Good Governance: Getting ‘Out of the Way’ of Local Economic Empowerment

Go Lean Commentary

“I am from the Government and I am here to help” – Ronald Reagan tongue-in-cheek Campaign Attack against excessive government regulation; 1980.

When it comes to government regulations, there could be too much … and too little.

Good Government is the art-and-science of finding the “just right” balance – remember Goldilocks. In some countries this is a big challenge as there are so many different levels of government; think the US where there is the federal government (plus regulations), State, County (a subset of the State) and local city. In the Caribbean, on the other hand, for many member-states, there is only one level of administration, the National government.

All in all, finding the right mix of stewardship is a reflection of best-practices. This is because of one basic fact:

Smart people have a tendency to think that they are the only smart people. – Dunning-Kruger Effect – See Appendix A

If only we can weed-out this bad trend and assume that local people may bring some value to the governing equations for their communities. This conclusion is hard-wrought, a product of research and study by noted economists; who actually won a Nobel Prize for this effort. This is relayed in the book Go Lean…Caribbean within the advocacy of Better Managing Natural Resources. The book (Page 183) states:

The Bottom Line on Common Pool Resources
The 2009 Nobel Prize winning economist Elinor Ostrom (1933 – 2012), a Political Science Professor at Indiana University, received the award for her landmark work on the management of common pool resources. Her analysis of economic governance, especially the commons, showed how groups work together to manage common resources such as water supplies, fish and lobster stocks, and pastures through collective property rights. She showed that common pool resources can be effectively managed collectively, even without government or private control, as long as those using the resource are physically close to it and have a relationship with each other. Because outsiders and government agencies don’t understand local conditions or norms, and lack relationships with the community, they may manage common resources poorly. By contrast, insiders who are given a say in resource management will self-police to insure that all participants follow the community’s rules.

So outsiders and remote government agencies may not fully understand local conditions or norms so their oversight may be prone to error. This may not reflect Good Governance. We have seen this manifested many times. Remember overseas masters making decisions about local conditions – think tropical hurricane building standards in the Caribbean being decided by stakeholders in Northern Europe. That was the dreaded history of colonialism!

It is obvious and self-evident that Good Governance must reflect shepherding and oversight with an eye towards local needs. Imagine the imagery of a “Watchman in a high tower in an medieval walled city”, scanning and monitoring the threats that face his community. While such a concern may be security-minded, the other spheres of society – think economics – must also be addressed for local versus national deliberations:

  • Can economic empowerment efforts be spurred locally, or must they always originate in the Capitol?
  • Should Direct Foreign Investors all be vetted by the Foreign Affairs Office (State Department, etc.)?
  • Can a local farmer increase his yield by plowing addition plots of land?
  • Can a local fisherman add additional boats and “hands on deck”?
  • Can a local chicken farmer add additional coops?

These are important questions, as communities struggle with the challenge of growth. This brings to mind the strategy of whether growth must be Top-Down or can it be Bottoms-up.

  • Pull yourself up by the bootstrap…
  • Give me a job … or create my own job …

This is not just an academic discussion; there are real world implications. In one drama, in the Bahamas, friends and enemies are choosing sides right now, as a local project by the global media and hospitality conglomerate Walt Disney Company (Disney Cruise Lines) is being debated.

Actually, the debate is over, but the fall-out and “weeping-gnashing of teeth” continues. See the full news story and VIDEO in the Appendices B & C below.

This commentary continues this discussion on Good Governance. If Good Governance is to be the norm in Caribbean society, we must decide – in advance – how we want to grow our economies and what role local economic empowerment will have in the equation to transform society. In the foregoing Bahamian drama, the locals want the job multipliers from the Disney project while the opposition, remote people in metropolitan Nassau, do not want any projects that may impact the environment.

This is a familiar consideration for the book Go Lean…Caribbean – available to download for free. The book asserts that the problems of the Caribbean are too big for any one member-state to assuage alone; so there must be cooperation, collaboration and confederation. But does this mean that we must confer on everything, big and small? No! Just the opposite.

Surely, everyone can be expected “to take care of their own business” … first.

This is a mark of maturity, that we can provide for our own basic needs: food, clothing and shelter.

In fact, the Go Lean movement posits that for reform to succeed in the region, we must start by transforming neighborhoods, then elevate cities, then for whole member-states and lastly for the entire region. In fact, the book asserts the tactic of a Separation-of-Powers, in which certain duties-responsibilities are expected to be addressed locally while others will be within scope for a federal government.

The purpose of the Go Lean book is the introduction and implementation of that federal government, the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). The book serves as a roadmap for a new technocratic regime for Good Governance. Notice these statements in the opening Declaration of Interdependence (Pages 10 – 12):

viii. Whereas the population size is too small to foster good negotiations for products and commodities from international vendors, the Federation must allow the unification of the region as one purchasing agent, thereby garnering better terms and discounts.

xi. Whereas all men are entitled to the benefits of good governance in a free society, “new guards” must be enacted to dissuade the emergence of incompetence, corruption, nepotism and cronyism at the peril of the people’s best interest. The Federation must guarantee the executions of a social contract between government and the governed.

xii. Whereas the legacy in recent times in individual states may be that of ineffectual governance with no redress to higher authority, the accedence of this Federation will ensure accountability and escalation of the human and civil rights of the people for good governance, justice assurances, due process and the rule of law. As such, any threats of a “failed state” status for any member state must enact emergency measures on behalf of the Federation to protect the human, civil and property rights of the citizens, residents, allies, trading partners, and visitors of the affected member state and the Federation as a whole.

xxiii. Whereas many countries in our region are dependent Overseas Territory of imperial powers, the systems of governance can be instituted on a regional and local basis, rather than requiring oversight or accountability from distant masters far removed from their subjects of administration. The Federation must facilitate success in autonomous rule by sharing tools, systems and teamwork within the geographical region.

This commentary is the fourth of this 5-part series – 4 of 5 – from the movement behind the Go Lean book in consideration of the Good Governance needs for a new Caribbean regime. The other commentaries in the series are cataloged as follows:

  1. Good Governance: … Versus Partisan Politics
  2. Good GovernanceStepping Up in an Emergency
  3. Good GovernanceThe Kind of Society We Want
  4. Good Governance: Getting ‘Out of the Way’ of Local Economic Empowerment
  5. Good GovernanceGood Corporate Compliance

No doubt there is the need for Good Governance for the Caribbean; we need better stewardship and shepherding of the 30 member-states to ensure that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past. We need to value independence, resiliency and vigilance, not stymie progress because it may not have originated in some Capitol. This is the lesson from the opening anecdote about Common Pool Resources.

The best chance for success is for those who work with a local resource to participate in managing the local resource. So at times, we may need national government – or even federal governments – to get ‘Out of the Way’ and allow local economic empowerments.

In fact, the Go Lean roadmap introduces the concept of Self-Government Entities (SGE), an ideal concept for a job-creation engine, with its exclusive federal regulation/promotion activities. Imagine bordered campuses – exclusive resorts, industrial labs, educational facilities, R&D parks – with separate (local) arrangements to provision basic needs. This local empowerment accelerates the job multiplier factor – how certain industries are better than others for generating multiple indirect jobs down the line (off-campus) for each direct job on the SGE’s payroll.

This is how the Go Lean roadmap seeks to reform or transform the societal engines for all the Caribbean. This is our quest, our prime directive, as related in the following statements:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion & create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to ensure public safety and protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improvement of Caribbean governance to support these engines, including a separation-of-powers between the member-states and CU federal agencies.

Good Governance based on best-practices, especially as recognized by a Nobel Prize, is a good starting point to transform a society. This is why Common Pool Resources are so frequently highlighted in the Go Lean book. Within the 370-pages of the book are details of Common Pool Resource management, urged for adoption within the new Caribbean regime. Here is a sample of the references to Common Pool Resources and how it relates to Good Governance through-out the book:

Tactical – Separation of Powers

F – Interior Department
The CU initiates its charter with a petition to the United Nations for a designation of an Exclusive Economic Zone for the spaces (seas) between the islands. This Department manages the oversight of this “common” territory. In addition, this Agency will have to work with foreign entities in the management of common pool resources, like water rights, river ecosystems in Guyana, Suriname and Belize where they are bordered by other (bigger) countries.

Page 82
Tactical – Separation of Powers

J – Agriculture and Fisheries Department
This Department in the Executive Branch coordinates the region efforts in agriculture, agri-business and fisheries. … this office is to be managed like a Project Management Office, coordinating one region-wide project after another. This department will also oversee the common pool resources for the region. This will include fish stock and common grazing lands. This effort will have to be coordinated and collaborated with the Department of the Interior agencies and resources.

Page 88
Advocacy – 10 Lessons from the American West

# 5 – Common Pool Resources: Water / Public Works

There were many environmental deterrents to conquering the West. There is actually a continental divide in North America in which minimal rain falls west of that divide; the western states were not sustainable for large populations.

Over the years, the US Army Corps of Engineers created canals, dams, reservoirs, irrigation, water pipelines and other measures, in multi-state compacts. The CU must also engineer multi-state public works projects to improve economies.

Page 142
Advocacy – 10 Ways to Better Manage Natural Resources
# 2 – Lean in for the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU) treaty.
This treaty allows for the unification of the region into one market, thereby integrating to a single economy of 30 member-states, 42 million people and GDP of over $800 Billion in (2010). The region needs joint management of the common pool of natural resources, and this one of the foremost reasons for confederating the CU. First it garners international support for the UN petition for an Exclusive Economic Zone in and near the Caribbean Seas. The CU’s representation of a single market allows for effective negotiations with foreign parties – the islands will no longer be viewed as inconsequential. The CU’s separation of powers mandate is germane for managing the local needs of the region’s common resources; it allows for closer oversight of local regulators, but with CU principles.
Page 183
Advocacy – 10 Ways to Improve Fisheries
# 3 –
Common Pool Resources (Lobster, Conch, Grouper, Flying Fish)
Though the waters between the islands may be uninhabited, their resources can still be depleted. The CU will govern the common pool resources to promote the sustainability of fish stock. Fishing for lobster, conch, grouper, “flying fish” and other species must be controlled, with limited harvesting seasons, otherwise there will be none for future generations.
Page 210
Advocacy – 10 Ways to Impact Rural Living
# 3 – Common Pool Resources Oversight and Management
The CU will exercise eminent domain to buy a lot of “crown” land, and the Exclusive Economic Zone, to promote as common pool resources (farming, fishing, and mining). This ownership allows for the implementation of proper oversight rules, with local coordination, and best practices. This is the “golden rule” – the one with the “gold”, makes the rule!
Page 235
Advocacy – 10 Ways to Impact The Guianas
# 1 – Lean in for the Caribbean Single Market & Economy
The CU will allow for the unification of the region into one market, thereby creating a single economy of 30 member-states for 42 million, including the independent states of Guyana and Suriname. Other territories that made up The Guianas region include French Guiana, Spanish Guiana (today, the Guayana Region comprises three of the federal States of Venezuela: Amazonas, Bolívar, Delta Amacuro), and Portuguese Guiana (Brazil’s State of Amapa). On the CU roadmap, annexations will be explored in Year 5; French Guiana is ideal candidate, but not the Venezuelan and Brazilian regions. But there is the immediate need for foreign policy synchronizations with these other states for common pool resources and regional threats.
Page 241

Consider how this vision of a rebooted economic landscape – with the technocratic management of Common Pool Resources – have been portrayed in these previous blog-commentaries; see this sample: Industrial Reboot – Fisheries 101 Industrial Reboot – Navy Pier 101 Would Less People Mean More Resources For the Remnant? No! Lessons from Colorado: Water Management Arts & Sciences Managing the Airwaves as a Common Pool Resource

The Go Lean book was very clear in its conclusion, the problem with the Caribbean is not the land/sea – it is the greatest address on the planet – it is not the people – we have a unique mix of African, Amer-Indian, Asian and European cultures, it is the stewardship. We must abandon bad ineffectual governing practices and embrace best-practices anew. We need to employ good ideas, even if they do not come from the Capitol. So we must be willing to accept local economic empowerment initiatives.

Our past roads are littered with failure; let’s do better going forward. Let’s embrace Good Governance. Let’s start aright with the strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies as prescribed in the book Go Lean…Caribbean. We urge everyone to lean-in to this roadmap. This is how we can make our homeland better places to live, work and play. 🙂

Download the free e-Book of Go Lean … Caribbean – now!

Sign the petition to lean-in for this roadmap for the Caribbean Union Trade Federation.


Appendix A – What Is the Dunning-Kruger Effect?

The Dunning-Kruger effect is a type of cognitive bias in which people believe that they are smarter and more capable than they really are. …

The term lends a scientific name and explanation to a problem that many people immediately recognize—that fools are blind to their own foolishness. …

An Overview of the Dunning-Kruger Effect

This phenomenon is something you have likely experienced in real life, perhaps around the dinner table at a holiday family gathering. Throughout the course of the meal, a member of your extended family begins spouting off on a topic at length, boldly proclaiming that he is correct and that everyone else’s opinion is stupid, uninformed, and just plain wrong. It may be plainly evident to everyone in the room that this person has no idea what he is talking about, yet he prattles on, blithely oblivious to his own ignorance.

The effect is named after researchers David Dunning and Justin Kruger, the two social psychologists who first described it. …

A Little Knowledge Can Lead to Overconfidence

Another contributing factor is that sometimes a tiny bit of knowledge on a subject can lead people to mistakenly believe that they know all there is to know about it. As the old saying goes, a little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing. A person might have the slimmest bit of awareness about a subject, yet thanks to the Dunning-Kruger effect, believe that he or she is an expert. …

See the remaining article here …

Source: Posted April 9, 2018; retrieved October 29, 2018 from:


Appendix B – Title: Disney’s Lighthouse Point: Bahamian Government Approves Sale of Lighthouse Point to Disney Cruise Line

Disney is one step closer to calling Lighthouse Point, Disney’s Lighthouse Point after Bahamian Prime Minister announced the government is choosing The Walt Disney Company’s proposal. Today’s approval gives Disney Cruise Line a green light to move ahead plans to purchase the 700 to 800-acre Lighthouse Point property at the tip of South Eleuthera for a second private cruise destination. EyeWitness News reported the decision just before the 3 o’clock hour.

Below is a copy of the press statement issued by The Bahamas Cabinet:

Press Statement
Cabinet Office
19 October 2018

The Lighthouse Point Development has been the subject of considerable public discussion, particularly in recent months.

The National Economic Council considered the matter today, 19 October, and approved the proposal submitted by Disney Cruise Line Island Development Ltd.

Negotiations will now begin on a Heads of Agreement, which will detail the scope of the project, the obligations of the Disney Cruise Lines Island Development Ltd. and the obligations of the Government of The Bahamas.

The negotiation of the Heads of Agreement will commence immediately. When concluded, it will be presented to Parliament in keeping with the government’s commitment to transparency and accountability.

The Cabinet Office wishes to emphasize that the land which is the subject of the proposal is privately owned. It has been on the real estate market for a long period.

The land is not Crown Land and is not owned by the Government of The Bahamas.

The Disney Cruise Lines Development Ltd. has a sales agreement with the land owner to purchase the land.

The Cabinet Office notes that both the Disney Cruise Lines Island Development Ltd. and the One Eleuthera Foundation and its partners have been publicly noting their plans for the development of Lighthouse Point.

It is also noted that recent polling revealed that more than 60 percent of Bahamians “very much” or “somewhat” support Disney’s proposal for Lighthouse Point, Eleuthera.

The Cabinet Office is also aware of meetings held in the communities of Central and South Eleuthera by respective groups, and live radio broadcasts, which have allowed individuals to express their views.

During one of his regular town hall meetings, this one held at the Green Castle Primary School on 10 October 2018, the Prime Minister informed the people of Central and South Eleuthera of the Government’s plans for the nation and listened to their concerns.

During this meeting overwhelming support was expressed for the Disney Cruise Lines Development Ltd. proposal.

The Cabinet Office notes that prior to that town meeting, the One Eleuthera Foundation and its partners held several community meetings in Central and South Eleuthera to promote their proposal.

This included meetings at Wemyss Bight on 27 July, Deep Creek on 10 August, Tarpum Bay on 17 August, Rock Sound on 31 August and Bannerman Town on 7 September 2018.

Some of the core elements of the Disney Cruise Lines Island Development Ltd. proposal which are of fundamental importance and to which Disney is committed, include: low density development and sustainable design, public access, and the restoration of various historical and cultural sites.

The development will create approximately 150 new jobs and an array of entrepreneurial opportunities for residents of Eleuthera and Bahamians in general.

Disney will convey approximately 190 acres of the land purchased from the private seller to the Government of The Bahamas for conservation and a national park.

Other elements of the project include: the integration of Bahamian cultural and artistic expression into the design of the site and experiences offered, and partnership with the community to develop training and professional development programs.

The Disney Cruise Lines began its cruises to The Bahamas in 1998.

Since that time, the economic impact on the Bahamian economy has been significant. With the development of the Eleuthera project an increase in port calls to Nassau is also projected.

The Government notes Disney’s record of environmental stewardship and will ensure that the project is implemented in a manner which safeguards our environment and the interests of the people of The Bahamas.

The Government of The Bahamas having taken into consideration the views of the majority of the people of Central and South Eleuthera is satisfied that it has made the best decision in the interest of the Bahamian people, a sustainable future for the people of Central and South Eleuthera and the economic development of the country.

I think one of the key factors in the Cabinet’s decision aside from the revenue stream that will be generated by Disney Cruise Line is that the Lighthouse Point property is privately owned. The property has been on the market for a long period. The land is not Crown Land, therefore, is not owned by the Government of The Bahamas. Disney Cruise Line has a sales agreement with the land owner to purchase the land.

What’s next? Disney and The Bahamas will negotiate a Heads of Agreement that will then be presented to Parliament. One Eleuthera’s press release claims there will not be an economic impact until at least 2023.

“We are excited to reach this important milestone and look forward to working with Government and the people of The Bahamas to create new economic opportunities while preserving the natural beauty of Lighthouse Point. We are grateful for the warm welcome and support we have received from so many in Eleuthera and look forward to further developing relationships that will endure for many years to come. In the short term, we are focused on reaching an agreement that is mutually beneficial for The Bahamas and our company, as well as moving forward with an environmental impact assessment and environmental management plan. Our team also looks forward to working with local artists, historians and others as we ensure that the stories and culture of The Bahamas shine through when Disney guests and Bahamians alike visit this special place.” — Jeff Vahle

Disney Cruise Line’s Vice President of Public Affairs, Kim Prunty, told Tribune 242 an environmental impact study (EIA) could take months which Disney will work with the government on this effort. The Bahamas Planning and Subdivisions Act from 2010 requires complete EIA for proposed projects such as Disney’s Lighthouse Point development. The required EIA would be submitted to the Department of Physical Planning as part of the proposed development which is either likely to give rise to significant affects on the environment, of national importance, proposed for sensitive lands, significant in terms of size or complexity, of a nature that may have potentially adverse environmental effects or is considered a development of regional impact.

For more, here is a look at Disney Cruise Line’s proposal and plans for Disney’s Lighthouse Point.

Source: Posted on October 19, 2018; retrieved October 28, 2018 from:




Published on Oct 19, 2018 – Local Bahamas Nightly Newscast

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