“Eat Ah Food” written in April 2010

This expression “eat ah food” has been haunting me since Carnival. At that time, it was the occasional reference and I kept musing over what it could possibly mean. Clarity came when a particular entertainer said he was not going “to create, perform or promote any “eat ah food” music; his music must have a message and make sense for the public”. His comments resonated with me because here was a young entertainer taking a stand and being prepared to live with the consequences. That was a “feel good” moment because it communicated that there is hope for Carnival music to move beyond the frenzied repetition of 2 syllables that occupy a space deep in one’s consciousness to maybe just a couple of sound sentences or statements. And so Carnival ended and the “Eat Ah Food” phrase was no clearer in its social implications.

I then happened across a small road side establishment with the same name. The proprietor explained that he provided a “nice little something” for his clients to eat.

With the advent of “silly season,” “Eat Ah Food” has found its moment in the sun. Popular conversation is about what people are prepared to do in order to “Eat Ah Food”. From advertising agencies and calypsonians to CEPEP workers and professionals, all seem to have identified their own “eat ah food” threshold.

On a very basic level, the concept is being interpreted as persons operating at Level One of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and is protecting their ability to enjoy food, clothing and shelter. In that case, the issue of an informed opinion becomes a moot point since these opinions will be guided by a perceived relationship between the future outcomes and current choices. At other levels, citizens have historically been politically expedient and put their support where they felt there was the greatest possibility for reward. Some have even latched on to the phrase “enlightened self interest” to explain their choices.

At yet another level, the campaign financiers operate unbridled since there is no legislation to set the context of their operations. Additionally, the profession of “Lobbyist” has not been formalized. The impact is that whatever the outcome of “silly season” there are power brokers who will gather currency now and leverage it in the future.

For citizens not identified in these limiting categories, there is still the question of how can I make an informed decision? Is it possible to apply rational thinking to decision-making around politics? Yes, it is possible. Accept that decision making around our politics is emotionally driven but also accept that it could benefit from a more structured approach. There are four simple questions which can aide the decision making process: What is my risk here? Can I afford the outcome? What is the benefit to me of the expected outcome? Will I feel good about the outcomes and the decision I made to influence those outcomes?

The hundreds of thousands of persons who earn their living by being Ordinary Citizen John/Joan Singh (Citizen Singh) risk very little with the outcome of this election. In the short to medium term, life will continue and his/her vocation/profession will continue. There may be a name change here or there but the fundamentals will remain.

Can Citizen Singh afford the outcome? Very likely because the benefits we enjoy depend on the state of the economy. If we allocate the same corruption weighting to all parties, then economic factors will drive the development of the country.

Will Citizen Singh feel good about the outcome? That’s a really difficult one. My past experience with this question is interesting. Within five months of the NAR Government, I couldn’t find one person who had voted for NAR. Supporters seemed to have collectively disappeared from the landscape.

On balance, it is all about the allocation of scarce resources and how the economics affects the politics. In developed countries like the UK, the decision point is not about a T-shirt or a house or a job, but about the philosophical underpinnings and how those underpinnings impact the shared vision of the future. Political parties adopt a very measured approach to communicating their messages. The frenzy of politically charged junction meetings is absent. The communication job is more clinical and almost dispassionate.  There seems to be an understanding that life is about more than immediate satisfaction. Life indeed is about more than “Eat ah Food”.

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