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Honesty Is Always The Best Policy

by Dickson Igwe
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Dickson Igwe, resident socio-economic and political columnist

The most critical road to a safe, secure, and prosperous Virgin Islands, is honest and accountable governance

Now, there has been a lot of asserting by the media and others on the virtues or the lack of virtue thereof, of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office holding a legal instrument that will suspend the Virgin Islands Constitution if there is any willful defiance of adopting fully the recommendations of the Virgin Islands Commission of Inquiry.

The reality is that the country would not have been in this unpredictable and unstable place had the virtues of honesty and integrity in governance and society been coveted and pursued with rigor, vigor and enthusiasm, in past decades.

Honesty in society is both virtue and culture. Honesty is a way of life.

The world’s most famous investor Warren Buffet has stated that in assessing a business partner or employee the most important factor is the honesty of the person. In Warren’s own words: ‘’a person may have talent, but if that person is dishonest then all the talent is meaningless. On the other hand, a far less gifted person that is honest is of much more use to the organization.’’

Honesty is both an individual and national trait. It is crucial to good governance. It begins at the grassroots, in the family.

Honesty is molded into the child by parents, and then by the wider community and school, by adults who themselves have been properly socialized, spreading the virtues of honesty to the wider society. Conversely, dishonesty is learned. Honesty is the grease that oils the engine of a wholesome, successful, and prosperous society.

One caveat is that the measure of religiosity is not a measure for honesty. Religion appears to have zero influence on morality and honesty in the present day. In-fact nonreligious societies appear more honest and sincere than religious ones. The reason for that is a mystery: It may have to do with the material orientation of much of modern day religion, especially in the Evangelical Faith. Pious behavior is not honesty. Religion has been a cover for all manner of evil for centuries.

Honest societies covet the Rule of Law and Integrity, and pursue these values with effort, exactness, and diligence.

A simple comparison between countries described as relatively honest- Singapore, Northern European states, Canada, Australia, South Korea- and countries that have a reputation for dishonesty and corruption- Nigeria, Haiti, Russia, a number of Sub Saharan States, Mexico- reveals the vastly better quality of life of the more honest societies.

Countries with a culture of integrity and honesty get a ‘’bigger bang for the taxpayer buck.’’ Every dollar invested goes directly into the social and economic infrastructure, and public services, save for that part spent on administration and management.

On the other hand, where there is high incidence of conflict of interest with the added evils of looting and corruption, a significant proportion of a contract- up to 70% in a country such as Nigeria, enters back pockets and secret accounts. This is public cash stolen, with the result that the quality of infrastructure and services is poor, sub-par, or even dangerous to the public.

In the end, any material gain by the population is an illusion.

As public cash for much needed services is wasted and abused, there may appear an increase in the standard of living. That increase is limited to specific public officials and their allies. That increase is in reality illusion. The physical environment deteriorates as the quality of life of the middle classes and the most vulnerable diminishes.

Unwarranted poverty is a direct result of dishonest government.

In the long run there is the realization that the country would have been far better off had honest leaders been in charge of the ‘’cookie jar,’’ and not the proverbial ‘’cookie monster.’’

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Dickson Igwe

Dickson Igwe

Dickson Igwe is an education official in the Virgin Islands. He is also a national sea safety instructor. He writes a national column across media and has authored a story book on the Caribbean: ‘The Adventures of a West Indian Villager’. Dickson is focused on economics articles, and he believes economics holds the answer to the full economic and social development of the Caribbean. He is of both West African and Caribbean heritage. Dickson is married with one son.


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