Zeitgeist Magazine, Issue 2, Volume 7, 5 June 300 AP
------ The Story behind the News ------

So what, the President likes golf?

Only a week since the UNV officially handed over power to the fledgling nation of Utania, and the Utanians are already divided, fighting over a century old rift. What started as a magnanimous gesture by Utania's President Hope, to partially sponsor three Utanians to play in the international Golf tour at a cost of barely C100,000 (Christiana Crowns) has turned into a major political battle with threats of secession already being thrown across the deeply divided parliamentary chamber.

The noise is mostly coming from the moderate leftist Utani-Saedaj and Peoples opposition parties who claim the money would have been better spent on "more egalitarian" sports, such as the enormously popular soccer. However, what they are inferring is that golf in Utania is an elitist sport, exemplified by the strict exclusivity of the few golf clubs in and around Luka, and the rest of the east coast. This is rejected by the golf-playing conservative President. President Hope sees the sponsorship as "elevating the nation through sports" and does plan to fund a team to the VexGames and to soccer events worldwide.

To understand the row over golfing sponsorship is to understand the deep division between the east-coasters and the rest of the country. Modern Utania was formed over one hundred years of deprivation and exploitation by the oppressive Guwimith Tsarist regime. All produce from the dependencies was subject to Guwimith central control, and the Island dictatorship had an opulent lifestyle benefiting from the extraordinarily cheap produce of the dependencies. All produce for the southern two-thirds of the dependencies was then shipped through a town called Luka, as it was the closest port to the island. Luka's economic rise as a result of modern port facilities and vast amounts of work, is legendary. It raised the standard of living amongst the urban poor enormously, making millionaires out of poor Utani tribesmen and urban chiefs within a decade.

In addition, many Guwimithians moved to the east coast, then Guwimith Wide Shore or Duck Egg Shore provinces, to set-up their own farms or holiday mansions. Farmers from the island were then paid grand sums for their produce because they could exploit their contacts and relationships back home. Or the settlers moved to Luka to cut their share of the profits being made in the bustling trade city.

It is not then hard to appreciate the wealth divide that now exists between the east coast and the rest of the country. Most Government MP's, in addition, are from the wealthier parts of the east coast, including President Hope. They have little understanding of or sympathy for the deprivation that exists elsewhere in the country, exemplified by President Hope's oft-condemned remarks, in a recent interview, in which he stated that it was through sloth and poor-motivation that the rural poor remained so.

It is therefore easy to dismiss President Hope's stumbling into a divisive furore as east-coast ignorance, however, as an unelected President, Hope must perform much better than this. His role is to bridge the divides, cool the flames and bring a sense of national unity to the already secession-toting people. He should be promoting more widely popular sports before elitist ones, remaining particularly sensitive in all policy matters to the storms his choices could cause. But more importantly, he should set about educating himself on the national situation, not just that in the eastern states - for he is the national leader, no longer merely Governor for Lasanne. Perhaps he should look to inviting PPP or USP parliamentarians to advise him on reconstruction and reform of the western and central regions.

For the consequences of inaction will be loudly heard in August, leading to a landslide, tipped by many, against the government. To use a pertinent analogy, President Hope must focus on the ball, level his shoulders and bend his knees to improve his game, for his performance, to date, could only be described as a good bowling score.

©Zeitgeist Magazine, 300 AP.

©Mike Ham, 2000. All rights reserved. No reproduction without, at least, tacit approval. ;-)