
started with the Big Bang.
Alternative Fact: In the begin-
ning was God but God had no begin-
ning because He is God and doesn't
have to explain Himself to anyone,
which is why Einstein is in Hell.
FACT#4. Socialism has failed in
every society which ever tried it.
Alternative Fact: The CIA has
undermined every socialist gov-
ernment, no country ever tried real
socialism, and hibiscus leaves were
available long before toilet paper
FACT#5. Minimum wage laws
increase unemployment among per-
sons who most need jobs.
Alternative Fact: The minimum
wage ensures that workers aren't
paid starvation salaries by capitalist
pigs who run fast-food chains which
only sell food to wealthy people
while poor people have to buy dou-
bles but at $5 a doubles them dou-
bles vendors turning into capitalist
FACT#6. It's not healthy to be
fat.Alternative Fact: Overweight is
a socially constructed perception,
so eating fried chicken is an act of
rebellion against patriarchal stand-
ards, once you don't support capi-
talism by buying KFC and aren't a fat
man, in which case you just greedy.
FACT#7. Capitalism has brought
more people out of poverty in the
past century than in the past 5,000
Alternative Fact: Socialist
policies in capitalist societies have
brought people out of poverty, which
is why URP has enabled poor peo-
ple to buy flat screen TVs, high top
sneakers, and weave.
FACT#8. Not all diseases are
Alternative Fact: All diseases
can be cured. All you need is faith,
desperation, and $250 for one bottle
of home-made laxative.
FACT#9. Organised human traf-
ficking does not happen in Trinidad
Alternative Fact: All those
Colombian prostitutes have been
forced to come here, because no fair-
skinned woman chooses to have sex
for money in T&T.
FACT#10. Human beings evolved
Alternative Fact: Human beings
were created by Jehovah, so fossils,
radioactive dating and DNA are all
concepts created by Satan to entice
people to Hell.
FACT#11. According to DNA
analyses, only 40 per cent of men in
all human history have left descend-
ants as compared to 80 per cent of
Alternative Fact: 100 per cent
of the 80 per cent of women were
probably raped by 200 per cent of
the 40 per cent of men, hence prov-
ing that DNA is a patriarchal con-
struct which favours male offspring.
FACT#12. In most domestic vi-
olence cases, women are equally or
more abusive than men.
Alternative Fact: Men are always
pigs, women are always victims and
anyone who says that both men and
women need anger management
counselling in domestic violence sit-
uations is an agent of the patriarchy
who has a small penis.
FACT#13. Boys and girls are born
Alternative Fact: Boys are so-
cialised to be aggressive, sexist and
have penises, while girls are born
wonderful, except for girls who
fit the socially constructed idea of
beauty and use same to achieve sta-
tus in the patriarchy.
FACT#14. The most dangerous
and low-status jobs are almost ex-
clusively done by men.
Alternative Fact: Sexism pre-
vents women from getting danger-
ous and dirty jobs which they would
do twice as well as men while being
killed half as often.
FACT#15. Vaccines do not cause
Alternative Fact: Big Pharma
bribes scientists to hide the neg-
ative effects of vaccines because
they want to conceal the fact that
anti-vaxxers know the facts about
vaccines even though anti-vaxxers
know nothing about science, eco-
nomics, or responsible parenting.
FACT#16. Genetically modified
crops are cheaper and use less pesti-
cide than organic crops.
Alternative Fact: Didn't you
watch Frankenstein? Bride of Frank-
enstein? Dog of Frankenstein?
FACT#17. The PNM and UNC are
Alternative Fact: De PNM does
pass rong some of what dey tief; de
UNC only doing what de PNM do.
FACT#18. No post-modernist
philosopher has helped improve the
human condition or contributed to
the store of human knowledge.
Alternative Fact: Anyone who
finds Foucault facile has been fooled
FACT#19. It is difficult to make a
person understand something when
their salary depends on them not
understanding it. (Upton Sinclair.)
Alternative Fact: Anyone who
disagrees with me only holds their
opinions for money, even if they
make less money than me and con-
tinually promulgate opinions that
offend influential people.
FACT#20. Kevin Baldeosingh is a
Alternative Fact: Kevin Balde-
osingh likes to pretend he knows a
lot even though he is wrong about
everything, including curly hair.
Kevin Baldeosingh is a professional
writer, author of three novels, and
co-author of a Caribbean history
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