Disgraced Carnival Queen
Two days ago everywhere I went, people were glued to the radio as a local drama unfolded.
Which proved radio is still very popular in Aruba and that Aruba loves a juicy scandal.
The story revolved around a classic swindle, the reigning Mrs. Carnival had promised to secure seats to a recent popular concert, she worked out a deal with the promoter she explained, allowing her to run a lay-away program for VIP tickets to the Marco Antonio Solís performance, a Mexican heartthrob singer.
At the end about 100 people who paid their money dutifully were turned away, they never received their tickets, and the straight-forward promoter explained he had no dealings with the swindler, though she begged for his mercy and promised to pay Awg 60.000 back, in installments.
The story she told about the disappearing funds varied. She said the tax collector froze her bank account, and in another version she blamed a fictional accountant for withholding the money.
The disappointment among low-income victims of the swindle was loud, and bitter. Gullible, and vulnerable, about 100 people trusted an untrustworthy character, after all, she was Mrs. Carnival, and a public figure, how can she be anything but honest.
As a species we are wired to default to trust, we believe, we want to believe, and the desire to attend the concert, propelled many into a payment plan, June to November, hard earned money that was most probably gambled away, or indeed seized by the tax man to cover previous debts.
I recently read that the reason why we are successful as a species is that we default to trust, we automatically believe what is being told to us, but sometimes it works against us.
If it’s too good to be true, it’s too good to be true.
The director of DOW, our department of public works reportedly discontinued working with small contractors who couldn’t get organized enough to prove they were monthly tax payers.
Without proper administration, he said, we can no longer work with you!
While DOW is not always right, I think I support his decision, this time.
These small contractors consist of 3 or 4 often retired individuals, equipped with a broom and a plastic trash bin. They stop at the sides of roads to clip and rake, on designated portions of roads and highways.
They are called PLOEGs, from the Dutch word teams, and in the past these semi-official government jobs were assigned as political paybacks to loyal voters, a modest source of income for campaign runners.
They work on their own, at their own pace, and turn to DOW for a monthly stipend. As the recent uproar proves, they often disregarding the tax man, which propelled the DOW director, to discontinue their services.
I think it’s time to take a more comprehensive look at that old fashioned system, that is inefficient and unsupervised, and cost TPEF an arm and a leg.
FACT: DOW doesn’t pay the PLOEGS, a great number of them are financed by TPEF, our Tourism Product Enhancement Fund, to the tune of Awg 1.1million a year. They are all supposed to wear TPEF vests, but rarely do.
So it’s time DOW puts that 1.1 million of tourism money into better, more efficient use.