Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Black British Experience through the Eyes of a Jamaican

By Winston Walker

I have always thought that coming from a colony has probably made a lot of us culturally richer than we care to believe and the economical racism that many of us face from a visible minority today, can be traced right back to the attitude and ideals of our old colonial masters. When we were in our own country we were made to feel very much like second class citizens so why should we be made to feel any different in the country of our masters? My grandmother was a very God-fearing woman who went to church from a very early age and thought it was very important to hold on to her religious beliefs when she moved to England.

My Grandmother had worked in nursing in Jamaica and went to church every Sunday, a tradition for most people from the Caribbean that they have tried to maintain. So what a joy when she discovered that there was a church just down the road from the room that she had rented. She put on her best clothes and made sure that she had money for the collection. While in the service she felt that she stood out as she was the only black face in the congregation, but she did enjoy fact she was still holding onto the values that she had in Jamaica. The service only lasted an hour and when it finished she sat down, hoping that someone would come and talk to her as she was still feeling very isolated and was in urgent need of making friends. Suddenly she heard a voice behind her saying, “hello, we have never seen you here before”, she also sensed a little intimidation in the voice. She looked behind her and noticed it was the priest who had been giving the sermon, she felt reassured by this and the sight of the man in the black robe made her feel very comfortable, but all that was to change.

The priest asked if he could sit down and have a chat with her and she said that was fine. “Thank you for coming”, the priest said, “but my parishioners are not comfortable in the presence of black people, so if you don’t mind please don’t come back to this church.” At that moment she just wanted to get on a plane and go back to Jamaica. My Grandmother would never express her views vocally and she would not have done so on this occasion, but this would be a story she would tell myself and the rest of our friends and family many times. This experience was also to make her a very bitter woman, but she would not be the only one who would have these experiences, and in years to come there would be a generation who would not tolerate these prejudices and many would lose there lives or find themselves imprisoned fighting for the right to be treated the same as their fellow human beings.

We often confine stories like my Grandmothers to Bible belt America or Apartheid South Africa, although racism was not as harsh in Britain as it was in these places for a lot of people from visible minorities. In Britain a lot of these people would embrace the ideals of such black leaders Nelson Mandela, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. Although I do believe in non-violence, I would have believed in the Ideals of Malcolm X as I believe that we all have a right to defend ourselves by any means necessary. I do not believe in the saying that we should turn the other cheek, it does not make sense.

When I was 16 I began taking an interest in these people and also the general history of the many black people who were born in the Western world and I came to discover that we are a people who have no name, no religion no culture and no identity. I remember talking to a Rastafarian friend many years ago and him asking me my name and replying “Winston Walker” “No” he said, “that is your masters’ name”. I didn’t understand it then, but I would get to know what he was talking about in years to come and would embrace these values as I tried to find something I could identify with in life.

Although I would deny that I am racist, I do believe that racism has dictated the lives of many black people in Britain, whether it be through housing, education, social welfare, judicial issues or employment etc. I have always asked myself, why is it that when we - people of a visible minority want anything to maintain that certain level of integrity within our cultures - we always seem to find ourselves going to areas that look like they have not been developed since the second world war?

The area I grew up in reflects the economical racism that many of us experienced and are still experiencing today. A few years ago I looked on the internet and was looking at the area that I grew up in Birmingham. I was to discover that many years before, people of a visible minority were invited over here to live. These areas were very suburban, exclusive areas, so why, when these people moved to these areas, were they never developed? I think it would be fair to say the same about many places where people of these minorities decided to settle in Britain.

Throughout the 70s and early 80s these problems were highlighted only through frustration that led to riots in many British inner cities where people were getting a little sick and tired of living in these atrocious conditions and also by the way many were being treated by the law and the judicial system. If you were black you were more likely to have some form of social stigma attached to you, whether it be a criminal record or mental illness, or there was always that expectation that if you were black you were expected to have some form of negativity attached to you, you could be a drug dealer, mugger or thief etc. There are certain elements of people within white middle class Britain, who will always find it hard to accept that all black people are not drug dealers or robbers or thieves, and these people, I do feel, need educating.

At the beginning of my story, I referred to myself coming from a colony. I do think there is a lot of ignorance from the nations who ran these colonies, as being the servant we knew everything about our masters, but at the same time our masters knew nothing about their servants, in that sense the servants have become richer than their masters. Whereas in our home countries we were taught everything about the British Empire it also amazes me that we were never taught anything about our cultures. Whatever I learned was taught by my parents, so does this mean that although we live in multi-cultural society that one culture is more important than the other? I say that we need to embrace each other’s cultures and learn something from each other.

While living in Scotland I often saw a lot of weariness when it comes to the English, but that same weariness, I would say, is the same weariness that people of a visible minority have experienced with whites for many years, hence referring back to the story of my grandmother. I personally am not looking for sympathy or pity, but understanding and to be able to share what I have to offer. Am I happy with race relations in Britain? The answered would have to be yes, but there is always room for improvement. Things have changed since my Grandmother came to Britain, but I also think that these situations must never be forgotten, so that they cannot be repeated.

Within the United Kingdom there are four different countries, England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. I always ask myself in which category do we people of a visible minority fit in. I personally do not want anything to do with any of these, to be part of one would be separatism, but I would prefer to be part of something that is British as I see a whole multitude of people included in the term of being British. We have Scottish, Welsh, Irish and English and I would also include people from the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, etc. In my eyes that’s what makes Britain great.

Monday, November 2, 2009


by Winston Walker

Whilst out shopping in my local supermarket, my eye was captivated, by a young black girl being rather unruly, this girl in my opinion could only been aged around 5 or 6, however what struck me even more was that she was addressing the adults who were with her as mother and father, but what was unique was the fact that the people she was addressing as mother and father were also white, I assumed they were her foster or her adoptive parents.

I never really thought much about it, until I spoke to a friend from the city in which I grew up, this friend like myself is black, however he was also adopted by a white family, although he praised the way he was brought up he would often confide to me the problems he would have in adult life in relating to other black people and also believing the stereotypes and labels that are often attributed quite unfairly to many of us.

Although I do not want to undermine the credibility of people being parents, I think I can identify the issues and the backbone to his problems; we need to look at ourselves as black people and the issue of the lack of black people coming forward to be adoptive or foster parents.As stated in the previous paragraph we must not underestimate the credibility of people being responsible parents, however, what I must question is how these children are developing within a modern British Society, however we must start looking at ourselves and how we are failing our own.
All too often is the case is many people who choose to foster or adopt youngsters are often from white middle class suburban Britain, and often is the case, that these communities do not interact with multi-cultural Britain and in the process leaving these children with the lack of identity that is needed.
A question I often ask myself, who prepares these youngsters for the racism that exists within not only the society we live in, but also the world at large?, who will understand these children when they confront issues such as racial abuse or exclusion or often the isolation we feel, in some segments of the society that we live in, who teaches these children of the history of black people? as I am confident that they will not be taught these issues in schools.

I having been born in Jamaica and raised in Britain I never came across a situation in which I was taught about black culture in school or college, or heard of where black culture is a part of the education curriculum in modern British society.
An issue, that caused controversy in our media most recently was pop idol, Madonna, adopting a child from Malawi, however although we have to commend her for the courage in doing this, we must ask certain questions, such as, how many black people does Madonna have coming to her house?, how can she prepare these children for the issues that they will have to face as they develop into adulthood, and as stated in a previous paragraph, how does she explain when these children will come across issues of racial abuse and prejudices that sadly still exist.

Myself can relate to issues of stereotyping and labelling, having being educated in boarding schools, due to difficulties in childhood, although spending time with family of a weekend and holidays, my problems arose when I left school at the tender age of 16, and generally not being able to relate to certain situations not only in the white community, but also in the black community, and was often left with a sense of not belonging anywhere, however I do not criticize the way I was educated, as I have often thought that it has left me culturally diverse, with an understanding of two cultures.

As for black people fostering or adopting white children, I am confident in saying that we are well equipped to do that, and this can be put down to the long history of colonialism that many of us have come from, and as I often say in many debates that I have had, many of us are culturally richer than we care to think, as not only us, people throughout the world will know everything there is too know about Britain, however we often find that native Britain does not understand or in some instances will not want to make the effort too understand the people who live amongst them, however in our own countries we are forced to understand these societies just to survive.

The problem lays with us, whatever reasons our children are being put in these situations, we have a responsibility to our own so that our identity and integrity can be maintained within our culture, we are a caring people, no matter what we have come from, and it is important that we find more people from our background to take on the roles of foster or adoptive parents, we need to start caring about each other and not just our own biological children, but all our children.We also need to be educating our youth on the practice of safe sex and contraception, as we do have a very long history of teenage pregnancies and in some cases creating an unwanted generation, who will find themselves, lacking in identity and culture.

The problems that come from many people coming forward to do these kind of work or deeds, may come from weariness, of being investigated and the procedures that now all people who choose to foster or adopt will have to endure, however I must I have to agree with a lot of these procedures, as anybody who is put in a position where they have to be cared for, must also be protected and we as a society must always protect our vulnerable, however we has people who come a long history of colonialism also have a duty to maintain the integrity and standards that we have maintained within our culture for so long, and that must start with our young people.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Is Journalling the way to improve the learning experience?

EDITORIAL by Myrna Loy

“Learning journals provide a framework to support the process of reflective learning in individual courses and in the portfolio process as a whole. Their use not only documents the developmental process of the portfolios - making it more than just a presentation of selected work - but supports the self-assessment of processes and their documentation. It 'keeps records', encourages metacognition, ownership and control, and provides guidance” [University of Oldenburg and UMUC]

I have recently changed my career towards teaching – well when I say teaching, I should say I have a teaching qualification which I intend to use to support my inspirational mentoring service. I have also been developing counselling skills as a part of my continuous professional development. Why counselling? Counselling skills develop not only listening skills, but empathetic, cognitive, behavioural and social skills as well - all of which should be a prerequisite to the effective teaching and learning experience.

In pursuing my PTLLS Award and BTEC in Counselling this year, I noticed that Learning/Reflective Journals seem to be a mandatory part of the portfolio development process and not a recommended tool of support. Both Teachers and Learners are now required to produce learning or reflective journals as a form of evidencing their work and documenting the impact of the way they learn/teach. It seems to me, that the current school of thought is that documenting thought processes while learning (i.e. thinking about the way they learn and/or teach, and writing it down) will improve the learning and teaching experience.

According to the University of Worcester’s Study Skills Advice Sheet: “a learning journal helps you to be reflective about your learning, this means that your learning journal should not be a purely descriptive account of what you did etc but an opportunity to communicate your thinking process: how and why you did what you did, and what you now think about what you did”.

I am not sure about other learners, but I found that by thinking about how I was learning, and trying to track and record that process by writing it down, very inhibiting. I found that thinking about the way I was learning prevented me from absorbing information being given both verbally and visually. Another part of the reflective process is to observe what was happening in the classroom, how was I reacting to colleagues, was their questions/interruptions conducive to my learning experience; and were the learning techniques of the teacher effective and if so how. Can you imagine trying to think about all of that while trying to absorb new information?

Many teachers have complained about the journaling process and I can’t say I blame them! They are saying that they cannot concentrate on their lesson plans or schemes of work because their brain is thinking about how they are teaching as opposed to achieving their objective, in order to be able to document it after the class is finished.

According to Laurence E Morehouse, Author of ‘Maximum Performance’, he states that “When you start thinking about what you are doing, you try to reorganise and/or add extra motions. Your motions become uncoordinated, and because you are tracking almost counting your movements, you inevitably slow them down.” He further goes on to say that: “If we were to try to read or write or think word by word, the mind simply couldn’t carry all those details. So the words have to be simplified into a single thought. We focus on a central theme....” “.... The object in a performance is to shut off your thinking which you do by shifting your focus from the details of the action to the goal of the action...”

“... Even in that instant during a sharp exchange of volleys at the net you have predetermined where you are going to hit the ball. Two things are accomplished in the process. First, you have established a strategy. Second, by committing your thought to your objective, you have pre-empted the time; you are only thinking about getting there, not how you are to get there. The first is important, but the second is crucial.”

What these extracts tell me is that journaling is actually inhibiting teaching effectiveness and performance. It is not natural for the brain to analyse every process it takes to learn something! We all know that if we start concentrating on how we are doing something – even something as simple as walking, our steps become awkward and unnatural.

Journalling may have benefits in therapeutic or emotional situations where the client is stressed or has been abused and needs to revisit the causes, but in a learning environment, I am not convinced that reflective journalling is an effective or efficient way to improve the teaching and learning experience.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Our Diaspora is a “softie'' Jamaica no problem the mantra of complacency

Written by Franklin Johnston

Black history month revealed hunger for history of Africa and Jamaica, but it has a downside in the repeat racist hate mail I get from people who breach the ICANN and ISP codes. These cowards vomit personal abuse but have no facts to share. In the Old World, black is the icon for Sub-Saharans but the New World used a palette from black to octoroon (1/8th white) to designate and divide us. In Africa, Europe and Asia, the discriminators are language, tribe, nation, place and culture. There is no white history in the UK and no black history in Kenya. The descriptors are British, Welsh, etc; Kenyan, Kikuyu, Luo etc, and color have no place.
We are no angels. Sir Willard White our global bass-baritone sings Faust as no one else can, yet we call him the pejorative name, "coconut". Our capacity for self-harm and self-hate is strong. We say we don't know our history but no one is hiding it. Books on Songhai, Kanem, Mali exist. If you are under 55 and can't read, it's your fault; literacy classes are all over. By some intellectual recidivism, our scholars do not decant African texts. Learn to read and they may write some for you.
Last year, a lynch mob attacked me in cyberspace. They didn't know Ethiopian history; that Rameses and Persian Emperors were "King of Kings" before Bible days, or birth of Christ or Selassie, and this angered them. We should make African history top of the syllabus in school and focus the Jamaica Library Service's book buying for 2010 on Africa. We must write more Jamaican and Diaspora history as lies are all about.
Neither the African, nor the Jamaican Diaspora is uniform. Fewer than seven per cent of all transatlantic slaves went to America, a fraction of ours. Yet they innovate most (black Americans hold most patents and IP, and the African Diaspora more than Africa itself) and define global black success. The African Diaspora is over 100 million; they run nations and were uplifted from Africa in three waves: The first African aliyah was overland slavery. Some 20 million Africans were uplifted to the Old World, and over millennia merged into native populations, a total whitewash. The footprint of the old Roman Empire is replete with their genetic material and only DNA tests, not appearance, confirm the bloodlines of this first Diaspora. The ethno-biology histories need to be done, but modern Africa and our Diaspora show no interest.
The second African aliyah was by oceanic slavery. This uplift of 18 million peopled the New World from Alaska to Antartica. Unlike the first Diaspora, their scions are a majority in some nations. The "browning", started by white men on black women 400 years ago, continues - the future is brown. No Diaspora went back to Africa. Why? The scion of the second Diaspora is creative, but insecure and conflicted. Do we seek revenge or forgive, cause or ease suffering, go back to Africa or stay, be great or be idle? The third Diaspora has none of these conflicts, their goal is prosperity.
The third African aliyah was voluntary, started 60 years ago and gained momentum after African independence. Africans studied in the UK, France, USSR, USA, etc, and stayed. Later, refugees, men of business, politics and ex-dictators with Swiss bank accounts came. Most are educated, they don't "do" labor and regard few - of any race, as their equals. In 2008, Ghanaians alone had 50 mainstream UK top jobs in TV, radio, film, business, academia, etc. This third African Diaspora is slick suits and brain-led, into global scams, not yardie street crime. Your computer, credit card and internet gateway are never safe. Last week the UK justice secretary's email was hacked by Nigerians and his contacts asked to send money to him, supposedly stranded in Africa - twisted genius! The African Diaspora Alliance is focused on this group and on Africa. One million of their kin die of malaria alone each year; slavery and the egos of black Americans or West Indians aren’t on their agenda. African friends tell me "the past is past, you Jamaicans, get over it and live". The first and third Diaspora lived in sync with their life-roles; the second lives conflicted. Jamaicans are scion of the second African Diaspora. Those in USA, Canada and the UK do well and we who run nations struggle. We expect more of them but they continue to disappoint.
The Jamaican Diaspora needs to find a niche. They can't be a social club, or a servant of Cabinet, they have a unique, higher calling. They must hold our state to account to embed justice, liberty and rights in all areas; to change the nepotism, victimization and the life-and-death contest we call elections. They have a sacred trust to ensure that the freedoms they enjoy abroad come here too. Support for basic schools, etc, is the least, as we waste more money than they give. The IMF gave us less FX than the Diaspora. It said jump and Cabinet jumped. The Diaspora has leverage too but is afraid to use it. We here are too vulnerable to reform our politics alone; the Diaspora is untouchable and must lead.
I was in the USA to give a speech one August 6 and political placards were on my host's and many houses. The banquet was black tie, the same old Diaspora "rundown and rum talk", far from the reality I left in Kingston. In my speech, I said that freedom at home was flawed, as no one would dare put a "politics poster" on his home or business. Di peeple dem almos' nyam me. They said I "show them up" before the mayor and TV in Dallas. They agreed with me, but said, "Yuh nuh know how dem stey a yaad, dem wi mash up peeple house ef a nuh fi dem colour pon de placard." They are happy to live the lie and after a few shots of single malt, I too went "curry goat" and lived the lie. The Diaspora likes to be liked. Sending money is no help if they do nothing to secure our freedoms.
Years ago I voted for Harold Wilson in the UK. Labour and Tory, we went to the pub to argue our case; never here. The English do not understand why we fight for those we elect to serve us. They fight for a soccer team as they live with the local team, win, lose or draw. The Diaspora sends money, not to us but to their families and we welcome it, but there is a higher calling and they are not listening. The Diaspora is a force without a vision; a house cat that needs stroking, but we need a tiger. Returning residents' privileges must be no more than our taxpayers get; we go to their countries and get no favors and we must not buy their loyalty. They made their life choices and we made ours: A plague on their fancy balls and banquets. I pray they see the light. Selah!
Dr Franklin Johnston is an international project manager with Teape-Johnston
Consultants, currently on assignment in the UK.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

One crisis, one age, one family (aka the human race) – and a new President!

Written by COB, Luton

I was disturbed when Myrna (editor of BB) told me that her conversations with under 35's (and I expect that included lots of under 25's!) about their perception of those of us over 50 (which I am – a full two years older than Myrna!) included references to people who "sit on the sofa", "watch the news" and "have white hair" – to which I say "what's wrong with any of that!".

It's about as relevant as saying that under 35's (OK – mainly under 25's) wear (in the case of boys and young men) clothes that clearly do not fit, amble around shopping centres as if they don't have a job and have no intention of getting one and wish everybody within a thirty yard radius to hear all about the latest girlfriend – or in the case of the girls, their latest boyfriend ("he's got an Audi – cool man").

Having got all that off my chest, let's get down to some key issues – it looks like western economies are shrinking (that's less jobs for all, young and old), the population is ageing (that's a problem for you under 35's – you have to pay for the 50 plus generation as we age) and the UK, the rest of Europe and the US (and the Caribbean!) need to establish what's important in life (note – it's not just money and having a good time).

So, let the generations (and the races and the classes/income groups) stop slagging each other off - not only is it "a good thing" to pull in the same direction – but we have no choice!

You may not agree – more rantings from some late 50's guy who has nothing better to do than send Myrna articles that she is too nice to throw in the waste bin!

However, I see inter-generational support in action a great deal – but would like to see more. Quite a number of people that I work with could not work if a parent, other relative or neighbour did not pick up their child from school and give them their tea until their mum or dad gets home from work – often on more or less a daily basis!

Similarly, most people in their 50's or 60's who have children in their late teens or in their twenties would love to be in a position to help their kids buy a flat or house when they are ready – and in other cases, where money is tighter, that help takes the form of a child (or sometimes partner) living with (and often partially at the expense of) a parent or parents because they can't afford to rent or buy their own place.

That brings us to Obama – how come? Anyway, he's only 47! And he is black and he is bright (Blackbright!).

It seems to me that he spans the generations – remember his visit to, and clear affinity with, his grandmother, who had brought him up and who died a few days before the election in November? Think of his responsibilities to the young men and women in the US military (which many young blacks join as one of the best (and sometimes only) way that they can get a college education or technical qualification) in overseas theatres of conflict? Think of the massive – forget that, potentially overwhelming – sense of duty that he owes to the generations of black Americans who have been denied rights and opportunities and who he now represents as a highly educated and highly sophisticated black man at the head of what is still the world's most powerful nation? He has to deliver education, jobs, healthcare – and a more peaceful world (not to mention some progress on climate change!).

If Obama has two terms in office, he will at the end be 55 – having worked around 16 hours a day for more or less 7 days a week for 8 years – and there are lots of other over 55's (most of them, actually!) working a full day whether in a shop, factory or office and then at home (keeping the house going, going to the supermarket, paying the bills, doing the DIY, keeping the house clean and functioning) – and (to all under 35's) that's what life is like, more or less until you drop!

So, we are all in it together – parents supporting children, the children become adults and support their own children and may also have to give a helping hand to their parents (as the 50+ become 60+ and 70+), grandparents helping out their working children (may be child minding, may be money or accommodation, may be all of these!).

I think that all of this is part of Obama's message (I hope that it is!) – forget age, forget class, forget money, forget race – see the big picture of mutual dependence and support because otherwise we are all the losers! OK, it is annoying when a 50+ person asks you to repeat something (at least my wife finds it annoying!) but so what – there are bigger issues.

I am a middle aged (nearing the end of my 50's actually) white man who is a big Obama fan and who hopes that he will deliver harmony and fairness and do a great deal to make the US (and the western world) more of a cohesive society where young and old, rich and poor and black and white get every encouragement and opportunity to develop themselves and thereby make a contribution to society!

I will now get off my soapbox.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Dutty Tuff Manifest

Written by Rodney Brown

Call it the new Bolt initiative or we old Dutty tuff manifest cause as Jamaicans it is in our destiny to be the best so why wi nuh get a clue and put all this violence to rest show wi true colors and put our real abilities to the test our athletes did their thing, with all the medals they won now wha the rest a wi a do, whats our contribution what positive effect do we have on our nation I mean nobody naw ask wi fi run go tek up a sport we dont all have to be athletes to prove our worth all it tek is a little motivation a likkle change of heart and when it come to inspiration we couldn’t ask for a betta start you did hear wi national anthem? Sound sweet nuh true?

Well it stir something inside a mi nuh know bout you it mek mi ask miself, what more can I really do am I really doing enough or mi just a scrape through it go tek baby steps mi know but a the only way wi ago grow wi so rich wid talent it just a buss and overflow so why we deh hide wi roses and put our thorns pon show mi nuh know but dem say wha wi reap wi sow so the question beg fi ask. A wonder wha wi deh grow mek the only thing wi deh harvest is violence and blood flow with all wha deh gwaan right now I man want fi be positive but it seems everybody want fi tek and nobody nuh want give nobody nuh want do the wuk but everybody want fi live I mean unnu see wha deh tek place wi want fi claim the medals but wi nuh want fi run the race so while wi deh jump and cheer and wi own horn wi deh blow only some a wi realise say wi dirty underwear deh show and while the whole world see it and some wi keep dem mouth the more jealous ones among them will mek sure dem point it out.

What the whole world realise but the knowledge wi seem fi lack is that when it come to talent and potential,wi have a bumber crop and when dem a scrape the barrel bottom, we skimming off the top this is how we get by, and trust mi it need fi stop wi nuh seek wi full potential until we flat pon wi back so call it the bolt effect or anything you want fi inject fi jumpstart wi society and clean up this rotten mess mi know mi go do my part my conscience demands no less so until we talk again,walk good. Jah Bless!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Jamaica's economy playing out as expected

Written by Dennis Chung
Dennis Chung is the author of "Charting Jamaica's Economic and Social Development - A much needed paradigm shift" and a founder of www.mindyuhbusiness.com. His blog is dcjottings.blogspot.com

When I listened to some of the reactions of surprise to the PIOJ's report January to March 2009 economic performance, I wonder if we are really serious. As far as I am concerned the economy is playing out as expected. Whenever I am asked about the 2.8 per cent downturn in the economy, during that period, as if it is unexpected, I refer to the article I wrote on July 18, 2009 titled "A perfect economic storm". At the time I started saying that "The next six to nine months will be one of, if not the most challenging, in the economic history of independent Jamaica".

For me it was obvious that if things continued the way they did and if leadership did not come together, we would be experiencing all we are today. In fact, it is worse than I expected, as the Lehman collapse made things much worse but the trend I expected is playing out. The extent to which we are feeling it today could have been avoided but too much time was spent in political diatribe and side arguments that distracted us from what we needed to do as a country.

Identifying the fundamental challenge

The consequence of the country not adequately projecting and preparing for the economic downturn has landed us in a situation that I believe will be hard to avoid now. I never expected such a sharp decline in the first quarter, which is going to be better than the second quarter in my estimation. What is happening also is that the economy is already like a runaway car, which is harder to stop once it gets going, and would have been easier to slow down prior to it starting to pick up speed. It is now going to take much more effort, and financial resources, to slow down the decline.

With all of this said, though, it is still possible to lessen the effects on the country, and I had written in my book about the real cause of the problem and gave an example of a five-year plan that could place us on the path to economic development. Some will not take what I say seriously, though, as I am just an accountant trying to talk about economic matters, but I will continue to be comforted by my own voice.

In order to determine how we can deal with the challenges we face, and which are worsening, we must first understand what the underlying problem is. This again I outlined in my book, which in summary is the fact that the country spends more foreign exchange than it earns. Unless this equation is changed we will always be caught in the downward spiral of economic stagnation/decline and debt. If we accept that this is the fundamental problem then it makes no sense addressing symptoms, which we have always been doing. Because of where we are today the measures to address the problem get more and more difficult the longer we wait.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Age of People and Nations

Written by Milton Maragh

The age of a person or country is generally associated in our minds with growth, development and progress.
Progress is measured by relative success or failure. The recent challenge by Dr Peter Phillips to Jamaican opposition leader Portia Simpson-Miller's leadership of the People's National party (PNP) brought the issue of age and national development to the fore.
The 59 year-old Phillips, from a strong political science background was pitted against 63 year-old Simpson-Miller, seen by many of her critics as a populist who was not exposed enough to academia. Both had supporters spread across youth and experience but the youth seemed to be more in the wings.
But if the 70 year-old party typifies more of the spirit of Jamaica for the number of years it has held government compared to the incumbent Jamaica Labour Party that led the island at independence from Britain in 1962, should not its vision embody and embolden youth or at least a younger leadership, many are asking.
Against this background, we looked at recent and contemporary leaders for any relationship between their age and their impact. There may be pattern when we look at the correlation between the age of our most powerful leaders and the time they either formed new organisations or assumed leadership of others already in existence.
Let's enumerate starting with - Marcus Garvey who was born in 1887 and formed the People's Progressive Party in 1929 at age 43;
• Norman Manley born 1893 and one of the founders of the PNP in 1938 at age 45;
• Alexander Bustamante (Clarke) born 1884 and formed JLP in 1943 at age 59;
• Hugh Shearer born 1923 and assumed JLP presidency and PM in 1967 at age of 44, on the sudden death of Donald Sangster, aged 56, after two months as prime minister;
• Michael Manley, born 1924 and became PNP president in 1969 at age of 45 and PM in 1972;
• Edward Seaga, born 1930 and successfully challenged Shearer for JLP leadership at age 44 in 1974, becoming PM in 1980;
• P.J. Patterson born 1933 succeeded Michale Manley as PNP leader and prime minister in 1992 at age 59 (with Simpson-Miller the loser at age 47);
• Simpson-Miller born 1945 won PNP presidency and became PM at age 61 in 2006;
• Bruce Golding, born 1947, left the JLP in 1994 at age 47 to form the National Democratic Movement (NDM) and returned at 58 to lead JLP in 2005 and became PM in 2007 at 60.
Phillips, who was born in 1949, lost in his first attempt to unseat Simpson-Miller in 2006 at age 57 and repeated his failure in 2008.
From the forgoing it would appear that those leaders in their 40s tend to have the fire in their bellies to fight for leadership. We can propose that leaders who came to power at about age 45 had roughly 20 years to provide strong and inspiring leadership; but those taking it on in their late 50s and 60s would have lost the fire and are not necessarily the best to lead countries like Jamaica as they tend to be nostalgic and too focused on the past rather than the future opportunities.
Bustamante first came to power in the first general election under universal adult suffrage in 1944, but lost to his cousin Norman Manley in 1955 and '59 before winning an election to lead into independence in 1962 and and held onto to power until 1967 at age 83, although because of Bustamante's incapacitation, Sangster acted as prime minister from 1964 until 1967 when he won his own mandate. Sangster did not fight for the leadership but inherited it from an enfeebled Bustamante.
It makes it easy to conclude that he Sangster was not a fighting leader at age 53 in 1964 when he began acting for Busta. If Bustamante had good leadership development skills he might have handed the reins of the JLP to Sangster in 1955 after the party was beaten by the PNP in that election. That would have given Sangster a clear 12 years to lead the JLP through his best years of his life.
This pattern of failed leadership development continued through both political parties as seen with Michael Manley who should have handed over to Patterson in 1980 after the loss to Seaga so he could have had a chance to stamp his image on the PNP and to yield to a younger leader in 2000/2002. The PNP should now be led by someone in their late 40s/early 50s and not early 60s. But since Patterson did challenge Manley in 1980 as Seaga did Shearer in 1974, that says something also about his desire to lead.
On the JLP side, Seaga held onto leadership far too long and killed the fire in Golding back in 1994. Now Golding is likely to repeat the same mistake because when he became PM at age 61 in 2007 he should have appointed a deputy PM in his/her 40s. Instead he selected Dr Ken Baugh at an age that seems elusive but cannot be younger than 60 years.
Golding should make the move to appoint an early 40s deputy PM to prepare the path for that person to assume leadership before 50 and Golding should walk away in 2012 regardless of the outcome of the polls due then. Simpson also needs deputy leaders in their 30s and 40s while using her grassroots popularity to lead the PNP into the next election (local or national) and step aside win or lose.
Leadership development is weak in every aspect of Jamaican society. It is this widespread failure in leadership that is causing widespread failures socially, economically and politically. And how does this age analysis relate to Jamaica's national development? We can delineate three successive stages of development. The first is cultural followed by political and then economic development. The ultimate goal of a nation is to become a prosperous, powerful people and first we have to become a united people in a similar manner to the United States' evolution from a people born out of many immigrants from Europe and elsewhere who have melded into an American culture.
While many see the period between the political and labor upheavals in the 1930s and independence in 1962 as a period of political advance, it may be seen as a period of cultural development that began with Marcus Garvey and culminated in 1992 with Patterson becoming PNP president and PM

Garvey and Michael Manley like Marley and Miss Lou may really be more cultural than political leaders. Over two generations they helped to shape the national identity and self confidence of Jamaicans as a people exemplified by an athlete like Usain Bolt, at 22 being so confident and proud on the track and media stage. We can now say we are a PEOPLE and now we need to become powerful before we can become prosperous.
In this analysis, Jamaica will continue to bear the pains of political development to maturity by the 2020s, where hopefully we will reach beyond the US$5000 per capita GDP mark when we will start to see rapid economic growth through to the 2050s and the stage of economic development, property and security.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The State Citizen and Morality

Written by Carol Lawton


Ethics and Morals are debatable but at what point does it become objective. Each person has their own ethical and moral standards but is it defined by the State they live in as to what is acceptable. This tirade is based upon a conversation that I had in a shoe repair shop with a teacher today. It started out with a comment about a long time girl friend and who she ended up with vs who she used to date. My answer was that it’s life then I comment that our community was regressing and going backward from the original design. This is where the conversation took various turns.

My points for the regression of the community were as follows:

1. Sewage going straight into the sea. (We pay a sewage progress bill every month to NWC)

2. The top soil, garbage and sewage that comes out of the regularized (Operation Pride settle) in heavy flood waters off the hill to dig up the roads.

3. The smooth well built roads are down to the marl rocks which form the foundation of the roads.

4. The house are not numbered

5. Neighbors don’t know each other

6. Idlers and beggars on the corners

7. No more green spaces

I would list more but this is a shorten version. Long and short of it is this teacher said that the community was not regressing but that I was using a definition of development that does not fit Jamaica and that it was my type of thinking that reinforce the colonial model of development. All this statement is bull to me because if a well laid out community is forced to live alongside squatter who care little for the community they affect. A police force that does not follow the noise law or loitering laws, a government that care little for the environment and citizens who care for nothing but a roof over their heads and some food (money) then we must be a bunch of animals just living together because we a stuck on a rock. I remember the mongrel statement but this is just a tirade nothing personal.

He then went on to state that we are tropical people and throughout the topics this is how most countries are because of the customs of the people. Bull again. One thing that he did go on to talk about was values which I had to agree with him. The gist of the conversation on values boils down to at what point does the state step in when the family the basic structure of the state fails? Is it the laws of the state which have failed hence the control systems placed upon the citizens have regress to the chaos we have now where morals are bad and immorality is good. Where the good guy finish last and money and brute power are the key determinations of success and right? Are there multiple laws or one law for all in Jamaica for citizens, the rich, the poor and the civil servants? It is almost cave man like to think but he was right on the mark. The family is failing hence the state is failing as the family is the building block of the state. In AIDS torn countries, AIDS is the fear for state as it moves to destabilize entire families, villages and towns. In Jamaica, AIDS is a problem but more important are values, morals and ethics. Our population is very young and there is a disconnect with the last generation for some reason

The prime example is the music on the buses. An old lady commented that this was not the type of music to play while young people are on the bus to a conductor. The conductor said in a joking manner, it’s Irie Fm and laugh it off to the delight of the whole bus. Do we not have laws for this or is it that it’s everyone doing as they please. Is it that the State and the Teacher are of the same view that to enforce the law is to reinforce the standard of our past colonial history and let tropical people be tropical people and do as they please. Right around now I am very sarcastic because when I asked the teacher so where are they headed morally then since that is where the bankruptcy is? He drew a question sign in the air and says God knows!

Personally I think it is time the State apply the laws on the books. This application just as PC Lewin stated should go after the small things but it must be applied to the government as well. “Police wants insurance from public; their cars should meet the same standard”. If the State begins to act morally and ethical as it deals with the affairs of State the mirror effect will be the citizens will comply especially since the State is not just saying it they are doing it. The hard dry no feelings enforcement of the laws for all. When laws are not enforce then justice will cease and chaos will reign. Jamaica is at the brink of a failed state not by economics but moral and ethical failures and its toothless justice system.

Monday, March 2, 2009


Written by John Anthony

The fearmongering has led economists on radio in Jamaica and elsewhere to postulate that the recession in the US is the worst since the Great Depression. But these economists must know of the facts that anyone can read in any history text book or research on the internet and they must know that the facts undermine their claims. So what gives? Well what gives is most listenners are not digilent enough to do the research themselves and unfortunately so too is the Prime Minister who on no evidence whatsoever allowed the fearmongers to influence him. Here are the facts.

Let us compare the present recession in the USA to the one in the 80s and see what were the remedies applied then. What a major difference Ronnie and Ralston? This is not a partisan chart too; it is from the FDIC!!

The Jobless Rate Gap Comparing now to the 80s Recession
We've still got a long way to go Ronnie and Ralston.

Jobless Claims As Percent of Payrolls Comparing 1980 to 2009

Mr. Prime Minister believe your eyes; not your ears. This is all US govt. data and charts.
Who was the president that caused the recession in the 80s? Let us see:

39th President of the United States

January 20, 1977 – January 20,1981

Who succeeded Jimmy Carter and caused that dramatic fall in unemployment for 8 years? Let us see:

40th President of the United States

January 20, 1981 – January 20, 1989
What were the solutions Reagan used to stimulate the economy??
His supply-side economic policies, dubbed "Reaganomics,"
1. included deregulation and
2. substantial tax cuts implemented in 1981. No stimulus package was used; none whatsoever in what was according to the facts, not real business radio show, a far worse economy.


President Barack Obama has turned fearmongering into an art form. This fearmongering may be good politics, but it is bad history and bad economics. It is bad history because our current economic woes don't come close to those of the 1930s. Mr. Obama's analogies to the Great Depression are not only historically inaccurate, they're also dangerous.

At worst, a comparison to the 1981-82 recession might be appropriate. Consider the job losses that Mr. Obama always cites. In the last year, the U.S. economy shed 3.4 million jobs. That's a grim statistic for sure, but represents just 2.2% of the labor force. From November 1981 to October 1982, 2.4 million jobs were lost -- fewer in number than today, but the labor force was smaller. So 1981-82 job losses totaled 2.2% of the labor force, the same as now.

Job losses in the Great Depression were of an entirely different magnitude. In 1930, the economy shed 4.8% of the labor force. In 1931, 6.5%. And then in 1932, another 7.1%. Jobs were being lost at double or triple the rate of 2008-09 or 1981-82 (see chart above).

~Economist Bradley Schiller in yesterday's WSJ
By now, it's clear to everyone that we have inherited an economic crisis as deep and dire as any since the days of the Great Depression.
~President Barack Obama in today's Washington Post
MP: The chart above shows annual real GDP growth during the Great Depression I (1930-1932) and the 2007-2009 period, using the WSJ consensus forecast of -.30% for 2009 growth.

So then what is really going on?? How come all this fuss over what is not a serious crisis as in the 80s? Why the deception??

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Tirade on the legalization of corruption

Written by Carol Lawton

Let legalize corruption! Why? It makes complete sense! My first point is that its already institutionalizes in Jamaica . The second is the lack of respect for time. The third is poor customer service. It just makes sense and will be less stressful to do business.

Taxes will be gathered better because there is someone to cook the books and stamp it approved just like the government accounting. The formal economy will be equal to the informal economy in that it’s a free for all and the restriction of government is gone and information and connections in a lethargic civil service will prove of great value which the private sector can now move to without the microscope of government.

The government can then add a corruption fee to grease the wheel of this useless civil service. I speak of it this way because it is not here for the public but to ensure that they exist so let them hustle for it and the better hustler in the system win. They will set the price for doing business with the government for the service based on time. Each setting their own prices for moving things fast through the red tape. Out of each hustle the government will get a commission and will not have to pay their salaries as the hustle will be more than their take home.

The civil service will be based upon production pay. No work No production no pay! Cant deliver a document faster than another civil servant you lose the money to the other. Rude and indifferent to the public, you lose to the people person type who is able to build their network faster. Just think how much the few tax payer will save if they don’t have to pay the civil service. Essential service could be outsource to foreign companies who would always be on edge for the next bidding so they would provide a good service and know that if the don’t lay down in bed with corruption a next person may just get it. The citizen will get to decided who they want for a fire service, a security company as a police force, import doctors and nurses for medical, imported farm workers to replace what we have, This will free up Jamaican to be full time hustlers.

The government could do away with all the departments that monitor corruption as it will be an obstacle to a pure system of liaise faire capitalism which many think they can play. But take away the rules and lets play is what the private sector would like to say to the government and underground economy. Hustling could be a university degree as who really needs to spend time and money gathering knowledge and skill. We will then have a society of full tertiary educated people. Math skills would go out the roof as Montego Bay will become the financial capital of Jamaica due to the sophisticated hustling schools and operations. There will not need to be a dependent on tourism just a digital track to their bank account.

Contracts could be cleared easily and the work finish which could push the country faster to their first world status. The Ministry of foreign affairs can make it clear as well as the Ministry of commerce that we are really ready to use our full pool of well trained hustlers and the wheel are ready for greasing. We can revert back to the good old days of dog eat dog cut throat competition with no barrier to trade. No visas, no work permits just a global cesspool of the best corrupt people the world can offer now imagine the outsourcing that could go on with even that guy with that $50 billion Ponzi scheme. Even 10% of that if we had given him support could do the country well.

Why should we not think about it now that corruption can be a good thing since it is already there. It cost too much to get rid of. We already have a world rating for it. Lets be the best at it. It’s a thought for the coming 2009. A country whose GDP is based purely on the informal sector, non performing civil service and corruption vs the minuscule production of a dying private sector while improving the function of the public sector. Imagine full employment! Well have anyone ver propose it? Lets think about it. LOL

Friday, January 2, 2009


Written by John Anthony

What kind of man is Prime Minister Bruce Golding? What drives him? What are his strengths and weaknesses? Here we reveal information never before read anywhere in annals of Jamaican history and politics.


Bruce Golding is a honest and straightforward man. This straightforwardness gets him in trouble often especially when he gets emotional and strays from his written speeches. This man should rehearse and rehearse answers to potential questions or his straightforwardness will continue to get him in trouble. He needs a speech writer yesterday and should refrain from the temptation to stray from his written speeches. His straightforwardness makes him unwilling to acknowledge mistakes and change course even after it seems obvious that he is alone . Sometimes others care not so much about being correct as they care about being acknowledged. Negotiators with this man need to be aware of this trait and never tell him bluntly that he is wrong. When he speaks without anger or resentment his words compel attention and reformation and are extremely powerful.

He is apt to jump to conclusions without considering all the relevant factors and full consequences and difficulties.. This is a blunt and outspoken man often unwilling to wait for the proper times and seasons and desire to rush through every piece of work as soon as it presents itself. An unfinished task is almost like a disease to him and he often rushes ahead too quickly as in the case of the EPA agreement. He is right overall on the EPA in that we must learn to compete but he is wrong on not examining the fine details. The way to out-manoeuver this man in negotiations is to steers him away from his own insights to analysis and to get him to become emotional. The other strategy is to include ultra-fine details and clauses in contracts and agreements. When he becomes emotional he often makes wrong choices.


Here is one of the greatest secrets of the Prime Minister. He has visions and hear things he is afraid of telling normal humans about. His mind reaches out far beyond the present and he has the ability to see the future by his understanding of current events. Of course, since he has never been trained in the art and science of divination he feels like a round man in a square hole!

The powers of intuition that lie latent within this man are enormous rivalling that of even so-called psychics.Intuition (knowledge) - understanding without apparent effort, quick and ready insight seemingly independent of previous experiences or empirical knowledge.

If he relied more on this great gift instead of on partisan emotions, and the influence of charitable endeavours,he would shock the nation with his uncanny gift at being correct. Frankly, his radio show is an attempt, unknowingly, to bring some of this much needed insight to the common man. Callers to this show should ask him what he feels, not what he knows!

He rarely makes mistakes when he follows his own inspirations but is sure to be led astray when he seeks the advice of yes men. This gift shockingly seems at odds with his outbursts and unscripted statements but these come not from inspiration but from angry partisan instincts. He is quick to foresee events and is sure he is correct. If he can differentiate between his inspirations and emotions he will make accurate decisions and changes never before made in the history of Jamaica. Great prophets learn to differentiate between their inspirations and their emotions.


To say that Golding is filled with energy is an understatement. He is a source of energy, outgoing and loves to be on the move. Actually he would much rather be hiking outdoors rather than sitting in the parliament. His carefree adventuresome nature can be refreshing. This is a man who loves to travel and l-ov-e-s to be on the move. For one who loves freedom so much, it seems odd that he would want to detain innocent persons, called crime suspects, for 60 days but his inability to bear to see others suffer will cause him to propose unwise actions. He should never make decisions under such duress. This man should watch his generosity and goodness as others will quickly take advantage of him. Emergencies bring out the best in him and he can become timid and afraid when there is no need for action or quick thought. He is a money generator too!


Bruce has the tendency to fly to pieces over even small matters, is quick to anger, combative and determined to have his own way. He can be unreasonable in his desire to help those he loves, zealous and over-sanguine in whatever he underrtakes. He also should watch the temptation to sacrifice health and good nature in his determination to finish what he initiates. The bluntless of this man is the cause of much unnecessary suffering to others and the truth of his words must not be used as an excuse to domineer others. He should learn to be gentle in speech and to give out the truth with discrimination. He should teach himself to forgive and forget. Bruce can expect too much of others, quick to observe, to plan and to do and make small allowance for those less gifted.

He should cultivate calmness and purpose and think well and in silence, drawing on his inspirational giftings before making important decisions. Golding is not concerned with details and should not lead negotiations especially where contracts are involved. This makes him especially unsuited for the EPA negotiations and he will never understand the details therein.


Call it luck if you want; but the universe is on the side of this man. The beneficient universe loves to send him help which often appears at the 11th hour and luck will even help him at winning games of chance and lotteries. especially when he is close to his last dollar.


Prime Minister Golding must have set times alone where he processes his intense feelings. He needs a space at home for himself to maintain his sense of self-control and must not be disturbed. His close circle of friends must be selected carefully; he has too many.