The PM’s address: The cutting room floor

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 Above: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley addresses the nation on September 11, 2016.

BitDepth#1059 for September 20, 2016

A mysterious package appeared in the BitDepth postbox last week. A brown envelope full of printouts of an emailed transcript of the Prime Minister’s recent address to the nation. In the tradition of such things, none of the email addresses associated with the senders and recipients seem to exist, but the transcript offered some interesting passages that were clearly cut from the final transmission of the address.

[Slapping sound of time slate]

VO: Action.

PM: Now to the vexing matter of developing alternative sources of revenue. We are really working to encourage diversification, and our first step will be to follow the rest of the developed and developing world and enable that change using technology.

It’s been clear for at least a decade that virtually every petroleum based initiative that has any potential to provide a future windfall will come into operation years from today. Rather than wait on the whimsy of external markets and fickle investors, we are going to take stock of our assets and our creative and resilient human resource and begin making changes today.

New governments always talk about change and to that end, I have advised my Cabinet to start actually listening to the wonks and technocrats we employ, at least for the duration of their period of mandated public service and before they leave the country in annoyance and frustration. Cabinet members are to read their reports, requesting plain English translation where necessary.

Further to that, and acknowledging the yearlong delay in appointing a new e-Business Roundtable, I am directing that all the reports, findings and advice offered by previous incarnations of this advisory body be made available via download to the general public. It is my hope that they will make better use of this material than their elected governments have.

It’s clear that the lack of urgency in establishing the roundtable speaks poorly of my own administration’s priorities, just as the obvious lack of action on their recommendations and proposed strategies is damning to the histories of both the previous government and their predecessors.

As a way of breaking this persistent deadlock between institutional hubris and fast moving market realities, the Cabinet is instructed to be more lenient to backchat and dissenting opinions, particularly on subjects in which they have no demonstrable depth of knowledge or understanding.

I have issued a directive that all future advisory committees regarding technology will be required to include at least one person answering to the description: ‘Serious wonk, no social skills, no license for their mouth, really knows their ish.’

Recognising the gulf between governance capabilities and campaign trail marketability, I have been reassessing my current Cabinet appointments.

I note with particular concern the gulf between my most senior appointees in the Ministry of Education, who do not seem to exist on the same vibrational frequency, far less speak the same language.

At the precise point that I was mulling over the fact that the student population is not being introduced to modern technology, programming and computer science in a systematic, pedagogically supported manner in preparation for this address, Ministerial concern was focused meaningfully on what teachers wear.

In light of that, while making the best use of the human capital available to me in Cabinet, and acknowledging that everything must change, I am creating one new ministry, hereafter to be known as the Ministry of Bring back the Ole Time Days.

I have further directed that the NGO bodies TUCO and Pan Trinbago will be the first assigned to this new ministry, since their need is clearly the most urgent under this newly formed portfolio.

[Slapping sound of time slate]

PM [voice fading as he moves from the microphone]: Wait. I just turned around here and realised what the set is. Who designed this? Why are there six flags behind me? Are they sending some kind of coded message message that I run an amusement park? And where are the usual lights? Those look like garden floodlamps. Are you recording this with an iPhone? You know, austerity doesn’t mean cheap. Let me see a playback.

[Silence. Distant audio.]

Are you people kidding? This clip looks like it was made by a five-year-old for YouTube. No. It’s worse than that.

[Footsteps.]

VO: Ahm. Cut?