Communism, capitalism, democratic socialism and education

Franklin
Johnston

Friday, November 15, 2019

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Jamaica’s economy is sick, evincing recovery every two decades, then relapses. With this latest pass-through from Peter Phillips to Andrew Holness we are hopeful but the omens are not good.

The mantra “export or die” is our reality as every indicator hangs on this. But our export history is spotty; bold launch, poor delivery. Under the British, King Sugar had farms, factories, and Jamaica a global brand. Sugar declined owing to lackadaisical effort.

We had unique products so we rocked the world, but all faltered. We sold bananas to Europe, but competitors arose, so farms went to bush.

Our cacao was prized globally; our ginger put “Jamaica ginger Ale” into orbit; Kola nuts ignited Coca Cola; our Ortaniques shipped farm-fresh to Europe; door-to-door in two weeks by our ‘Amazon’ before Amazon was born — think Jamaica Producers. Blue Mountain was holy mother of God coffee and abroad they paid homage.

All are still in demand, but where are they now? We are small so any two sustained ventures might have tipped us into prosperity. It did not happen.

As the largest global producer of bauxite the American dollar was “bwoy” to ours.

Which other nation had so many unique products? We had workers, know-how, land, markets; we were first to have electricity, telephone, scheduled flights, a Ford dealer; but poor leaders and low productivity made us “pop down”.

Today things still look grim for us but, capitalist, communist, democratic socialism thrive.

Our imports are six times our exports; our dollar races to the bottom; prices hurry upward; poverty is on the rise and our dollar debt is higher than ever — don’t let ratios fool you.

Is it obeah, bad luck, or poor leaders and bad choices by our mis-educated masses? Educated people choose fresh meat over high blood pressure salt fish; fresh milk over milk powder; fresh greens over six-week-old imports — agree Health Minister Christopher Tufton?

After 57 years, commodities and bauxite did not prosper us. Might education do it? Yes! Education is magic and suit Jamaicans as we love degrees and detest work on land, but will kill to own it.

The vibes are now level as education is the new capital and many global firms were built on one man’s education; not money, land, or machinery.

Check Apple, Facebook, Alibaba, Uber, WhatsApp, Microsoft; none existed in 2000, and Google owned nothing until it was a multi-billion-dollar business. Is this our ticket? Get educated and trained in technology, artificial intelligence, robots? Get white-collar work and let cyborgs work in menial areas our folks hate? Education works for all political philosophies.

Communist states Cuba and China grow human capital in stultifying environments with free education. Democratic socialism built in post-war Europe, Canada, Australia, etc, used free education, but now charge for tertiary.

Capitalism in America created Yale and Harvard, so the best universities are private and all help us. America, maybe Jamaica now have capitalist Cabinets; both trade and fraternise with communists, yet the US is rich, we are not.

Is poor capitalist an oxymoron? They have Medicaid, Medicare, farm subsidy, and food stamps to aid when education fails. We have none, so democratic socialist policies of Germany and Britain may help us as education is our last, best hope! Selah.

Then, since we don’t like manual work, let’s incentivise youth from India, Australia, Europe, and China to come, attend school, work, produce, and live as “out of many, one”.

Xenophobic Jamaicans would deny Jesus a work permit, ignore them as we have a Diaspora! We hunted Haitians and shipped them back, yet cuss the Dominican Republic for doing the same and hate Donald Trump for planning it? Get over yourself!

Canada wants migrants, and choose well; let’s choose ours? So, what well-funded education act will Prime Minister Andrew Holness execute to get us on a path to quality, technology, and artificial intelligence?

And if what the masses like can give an honest living, go for it!

Recall then Education Minister Ronald Thwaites sent a plan to the PetroCaribe Fund to mainstream physical education and playing musical instruments in schools to lay foundations for careers in any sport and entertainment? Revive it!

I was shocked to see many factory logistics supply chain robots in China when they have 800 million poor people to work. But there export is life and Lean Six Sigma rule out humans from some high-impact jobs.

A harsh economic decision, but “Build one man you build his family; build the nation you build all families!” Jamaica is at a crossroads so get people productive or get them out of the way and use robots to make volume exports for Nigeria cheaply.

Jamaica is too iconic to be poor and crime infested. Stay conscious!

Franklin Johnston, D Phil (Oxon), is a strategist and project manager; Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (UK); and lectures in logistics and supply chain management at Mona School of Business and Management, The University of the West Indies. Send comments to the Observer or franklinjohnstontoo@ gmail.com.


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