Stop playing games with sports

Jamaicans have  mad passion for sports, be it the man who plays community football every Sunday, or the woman who goes all out in our local netball leagues, we indulge in sports. Even if they have never played on an actual team or ever kicked a ball they watch with baited breath Manning Cup matches and Jamaica Trials. Put in a nutshell Jamaica is a sports happy nation that is also home to some of the worlds best athletes and coaches.

Yet here we are, some thirteen years since the start of our prolonged athletic dominance (see VCB at the ’04 Athens Games) and some twenty years since our qualification for the World Cup and we are still yet to realize that sports is so much more than a game.

Sports is both an industry and entertainment, it is a multi-billion dollar entity which we as a nation are failing to tap into. Staying with the obvious (track and field) Jamaica has been at the top of the pack for over a decade, yet we do not tap into that for monetary purposes. We do not for example have a world class training camp where foreign athletes can come down for some r&r or intensive training, nor do we have in place a training program for foreign coaches so that they can tap into our methods (and we can tap into their wallets). If we are to not only retain our position as kings of the track but also leave a lasting mark on the sport then we need to seriously monetize track and mimic what they have in Eugene, Oregon (a hub of track and field where international athletes and coaches are hosted).

Football isn’t spared from this insanity, in fact it is the poster child for Jamaica’s failure to adjust to the realities and potentials of the modern sports industry. Now football has been drunk on  money since the 90’s, more so in the past five years, and Jamaica is a nation where football is king, yet we for some reason refuse to tap into that rich vein. We refuse to professionalize our league (we have only recently become semi-pro) and we (as individual clubs) refuse to become feeder clubs to European clubs in Belgium and the Netherlands (where work permits are easier to come by), thereby seriously limiting the potential finances that the clubs could make. More to the point in this day and age where clubs like Manchester United and Real Madrid travel the world on summer tours and pre-season tournaments, Jamaica with its tourist pedigree and its passion for sports cant seem to organize even a one off tournament with these teams that are both available and actively looking to expand there market base (plus it would both boost our tourism product while improving our standard of local football).

We see the same in netball where we continue to rest on our laurels while failing to realize that we are sitting on a potential goldmine. With a national team that averages a global ranking of between third to fifth in the world (while still having no professional league) we refuse to take advantage of the fact that we possess some of the best athletes and coaches. We could (just like track and field) share our knowledge and nous of the game. We should be creating a league that seeks to attract the best players in the region and then televise it through Sportsmax for example (which is highly under-supplied). In one felt swoop we would have cemented the regional viewership, expanded your product (the Jamaican netball league) to foreign shores  while ensuring that we remain as one of the hubs of the game globally.

Sports could and should be placed on the front burner by both parties and especially any person who wishes to be a tourist minister. With so much money just sloshing around, literally begging to be pocketed, we refuse to monetize sports. We have a perfectly good Multi-purpose stadium on the north coast that we have allowed to become a white elephant rather than expanding into the sports tourism market. We don’t use it to host cricket (we could host the subcontinental teams and tap into their massive diaspora in the states) and we don’t use it to host football matches (where we could integrate our football product with our tourism product). Instead of doing these obvious movements towards getting involved in the international sports market we continue to dither and laud the fact that we have gotten some third rate IAAF sanctioned meet while the Bahamas hosts the premiere world relay meet.

We need to wise up and realize that sports is about more than running up and down, more than having fun and winning, it is an industry, one that we are apart of but not taking advantage of and that is insane.A change must be made in how we view sports and how we integrate it into our economy. Too much chatting has been done and not enough action when it comes to monetizing sports and that has to change, the private sector along with the state must realize that there is a massive amount of money that we are not sharing in, an industry tailor-made for us. Let us push our politicians to promote and push sports, let us see the private sector realize that the sporting industry can be and is profitable and let us finally harness the sporting potential that this nation has, to not do so would be criminal.

The new dark age

History does not repeat itself, that is one of the first things drilled into anyone who has studied history, and  that statement holds true almost always. History cant repeat itself as the conditions that man faced during the 1700’s is totally different than the conditions facing mankind today in the twenty-first century. I repeat, history cant repeat itself, but as we know, current events almost always look, smell and sound very similar to past historical moments in time.

It is  my theory that the world is experiencing, and currently living through what seriously mimics the ‘Dark ages’.We are witnessing the birth pangs of a new era and history sows that it will be very messy before some order is restored. Examples of the world slipping into the darkness is all around us and is happening at a frightful speed. Take for example the collapse of the empire that is happening right now. We are seeing the great American empire disintegrate before our very eyes if only we care to take a cursory look at the situation.

America, much like ancient Rome has reached its zenith. Just as the Romans were the masters of the then known world, we have the Americans being the master of our world today. Much like Rome the american empire survives and is feared/respected because of its awesome military might. Much like Rome the Americans are the masters of soft power, so that foreigners look and hope with baited breath to become a citizen of the empire. And much like Rome then, the american empire dominates economically as well.

However much like its Roman predecessor america is entering a period of terminal decline, the kind of decline that precipitated the ‘dark ages’. We see the once great and vibrant american economy now on its knees and they are now a country where half of its working population is hovering precariously above or live in poverty (earning $30,000 or less a year is the benchmark for American poverty). It is a nation that produces nothing and it is a nation of many disgruntled persons who are unsure as to why their standard of living has plummeted off a cliff.

Along with a tanking economy we witness how person a social breakdown.The societal breakdown that we are witnessing today is a clear indicator of us slipping into the darkness.

Staying with America, it remains the preeminent military might, and that is the key reason for it still remaining a powerhouse. The American military is strong, probably the strongest in the world, but again like its predecessor Rome, the army is also eating away at the American empire even while they project their might. Like the Romans the American army is massive, however that fact alone is not killing it. The fact that it is an all volunteer army is however destroying it. It is destroying it because the army firstly eats up over half of the budget (and discretionary spending) of the American budget and quite frankly no one wants to join, except persons from the ‘redneck’ states or as is increasingly the case immigrants. Now i do not believe that the american army will go the way of the roman army and have troops loyal to a general and not to the nation, however much like the Roman army the volunteers are mainly from the poorer parts of the world and as such will think twice before going to war and collaborating with the enemy (as seen with the Romans found out with the Germanic legion that they implemented).

The fall of America is not however the only harbinger of our new ‘dark age’, a look at technology and how we use it also spells doom. The internet is the modern day printing press, and it going through all of the birthing pains that the printing press went through. When the printing press was invented it saw an initial explosion of knowledge as books became more available to the general populace, we see this in the internet that has also ushered in age of mass knowledge. However the internet, much like the printing press, is about to meet some hard times. Persons with vested interests will, are and already have in some instances but the brake on internet expansion and freedom.

These persons with vested interests much like there middle age predecessors do not like, want or desire the populace being informed and are working hard to stop it. Be it the ‘Great Firewall of China’ or the simple blocking of Twitter and Facebook by the Turkish authorities we are seeing where the explosion of information has been tamed. Those actions mimic those of when the monarchs and clergy of the day put a brake on the expansion of knowledge by regulating the printing press.

Just like the middle ages (dark age) we are witnessing a mass movement of people as persons flee nations failing, escape war, to just make a better life or (as is increasingly the case) to escape a land with no more vital resources (such as water). This mass migration during the middle ages caused much distress and played no small part in keeping the world ‘dark’. In the middle ages this mass migration resulted in both new nations and the re-configuring of others. While we are yet to see the birth of a new nation due to migration, we have witnessed the destabilizing and re-configuring of existing nations.

A casual glance at west Europe confirms this view. We have nations like France, Germany and the BENELUX countries all experiencing serious demographic shifts as members of the old colonies displacing the native population. They experience this when the native populace continues to have a low birth rate while the migrants retain the high birth rate along with them coming in en mass. Just as the middle ages saw the Magyars enter the Hungarian plains we see the Congolese enter Belgium or the man from Ivory Coast lands at Marseilles, and just like in the past we see where the newly arrived rapidly change the face of the nation in ways that are violent or through the gradual wearing down of the existing status quo (as seen in the UK where sharia law is used in some legal cases).

One way we are also entering some ‘dark age’ is the retrenching from globalization. Just as in the middle ages we are witnessing a world with countries looking more inwards rather than outwards. We see this in action with the demagogues who are either in power (Donald Trump) or through the labour unions that demand some isolationism as they seek to rebuild a manufacturing sector.

This retreat from each other was also a hallmark of the middle ages and played no small part in the conflicts that erupted during those times. We are seeing nations retreat from each other and starting to be more insular and as a result we are seeing nations act in ways that could inevitably lead to a conflict that would dwarf any past conflict we have witnessed as a species.

Finally another harbinger of the age we are approaching is the war and thirst for conflict. The west led by the Empire has been at war for sixteen years and it doesn’t seem like it will end anytime soon. The nations are bleeding their coffers to remain at war (against an idea) at the expense of their populations well being and we are witnessing the fruit of that blossoming. The nations are spending billions yearly to conduct these wars and they are fast becoming bankrupt as a result. The wars that the west is waging is playing a large part in the ‘dark age’that we are witnessing. As the military becomes the be all and end all of a nation it does so at the expense of the citizens in that country. Just as no one during the time realized they were living through the one hundred year war which broke Europe in terms of manpower and expense so too are we are living in our own hundred year war, and we will not know it until decades later when we have long been broken and poor.

Socialism is our only hope for a brighter tomorrow

The word socialism is a loaded one, especially in a country like Jamaica that went through a mini civil war because of it, but it has its usefulness, especially in these interesting times in which we live. Socialism throughout the majority of the population conjures up ideas of Stalin’s USSR, Mao’s PRC and the mass suffering that the people of those nations under ‘socialist rule’ had to endure. Yes socialism is a loaded term it has several uses especially as Jamaica faces such a critical time.

Socialism comes in many forms and it doesn’t have to entail people going to the gulag as seen in the cold war. A cursory look about Western Europe and to some extent Asia will show us that creating a quasi socialist nation can be done without rivers of blood  flowing in the streets. Fabian socialism (named after the roman general Fabius Maximus) has won in Europe and everyone knows and understands this (though admittedly it is apparent that vested interests are trying to change that). A look at the map shows France (who’s social contract is very Fabian in its outlook) and Germany (who first introduced the welfare state) shows us a welfare state in action. In those countries they all have strong social democratic parties (who admittedly lean more to the right in these modern times) that have been in power for an extended period and implemented real reform.

Socialism doesn’t necessarily mean the gulags or everyone standing in line for a loaf of bread. Staying in Europe we see where the welfare state is a cornerstone according to citizens, and even in Asia we have a Singapore where many socialist policies were enacted (in order to neuter the burgeoning left).  It can also be seen in the Nordic nations where all the major parties agree to maintaining the status-quo (the welfare state) which has always been a chief objective of socialist party.

The jamacan society is seriously skewed with the haves getting more while everyone else suffers silently. The social contract has been broken by both politicians (who have no vision for the future) and civil society (who just don’t care about the lower class) and a new one must be drawn up, one that is both fair and equal.

Socialism can work, and it can be twinned (at times) with democracy, one only needs to look at Latin America for proof of that. The Latin America of today is a far cry from the banana republics that they once were, instead of chronic malnutrition they have healthy citizens, and instead of having a massive literacy problem we now see them doing excellently in all matters academic. We see this also in the economy where socialist led nations have been able to dag their citizens from poverty to being members of a booming economy. Democratic rights were and still are guaranteed under the constitutions drawn up by these groups and as a result we are seeing a rebirth of Latin America.

Jamaica needs that kind of thinking, it needs parties that are willing to rewrite the social contract in this nation and i believe that only a socialist party can do that. A socialist party would have better sense of what the majority of the population needs as they would be a party for not only electioneering but also one that has (as a leading plank in is platform) the true will of the people and is willing to make the political sacrifices to get things done.

Yes, socialism is a loaded term in Jamaica but it can and does work as seen by other nations implementing socialist policies. It can work with democracy and it doesn’t have to be a politburo deciding the fate of the nation, they. The world is filled with examples of socialist parties unleashing the potential of its people and there is no reason why Jamaica should be any different. We could seriously do with a proper socialist party in Jamaica, one that creates an equal and just social contract and it can be done. The only thing that is stopping us from doing that is in the mind, and until we reassess how we view socialism in this country then nothing really concrete will change, we must either break those mental shackles or be forever trapped in the vice like grip of inequality and despair.

American saber rattling may cost South Korea deeply.

North Korea is a renegade state, a state run by madmen and where poverty and desperation are the daily realities of life, it is a nation that on the face of it will collapse at any time once enough pressure is applied to them. That is the opinion of the average American pundit as they openly call for a conflict that hardly anyone in Asia wants. We see American rhetoric spouted about how poor the DPRK is and how the nation would collapse within a few months or weeks of invasion.

The persons pushing for a war (or rather the resumption of the Korean war) have no ties to Asia and have no empathy as it relates to looking at a potential enemy. Any amount of empathetic thinking would lead us to stop this mad rush to war.

Time for some empathy. Imagine if you can, a nation (North Korea) totally leveled during the Korean war. Bombers were ordered to destroy any and everything and they followd through on those orders, bombing houses to rubble, destroying road networks and even (to top it all off) destroyed the waterworks such as dams and leveys. Imagine living through that hell as the entire nation turns to dust and ash, then imagine that the military that caused your nation much suffering is located just south of your border, with all sorts of fancy arms to boot.

Imagine living in a country where your neighbor holds yearly military exercises doing mock invasions of your country, and finally imagine that again, right on your border, the enemy that caused so much destruction had, and may have again, nuclear weapons pointed directly at you. How would you react? Would you not seek to defend yourself, regardless of it is real or imagined?

That is the reality of the North Korean situation, hemmed in on all sides by forces that really wish to make a radical to how the nation operates. With all of this in mind, it is pretty easy to empathize with the DPRK. They are a nation that is terrified of the outside and the US in particular (and with serious grounds for that fear) and it is easy to understand then why they have for so long pushed for a nuclear arsenal, to act as a deterrent against potential invaders.

However we do not have that empathy and instead state boldly and loudly that the DPRK must stop missile testing in the face of mock invasions. We have no empathy and are being lead to  a conflict that i fear we haven’t even thought through the serious consequences that we would face.

The DPRK as things stand, if invaded or bombed, would immediately use the missiles pointed at Seoul, in short, after the opening salvo the South Koreans would already be the losers. As things stand, if any force (external) directly invades the North, then we can almost certainly bank on China giving them reluctant support, because the Chinese would never entertain, and are fearful of having a US client state right on its border, which is what is already being planed for and prepared by these annual military exercises.

To go around making bellicose statements about how the US can and is considering ‘decapitating’ the regime of the DPRK is sheer madness if one wishes to see a peaceful and stable East Asia. To not realize that the DPRK is a garrison nation on watch 24/7 for a potential (or resumption of) conflicts is insane from any point of view if as suspected the DPRK successfully tested an ICBM that would leave Juno Alaska in ruins is a total disservice to the people of South Korea and Japan who would bear the brunt of any North Korean retaliation.

Now these are just facts, hard and cold, but facts nonetheless and these are facts that seem to be lost in the ether as the world lurches towards yet another conflict (or total calamity). The North Koreans are not looking for a conflict, it is accepted as a fact that the nuclear and missile programs are for defensive purposes. Whether the threat is real or perceived (and the US has a proven track record in the regime changing game) it is clear that the North Koreans are ready to respond to the threat.

We in the west must see the world from the point of view of the DPRK leadership. They are paranoid (and who wouldn’t be if one day the nation that sponsors you collapses) and right now only seeks self preservation through the propaganda that they release to the North Korean public and the army that they lavishly spend on (to ensure that the generals dont mutiny) we see where self preservation is key to the state.

Now one doesnt have to like what the DPRK government acts as it relates to human rights and the treatment of its citizens to see that a conflict with them is pointless and may actually cost us more in ways we cant imagine. We as a global community must ensure that no war happens on the Korean peninsula, as i fear that the carnage that that conflict would cause will make the Korean war look like a cake walk. We as such must ensure that even while we chastise them for their failure to live up to human rights conventions etc. that they are not totally shut out and ostracized because that will only lead to the regime doubling down on its military capabilities.

Instead we should both kill them with soft power and be patient. Patient for the day that the average North Korean citizen wakes up and realizes that the world is bigger than what the state run media houses say. We must wait for the day that the average North Korean decides to take their destiny in there own hands, in short we must leave them alone and allow that nation to grow at its own pace. The thirst for conflict in the Pacific is real and the situation in the DPRK has a lot of people on tenterhooks, but if we allow the persons living there to decide their own path then we can see the change in government that the west so often calls for. To do anything otherwise up to and including attacking them is pointless and selfish, if we really care about the plight of the North Koreans and want to see them live a better life then the treats must be removed, if not we may as well kiss the Koreas goodbye because any conflict there will end in the total destruction of both nations

Giving away our birthright for a bowl of pottage

As the government looks to seriously push through on the idea of privatizing the NWC one cant help but remember the story in the Old Testament of Esau and Jacob. I am sure that we all know the story, but for those who don’t remember Esau was the eldest son so he would be entitled to a greater share of the family wealth when his father died.Esau was hungry and in a pique of desperation forfeited his birthright to the younger Jacob in exchange for a bowl of pottage. To cut a long story short, after eating the meal Esau wished to renege on the deal but circumstances and members of his family were against the idea of reneging on the deal.

This story i feel aptly represents how our politicians and members of civil society operate and deal with the national question. Jamaica for the past two decades (but stem picked up in the past fifteen) has been selling off bits and pieces of the nation because like Esau in the story, they are hungry and only wish to address the immediate problem without thinking of the long term consequences.

Actual examples can be found with these land transfers and business deals. Think about the fact that we as citizens through our government are set to lose our last reaming shares in JPS thus fully leaving us to the wolves of capitalism. We face constant woes with JPS and yet they are still able to ride roughshod over reality by demanding price increases. We also in selling off that birthright enshrined in that deal that should the nation go fully renewable then the JPS should be compensated. Now i don’t know about you, but that sounds like the actions and behavings of a utility company (one that the entire state depends on) that not only fails to understand the economic psyche of their customers but also has no real incentive to change because we the Jamaican people (through the government and policy makers own nothing of it as we see the profits of this company skyrocket.

As it relates to the water and its impending privatization one only needs to look at Ireland to see where that road would lead. After the Irish entered into a PPI deal for the operating of their water company the citizens saw their water rate skyrocket by double digit percentages, leaving the average Irish man paying more for the same life sustaining utility. It is clear that the privatization of key utilities leads to companies looking to make the most profit while keeping the same or providing a worse degree of service.

A look at the bauxite scene conjures up even more horrors when one really examines it. Imagine, we have workers who are  constantly living on edge because they know that if the foreign company that owns the plant is facing a hard time financially then they as the worker will bear the brunt of it when costs are cut. We have a levy on the bauxite mined from our shores that is so pitifully small that in the end the state in actuality ends up being the loser financially speaking, as all the profits vacate the island.

We see this in almost all sectors of our economy. Sugar has been sold off to the Chinese (along with mining rights), the oil that may be below us is already in foreign hands along with the former pride of Jamaica, Air Jamaica. This fire-sale of our land, resources and heritage seems to be unrelenting as even now we debate on just where the Cockpit Country borders are so that the rapacious foreign companies may destroy our environment.

‘Jamaicans need to hold our government to account and ensure that not only give away the house for a few trinkets. We must demand that our birthright not be played with and instead demand decent representation when it comes to retaining it. People must wake up quickly to that fact that we own nothing or very little in this island as we quickly become a nation of beggars. We must take heed of the tale of Esau and Jacob and think about the long term ramifications rather than find a quick fix solution that in the end leaves you in a much worse position than you started at.

Break the chains of classism and racism in our minds

Jamaica has a lovely motto ‘out of many one people’ which implies that despite our racial differences we have come together in a large melting pot creating the Jamaican culture. This mixed culture provided us with many things such as food, music and dance but this in many ways hid the outright racism that was inflicted on people not white at the time. Jamaica in many ways has gone past our early post-colonial state, we see where black and white persons are married and have children. So by all accounts Jamaica should be a perfect paradise where everyone is in one with nature.

Unfortunately that is not the case, for while outright  racism is less than before (though persons still harbour the racist thoughts) we see where classism has taken root deep in the heart of society. Classism interspersed with some good old fashioned racism is now the new norm in Jamaica, we have become a nation so blinded by the race to get at the top of the class (pun intended) that we treat our workers and those in the lower class like chattel.

We can see the racism cum classism in how we dress and carry ourselves. Persons are constantly bombarded with images of “true beauty’and images that the majority of the viewers cant hope to attain. We then cuss these same persons in the lower class when they aim to be like their ‘social superiors’ and purchase the weave and fancy outfits, all while praising the rich for using (more expensive) weaves and wearing outfits whose cost would make those who we chastise blush with embarrassment. How can we chastise persons who only wish to emulate those who appear in the social pages of the local papers who just happen to be of a fairer skin complexion?

we see the classism again raising its head when it comes to domestic workers (helpers). Very often helpers are treated like lepers, forced to shy away from people if company, forced to uses the ‘wuttless’ utensils and given only the worst handmedowns. This is just another form of classism that has taken a deep root in our society. We hear horror stories of helpers being abused and molested and no one believes them simply because the alleged is a society big wig while the helper is viewed as a nobody.

The classism is rife in this nation, it is so rife in the nation that we don’t realize that that s the way the society operates. It can be found to be most prevalent in our language and how we speak to each other. The local dialect (patois) is shunned and relegated to that of second-class status, even though there is a vast swath of persons who only speak patios. That in my opinion is where the classism meets our subconscious  racism. The vast majority that speak patois are black (hardly a coincidence, and they are relegated to the status of higgglers and handymen while those who speak the queens English cam be found to inhabit the upper  echelons of society and are of a light complexion.

The specter of classism also rears its ugly head when it comes to education. We see this with the tuition free education that  is now the law of the land. Now as decent, noble  as this, this will only help widen the divide between the haves and have-nots. The have nots will be left to wander the school system while the school crumbles around them because the increased  government is still not enough to fulfill the needs of the school and parents have been led to believe that they don’t need to partake financially in the school and curriculum development. All while those who attend the traditional high-schools will go on to greater things as the child in the traditional school will have access to not only government aid but also a healthy alumni cache that will only lead to them (the schools) being even more successful in terms of academia (the one thing that is truly the great equalizer .

The insidious classism rises up and shows itself even when it comes to health and healthcare. One only needs to look at the ‘free medical service’ that is on offer in this country. While those who are at the top of society can afford the care that is offered at UHWI, that is normally as far as they would go to being in a public hospital. While the monied class aims to stay away from places like KPH and Jubilee, places that would have them interact with their ‘lower class’brethren even though KPH has one of the best trauma wards in this hemisphere.

The legal system finally is the most raw and open wound of classism in this nation. The class divide in the legal system is so abhorrent that one cant believe that we wish to rise up as a nation out of the mire. In this legal system we see kids being dragged off to jail over some petty crime while the child who has the silver spoon in their mouths will never be accosted by the security forces. The police (who are the vanguard of the upper class) constantly arrest the poor for some trivial matter like a spliff or over two ounces of weed and as seen in the Mario Dean case where the mentally impaired man was left with violent criminals and subsequently died. The short fact is that the class you were born into really decides who succeeds and who does not when we look at the Jamaica case. The rich can go gun-toting as seen at the recent carnival and yet they are still allowed to go on living an uninterrupted life while those on the lower end of the social scale are forced to look over their shoulders as society has a target on their back.

Classism in Jamaica can become a thing of the past, however it will require some hard work. Let us hope that we break the chains of classism and instead embrace our rich culture and start living up to what our national motto says because the only way that this country will get better is if we all acknowledge that in spite of our racial and class differences we are out of many one people.

And it’s Germany at the death

The world is a funny old place, one hundred years ago a war was fought primarily in Western Europe to stop an imperial upstart (Germany) from becoming too powerful in Europe. Some seventy odd years ago yet another war was fought (in almost exactly the same places) to stop the resurgent Germany from being the sole power in the European hemisphere. Much blood was shed in order to stop German hegemony in Europe and many a leader were secretly happy that the once powerful Germany had been split, made a useless rump, but things and times change.

Germany as things stand IS the dominant force in Western Europe and has been, this fact was hammered home when yet again right after an election the French president immediately went to Berlin to pay homage to the German president. During this trip they discussed a strengthening of the economic union, something the Bundesbank has long championed as it would mean cementing Frankfurt as the economic heart of Europe. The fact that Germany is the sole power in Western Europe was also made evident when the UK, the only other nation comparable to Germany chose to go it alone and abandon the continent, thus leaving the continents western hemisphere to the mercies of Germany.

Why should one be worried or even take interest in the fact that Germany is turning the European Union into its own personal play thing where it alone is the dominant player and everyone else must tow the line, and is this even happening? Well one can take Greece and its ongoing economic crisis for a bit of evidence of this. Now let us ignore that fact that everyone knew that the debt was un-payable and that a haircut was needed, and let us discount the fact that the economy was burning and they wanted them to cut more social services to service the un-serviceable debt. The Greek people were given an option by their government, a simple yes or no to yet another u-payable bailout. They chose no and instead of honoring that the Troika led by Germany held the Greek banks to hostage and demanded that the Greek government ignore the express wishes of the people as reflected in the referendum.

We are also seeing Germany, the most populous (and strongest in terms of arms manufacturing) actively pushing for the formation of a European army to take the place of NATO. The Germans have long wished for a European army as they know that realistically only two nations would dominate it (Germany and France), and in reality only one because the other EU ‘superpower’ is quickly becoming a basket case. This European army thus will be led by the Germans, and just as EU foreign policy is dictated from Berlin, so to Paris.

However they (the Germans) will not be in such a strong position as it is now. The central and eastern members of this union will not and are not taking this situation laying down. Nations like Hungary and Poland  are quickly becoming upset with the mutterings from Berlin and and Brussels and have united because of a sense of culture disappearing. The central and eastern nations also will not stand idly by as the EU becomes more like a session of the German Bundestag. These nations, barely off the leash that was soviet oppression will not being talked down to lightly, this could lead to the breakup of the EU as we know it and in its place we would be left with two continental powers sharing a border.

The EU as is is dead, it has little to no authority over the member states who continually ride roughshod through the ‘sanctions’. Germany is in a precarious position and it is one that they certainly entertain as serious.. They are being asked to be the king maker of the EU and this could spell badly for the rest of Europe. Will Germany with its new found leadership role play the part of good cop, or will they isolate the issue and badger on and on until fixed.

The world must surely be awake now, but as the years go by Germany accrues more power and that should give everyone pause for thought. These actions are the type of things that lead to the death and of whatever the Germans have done. Still the captain said ‘you can do it or get out’ and i fear that most of us will get out rather than doing the labour, I hope i’m wrong but as things stand the world is looking a bit darker than before

Stand with Venezuela or be torn apart alone

Venezuela is in flames, with almost daily protests both for and against the government, severe food shortages and an economy in free fall we see a once proud and strong nation now on its knees. We see where a democratically elected president is being called a dictator (with one year in office left) and we see where both sides are getting rather testy and irritated with the apparent status quo that has emerged (with the failing and the government at a deadlock), we also see where the OAS has roundly condemned the Venezuelan government for their ‘excesses’ against the protesters and demand that president Maduro be removed. To some it may seem like an internal matter that should be left alone to the Venezuelans, while others believe that Maduro should go and that he is nothing short of a dictator as the OAS head likes to say, that however would spell doom for the rest of the region and the Caribbean in particular.

What we are seeing play out in Venezuela is not a new phenomenon, we have seen this drama played out in Latin America and the Caribbean before. One only needs to look at Chile in the 70’s to see the parallels between then and now. Then as now we had a socialist leader (democratically elected) who was intent on nationalizing key industries and spreading the nations wealth in a more equitable way. Then as now we see where the vested interests in those nations protest, then as now we see the influence of that insidious group USAID as it feed/s the opposition parties. Then as now we see where the same USAID holds workshops with the opposition on how best to attack the government and then as now we see where that same USAID has close links to the opposition protesters on the streets.

It can’t be stressed enough that what we are seeing in Venezuela now is an attempted coup. We are witnessing the opposition in that country at its highest ebb in years trying to roll back the hard won changes and social reforms that were won during the Bolivarin revolution. Now that president Maduro is not Chavez is obvious, he lacks the charm of Chavez and tends to be more blunt in his pronouncements, but a dictator he is not. How many dictators are democratically elected, with the eyes of the world on your nations elections which were called free and fair? How many dictators when faced with an obvious external push to oust them along with concerted violent opposition protest in the streets would tell the forces to use as little force as possible? How many dictators would use the constitution to call a peoples assembly to write a new constitution to put an end to the political impasse that the nation faces? These are not the actions of a dictator, but since we take our orders from Washington we are coming down hard on the rough around the edges Maduro, the man who just looks like a tele-novella villain, but we must get over looks and get to the substance.

The US has been looking to kill before birth the idea of a united Latin America and key to this has always been the downfall of socialists Venezuela, the nation that has been the beacon of social justice and a vocal proponent of integration in the region. Looking about Latin America one cant help but being  depressed as one sees progressive governments fall to the wayside of US interest. But take heart for while the left-wing may be under threat (as seen in Venezuela) many persons are beginning to wake up and realize that this system is not for us and that we cant go it alone. Love him or loathe him, Maduro is the democratically elected president and if they (the people who dislike his policies) and we especially in the Caribbean must stand firm and together with Venezuela as it goes through a tumultuous time.

Sometimes the hair is necessary

 

Recently more and more people are becoming ‘concerned’ about the poor and how they live. Those who reside in upper St. Andrew sit around their dining tables while preaching and pontificating that those dastardly poor refuse to spend wisely and that is why they are in the predicament that they are in. In short according to those in their ivory towers it is a simple matter of prioritizing and those in the lower classes just can’t seem to get that they say. Things get even more degrading and sexist when you have statements like the one said by the reverend last year who lambasted some women for putting ‘$5000  hair on a $5 head’, now that statement is both repugnant and totally missing two key facts.

The first fact that is seldom spoken aloud in Jamaica anymore is that of beauty and what beauty looks like. We in Jamaica have a very eurocentric way of viewing beauty, a legacy that slavery has left for us. One must ask oneself how often have you heard people commenting on ‘nappy’ hair or ‘bad’ hair? the simple fact of the matter is that in Jamaica beauty is defined in a European context, is it any wonder then why these women wear those weaves> they are doing it conform to our national beauty standard which states that anything negro is bad while the negro must try and elevate themselves to that status of the ‘browning’

Women all throughout this nation put costly weaves in their hair, when UPT does it no one says a negative thing and the ladies are praised as paragons of beauty. However when a poor person does it then we all kick up a stink and then they are called names on top of it, thus  we see the subtle classism and racism that is entrenched in the Jamaican society and psyche.

Then we come to the main debating point, priorities and how they are listed, or economics if you will. Now many persons who see a poor woman in expensive clothes, weave etc believe that they have blown their money on these fancy trappings, but again I think they are missing something crucial and that is the economics. Yes many women (rich and poor) have no business being parents, and yes many a woman goes to a dance leaving the children at home alone.

The sad reality is that a lot of these women dress up and go dance in order to support their kids in any way possible. And while it may sound disgusting, but that is what is being done a lot of times at these dances. And if i may put it so bluntly, the woman in the ghetto with the ‘nice’ hair is far more likely to get a man unlike her natural haired sisters. The sad fact is that rather than have a debate on the issue and see why these mothers put themselves in harms way and feel like they have no way out, however they do and their kids do too which is why so many persons both rich and poor wear these things.

In conclusion, while many mothers are bums (uptown and downtown) it is clear to see that some form of change is happening, but it must be done at a faster pace. We are the nation that birthed Garvey and yet to this day we have persons bleaching their face and other things that are only done when it is sacrifice. We must ensure that we are proud of our, where we came from or how we got here, It will be a long slog but in the end we as a nation need to do this

American liberals, be careful what you wish for

That Donald Trump is an ignoramus is nothing new, and that he is a total embarrassment to all who wish to lead and enter politics is also not news. Donald Trump represents all that is wrong with politics, sheer opportunism, willing to say anything to get power, willing to lie and maintain the lie to retain power and he holds grudges. All in all he is a horrid piece of work, and it is totally understandable why the American liberal class wants him out. But i fear that in all of this rush to have the Donald ousted from office the American liberal class has missed a few crucial things that could well mean a long and gloomy night for the liberal class.

Donald Trump is an opportunist yes, but that is his only saving grace. That’s right, that vile opportunism that he used to stir up the hornets nest of white rage is the one thing that separates him from the rest of the Republican party. Trump has no core political ideology, his m.o is to do and say anything to remain relevant, in the conversation and more importantly (to him anyway) popular. That is why his message and platform (if we can call it that) was so scattershot, less taxes but more investment, repeal OBAMACARE while providing a better healthcare system for all, these are but a few examples of a man who has no ideology and will say anything to remain in power, for want of a better word he is a rube. A rube with his finger on the button of nuclear annihilation, but a rube none the less and one that should be opposed but not feared.

But that hasn’t stopped American liberals from hollering that Trump will drag America back into the bad ol’ days (the rest of the world wants to know just when were the good ol’ days as we didn’t feel it) and as such doing everything in their power to ensure that if he is given a rough time and possibly make him a one term president. But that is not what they really want, they want him out of office now and as seen with the Comey hearings and ‘Russia-gate’ they will stop at nothing, even if it means empowering the far-right.

The man set to succeed Mr. Trump should he be impeached and convicted is VP Mike Pence. Now while Mr Trump has no ideology and is only beholden to whatever will make him popular, Mr Pence is a true believer and that alone should give American liberals pause for thought as they continue to rail against Trump.

While Trump really doesn’t care if you are gay or straight (he just wants your money and your adulation) Pence really cares and if made president would look to immediately roll back the hard won rights that the gay community has won. Mr Trump while on the campaign trail stated that he was not opposed to socialized health care (yet more evidence of him willing to say and do anything to get power and his lack of ideology) and while we may not believe that he may ever look to have any meaningful healthcare law passed (unless it is supremely beneficial to him), do we really believe that a president Pence would even entertain those thoughts in his wildest nightmares?

Mike Pence is a true believer in Republican politics and that should terrify anyone who is looking to have Trump replaced. Pence is a firm pro-lifer and (unlike Trump) would be looking to roll back the tide on Roe v. Wade and advances made in women’s reproductive rights. His tenure as Governor of Indiana should also give the homosexual community some pause for thought as, lest we forget, he signed into law the draconian Religious Freedom Restoration Act that sought to give cover to bigots who didn’t want to server openly gay persons. Mr Pence is also a huge proponent of privatizing Social Security (something Mr Trump also wishes to do), but unlike Trump a President Pence would be able to muster up the votes in both houses to pass that bill as he is as establishment as one comes

Mr Trump is an idiot and the furthest thing from perfect, but to kick him out without being aware of what and who will take his place is utter madness. The Republican party are looking desperately for a way to rid themselves of Trump and have a true believer in office and the Democratic party are playing willing accomplices as they fight against the Donald.

The Democratic party is also missing yet another key point, and one that could cost them dearly if they do not wise up and change. Yes Trump is an idiot and the populace on a whole dislikes him, but that does not automatically equate to a Democratic win as seen in the recent election. The 2016 Presidential election should be an eye opener to the Democratic party, they thought that they could win by simply not being Trump and by constantly reminding people that they were not Trump. Needless to say that they lost, because while they were not Trump they had no ideas, they had no agenda and they had no message, and whatever one thinks of Mr Trump, he has a message (garbled, nonsensical and doomed to being stillborn but a message none the less) and the people wanted new and innovative ideas.

The solution to this conundrum is simple, though it is not as sexy as what the liberal class in America are doing now. The Democratic party must find its roots and go back to the left wing and embrace the downtrodden as they once did. A big reason as to why the Democratic party lost in 2016 is that they are (rightfully) viewed as Republican lite. While the two parties differ majorly when it comes to social issues (or the culture wars if you will), they are exactly the same when it comes to the economy and foreign policy, two areas that directly affect the American public. Both parties agree on the neo-liberal experiment that has led to America hemorrhaging jobs at a shocking pace and both parties are in lock step when it comes to foreign policy as seen in Obama continuing (and expanding) Bush’s wars and Trump busily picking up where Obama left off in the wholesale slaughter of Yemen.

The Democratic party must change if it is to regain power in any meaningful way (see them also getting decimated at the state level) as they will never see prolonged success as the Republican lite party. They must aim to get big money out of politics and look to make that society a more equitable one where ones lot in life isn’t decided by who your parents are but instead by how hard you work. They must in short return to the party that they were before they were co-opted by Bill Clinton and his ilk because, as seen by the UK election, people are tired of austerity and tired of living in constant fear of the future and if given the chance will elect someone who has a ‘progressive’ social and economic agenda.

But beware for if you as a party continue down the same path that you are on now of fighting the ‘progressive’ candidates while propping up the establishment Democrats then you guys can kiss any chance of the White House goodbye. Yes the populace hates Trump by and large, but they also deeply despise the business as usual politics and politicians which is why they were willing to give Donald Trump a chance. Make the change, fight Trump where he needs to be fought and aim to have the public petition him constantly (for he is a man who loathes to be unpopular and unloved) and ensure that you have a real left wing candidate to run in 2020, if not you may as well hand they keys of the White House over to the Republicans as they will dominate for the foreseeable future.