Anatomy of the perks of power


The following editorial was published in last Tuesday’s issue of the Stabroek News of Guyana :

That there are ‘perks’ of power that go with political office is universally accepted as a fact of life. It is underpinned by an unwritten but nonetheless indelible (if there can be any reconciliation between such a contradiction in terms) ‘rule’ that the holders of political office have earned, apart from the right to govern, the prerogative of a certain allocation of rewards for their faithful. Though there are other ‘perks’ usually wrested from the state to be allocated for political loyalty, one such reward is the allocation of jobs that do not fall under the jurisdiction of the conventional Public Service. The state, or rather, the taxpayer must meet the emoluments associated with these political gifts. They are, as well, usually fashioned to suit the whims of the powers that be on the basis of   what is determined to have been the contribution made by the particular beneficiary to the overall gain.

These are usually revolving door arrangements characterized by the periodic incoming and outgoing of the winners and losers, respectively. Unsurprisingly, therefore, the process is usually underpinned by equal measures of angst and anticipation on the respective sides. Sometimes, almost always, the process, becomes polluted by a great deal of ill will and vendetta with the termination of the losers’ contracts and the process of being ‘shown the door’ assuming outrageous levels of theatre, ranging from the hilarious to the scandalous to the sublime. Some of these hand-over-take-over exercises are even believed to be   underpinned by long-standing personal vendettas which have been known to play out in ridiculous public displays.

For reasons that remain unclear the more salacious and unpalatable the theatre surrounding these events the more they appear to attract the focused attention of some of the mainstream media. Social media, meanwhile, with their accustomed eye for scandal and sensationalism have taken to these things like proverbial ducks to water, mindful to garnish the naked facts with toppings of sleaziness and scandal even as the powers that be perform their ‘stiff upper lip’ trick, as though the ensuing bacchanal is a figment of everyone’s imagination.

All too frequently, these episodes are disgraceful enough to match the ribaldry of even the most seasoned tenement yard ‘cuss down’, the studied indifference to the goings on by those in the upper echelons on both sides adding its own hilarious twist to the circumstance.

The leopards on all sides of the political spectrum cannot really be expected to change their spots. They do what they understand to be expected of them, except, of course that they appear to seriously expect that after the brouhaha that attends the musical chairs scenario associated with the distribution of the perks of power comes to any end, they can then revert to their own exalted positions as though the whole thing were a figment of everyone’s imagination and in the expectation that the citizenry, with its long memory, will take their antics seriously.