Thu | Dec 2, 2021

Gordon Robinson | Cowboys and Indians

Published:Tuesday | February 26, 2019 | 12:00 AM

Government was in crisis in Apocrypha, that fantasyland beyond the clouds where all politicians are friends and retired politician Oma D’unn solved political dilemmas by parable.

Regular readers know Oma. He’s a PhD in logic but, like a moon, bright only in the dark.

This time he was approached by two Cabinet ministers with separate conundrums.

Health Minister Criss Tufftimes was plagued with dengue, flu and poor public health facility crises, while new Energy Minister Farewell Fineants was under siege by multiple scandals.

Farewell asked Oma to tell her what she should do about the level of corruption she found at agencies in her ministry. Oma advised she do nothing.

“But I can’t do nothing,” she complained. “Voters are angry at the horrendous corruption already uncovered. There seems to be an endless stream of unchecked pop-off and slush money being spent without sanction. Good grief, a wall was built costing THREE TIMES the original estimate with no president to declare a national emergency! I must do something!”

So Oma told her the story of the Indian Cabinet minister:

“An American Congressman invites a visiting Indian Cabinet minister to his home. The congressman shows the Indian minister his Rolls-Royce.

‘Beautiful isn’t it?’ He asks the minister.

‘Yes, it is.’

‘Wanna know how I could afford to buy it?’

The Indian minister rolls his eyes secretly but goes along.

The congressman points to a faraway but visible structure.

‘You see that bridge over there?’

‘Um hmm,’ replied the minister

‘Well, five per cent of its building funds went into my pocket.’

The minister just nods.

A few weeks later, the Indian minister invites the congressman to his home in India for a party. Upon reaching the minister’s home, the congressman is surprised at how grand it is . It was a royal-looking mansion.

He asks the minister, ‘Where did you get the money to buy it?’

The minister takes him outside and points off into the distance.

He asks, ‘You see that bridge over there?’

The Congressman replies, ‘What bridge?’”

Farewell didn’t understand, so Oma explained that corruption is ever-present. As bad as the corruption she saw at her ministry might be, there was worse in other ministries. Rather than focus on the past, she should try to implement systems to reduce future opportunities for further corruption.



So he turned to Criss, who was droning on about a lack of resources to address the many crises facing his health ministry. He argued that at least Farewell could point to structures built (like a wall).

No infrastructure had been built or repaired by Criss in three years, so what on earth did he need resources to buy?

Oma advised Criss to be like a Texan cowboy.

Criss looked blank, so Oma told him the story of the Cowboy and the Pastor.

“A Pastor was seated next to a cowboy on a flight to Texas. After the plane was airborne, drink orders were taken. The cowboy asked for a whiskey and soda, which was brought and placed before him.

Predictably, the Pastor looked upon the cowboy with scorn. He considered alcohol the work of the devil.

Nevertheless, the flight attendant then asked him if he would like a drink.

He replied in disgust, ‘I’d rather be savagely raped by brazen whores than let liquor touch my lips.’

The cowboy then handed his drink back to the attendant and said, ‘Me, too! I didn’t know we had a choice.’”

Oma told Criss to man up. He had choices, so he should stop profiling; analyse them and pick one. Announcing infrastructure upgrades wasn’t enough. Whining about resource scarcity instead of starting needed repairs, using what was available, only encouraged repair costs to double.

Oma advised Criss to stop preaching at everybody else to move. He should make real movement towards improving public healthcare. Less vowel movement; more hospital beds. Fewer limp excuses; more sustainable erections.

Peace and love.

Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to