Ruta Tangiiau Mavé : Winter is coming? Winter is here

Monday August 24, 2020 Written by Ruta Tangiiau Mavé Published in Editorials
Are we the ant of the grasshopper? 20082307 Are we the ant of the grasshopper? 20082307

OPINION: We should have planned for the future. Is it now too late?

 The Ant and the Grasshopper parable relays how the ant works all summer collecting food storing it for the winter months while the grasshopper laughs and plays in the sun.  

Come winter it’s cold, the food’s gone and grasshopper is starving, while ant sits happily surrounded by food and warm housing. The moral lesson is the virtues of hard work and planning for the future, not taking anything for granted.

Is this still taught? Or do we encourage today’s youth to live for today, life is short, look after number one?

Is the economic downturn due to our grasshopper attitude, taken by our government and tourist industry alike? Could we have planned better for possible hardships outside having insurance for cyclones, or were we too focused on wealth accumulation?  

Several times the public called to cap tourism numbers, to diversify our income streams and not over-saturate the island’s infrastructure and fragile ecosystems.

They were ignored.

As tourist numbers swelled, businesses bought more boats, bikes, boards, put on more tours to overburden sketchy sewage systems in remote lagoon locations.

Instead of paying off debt they leveraged more loans, because no one planned for a winter. Everyone bought into the belief of non-stop tourists.

They had a golden goose that always laid golden eggs, not once considering they were cooking their own goose because nothing lasts forever.

Like this time now, it too won’t last forever, eventually, we will have to emerge living with this virus in our midst.

If anything can be learned from this lesson is there should be a high moral measure of how much is enough.

We’re a long way from Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon, who has become the world’s richest man with a worth of US$193.5 billion – he makes $13.4 million an hour.

While we lost jobs, since Covid-19 he has increased his wealth by US$38 billion. Bezos could save a whole nation like the Cook Islands, pay off our national debt to China and Asian Developent Bank in one week’s earnings, and still have millions left to rebuild and improve our whole standard of living.

Maybe Prime Minister Henry Puna could try out his handout skills there?

We have to start putting in place new strategies that are about building strong resilience by investing in our local people, rather than encouraging overseas investors to come and rape and pillage our land and oceans.

In the video of Mark Brown speaking on seabed mineral mining, he mentions the “economy” in the first 10 words – that’s obviously his focus, not protecting the environment.  Proclaiming, they will not proceed if dangerous, I’m betting his fingers are crossed behind his back.

And the agriculture bill has more laws about data collecting than creating safe organic, environmental practices. The analysis paralysis from yet another select committee, expert finding, procrastination puts our land and health at risk from wasting money in the wrong areas.

Our Environment Ministry continues to allow the building of high-density tourist units on postage stamp-sized land, for overseas-owned businesses with the profits going offshore. How does this help our local economy?

We worry about depopulation, but locals with high education, great insight and practical experience are dismissed when they disagree with the money-grabbing plans of this Government.

Where are the strategies of building locally controlled and operated industries like fishing and food production, that will provide more jobs and income?

Where are the plans to create tourism profits to remain in the hands of local economy?

Grasshopper waits to return to same as before normal. Ant plans ahead, with new creative, innovative, long lasting strategies – because winter is coming.

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