On Friday, 18th October 2013, sometime around 6:15 pm, I was walking past the radio in my house when I heard part of a conversation that made me back up and take a seat. A male caller to a radio programme was speaking to the host, and I could almost feel the anguish in his voice. The essence of the point he was making was the depth to which Jamaica had sunk over the years since our Independence. A good friend of mine would have a difficulty with a part of that statement; his stance is that we haven't yet experienced independence.
One of the points I came away with was the blatant contempt and disdain with which Jamaicans are generously showered virtually everywhere we go. It is now commonplace for Jamaicans to be viewed, and on occasion treated, as undesirables and dregs of society. I have known this to be a reality, but to hear it again being voiced on air struck a nerve. Naturally, a Usain Bolt or a Portia Simpson Miller will be exceptions, but many an ordinary little man can recount a tale along the lines of the Shanique Myrie story. Jamaicans in the main don't really know the debt of gratitude we owe Ms Myrie.
The fact of the matter is that, all things being equal, Jamaica should be a place that had long established visa restrictions and made it difficult for outsiders to enter our borders. We should be a nation prospering, with a per capita income no less than that of a Singapore, and with a Government that is efficient and effective.
Government should be in the background, merely directing proceedings and allowing the creativity and entrepreneurship for which Jamaicans are renowned to flow. Jamaica should be at a place where we would have to be turning away visitors, and even the few who made the "mistake" of migrating would have a difficult time permanently getting back in. Burglar bars on buildings and crimes should be the exception rather than the norm. Alas, everything is the other way around, and Jamaica's position is so desperate it can ill afford to turn away even a dog that has a dollar of foreign currency to spend.
We see, too, where former dependents of ours are imposing visa restrictions and other barriers to restrict our nationals from entering their borders. It doesn't stop with our people, however, as our manufacturers and exporters will tell you of stonewalls they encounter in trying to trade, as equals, with our Caricom neighbours. One must then ask, where are the benefits of this trade bloc called Caricom?
People say I am a pessimist, but I prefer the term realist. The positions I take usually result in my being disappointed far less than would others around me. When the Titanic was going down, no doubt there were many aboard who were still of the opinion that all would soon be well, and the party continued. Stanley Redwood and Ronald Robinson are among those who evidently have learned a valuable lesson from that particular history lesson.