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21 February 2018

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No kidding Chris! I do not wish to join the doomsayers, but I am extremely fearful of the future and the prospects it holds for our children.

There is a general decay in the society that going to spread if not arrested. Some indications are more pronounced than others. It was a slow, imperceptible tide that turned in, and is slowly enveloping us.

Those who say otherwise are fools!

The warning bells are everywhere...in the districts, health system, the poorly funded and resourced universities; in the general break down of law an order, and peace in the community.

But as I say, the hope and answer lies with the common man, the average farmer, the public servant, the local councillor and the MP wo genuine enough to start doing something about our situation.

The essence of the issue is a matter of perspective. While some look at the problems in a somewhat myopic fashion, they tend to lose sight of the global view.

We are part of and have been witnessing a recreation of a continuous human problem associated with declining, evolving and developing world empires.

PNG is a mere minor player and yet possibly an important one in the Pacific. That is, unless the PNG leaders allow their country to become a rubber stamp for greater powers that are currently flexing their muscles, doing some deep breathing and tightening up their 'belt'.

That also goes for Australia and New Zealand who are part of the local picture.

There is an old African proverb that observes: 'When elephants make love, the grass gets trampled.'

Gabriel clearly belongs to the "muddle through" school of thought and, of course, he may be right.

My pessimism is based as much upon an assessment of the entire world's situation as it is of PNG's particular problems.

For example, the world's ratio of debt to GDP reached 318% in the third quarter of 2017 (according to Bloomberg). This is an historically high level, never before achieved in human history.

Even powerful countries like the USA and China have accumulated astronomically high levels of debt, reaching 152% and 257% of GDP, respectively, in late 2017.

No-one has a clue as to how this debt mountain can be unravelled. The world's central bankers are, by their own admission, in territory they have never before encountered and for which no historic precedents exist.

We are collectively flying blind, with a very high potential for an economic maelstrom of a size never before encountered in human history.

PNG's role in such an event will be that of helpless victim, just so much roadkill in what would be a catastrophic stampede by banks and investors towards what they fondly imagine to be some sort of safe havens.

However, like any honest futurist, I have to admit that I might be entirely wrong. Unforeseen and unforeseeable events have a nasty habit of blindsiding everyone, especially putative futurists.

That said, it take an heroic set of assumptions to believe that our current crop of politicians, bureaucrats and business leaders are collectively so smart that they can and will manage the inevitable economic challenges effectively.

In PNG, the first big test of how the future is going to play out will come with the referendum on Bougainville's independence.

Assuming that this vote ever takes place, the way in which the results are handled both in Bougainville and by PNG will provide fascinating insights into the country's future.

A successful Bougainville departure from PNG will generate significant economic fall out for both entities. It will also encourage separatist feeling elsewhere, which the PNG government may find very difficult to manage.

So, Gabriel, our different notions about the future of PNG will soon be put to the test, this time in real life. We shall see then what the future may hold.

Ever the supreme optimist, Gabriel.

I think that's precisely the attitude that PNG doesn't need at the moment.

The thing is, PNG shouldn't be in the situation it is today, even taking into account the global elements that Chris alludes to.

All the ingredients were there for a successful and bullet-proof future but they have been criminally squandered.

"Someone left the cake out in the rain and we'll [you'll] never have that recipe again," as Richard Harris once said.

Who remembers Hank Nelson's book 'Black Unity or Black Chaos'? Well we are still here as a nation 40 years on. PNG will learn from its mistakes and self correct.

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