Thursday, February 20, 2014

Is Who Mash Up Jamaica? ... IT WASN'T ME!!

Not too long ago I posted a response on the Gleaner Facebook site declaring that every single Jamaican regardless of Geographic location, regardless of age and gender was responsible for the Social and Economic problems, condition and state of Jamaica.

As a result of posting this I was bombarded with several responses from people declaring that they had nothing to do with what was and is happening in Jamaica. They had nothing to do with the condition of the country and the state of our society and economy. These people were not only declaring their innocence but started identifying individuals and entities who they consider was the real guilty culprits, the people who should be taken round back, placed against the wall and shot dead.

One person declared it was the Ruling class, another said the blame rest with the Political Class, while JLP supporters declared that the blame rest with the PNP and Michael Manley and PNP supporters place the blame on JLP and their leaders. Others blame the United States Imperialism and destabilization and a lot blamed English Slavery and Colonialism.  

It seems Jamaica is mashed up, the country gone to the dogs but the Jamaican people were not the ones who mashed it up, they were the innocent party, the poor victims, lambs of society, so their conscience is clear and they could sleep well at night.

I can only describe these people as simple minded and delusional, people who cannot see the forest for the trees and I make no apology for saying that. They suffer from tunnel vision and go through life with blinkers on while also suffering from a common trait that is prevalent in Jamaica, that of playing the blame game because it makes them sleep better at night. Their perception filter set to max!

If you are a Jamaican by birth then you were born with the responsibility to build this Nation State. Each and every Jamaican was born with this responsibility regardless of which Geographic location you now call home. What happened to this country and what is happening to this country, is being done with the blessing of each and every Jamaican. Jamaica is the way it is, simply because that is the way we want it to be, either directly or indirectly. What is happening now is by design and accepted because we The Jamaican People reserve the right to pass the blame on to someone else, anyone else when everything goes pear shaped and the shit hit the fan.

Let me say this again, the day you were born in Jamaica, West Indies, an island in the Caribbean sea, located at Coordinates 18.1824° N, 77.3218°, was the day you were shackled with the Patriotic, Nationalistic and Civic duty to develop this country, to build a nation state and to make sure it reaches its full potentials while preventing it from going in the wrong direction. It is our responsibility as Jamaicans, no one else and If not us, …then who?

The Political Class by themselves did not create the conditions we see before us today, they had loads of help from the Jamaican people who are willing participants in the creation of this destructive cycle. As a matter of fact the political class are simply just Jamaicans, no different than you and me, they came out of this same common Jamaican stock and I have been to school with a couple of them. So I am sure they are not from Mars or some other planet, they were not appointed to rule us, we elected them. They did not force people to take up the guns and murder their fellow Jamaicans, people willingly did that because of greed and selfishness and every Jamaican stood by and watch that happen. Some looked the other way, some grab a flight to foreign, others took part, but almost everyone picked a side and draw up battle lines, in our own self interest.

Every Jamaican had a hand in building the Political garrison because if the concept of a murdering political garrison offended us, if the Political garrison was an affront to who we are as a people then we would have taken to the streets in unity to stand against the negative elements of our society and dismantle the garrisons. It was greed and selfishness why we destroyed our various industries by favoring imports and it was greed and selfishness why we decided to borrow to finance these imports. Every Jamaican played their part in running up the National debt, the fact is our actions and lack of actions created Jamaica today, stewed to perfection.
  • Nation building is NOT the sole responsibility of the Ruling Class
  • Nation building is NOT the sole responsibility of the political class
  • Nation building is NOT the sole responsibility of the Educated Class
  • Nation building is NOT sole responsibility of the of the lower class
  • Nation building is NOT sole responsibility of any one sector of our society
Nation Building is the responsibility of "Every Single Jamaican, every jack man and woman born on this rock". 

It should be all hands on-board but as a people we lack Political, Economic and Social activism, we have not engaged the process like how we should, as a matter of fact we have not engaged the process at all, too busy having fun, enjoying nightly merriment, satisfied with only paying lip service to our problems. We have no unified Progressive movement, no movement that rises above petty selfishness and political tribalism. We have done nothing as one people except perhaps cheer on Tessanne Chin and Usain Bolt, we lack unity and one cannot blame anyone else but ourselves. No one else is going to build this Nation State but us Jamaicans, this is our responsibility, it is ours to build up or ours to destroy and we the Jamaican people are doing a wonderful Job of trying to run this country into the ground. Trying to destroy it while declaring it is not me but him and boasting that we are migrating to foreign.

So when I say we are all responsible this is what I mean and I know a lot of people will still not get it because they are not civic minded enough but collectively us Jamaicans are responsible for the state of Jamaica. We should have known better and we should have done better. We should have stepped in to perform course correction decades ago. We convinced ourselves that we had no control over the destructive events that created this situation, while all along we had full control …since it is the Jamaican people who are the true power base of this country, not the political, educated or economic class but all the people. The same reason we convinced ourselves that we have no control, was the same reason we convinced ourselves that what happened was not our fault but someone else’s doing. We were too lazy, greedy and selfish as a people, we wanted an easy life, we wanted something for nothing but societies do not build themselves, good society requires good people, ready and willing to sacrifice for the greater good.

My Sincere Apologies
I personally accept this blame and this responsibility, I acknowledge that my actions and lack of actions as a Jamaican Citizen, contributed to the conditions that exist today in Jamaica. I should have been more of an activist for the greater good, I should have engaged the process more for the greater good. I should have encouraged by fellow Jamaicans to engage the process and be activist in this Nation Building process for the Greater Good. I sincerely apologize to my fellow Jamaicans especially the younger generation for not being a better Jamaican citizen, I have failed you, I have failed my country and I am sorry that you have inherited this mess, this cycle of destruction. I am deeply sorry that we failed to build a nation State that you and future generations would be proud of.

  • I am also sorry we pretended that the high murder rate was not our fault for so long and I am sorry we did not step in decades sooner to tackle the problem, it was not always this high but we sat idly by and watched it climb year after year to the 1000+ per year number it is today.
  • I am sorry for the poor and inadequate infrastructure, sorry we did not step in decades sooner to tackle the problem.
  • I am sorry for the poor state of the health and education sectors and that we did not step in decades sooner to tackle the problems and force the Governments to do right by us.
  • I am also sorry for the high levels of imports because we kicked away the legs from under our local producers, preferring instead to import garbage, we should have prevented this decades ago but we were too weak to fight off the influences of Miami Vice, VCRs, Video, Volvos and various American Imports. You see some of us believed that if we consumed these things then we are first world.
  • I am deeply sorry for dancehall we should have stepped in long ago and prevented DJ’s like General Echo from chatting slackness on the microphone. I am sorry that you now regard dancehall, this poor excuse for entertainment as a part of our culture and are unable to see it for what it is …a destructive force on the land and the minds of young people.
  • I am sorry that we both ignored and embraced corruption for so long because of our selfishness and greed, I am also sorry that we looked the other way with regards to political corruption simply because we did not want the Government to interfere with any opportunities we may have to be corrupt ourselves, so we could get one over on our fellow man.
  • I am sorry for my Generation’s failure to instill the right morals and values in you, so that your generation could make better decisions than the last generation, you are only living what you learn but it is totally possible for people to change their ways.

  • Independence and Freedom coupled with Responsibility and Discipline guarantees that we will always make the right decision, the best decision for the collective good of all the people and the future of Jamaica, decisions must benefits the many above the few.
  • Independence and Freedom means absolutely nothing without a strong sense Responsibility and Discipline.
  • Equality, Social-Justice, Self-Reliance and Discipline are wonderful principles to live by and we should try to instill these principles back into our society.
  • Political Tribalism will be the death of us because we are way too small and too poor to survive this crab in a barrel mentality.
  • Jamaica is a country with so much potentials, we could achieve so much as a people if we apply our selves but we do not think or operate as a collective.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Greatest Countries in the World...The Law of Jante

Let me first say that there is no country on planet earth, that I would apply the word "Great" to. None seems to fit the bill not even Great Britain who is great in name only and is the last country I would apply great to.

I often wonder why people consider America the Greatest country in the world. I guess it depends on how you define greatness and the fact that America loves to blow its own horn and declare its greatness to the world. In my view America is the most powerful country on the planet at this moment in time but it is certainly not the greatest country, not even close.

Great Britain defines its greatness because it once hand a Global Empire. They are great simply because they had to ability to Conquer, to Invade, to Colonize, to Slaughter, to put in place the most profitable system of slavery and the extraction of other peoples wealth resources by force to enrich themselves. If their was a greatness scale Britain would be close to the bottom as the one of the least great countries.

There are no Great Countries on this planet! No country in the history of this planet as ever achieved the status of being Great, it is not possible, not by my definition at least. No country can be great when it is inhabited by human beings. Because humanity defines greatness by their ability to use force, violence, enslavement and mass murder to control others for nothing but greed and power.     

While there are no great countries, we can then say that some countries are better than other countries. A good country is one that provides the vast majority of its inhabitants with a decent standard of living, where their poorest people are defined as middle class in most other countries. Great countries provide education and healthcare to almost all of its citizens and great countries are socially and environmentally responsible because they think and plan ahead for the well-being of their people and the future of the country.

Great countries are not violent war mongering countries with a large prison population. Great countries are inhabited my people who make common sense decisions for the greater good. Great People are not people who are trying to outdo each other with a collections of material goods, instead great people think about the overall greater good of society, when making day to day decisions and are happy and satisfied knowing that the country’s wealth is being used, shared to develop the country on an egalitarian basis. Great people are not greedy or shellfish they are happy to work and share wealth for the greater good of their fellow countrymen.

The problem is, too often we confuse the collection of ostentatious material goods with greatness, a sure sign of ignorance and too often we confuse Power with greatness, a powerful country is not necessarily a great country. A country is not great simply because it has the ability to wipe humanity from the face of the planet, the ability to shock and awe you back into the Stone Age. Greatness is not the ability to end life but to enhance life for all. Great countries redistributes its wealth back into society for the greater good of that society as they put in place the structures required for fundamental development and improved quality of life. I remember during the cold war the USSR had a stockpile of nuclear weapons, could destroy the earth 10 times over, they had rockets to send a man into space but the population had to stand in line to get their weekly quota of toilet paper .... Great? ....Me Think Not!!!

Arne Jacobsen - Egg Chair
One just has to take a look at all the social and economic Human Development Indexes of countries on the planet to quickly realize which countries come close to my definition of Great Countries. America on a whole might have the largest GDP and the biggest military but it is the Scandinavian countries who get the prize for Income equality and distribution, mass education and healthcare for all, plus the highest standard of living among their people at all levels and almost all the Scandinavian countries make up the top 6 list of the world’s happiest countries, people are happy because they feel safe and secure in society. In fact there are so many countries above the United States that come closer to true greatness simply because of their contribution to the development, health and well-being of their citizens with tangible results.

Being a rich country means nothing if the vast majority of your people are suffering, what is the point, if not to better the lives of your people? Declaring how rich you are is meaningless, if that richness does not provide education for all, healthcare for all and raise the standard of living for the people in a structured, well planned, meaningful way. In 2013 India made the top 10 list of the world’s richest country, entering the list at number 10 but India is a country that still receives foreign aid/handout, has huge income, education and social inequalities and a large section of her population live in poverty. It is not the amount of money you have but the Human Development Index that is important which gives a greater indication of how that money is spent/distributed. GDP Per Capita is also very misleading, it is the total GDP, divided by the population size, again this does not tell us how that money is being used, how it is being distributed and how it contributes to the Standard of Living of the people.

Having a huge sky-scraping concrete metropolis does not make your country a great country, being able to build tall buildings certainly does not define greatness. But being able to understand and respect your heritage and define your own unique reality and build on it, to understand what is required in order to increase the standard of living for all, will help a country on its way to greatness. Not because you can build some rubbish means it should be built, the real question is functionality, contribution to society and how it fits in to the mindset of the society. The concept of being First world is not a one size fit all concept, I am actually happy they no longer use the term first world and third world opting for the more correct terminology of developed and developing countries but if your society is lopsided, with poor income distribution and large part of your society uneducated, miserable and in prison then are you really in a developed country? There is a lot of other countries that I would call first developed world over America, Russia and China and not because they can build advance weapons and send man to the moon but because they use the wealth generated by society to take care of their citizens right here on earth.

I came across this comment in the Jamaica Gleaner... regarding the super bowl... and I quote:

"Jamaica has always been an americanized society, especially uptown and nothing is wrong with that in my opinion, i think the more we think of ourselves as a first world country the more realistic it will be for us to become first world, im not saying thinking/behaving like a first world country will make us one, but whats the point of holding onto the third world mentality and image. and the future generation which i'm currently apart of is even waaay more americanized so trust me you guys aint see nothing yet.".....

This statement is wrong on so many levels and define what is essentially wrong with the Jamaican society… To love the Super Bowl, Thanksgiving, Halloween, World Series is to think first world and to think first world is to be first world, this concept is very prevalent around Jamaica today. This person and many others, believes we must adopt the American culture which to them is regarded as superior and first world and we as Jamaicans should let go of our own culture which is regarded as a third world mentality, something to be discarded. Clearly this person have no respect for his heritage and culture or who we are as a people, him and many others like him suffer from a advance stage of self loathing. So how can we to build a nation state with minds like these…? ...Who are we? Where are we going and how are we going to get there? These are questions that cannot be answered without a strong sense of self!

We need to redefine the definition of First/Developed world because as I said it is not one size fits all, mimicking America’s development is not the answer because what works for the United States will not work for a country like Jamaica, after a while it becomes apparent that like a dog we are just chasing our tail, as my granny use to say… dog and puss, no have the same luck.  So to me a developed/first world country is a country where the needs of the people are being met. Where the people understands their own unique reality and its limitations, where greed and selfishness is replaced with understanding, commonsense and caring about our fellow man and country.

Switzerland could soon have the highest minimum wage in the world (2014), almost £15 per hour ($24).

These are the 2013 top 10 minimum wage by country.
  • Netherlands – $23,029 per year
  • Luxembourg – $19,426 per year
  • Ireland – $18,965 per year
  • Belgium – $18,813 per year
  • United Kingdom – $18,428.24 per year
  • France – $17,108 per year
  • Canada – $16,710 per year
  • New Zealand – $16,462 per year
  • San Marino – $15,707 per year
  • Switzerland – $15,457 per year

I am genuinely impressed by the Scandinavian Model, I envy them and I respect their outlook on life. I recently watched a documentary about an oil rich town in Norway that looks no different today than it did 200 years ago. The money earned from Nordic sea oil, was not use by the population or the country to “blingify” the town or themselves but redistributed for the greater good of their society. I am impressed by the outlook of the people, who take pride in consuming local goods and services. I was impressed when during the interview a woman declared that the tax rate was over 50% but she does not mind and gladly pay because the level of services she gets back from the state was well worth it, she was safe, secure, everyone well educated and healthy. They interviewed a group of men who took one year off from work with full pay and benefits after their wife had a baby and after their wife had taken her year off from work for having the baby. The society understands that men also need time to bond with their new child and allocates both time and money for this. I mentioned in a previous blog that ... "The United States remains alone as the only rich nation without legally mandated vacations for employees and with no requirement that official holidays come with extra pay and a compensating day off.".. (Working your fingers to bone and early Grave)

One oil worker declared that for every two weeks he worked he gets four weeks off to spend with his family and friends. The wealth of their society is not snatched up by the 1% but redistributed for the greater good, to improve the quality of life. They do not need tacky material things to define them, they are not that shallow. What they have must be functional and that is what impress me most about Scandinavia, they are functional, practical people who seem to take the time to engineer a society that service everyone not just the few.

In Denmark their is a school called Efterskole, a boarding school where the teenagers spend a year being taught how to be better citizens.

The average prison in Norway looks like a resort, some a seaside resort, where life means 21 years and everything is geared towards rehabilitation. The re-offending rate is Norway is only 16% meanwhile the re-offending rate in Great Britain is 50% and in America, prison is regarded to have a revolving door, where re-offending rates are as much as 78% - 80%. Where prison is a money making private enterprise and some judges are paid to sentence young offenders to maximum term because they get a kick back from corporations who own the prisons and need a steady supply of souls.

The Law of Jante – The Underlying Rules of Norwegian Society, where “us” meaning the collective population.

Surly if I am going to measure countries on a Greatness scale, then countries with happier, healthy and educated people living in a more egalitarian society with little or no violence contributing to the greater good would be higher on the list than most other countries.

World Health Report 2000: The 36 Countries That Have Better Healthcare Systems Than The US
1 - France
2 - Italy
3 - San Marino
4 - Andorra
5 - Malta
6 - Singapore
7 - Spain
8 - Oman
9 - Austria
10 - Japan
11 - Norway
12 - Portugal
13 - Monaco
14 - Greece
15 - Iceland
16 - Luxembourg
17 - Netherlands
18 - United Kingdom
19 - Ireland
20 - Switzerland
21 - Belgium
22 - Colombia
23 - Sweden
24 - Cyprus
25 - Germany
26 - Saudi Arabia
27 - United Arab Emirates
28 - Israel
29 - Morocco
30 - Canada
31 - Finland
32 - Australia
33 - Chile
34 - Denmark
35 - Dominica
36 - Costa Rica
37 - United States of America
The Top 25 Best Countries To Be A Woman - The Global Gender Gap Report 2013 - The World Economic Forum
1. Iceland
2. Finland
3. Norway
4. Sweden
5. Philippines
6. Ireland
7. New Zealand
8. Denmark
9. Switzerland
10. Nicaragua
11. Belgium
12. Latvia
13. Netherlands
14. Germany
15. Cuba
16. Lesotho
17. South Africa
18. United Kingdom
19. Austria
20. Canada
21. Luxembourg
22. Burundi
23. United States
24. Australia
25. Ecuador

The Happiest Countries in the World
The Better Life Index study, published annually by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), reported that United States failed to crack the top 10 for the fourth consecutive year, while neighbors Mexico and Canada did.

11. Sweden
Life satisfaction score: 7.4 (tied for 7th)
Self-reported good health: 80% (8th highest)
Employees working long hours: 1.1% (3rd lowest)
Disposable income: $27,546 (11th highest)
Life expectancy: 81.9 years (8th highest)

10. Netherlands
Life satisfaction score: 7.4 (tied for 7th)
Self-reported good health: 76% (11th highest)
Employees working long hours: 0.6% (2nd lowest)
Disposable income: $25,697 (14th highest)
Life expectancy: 81.3 years (11th highest)

9. Mexico
Life satisfaction score: 7.4 (tied for 7th)
Self-reported good health: 66% (14th lowest)
Employees working long hours: 28.8% (2nd highest)
Disposable income: $12,850 (2nd lowest)
Life expectancy: 74.4 years (3rd lowest)

8. Finland
Life satisfaction score: 7.4 (tied for 7th)
Self-reported good health: 69% (tied-17th lowest)
Employees working long hours: 3.7% (9th lowest)
Disposable income: $26,904 (12th highest)
Life expectancy: 80.6 years (15th lowest)

7. Australia
Life satisfaction score: 7.4 (tied for 7th)
Self-reported good health: 85% (4th highest)
Employees working long hours: 14.2% (7th highest)
Disposable income: $31,197 (4th highest)
Life expectancy: 82.0 years (7th highest)

6. Iceland
Life satisfaction score: 7.5 (tied for 5th)
Self-reported good health: 78% (9th highest)
Employees working long hours: 13.7% (8th highest)
Disposable income: $22,415 (17th lowest)
Life expectancy: 82.4 years (4th highest)

5. Austria
Life satisfaction score: 7.5 (tied for 5th)
Self-reported good health: 69% (tied-17th lowest)
Employees working long hours: 8.6% (15th highest)
Disposable income: $29,256 (9th highest)
Life expectancy: 81.1 years (13th highest)

4. Denmark
Life satisfaction score: 7.6 (tied for 3rd)
Self-reported good health: 71% (17th highest)
Employees working long hours: 2.1% (4th lowest)
Disposable income: $25,172 (15th highest)
Life expectancy: 79.9 years (12th lowest)

3. Canada
Life satisfaction score: 7.6 (tied for 3rd)
Self-reported good health: 88% (3rd highest)
Employees working long hours: 4.0% (11th lowest)
Disposable income: $30,212 (7th highest)
Life expectancy: 81.0 years (17th highest)

2. Norway
Life satisfaction score: 7.7
Self-reported good health: 73% (15th highest)
Employees working long hours: 3.1% (6th lowest)
Disposable income: $32,093 (3rd highest)
Life expectancy: 81.4 years (10th highest)

1. Switzerland
Life satisfaction score: 7.8
Self-reported good health: 81% (7th highest)
Employees working long hours: 7.3% (17th highest)
Disposable income: $30,745 (5th highest)
Life expectancy: 82.8 years (the highest)