Friday, February 18, 2011

Passport Office + Thomas Friedmann

So it's time to renew the old Guyanese Passport-- some improvements but lots more to go.
Turned up at 7.30am - which was a mistake as everyone else had the idea of 'quick in, quick out'. After discovering no cash on my person and that the line was not moving I guesstimated at I should be at the counter at 10am, so went back to the office and borrowed money from my receptionist!
After paying the fee at the counter, I was directed back to the end of the queue, saw the girl who was previously behind me ahead and worked out that I 'saved' twenty minutes as Older people and mothers with children were given preference and the inevitable uniformed Police 'jumping' the queue for their friend. The system might work better if 'they' just decide to apply the rules across the Board for everyone as my number 109 was actually seen after Number 139 and number 67 who 'knew' the police ran in just as I was about to enter the booth hinting that she should go ahead of me! I mused that Guyana still has a way to go when you could just 'drop off' or post your passport instead of wasting hours of your life playing musical chairs. I noted that the Government has turned off the Air Conditioners there and in the Post Office in line with 'Green Policies'

Luckily I had grabbed a book from my office on the way out - The Lexus and The Olive Tree - so settled for a random read. Topically it was Chapter 10 which dwelled on successful countries being run as successful businesses and the population getting Internet savvy and demanding more from their governments-- as countries can choose 'prosperity- depending on the policies they adopt- and their citizens will start to catch on to that and demand better management accordingly.'
Interestingly he mentioned that the Egyptians were running Saudia Arabia's computers back in 1999 implying they were then the most technologically advanced and 'wired' of the Middle East countries- the current TV pundits seemed to think this played a large part in Mubarak's recent ousting.
Also that the more computers available to the population and available Bandwidth, the more likely to have the internet readily available - the better for the country in terms of business - and I remembered reading with the arrival and distribution of 90,000 computers it would push Guyana right up to the top of the Region's accessibilty to computers/Internet for its population. I admit to having my doubts as I waste an inordinate amount of time on the Net and practically everywhere I go I usually see Guyanese on Facebook!!
So folks you have to decide whether you will be a Shaper-- one who defines the rules and interactions or an Adapter- learn to work within the system.

He ended the chapter talking about the implications for Labour, and I remembered reading in The West on Trial that the British demurred to the Americans paying the local equivalent for staff working at their Air Force bases back in the 40's and 50's, when they had more humane Labour Laws and possibly precipated the current Government's objection to local staff being paid at Overseas rates by the foreigners-- so I think 'a friend who knows' was telling me! But in this book- it's been turned with the Corporate Capitalists pursuing the cheapest Labour in whatever country.

So cutting to reality, I dropped in to a Snackette run by 'young people' on the way back to the office and was dismayed to discover the 'Internet Generation' could not cope with putting in three boxes of food in separate plastic carrier bags for the customer who telephoned in his order and turned up to collect, requiring the owner, presumabably, to come out of the Internet room to make a disgustingly strong cup of coffee, and hand over two ready-made snack items to me!

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