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Chicken necks -- a common ingredient in dog food.
Chicken necks — a common ingredient in dog food.
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The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected]. 

“Let them eat cake” is the traditional translation of the French expression “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche“, supposedly spoken by an unknown aristocrat after learning that poor people had no bread. Since brioche was a luxury bread enriched with butter and eggs, the quote reflected the princess’s contempt for the poor. While the phrase is often attributed to Queen Marie Antoinette, King Louis XVI’s wife, there is no record that she ever uttered or implied these words.

Not so for the phrase “let them eat chicken back and neck” implicitly contained in Dr. Ralph Gonsalves’ 2016 St. Vincent and the Grenadines Budget list of items exempt from new value-added taxes (VAT). Sparing backs, necks, and wings from the new VAT regime — throwing a few literally dog bones to the poor — shows a contempt for our own Vincentian underclass. Can’t buy chicken legs because of the new VAT? No problem. Be happy to eat back, neck, and wings because that’s all you are good for.

The same holds true for the excise tax exemption on strong rum, the preferred alcoholic beverage of many of our poor men (and more than a few poor women) to numb the pain of their grinding poverty and the hopelessness of their lives.

In his classic dystopian novel 1984 which many of us studied in secondary school, George Orwell described how state-regulated cheap Victory Gin subdued the masses:

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“It gave off a sickly, oily smell…. Instantly his [the novel’s anti-hero, Winston’s] face turned scarlet and the water ran out of his eyes. The stuff was like nitric acid, and … swallowing it had the sensation of being hit on the back of the head with a rubber club. The next moment, however, the burning in his belly died down and the world began to look more cheerful.”

Sounds a lot like strong rum to me!

The underlying message of this budget, at least for our underclass, is be satisfying with what God (and the Comrade) have ordained for you. After all, you have plenty of cheap back, neck, and wing to eat and lots of cheap strong rum to wash away your sorrows. What more do poor people need?

Now we know the true meaning of “Labour Love.”

C. ben-David

The opinions presented in this content belong to the author and may not necessarily reflect the perspectives or editorial stance of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

8 replies on “Let them eat chicken back & neck and drink strong rum”

  1. After the “let them eat cake” sentiment came the rule of the guillotine. Maybe there is something to be learned from that episode in France.

    1. Good point, but these are different times. In the old days and still in parts of the world governments do murder the people just as the US supported ISIS is doing to Assad supporters in Syria. In that case we can consider ourselves lucky that Ralph instead uses debt and propaganda to fool the people into a false sense of prosperity. The usual Vincentian response to terrible government is to vote with your feet…leave the country. Since the ULP “won” the last vote I assure you that very many of our best and brightest will be leaving in the next few years. The global collapse will be here VERY SOON. Obviously Ralph has done all the wrong things so we will be very greatly damaged. Those that are very poor will see little change in their way of life, but our middle-class will become much larger and Ralph will tell us it is entirely the fault of the global economic situation, and not him.
      Failing to prepare is preparing to fail,

  2. All true but too bad that your article will not reach the poor…. Internet is very expensive in SVG. I guess that instead the strong rum can be used as an escape from knowledge as well as a pain-killer for poverty. Like the novel 1984 the strong rum and lumber during voting years in SVG will give the poor a false sense of happiness so they will continue to vote “Ralph” for their own poverty.

  3. C. ben-David knows full well the words “let them eat chicken back and neck”.… were never uttered by the PM, so he interjects “Implicitly contained” in the sentence as a buffer for what follows. This is nothing other than a cheap attempt to vilify our PM. But why?

    Nevertheless, the following words by PM Gonsalves are more than fitting for ben-David’s cheaply contrived “chicken brain” article.

    “I heard one critic say. You see what the Prime Minister thinks of people? He put on the Vat on the chicken parts, but didn’t put it on chicken back neck or wings, because he look down on people and think that’s all they eat. Well when a man (ben-David) talks like that, he has a problem of insecurity in his head, and he has a lumber yard on his shoulder, because he has a chip on his shoulder… he doesn’t understand what is happening in this world. I don’t know if he goes to the supermarket…” (PM Gonsalves speaks at Parliament).

    Shame on you ben-David!

  4. Patrick Ferrari says:

    Poor Ralph, the way he defends the budget that he himself designed, it is clear to me that he does not know which end is up.

    He has increased taxes on salt and oils make them more expensive and harder to buy because those things contribute to diabetes and hypertension and he loves us and it trying to get us to stay away from them. At the same time, he is increasing the tax on the healthier of the two sugars – brown; same reason. Ju-C, though, will still provide you with plenty of the less healthy, more diabetes prone white sugar, on which the tax has not been increased.

    Are you confused yet? Wait. He has increased taxes on lentil, thereby making the really good, healthy stuff less affordable. Lentil is one of the healthiest foods money can buy. So how much does he r e a l l y love us?

    Worst of all he has increased taxes on the healthier parts of the chicken but left us to peacefully kill ourselves by keeping the health-free back and neck as affordable as possible – no tax increase there. If Ralph wants to talk hypertension and heart disease, talk about the cholesterol overloaded chicken back and neck.

    His new star boy, Luke Browne, Minister of Health should get Dr Kiezer-Beache, Chief Medical Officer, to tell the Prime Minister that gramoxone is no less healthy than back and neck – it just does the job quicker. And it less expensive too – shorter health care.

    Ralph budget is trying to get us to eat healthy: less salt and oils. It is also trying to get us to eat unhealthy: the worse of the two sugars; less of the better parts of chicken and more of the worse; and it is trying to prevent us from eating the nutritious lentil. That argument is “implicitly contained” (borrowed from C. ben David) in the Prime Minister’s defense of the budget.

    Have his children even eaten back and neck? I haven’t but I am not the one choosing what to tax then making counterfeit excuses for my choice.

    The master of contradiction is in high gear, making mincemeat of his Wellness Revolution. And common sense.

    1. Our back and neck produce is not the same as the meatier back and neck sometimes found in supermarkets overseas. What doesn’t make the cut for the chan stores and ethnic groceries — the mainly bony and fatty second and third class stuff — is sent to the factory to make dog food or shipped to the Caribbean.

      As for chicken wings, which are all the rage in North America with new all wing restaurants opening every day, the pricey product we get here is what didn’t make the grade for the retail or restaurant market because it was undersized or otherwise judged as poor in quality. Some of the inferior product is also sent to the dog-food plant; the rest is sent down for us to chew on.

      Even the chicken parts — breasts, legs, thighs, etc. — available down here are of inferior size and quality.

      And forget about the highly priced but ugly assed frozen US beef products that usually languish in supermarkets for well past their expiration date.

      Welcome to the Third World.

      Patrick, next time you visit the USA don’t forget to try some deep fried chicken wings at one of the chains. You may grown to love them!

    2. As you indicate but leave for the reader to figure out: Ralph is taxing what people buy most so we are FORCED to contribute to his tax plans. It has nothing to do with health, that is just an excuse he thought up afterward and did not consider that some people would notice that lentils are one of the healthiest foods possible. Truth is anyone can come up with something being unhealthy about almost any food. The ULP zombies will just ignore that fact, as they will that lentils has virtually nothing unhealthy.

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