Jamaicans need a reality check

Friday, August 16, 2019

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Dear Editor,

As the People's National Party (PNP) goes through a leadership selection process and an election approaches, reality flies out the window — again.

Promises and money begin to flow, Peter Phillips advocates democratic socialism (which I thought was “dead” in Jamaica), while Peter Bunting vows that he will win the next election for the PNP.

Bunting is younger, looks fitter, and he is better looking than Peter Phillips, but that does count in politics. I am truly smitten by Bunting, but what would happen if he were to become prime minister is not clear to me.

The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) says it is doing a good job, even though crime, mayhem on the roads and poverty continue to be stubbornly resistant to being lowered. And it will get worse with the start of the silly season.

The neo-liberal, classical, Anglo-American capitalist economic model of development for Jamaica (and some would say the whole world), which both parties subscribe to, and which is pushed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), is based on wishful thinking. The outcome of that model of development has been a widening gap between the rich and the poor, which has led to unstable and violent societies. The very model of that society, the United States, is now ruled by a Donald Trump. The European Union is in trouble. Most of us are unfit for the race for wealth, but we want to build a peaceful society based on that race for wealth.

I humbly suggest that we need to build a society whose main value is not wealth; as Father Richard Ho Lung would say, a society based on education, good character, caring, and love. We need leaders who share those values, rather than leaders whose main aim is power and wealth. We need to stop dividing ourselves into orange and green tribes. We do not realise that the territories we attempt to mimic, such as the US, Europe, Britain, Canada, etc, developed their economies through slavery and by exploiting and destroying other places. Yet we expect to develop like them today? Massive consumerism based on macroeconomic growth has become the be-all and end-all and the chief marker of progress, despite the evidence that it destroys the environment and does not work for most of us. Poor, indebted Jamaica has felt that it has no choice but to jump on that bandwagon. Something is not working!

Jamaicans need to realise that most of us are going to be poor for a lifetime. Our children are going to be poor for their lifetimes, too. Realising this, we need to apply our minds to that reality so that we can implement the measures to deal with it. Swapping “black dawg fi monkey” isn't going to cut it.

Is there a leader who has the courage to tell us the truth? And, if there is such a leader, will we support him/her? Or do we want to continue to dream dreams and have visions? Are our political and economic elites going to continue to deceive themselves that they will continue to be immune from what is happening to the majority of us? Remember Venezuela? When a country implodes, everyone suffers. The economic elite and the middle class need to realise that it is in their self-interest to support policies that alleviate poverty, support public education (especially early childhood education) and justice. There needs to be a serious diversion of resources towards crime-fighting and social interventions — even if this slows growth and adds to the tax burden of the middle class and the economic elite. We need to make the constitutional, legal, societal, and economic reforms needed to deal with our reality before it is too late!

We need to stop the orange/green/blue grandstanding crap and face reality. If we don't do that, then it's time to get a visa!

Raymond D Grant

rdbgrant@outlook.com


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