The Counsellors Need Counselling
In a bit of pro-web shop propaganda published in the local papers, The Counsellors almost appear to be responding to a Bahamas B2B blog post about the National Lottery.
It’s notable that the Counsellors did not respond directly to the blog article from two weeks ago, as if they were trying to avoid any kind of direct debate or intelligent conversation on the topic.
And, no wonder. Their response is nonsense. It appears that the Counsellors need some counselling on the law, ethics and business.
Their arguments are disingenuous and self-defeating, at best.
They give the example of prohibition in the United States to warn against the dangers of banning/prohibiting certain activities.
Speaking of the passage in 1919 of the Volstead Act, which prohibited the manufacture, transportation and sale of alcoholic beverages in the United States, the Counsellors say:
“the period between the passage of the Act and 1933 when the Act was repealed, known as ‘Prohibition’, gave rise to gangs of vicious bootleggers and other criminals, who often enjoyed the complicity of ordinary citizens. Chicago’s notorious Al Capone and his ilk fed a reign of terror such as the United States had not known before.”
I do not think it was their intention to compare their allies, the numbers kingpins, to Al Capone, but that’s exactly what they did.
Indeed, the illegal web shop industry has given rise to gangs of criminals, who often enjoy the complicity of ordinary citizens. Numbers kingpins and their ilk have indeed fed a reign of lawlessness in The Bahamas such as we have not known since the 1980s. And it is indeed obvious that their illegal enterprises have created social problems.
Well put Counsellors!
Oh, and one should not forget that Al Capone ended up in jail and died a broken man. Is that what the Counsellors are suggesting for the numbers kingpins?
In the original BahamasB2B blog post, it was stated that if the government were to legalize numbers, they should only do so after the people who have been running numbers illegally are arrested and properly punished. Otherwise, you risk setting a terrible example for young Bahamians, who already think it is cool and profitable to break the law. Do we really need to reinforce that line of thinking?
The Counsellors’ silly reasoning also includes this gem of wisdom:
“The government purse cannot satisfy all the cultural and social needs that the benefaction of private sector individuals and corporate groups, such as the new web shops, supply generously.”
“Ninety” Knowles was very generous to his neighbors in Fort Charlotte, but that didn’t stop the government from extraditing him to the U.S. for drug crimes. With the Counsellors’ logic, all a big drug dealer or money launderer has to do is throw some money towards cultural programmes and we’re good, eh?
Another foolish argument from the Counsellors’ is when they list the “pros” for decriminalizing the numbers industry, saying it would:
“1. Assist in bringing about full legitimacy to businesses that are already duly licensed, tax compliant and in full compliance with all labour laws;”
How on earth did an illegal web shop get “duly licensed”? Who was the clerk on duty at the Business License Department who issued those licenses and why has that person not been dealt with?
BTW: Have you ever tried to get a business license in The Bahamas? The procedure is like trying to run a triathalon, yet the numbers boys had no problem getting their licenses. What’s wrong with that picture?
The Counsellors’ second reason is just as foolish, and it is patently wrong (as proven in the original Bahamas B2B blog post).
“2. Create new revenue streams for the Public Treasury in tough economic times through the taxation of the profits of web shops. The added income, which would run in the millions, would allow the government to build more hospitals and schools and operate more social programmes benefiting all Bahamians;”
The original blog post on Bahamas B2B deals with the paltry amounts of money that will be left over after the kingpins take their cut. It will not pay for hospitals and schools. In fact, it will be a small amount that will only be squandered by our spendthrift politicians. More can be accomplished, much more, simply by forcing our political leaders to act with accountability and transparency with the funds they already control. To give more money to people who have put us a billion dollars in debt seems kind of dumb, doesn’t it?
The Counsellors’ nonsense continues:
“They [web shops] pay National Insurance contributions to the tune of $4 million-plus annually.”
Again, who was the clerk who accepted NIB contributions from an illegal enterprise and why isn’t that person in jail?
Still more nonsense:
“Web shops supply various forms of entertainment that Bahamians choose for themselves.”
So does porn! Does that mean we should open up adult bookshops and peep shows along Bay Street?
“The various web shop groups together employ 3000-plus Bahamians.”
3,000? Are ya sure about that? That is one-third the number of employees that Atlantis has. Wouldn’t that make web shops one of the largest private employers in the nation? First of all, that figure seems inflated. Second, if it is true, God help us all. When our economy rests on the back of web shops, we might as well just throw in the towel.
But the most ridiculous comments from the Counsellors employ the following twisted logic:
“The [current] law in action does not distinguish between the operators of numbers establishments and their customers and employees; when the police have made their periodic raids all have suffered the embarrassment of being hauled away like criminals.”
Um, that’s because all the people engaging in that activity ARE criminals. Why wouldn’t they be hauled away “like criminals” when they ARE criminals?
But the Counsellors don’t stop there:
“1. In the trying conditions brought on by the lingering recession, Bahamians are glad to have the jobs that the growth of web shops has created. Is it right to shame these hardworking and honest Bahamians, deprive them of the dignity of work and perhaps drive them to less salubrious situations where they might indeed engage in dangerous and real criminal activity?”
Ya mussy jokin! Tell me Counsellors, that you are really not that naive!
People who work in web shops are NOT “hardworking and honest Bahamians“. They are accessories to crime. Following the Counsellors’ logic, the little boys standing on street corners selling cocaine would be “hardworking and honest Bahamians.”
And as far as driving the web shop employees “to less salubrious situations where they might indeed engage in dangerous and real criminal activity?”
They already are engaging in real criminal activity. What don’t the Counsellors get about that?
If this logic is pervasive among Bahamians, it is no wonder why crime is out of control.
Another, very important criticism of the Counselors’ response has to do with their complete avoidance of the fact that Bahamians are being discriminated against in their own country, by being prohibited from gambling in the local casinos.
Even if one wanted to believe the unsubstantiated arguments presented by the Counsellors, they should look at the arguments in light of casino gambling. By allowing locals to gamble in the casinos, we would increase employment at casinos, provide Bahamians the entertainment they seek, receive more money in taxes and accomplish all of the things that the Counsellors say legalizing numbers would accomplish.
And by allowing Bahamians to gamble in the casinos, we not only eliminate the gross discrimination against Bahamians in their own country – which makes us all second-class citizens – we also accomplish all of the Counsellors’ points without legitmizing the activities of gangsters and undermining the law and sound ethical principles.
Bahamian society is already about as dysfunctional as it can get before it all crumbles and falls. Why would we invite more trouble by legalizing numbers and legitimizing criminals?
We did the same thing with drug runners in the 1980’s. Where has that gotten us?
Your comments are always welcome.casinos, crime, gambling