SINCE slavery, we have had a problem creating jobs. The well-intentioned PNP and JLP made no impact. Full employment was achieved by communists or managed democracies as Singapore — the work of firm leaders. Why can't we?
I don't think we should cede the country to China. Is this our best? For 50 + 1 years we failed to entice America to grow our country for us. Here comes China — déjà vu! Why not openly sole-source growth to China? Leave the Goat alone and offer St Thomas. They do the work, we watch, have elections, kill each other, and chat? We have to get serious about our lives and legacy; our dads left us freedom, what will we leave our kids — debt? The IMF deal is to get us back on track, not create growth. Migration to America saved us. Can we give self-reliance another shot? Leaders have never truly taken control of this country or its people. Migration masked failure and we factored access to the USA in our plans. They took our jobless and we developed a penchant for avoiding work. China tried communism and failed, then embraced capitalism, and now disruptive development empowers capital and creates wealth. "Oh, we are only 50." Bulls! we have Chinese here who fled communism. A nation is greater than the person. We choose to exalt self above nation. Repent! Let's use Chinese cash, observe their model and give up some choice to gain Norman Manley's avowed economic freedom. We cannot live large and build prosperity at one time. We must choose.
In a three-year span America gave us some 50,000 visas. Since 1962 hundreds of thousands of us live there, but this generosity has not helped. They gave us fish; we do not catch fish. They gave us work; we do not make jobs and we built no prisons as we occupy theirs. We did not use the space migration created. We took an easy ride to mediocrity. The economic value of America's gift of access is not on our national balance sheet. We saved billions thanks to visas. Their taxpayers picked up costs rightly ours, and we now have an obscene sense of entitlement. "Yu eva ear 'ow we cuss wen we don't get a visa? A fi wi sinting dat." We are addicts to freeness and lining up outside the embassy. We speak glibly of brain drain as if it's a sewer, but it's a choice. Poverty denatures our values. We misused USA aid, so will China now replace them in our matrix? Wake up!
Access to America is our defining asset since 1962. Bauxite? a mere trifle. America is fundamental to our survival; the bedrock of our economic trinity -- tourism, entertainment (music and sport) and remittances. We live by proximity to the USA. They eased our entry into music and sport. We grew up on gospel according to Jim Reeves and Billy Graham; R&B of Chuck Berry, James Brown dance and Johnny Cash country. We covered their hits, found our own voice much later, and they are our market. Their sports superstars, scholarships, exposure, and cash did it for us. And they are our role models in bling, conspicuous consumption and big egos.
Our people love America; kill to get there, are deported and find a way back. A virtual Single Market and Economy (SME) already exists by culture, lifestyle, trade, migration, and desire. We are dons of Caricom. Proximity matters. As neighbours we enjoy USA benefits. In the Indian Ocean we would starve. Do we need economic union with small states a thousand miles away? We hop a plane to Miami, New York; are met by friends, family who live there and know every skycap. After 40 years of Caricom we don't know one airport officer in Barbados, not a BWIA pilot or Customs officer at Timehri. We paid billions to Caricom, zero on the USA, yet we are more integrated with them than any CSME state. Go figure!
Mrs Ambassador, we should have had open access to the USA a long time ago but we blew it. Let's open both borders, pre-clear, expand airlift and we will relieve our visa anxiety, settle down and build. We are insecure, so if we had an open USA it would not be an object of desire; we would relax, work to both our nations' benefit. Our work shy in the USA call other dudes shiftless and get "nuff" praise for their work. Natty can't get a bly in CSME, but USA takes him. A 30-year CSME zealot tried to show me the error of my ways and he choked on his tea and cake at the evidence we presented. He was a poster boy for Caricom, but now sees why CSME is not for us, but he will not recant because his credibility would plummet.
Jamaica is not integrated with the USA, yet we have oneness and legislators in City, District and Federal governments. In 40 years we have no politician in a Caricom state. Curious, ain't it? Not one MP in our capital in Guyana. We are into politics in the belly of the beast across the Atlantic — ask the Hon Dianne Abbott, MP, shadow Health Minister, but not in Caricom. Why? The Rasta man pushing pram with zebra baby, a shed-load of mixed-race kids in tow, is not in Barbados but in the North! We are in President Obama's office; in top jobs at District, County, City, Federal levels for decades — mayor, chief of police, congressman and woman, and more. JMA cannot get one Jamaican advisor on Kamla's staff. No Jamaican mayor in Port of Spain no matter how we chip at Carnival. We are professors; advise huge firms, in medicine, law; we teach, drive buses, trains, taxis; we are prisoners and prison guards in the USA and these make no headlines. We enjoy their benefits, get the welfare cheque at Prickly Pole PO and don't have to give up being Jamaican. Imagine the angst at a Jamaican MP elected in Hole Town? Proximity works. No laws bind us, but integration with America happens effortlessly because both sides want it. Ain't that a bitch?
We pay dues to Caricom for decades; have reams of treaties, laws; meetings, pompous revolving presidents and a deficit of results. Jamaica has the X factor "location, location, location". Proximity to America works for us. Caricom "is wi bredren", so let's pay dues and share the soft benefits — treaties, CCJ, culture but our focus must be on markets which can float our boat. Stay conscious, my friend!
Dr Franklin Johnston is a strategist, project manager and advises the minister of education. firstname.lastname@example.org