by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 28 March 2006)
I recently heard one of the many “life counsellors” that frequent the news shows on television say something that actually makes sense for once. This lady said, “Shame never works as a motivating factor. In fact, most times it produces the opposite of the desired result.”
Her words made me think about how many times over the past few months I have tried to use shame to motivate the PPP into action and she certainly does seem to be right in this regard, it seems to have produced the exact opposite of the desired result.
Therefore, since the normal motivating strategies that usually work with a typical democratic government have not worked with the PPP, such as accountability to the people and the fear of being laughed out of the voting booths come election time, I have decided to attempt a new strategy to motivate them – positive reinforcement.
My reason for choosing this particular method over the many motivating strategies being employed today is because it seems to be the technique that most closely resembles one of their more popular systems of motivating people.
They do use other motivating techniques as well, such as the bait and switch method, the smoke screen technique and the blame game strategy, but I think their positive reinforcement approach is the most effective.
The PPP has this one down to an art. So much so that when a report comes out stating that Guyana falls at the far bottom of an international list determining the level of corruption in the nation, it quickly responds by producing a piece of propaganda that everything is just fine in Guyana and the rest of the world simply doesn’t know what it is talking about.
Sometimes I think this act closely mirrors that of Jedi Knight from a Star Wars movie using mind control as he swipes his hand past an Imperial Trooper’s face and says, “These are not the people you are looking for,” when indeed they are the very ones being sought.
However, the PPP are not Jedi Knights and the people do not have the weak mind of an Imperial Trooper. So most times, the effects of even their attempts at positive reinforcement are still negligible.
Yet I still feel compelled to seek a new strategy today and have decided that positive reinforcement may actually work with the PPP. Please be patient with me as I try this new approach as it may seem strange at first, but I am willing to do what it takes to help the PPP be a more effective government.
(Switching into positive reinforcement mode…)
Dear PPP big wigs,
Freddie sure did hit your party hard in his Sunday column this week. But don’t you let it get you down for even one second because I am sure things are going to turn around for you soon. There is a rainbow with a pot of gold waiting for you if you can just hold on – and who knows, maybe you can then buy even more palatial houses.
(Oops, just a little slip of the shame method again. Cut me a little slack; these are uncharted waters for me.)
I know all of you who have those big houses and little incomes have probably inherited the money from your rich grandmothers and all of this talk of holding you accountable is just plain unfair, right?
Don’t you worry your pretty little heads about this situation, because tomorrow is a new day and I am sure by then you will have concocted some scheme to explain away all of these dastardly accusations and line your pockets with more ill-gotten money.
(Oops, another slip. I don’t seem to have a handle on this positive reinforcement method yet. Okay, here’s another try.)
Don’t let this whole thing get you down. I’m sure your friends will still come around to see you even though you are part of the reason the drug lords rule Guyana instead of the PPP. I’m sure you were only trying to help the country. I’m sure you only had the people’s interests at heart when you accepted all of that tainted cash.
After all, everyone else is doing the very same thing, right? And if they aren’t, it is only because they haven’t had a chance yet. I am sure that Freddie will come around to see things your way soon and make a public apology about how he was wrong to be so unfair to the PPP.
(Not even the slightest chance!)
If you just keep working as hard as you are right now and being the great and effective government that you have been for the last 14 years, I am sure the rest of the nation will overlook all of these “minor” indiscretions and vote you in for yet another term so you can be the great government we all know you can.
Somewhere deep down inside of you, I just know there is a good government just waiting to show its face. (So what are you waiting for – Marx to be reincarnated?) All you need to do is exactly what you are doing right now and this nation is bound to turnaround sometimes in the next millennium or two.
(I give up!)
I tried folks, but I just don’t think I have what it takes to be the positive reinforcement type of media watchdog. I offer my apologies to those PPP-ites with their palatial houses. I have failed you miserably in my attempt to try to find a more effective method of motivating you to be a better government. Maybe Peeping Tom would do a much better job since he is already kissing the soles of your shoes anyhow.
I guess this means I must revert to my former method of calling a thief a thief. Because Freddie is right, there needs to be an explanation for all of those nice homes being enjoyed by government workers who make less than he does. Will the PPP kindly explain this for us? I won’t be holding my breath.