EDITOR, The Tribune.
Dear Dr Minnis:
THERE are many of us here in The Bahamas wondering why you haven’t taken any significant measures to eliminate what we see as the most ominous and obvious threat to our country in its’ relatively short history.
Frankly, the plague of the web shops far overshadows any other threat to our country, domestic or foreign.
Perhaps this current era, of the greatest transfer of wealth from the poorest to the richest has escaped your notice.
However, if you were to spend any amount of time on your Bahamian Family Islands you would gain an enlightened perspective, see the true effects, which would require you to act.
Personally, I believe that you already have this perspective, but are refusing to take a leadership role for other reasons. In Nassau, sometimes people become statistics, we don’t know them, so they become a number.
Here in the Family Islands, we know everyone. Everyone has a name, a family, children, parents, a job, or not, a drinking problem, or not, a gambling problem, or not.
Far too much money is leaving our small islands via the web shops, never to return.
The realities of this matter should require any decent, educated and socially oriented person to speak up loud and clear.
This is why I must speak out loudly and clearly to you Dr Minnis, and to all Bahamians. To quote one of my few heroes, Dr Martin Luther King Jr, “Our lives begin to end the day we remain silent on things that matter.” This is all the more pertinent when living in a democracy. Think about what Dr King is saying. Speaking up is not an option. And, not just speaking some words. You must speak from the heart, about things that matter.
The web shops are killing our country, Dr Minnis. The webs shops are killing our country.
I cannot fathom why, you of all people cannot see this, and not do all you can to stop this cancer.
Let me be clear, Dr Minnis, the web shops have put in jeopardy our banking system, they have placed an enormous strain on our social services, they have handicapped our legitimate economy, and they have helped push many people who were productive citizens into a life of crime. They have crippled opportunities for students, have further eroded our work ethic, and spread the dangerous ignorance of simple mathematics.
I am willing to discuss, or debate you on any of these issues Dr Minnis.
The true tragedy, is that it is solely within our power to change this situation overnight. Imagine this, the opportunity to cease our most destructive national enterprise overnight.
And yet, we do absolutely nothing.
Dr Minnis, with all due respect, here is what I would say, if I were you, to the Bahamian people:
“My fellow Bahamians, in all fairness, you spoke to this issue of the web shops a few short years ago. There is little doubt as to what you said. Therefore, I must take this office that you have placed me in seriously, for the sole purpose of making this a better place for all Bahamians. Effective tomorrow, all web shops in The Bahamas will be closed down. Forever.
That’s it. As a doctor, I must look at the whole patient. Our country.is my patient. When I see the situation in this way, through these eyes, I must act to eliminate all of those things which threaten the healthfulness of the patient. I must think about the future. The majority of you are with me, as the referendum showed clearly. However, the web shops have placed their tentacles firmly into the arteries of our body. Recently I asked your understanding if I have turned east when I first said I was going west. But, I think we can both agree that turning downward, into the grips of hell was not ever an option. Therefore, the web shops must be closed down. I have a spiritual adviser who suggested I come to terms with what will be the immediate repercussions of what I see as a necessary action.
This is what my adviser suggested I say to the web shop owners. “Look, Sebas, Craig, you others. You guys have made more money than most every Bahamian who has ever lived could ever dream of. This is a fact. And, you did it by producing almost nothing of value for our country. So, you should be thankful that the game has lasted this long. However, I have decided that enough is enough. I am doctor. Yes, I know not all doctors are smart. And, not all smart people are doctors. But, medical school does require some brains. I think it is apparent to all of us now that these web shops are killing our country. The jobs they produce are only a fraction of the jobs that would be there if those millions were still circulating in the real economy. The arguments against the web shops are many. And, they are correct. They are on the right side of history. That is why the people said “no” in the referendum.
Are you guys that greedy, that unpatriotic, that un-Christian that you would help impoverish this nation for even more money than you have now? Do we have no decency? No shame?
Yes, your buildings are beautiful. But where did that money come from Craig? Be honest. You’ve made a killing. I’m not saying you’re not a nice guy. How long have we known each other? It is nothing personal. I have to look out for the good of our nation. The game is over.
There is nothing you can’t do in life with your money, Sebas, If you must leave, so be it. The Bahamas has treated you very, very well.”
Dr Minnis, many of us are asking you, again, as your imaginary spiritual adviser has done, to do the right thing.
Be decisive. Do not wait for another study. Do not take the time and money for another referendum. Do not start a national lottery yet. Just shut down the web shops now. You have the political capital to do so. You have the moral obligation to do so. You have the civic responsibility to do so.
I can see few other moves you could make as Prime Minister that would be as welcomed by the international financial community, our own legitimate businesses, the rating agencies, foreign banks, your own churches and our children’s future in The Bahamas.
Dr Minnis, As my New Years Wish, I am asking you to shut down all of the web shops in The Bahamas in early 2018.
As an open letter, people of The Bahamas, I am asking us to come together over this issue, and to begin the much needed healing process.
December 19, 2017.