Thursday, November 24, 2011

Biting the hands that feed you?

I was just on a messaging board and a discussion about world affairs came up and America was mentioned, everyone had their own opinions and expressed them, no malice, everyone was just trying to lay down some facts and logic. However there is a certain type of Jamaican (or Use-To-Be-Jamaican) who takes extra exception to anyone who has an open and objective opinion about America. If you are not singing their praises then you are ungrateful wretches as they proclaimed that we are biting the hands that feed us, just because people express their opinion.

Now this speaks volume to me, it defines how some Jamaicans think of themselves and their country, he declared that we get a lot of American tourist so we are being fed, in other words we are being taken care of by the goodness of their hearts and as such should not have anything critical to say.

Every other country engages in trade and business with America, they however are not being fed, they are seen as partners in Business, trading with each other. Not so for Jamaica even thou we market our tourism as a business, our agriculture as a business and engages in world trade like every other country but we are not worthy to be regarded as business partners but simpletons looking for a hand out, begging for a smalls, invertebrates, to gravel for all eternity.
Jamaica pumps US$2.1742 Billion a year into the US Economy in the form of imports.

This outlook remains me of the poem by the English poet Rudyard Kipling titled "The White Man's Burden" but instead of the white man we now have a "use-to-be Jamaicans" proclaiming that we are The American's Burden and that we are subservient in every way. Not proud men and women, but like animals on a farm, we are being fed. 

Jamaica engages in the business of borrowing just like America engages in the Business of borrowing from China and we both pay interest on loans, plus repay said loans but for us he sees it is a Hand out and for them it is business. Yes we are not the biggest country in the world, we have little or no power, we are not the movers or shakers of this planet, except when it comes to tracks, but that does not say we are not educated, proud men and women who can evaluate the planet we live on and make solid opinions and be objective and call a spade a spade.

It is how some of us see ourselves and our country that I have a problem with, small minds who are ashamed of their very existence, people who think we are and will always be bottom feeders and exist on our knees, only at the mercy of others.

Freedom of speech is the political right to communicate one's opinions and ideas via speech, This right is protected under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

Somehow I get the impression that the United States of America was not created for people who behave like automatons, robots who do what they are told, with words like home of the free it was never design to force conformity on its people. This is a country that boasts strength through diversity and tolerance.

So why is it then that American centric individual are trying to force conformity, with us or against us, if your opinion is not 100% pro-American, defending wrongs as if it was right or the same as my opinion then hand in your visas, green cards, passports, citizenship and leave the United States. I am sure none of the application forms have a section that says you must agree with everything, you must not have an opinion, you must not be objective and if you feel the need to be, then leave or don't come here.

These American centric individual who are trying to force conformity are always either, Red Necks, Use-To-Be Jamaicans or Jamaicans who don’t even live in America but idealize it from a far. Not too long ago a very opinionated, objective and outspoken Facebook friend of mine Jane, voiced her opinion and as a result she was verbally attacked by a Person who does not even live in America. However Jane is an American of British origin, living and working in America, raising her family in America and as far as I am concerned it is her American citizenship that guarantees her the right to voice her opinion and to be objective and to call a spade a spade.

She does not have to agree with everything that is happening around her, however she was attacked and told by a person who does not even live in America nor is America her birth country to leave if she does not like it. In this case liking it means she should never have an opposing view, never criticize anything about The United States and must always be a yes person and somehow I do not think this is what the American founding fathers intended, that type of opinion is very communist like, very Soviet Union. So very China like and as such it is these individuals who do not get the concept and ideals of the United States of America. The exchange was brutal and totally uncalled for, why would a person who does not live in America take such brutal exception to anyone having an opinion that does not jive with theirs, it boggles the mind.

Us Jamaicans also hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness and a Freedom of Speech.

We are more than a beach, we are a country damn it!  

Jamaica's National Heroes

Redemption Song Monument by Laura Facey

Edna Manley's Negro Aroused

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Local Body Foreign Mind

A public relation company came to Jamaica back in the late 70’s and performed an experiment, they invited some ladies to look at two sets of brassieres, one set marked made in Jamaica and the other set marked made in the United States.

All the individuals taking part came to the same unanimous decision that the Bras marked made in the United States was of better quality, hands down, they went into details, showing superior stitching work, the professional quality of the bras that was made in the United States as oppose to those made in Jamaica, which they said was poor workmanship and lower quality, not good value for money and will not last long. No matter how many time they switch the labels between the Bras, the one with the label always wins.

 At the end of the showing when all votes were cast, they were then told that the labels on the brassieres had been switched and that the ones marked made in the United States was in fact made in Jamaica and those labeled made in Jamaica were actually made in the United States, to their shock and awe.

Some years ago the Gleaner published a letter from a woman complaining about the state of Jamaica’s 911 emergency services. No wonder she was having such bad luck because at that time in Jamaica we called emergency services using the number 119 and 911 did not exist. Her body was definitely local to Jamaica but her mind was clearly in North America.

At the start of the 1980’s the new Government embarked on a process of trade liberalization, the flood gates opened to what was primarily one way traffic of imports as we embarked on the era of the three V’s, “Volvo, Video and Venereal Disease”, the latter associated with the revival of the tourist industry. Before this the previous Government had restricted imports to essential items and non- essential items using a quota system. As such Jamaicans could only imagine what certain things look like or taste like (An American apple was like gold to anyone who could sneak them through the airport), they also restricted importing foreign television programs and instead promoted local productions as well as imported education materials such as documentaries. Needless to say we became experts of history and world affairs. I remember a mass protest against the Government where a lady shouted that she wanted to see Kellogs cornflakes and Champagne on the supermarket shelves even if she could not afford it, we should still use hard earn foreign exchange to import it.

Over time Jamaicans began to equate Freedom and Democracy as well as Economic and Social development with the ability to import and consume foreign items regardless of their ability to afford them. It did not take long for the television stations, supermarkets and the use of satellite dish systems to start exposing Jamaicans to all things foreign, it was now common to sit in your home and watch adverts for 99 cent burger or the latest top of the line consumer items thus increasing the Jamaican zombie like hunger for all things foreign, their body was trapped in Third World Jamaica but now their minds was wondering the streets of New York, Miami and LA, London, Paris. It was not surprising then that even after the Government of the 1980’s delivered them from the bondage of the 70’s that migration increased from 20% to 64% by 1988, if the mountain of goods won't come to Muhammad, Muhammad must go to the mountain of goods.

As I said in a previous Blog successive governments began to create budgets around imports, give the people what they want and they will vote for you, make them happy regardless of the cost, this was done under the guise of Freedom and Democracy and to tell you the truth Jamaicans do not care where the money come from to support their buying habits, they pay lip service to the mountain of debt but they really do not care how the government go about financing/securing the funds to support this habit. Our government became master illusionist as they try their very best to maintain the illusion of prosperity of "first worldliness". I remember back in 1988, I was asked to generate two reports, one showing import and the other showing export for the entire year, I remember the guys from the operation room delivering the boxes containing the reports. The export box was half full and imports required two boxes, the subtotal for consumer goods versus that of non-consumer goods was staggering. 

As soon as the 2012 Range Rover Evoque was advertised in North America it was being unveiled at the ATL Autohaus office in Bogue Montego Bay complete with showgirls. The article states ‘RACKING up sales even before it landed in the island, the Evoque is finally here in the "flesh" (make that Victoria Beckham-designed interior, coupled with rugged Land Rover pedigree).” By the time this bad boy gets to the consumer it should cost about US $120K, who need schools and healthcare?

I read with disbelief RJR reporter referring to the JDF helicopter that Prime Minister Patterson was flying in as Air Force One. I see now that it has become fashionable to refer to the wife of the Prime Minister as the first lady, when that title does not exist and if it did then it would refer to the wife of the Governor General. For a long time a certain road in Jamaica was being called I95 and I read the mayor of Kingston referring to a certain shopping area in downtown Kingston as Time Square, not Three Finger Jack square or Breda Anansi Square to give it a Jamaican flavor and part of Portmore is now called Portmore Pines to match the various Pines in Florida. At the rate we are going Jamaican culture and history will soon be forgotten. 

Historically in Jamaica we had our own holidays that represented us as a people, Labor Day, Independence Day, Emancipation Day, National Heroes Day, New Year's Day and Boxing Day however just like how we import consumer goods we now also import American holidays, sports and a host of other stuff.  It is now very common to find Jamaicans celebrating July 4th the American Independence day as they shout God Bless America and decorate their houses with the old stars and stripes while inviting people over for 4th of July dinner and party. They go all out for this as if the year 1776 represented an historical event happening in Jamaica, there are Jamaicans who have more pride in American independence than in Jamaica’s independence from the British, well by the last poll most think we should have remained a colony.

When I was growing up Halloween was not a big deal, it was not on our calendar and we just did not care for it, we had better things to do. Not so these days, Halloween celebration and trick or treating is now a yearly event as returning and traveling Jamaicans try to show other Jamaicans just how Americanized they have become. One person remarked after spending only a few years in America, “it is what I am use to”... use to!! Lets see you are 36 and you spent 4 years in America ...mmmm. So everybody plays dress up and keep parties and send their kids out to Trick or Treat, ....ohhhh how cute ... “look weh mi live fi come see, a whole bunch a neva see come see”. The least I expected is for the these people to dress as characters from Jamaica’s folklore, nothing scarier than a Junkanoo, rolling calf, anansi and obeah priest but no sah, even the characters are imported as they fly to Miami to buy them. In these hard economic times who have money fi waste carving pumpkin, a pumpkin is something we use to make our Saturday soup with cart wheel dumpling not carve face into it.

The biggest imported holiday by far is Thanksgiving, the May flower must have stopped in Kingston Habour after leaving Plymouth, England and before heading to Plymouth, Massachusetts because Jamaicans have taken to this American holiday like fish to water. As I write this several people I know are planning massive Thanksgiving dinners and parties, it is such an important part of the Jamaican holiday calendar that the daily news papers write articles on how to prepare your thanksgiving meals, complete with the picture of the Tom Turkey surrounded by American plums and garnish and I must wonder why? Could it be that the problems that we have in Jamaica are not being solved because the minds of the people are not in Jamaica, they are wondering the virtual landscape of North America. Personally I will never understand American Holidays, imagine eating and drinking Christmas day and night and then returning to work the next morning, where is the day to get over the previous day, to lounge on the beach with friends and relax. The hard build up to Christmas and then bops it just done so, you back at you desk.

Super bowl/World Series parties are now also common yearly event, Jamaicans gather to impress upon others their knowledge of this sport. They prepare for this event with commitment, as if they were in America or a Jamaican team was taking part. They go out shopping for the super bowl, buying the required treats and decorate their houses with team flags, wearing their team’s Jersey and I am still wondering why. This is Freedom and Democracy at work, at the expense of Nation Building and the Jamaican society.

Soon we will officially get rid of the Jamaican Calendar and start using the American Hallmark version, it is obvious that the people already have these pinned to their kitchen walls, only the Government is lagging behind.  

Will The Rich and Well To Do Ever Say Thank You:
The other day I was watching program where American millionaires were being interviewed about how they came to be so rich. During the program I noticed a certain trend, they all make a point in asking God to Bless America and declared that only in America and if it was not for America they would not be who they are today.

I have never heard the rich and well to do in Jamaica ever asking God to bless Jamaica or declare that if it was not for Jamaica they would not have achieved such wealth and comfort. Jamaica’s rich it seems thinks that Jamaica is not anyway shape or form responsibility for their good fortunes, that it is they who made Jamaica and that Jamaica did not make them. Where would Butch Stewart be without Jamaica, who would he be, in any other country he would just be another face in the crowd, in Jamaica he was not and so who he is today is because of the unique set of circumstances that existed in Jamaica at that time.  The last statistic I saw on income distribution showed that 46% of total income is earned by the richest 20% of the population, the richest 10% makes 30% of total income. I think the rich in Jamaica thinks that they did not become rich because of Jamaica but in spite of Jamaica but I wonder where they would be if their ancestors did not find this goldmine of an island that made them possible(you ungrateful wretch!).

I must thank Jamaica, because growing up in Jamaica I remember:
  • At the start of every school year we use to get free material to make school uniform, I remember lining up  with the rest of the school to collect my free khaki material, God Bless Jamaica, I will be forever grateful.
  • Every now and then the school would give out free products, sometimes it was flour, or cornmeal or milk powder or sugar, sometimes all three, this was given free by the tax payer to help assist parents. God Bless Jamaica, I will be forever grateful.
  • I remember when the Government introduce free school lunch, it was stated that children cannot learn on empty stomachs and needed a balance diet, this lasted from Primary school to high school and consist of free soy box milk, free veggie patty or veggie meat loaf with soy crust. God Bless Jamaica, I will be forever grateful.
  • My cousin suffers from an inherited condition that requires constant care, this he got free of cost from the University Of the West Indies Hospital, Medical Research Council, not only was the treatment and medication free but they would send a bus to pick him up from home or school and return him after they were done. God Bless Jamaica, I will be forever grateful.
  • All of my education in Jamaica was for the most part free, from Primary school to high school. God Bless Jamaica, I will be forever grateful.
For a small third world island we did not do so bad, we are able to provide free healthcare and education which enabled most of us to be the productive masters we are today, so join me in saying Thank you Jamaica, I will be forever grateful.

SO Mobile... SO Fab! ...Oh So Tacky!

There is nothing "Well-To-Do" Jamaicans like to do more than to flaunt their Over The Top wealth, to be seen above the lesser beings, the plebs, is what they live for. Take this article from the Jamaica Observer “SO Mobile... SO Fab!” where the paper interviewed some of the richest woman in Jamaica about what they drive and why. It’s like watching Rome burns while Nero fiddles. Yes they are rich, yes some of you are well educated but most of you certainly have no class, it is traditionally considered bad manners to flaunt ones wealth, especially in light of Jamaica’s economic statistic and unequal wealth distribution but even the upper class are now behaving like uneducated gangsters rappers and dancehall entertainers from the ghettos.

The educated middle class and upper class are no longer engaged in the Nation Building process, no longer have any use for it, they are too busy being selfish, greedy and self serving to care. We are a society consumed by our own self importance... We pay lip service to problems simply because it makes us feel important but it is only part of the profile process and serves the same purpose of the big SUV. Most of our organizations and NGO groups advocating this and that only exist to play dress up while keeping lunch and dinner functions, not to solve any problems but to be seen and heard, a social circle.

The more education the educated class acquire, the more they distance themselves from society because the purpose of their education is not to build a nation but to set themselves apart from the rest of society, it too is a part of the profile process and serves the same purpose as the big SUV, look at me I went to such and such school in the States or in England and these are the string of letters I can now attach to my name but it is all show and no substance.

We achieved Workers Rights, Universal Adult Suffrage and Independence because at that time the educated middle class was fully engaged in the process. They mobilized the masses and led the process, now they have achieved Colonial Master Status which may have been their only intention and care only about the collection of material things and nothing about Nation Building, in fact they prefer not to build anything, instead maintaining the status quo.

Jamaica is a country experiencing both social and economic stagnation simply because these are the bubble head people who are suppose to lead it out of bondage. So do not expect any real progress anytime soon, simply because progress for the masses is not their intention. They love the way things are at the moment, they are on the top of the food chain and the rest of the plebs are there to be used.

"With the Wealth Auto Show slated for Saturday, November 26 and Sunday, November 27, SO shares Girls' Talk from around the steering wheel. Take note Garth Walker and Leighton Davis we're a serious force to be reckoned with. You might wish to pass the word around that there's need for more female representation on the sales floor."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

It is election time again In Jamaica

A time when it becomes almost impossible to reason with the Jamaican people, when logic no longer exist, election is like a fever that affects the brains of the people, turning them into political zombies, with one intention, to eliminate and consume their political opponent. Like boxers they retreat to the opposing corners while eyeballing their opponent, smacking their gloves together, waiting for the bell to engage and rain punishment down on them in the name of the party. During the Election period the Jamaican people only eat, sleep and think in two colours, Green and Orange they care nothing about the country just the party, for the glory of the party, as if they benefit when any of these parties are in power.

The other day I was having a conversation with a friend and he started talking about Bruce Golding’s Legacy and I remembered an article I wrote in 2006 when the Jamaican media was going crazy about the Legacy of former Prime Minister PJ Patterson. Nero needs to take lessons from the Jamaican people on how to fiddle while everything around them burns.

Update: Dec 27 2011
I have just been told by a friend of mine that there is a lot of money to be made during this election time he said some people he knows have been exploiting the fact that both the JLP and the PNP will pay as much as J$5000 per head for people to join their party bus. He said these boys have been trying to join as much motorcade as possible, one minute riding the JLP bus the next ride the PNP bus and if possible they will ride both the JLP and PNP bus in the same day, their only requirement is that they change shirts well before reaching the motorcade.
What About the People's Legacy: Written in 2006
The “Prime Ministers Legacy” what nonsense! What about Jamaica’s Legacy? I have been trying to ignore the debate regarding the Prime Minister’s legacy because to go on and on about it is like Nero fiddling while Rome burns. I think this Prime Minister and this Government has been a failure just like the other Prime Ministers and Government before. Our problems existed long before this Prime Minister and at the rate we are going, living our lives with blinkers on, it seems it will exist long after. 

The political Parties style of government, style of management and practice of politics is outdated and has no place in Jamaica today. For Jamaica to progress this will have to change and the power to make this change rest with the people and only with the people, by holding the Government accountable and demanding real, fundamental changes. The Prime Minister however is not the only failure the people of Jamaica are the biggest failures, when we go to the polls to elect a Government, what goes through our minds, what are our expectations?  Or do we go through this five year ritual hoping that our newly elected, “home grown colonial master” will deliver free of charge all our expectations with minimal input from the general public. In theory we elect a government to make better our society, economy and to increase our standard of living. In practice we elect a Government and must force them to make better our society, economy and to increase our standard of living. Electing is just one part of the job people involvement is the other most important part and that’s the part that is missing from Jamaican society.

What mechanism, do we have in place to ensure that our elected officials deliver what we expect from them and what actions can we take to make sure they deliver on their promises? Waiting for an election every 5 years is just not enough; we need a short term mechanism in place to legally force the government to address our concerns. We cannot depend on the opposing political party to be our advocates they do not have our interest at heart, this has been proven time and time again, they are nothing but another Government in waiting, more of the same. We have been down this path before, opposition becomes Government and Government becomes opposition and the cycle continues with no real end in sight while the people follow along like a hamster on a wheel. The public needs to organize into their own advocacy groups to create a new political, social and economic awareness, these groups need to detach themselves from the political parties and serve the public, the interest of Jamaicans and for the betterment of Jamaica. The general public needs to stand behind these groups thus removing the politicians influence over them and the public Advocacy Groups needs to demand fundamental changes to our society, by any means necessary. Just forget the trade unions they are just another wing of the political parties, from which the parties got their start, they are more of the same and just as guilty.

What is missing from Jamaica today is the real influence of the educated middle class and upper class to some extent, the latter is normally too comfortable to care about others. Throughout our history especially during the early part of the 19th century it was the educated people who organized the masses and channeled their anger to bring about much needed social and economic change, from workers rights to universal adult suffrage and independence. Our educated middle/upper classes today are too comfortable, too self centered and narrow minded to care about his fellow man or about his country, they exist with one foot in Jamaica and the other in Miami and can only see as far as their own front gate and their way to the airport.

Gone are the days of real Leaders, Patriots and Nationalists, the days when leaders would assume the responsibility, when leaders would give their lives rather than compromise on their principles, when the needs of the many far out-weighed the needs of the few and leaders would risk life and limb to ensure that the needs of the population was satisfied.

Jamaica will continue to achieve very little in terms of increase economic activity and the standard of living unless Jamaicans realizes that the real key to success lies within Jamaica. The process of turning inwards and adding value to our homeland requires a certain amount of discipline that the Jamaican people currently lacks but over time we can teach the future generation of Jamaicans how to tap into this discipline. For generations we have been telling ourselves that everything Jamaican is no good and everything imported is so much better, this perception is a recipe for disaster. We need to realize that first world countries do not have Jamaica’s interest at heart and they will never treat us fairly, for the most part they see us as an annoyance. We need to change our relationship with the rest of the world but we will never achieve a more balance relationship if we ourselves sees no value in Jamaica, we need to first respect ourselves if we want others to respect us. Our very existence is based on dependence in a world we have no control over and we continue to turn our backs on Jamaica, the one thing we own.

We sit around trying to devise a plan to make inroads into the markets of first world countries, this is a futile attempt, the system was not design for 3rd world countries to be sellers in the market place of first world countries, it was designed for us to be buyers, borrowers and providers of cheap labour, unless by selling we mean the selling of our resources to so called investors. We sit around for years trying to come up with something to sell, this Big Mystery Product that everyone in the world will want and while we plan and plot we continue to be perfect little buyers, even with borrowed money. Our problem lies with what we consider to be a good standard of living, which is self centered and materialist in nature, where profiling is everything, our desire to show others that we can afford certain material goods that are almost always imported, whether or not we can truly afford them and our ability to only focus on our wants will be our downfall, our priorities are wrong and we need to focus more on solid development as oppose to perceived development, “If you paint an old broken down building it will only be an old broken down building with a new coat of paint”.

Jamaica's trade deficit continues to widen (RJR): (Sat. Oct. 1st 2005)
New data from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica, STATIN, show that between January and June, the trade deficit grew by 336 million US dollars to one-point-four billion US dollars. During the first half of the year, Jamaicans spent two-point-one billion US dollars on imports nearly three times the 724 million US dollars earned from exports. The figures show imports increased by 18 percent while exports declined by five percent.

Rising imports and falling exports will lead to increase unemployment, as we turn our backs on everything Jamaican we are doing an injustice to our economy and our society. How do you expect to be gainfully employed when no one supports the local companies who provide the jobs? How can locally manufactured goods get cheaper if there is no demand to cover cost?  Is Jamaica being run according to people’s expectations, are the people not concern about providing education to our young people, are the people not concern about crime and proper health care? It seems that so long as there is entertainment and imports the people are happy, so contented with being thrown a bone.

Having a mass riot every 4 or 5 years making general demands just don’t work, this is the third such riot and we are no better for it. I believe in people power and people involvement in government, every step of the way. I believe the people should hold their government accountable for their actions but that must be done in a sensible and systematic way, not a once in a while destruction of life and property. If the people of Jamaica can spend so much money on imports while schools rot, kids go uneducated and crime runs rampant then we are all failures and that will be our Legacy.

Is this the best we can do? Is this the best we want to do? I refuse to be drawn into a debate as to who can run this country and who cannot. Both the JLP and the PNP have had their chances, both of these parties were the Government at one time or another and we are no better for it. So we the people must be doing something wrong, the buck stops with us. Do we want education for our kids or SUVs, do we want proper light, water, health care, Jobs, housing or profile with imports, supporting other peoples economy at the expense of our own. The Government is a product of the people, the people seems to be simple minded and so are the Government. The JLP and PNP cannot help you, not by themselves, we expect failure from them and failure is exactly what we get, it is the people of Jamaica that is the problem with this country, so instead of worrying about the Prime Minister’s legacy maybe we should worry about our own, the people’s legacy because after the Prime Minister is done and gone we will still be suffering.

If these three political parties with their recycled politicians are the only choices we have then, “dog nawm wi suppa”.  In the end voting seems to be a waste of time since we are just swapping “Black dog fi monkey”.  I can understand voting to make positive changes, for economic and social development. I cannot understand voting for NO change and empty promises.

Life between elections is like a distortion of the space/time continuum, a Temporal loop,  “ground hog day” if you will, we are all trapped in time, having to relive the same election-to-election events. I cannot listen to or watch these clowns perform their circus acts anymore, I have no patience for it.

Wanted! Good, Honest Patriotic, Nationalistic Jamaicans to perform a complete overhaul of the Jamaican Economy and Society. We need a real Government, a Government that will identify each and every problem and try to implement solutions without trying to please the few (Family & Friends). We want a Government that can make life better for each and every Jamaican, a Government with vision and imagination to take this country proudly into the 21st Century. A Government who can create the type of infrastructure needed for growth, a Government that can be held accountable, not one that operates above the law. We need a people who can stand up and engage the political class to demand these things, nation building this country requires each and every one of us Jamaicans, to stand up with one voice and secure a future for each and every Jamaican.