Saturday, January 23, 2010


THOSE of us aware of the way some universities name their courses will be familiar with the use of the term 101 to refer to beginner courses such as 'Economics 101' etc. Similarly in Jamaica we could easily create another course and sell to the globe (if anyone wanted it). That is 'How to destroy a country and brand 101.'

This is evident in light of the recent report in the Sunday Herald that the decade 2000 to 2009 was the bloodiest on record, with over 13,400 citizens over the period, and 2009 being the bloodiest year on record with 1,680 murders committed.

This is a stark contrast to the country that gained independence in 1962, that grew at an average of over six per cent per annum in the first decade of new nationhood, and that Lee Kuan Yew came to visit in the 1960s as an inspiration for the development of Singapore. So I think that we are more than qualified as a country to teach this course.

The ingredients
To start with, you need to have a country that is considered the jewel of the Caribbean, with a lot of hope and promise, and a lot of natural resources that would be the envy of any other island. The country would need to be capable of achieving great heights and brand recognition not achieved by many countries many times its size and population. Some of these attributes include some of the best beaches in the world, bauxite, some of the best agricultural products, the world's best athletes, inventor of reggae music, and world- renowned artistes such as Bob Marley. The country also includes a people who are amongst the most talented and warmest in the world, and a resilience unmatched by any other.

Next you want to be able to wrest that gem of a country away from the wicked imperialists and give it to those who served at the feet of our former great house masters as the house servants. Allow them to write a constitution, and create a political system that is more in favour of power for the political party than for the people.

Of necessity, also, we must have a people with a relatively high illiteracy rate, who are willing to murder their own for a box of beer and a plate of curry goat at election time, every five years. This is easy if they are kept poor enough, and cordoned like cattle in places called garrisons. You also have to ensure that the health and education systems are inadequate so that the masses are kept unhealthy and uneducated, thus ensuring their loyalty to the providers of the curry goat they are fed every five years.

And there are some other necessary ingredients that cannot be left out. These can be listed as:
1. A police force that is built on political interference and up until recently has never been allowed to do what is necessary to clean up itself. The police force must also be allowed to oppress the rights of the citizens who live in the garrison communities, mainly so that they recognise that they remain nothing but pawns in the greater purpose of the country's destruction;
2. Maintaining a political system that ensures that the representatives elected by the people are more loyal to the political party than the people who elected them, thus ensuring that democracy is really a sham; and
3. A middle class and private sector that are not interested in the country's development. Where there may be a few who are really interested, make sure that their efforts are stifled by the many.

When all these ingredients are present, one will have the perfect recipe for destroying a country and brand. What you will have to do, though, is ensure that these ingredients are blended together correctly and consistently applied, for example, over a 47-year period. If this is done correctly then I guarantee that even with the abundance of natural resources, the close proximity to the world's largest market, the excellent individual achievements of the athletes and artistes, and the resilience of the people, the country and brand will be close to annihilation.
You are guaranteed to create an atmosphere where differences between the people are not created by intellectual discourse but by where you were born, or the colour of your party. I guarantee that you will have a country that will be seen as a basket case by the rest of the world, and one where the people will not be allowed to travel freely, as they will need to have permits called visas.

To top it off and make it seem legitimate, you would have to bestow titles of honourable on those responsible for killing the country and its brand.

Other noteworthy mentions
I must applaud the efforts of the police, and in particular Acting Commissioner Ellington, for the sustained efforts on the road and the push to clean up the police force. This is the first step in trying to tame the crime monster, and the high level of murder in 2009 must not be seen as a failure of these policies. The country's law and order has been compromised for a long time and it will take some sustained effort to recover it.

What the police must be careful of, though, is not to confuse effort with success. The police recently published a list of the number of guns recovered, operations carried out etc, and claimed success. I am sorry to inform them that that is not success. It reminds me of a statement by a friendof mine that a particular financial institution was doing well because the asset base had grown considerably, and I had to point out that success is profitability and equity. Similarly, success for the police will only arrive when public law and order is restored and the number of murders has been significantly. In fact the police would be more successful if there were no operations carried out and crime reduced. That would speak to greater efficiency.

The police must be encouraged to continue their efforts and ensure that the rights of citizens are maintained.

The other point is the practice by a major retail outlet, Pricesmart, to have the security give/collect the parking ticket and also manually lift the heavy metal barrier for each vehicle, which must amount to hundreds of times per day. Apart from holding up traffic this practice seems almost inhumane to the security guards, although it must serve as a weight-training exercise for them. It would seem to me that a better way is to adopt what is done at MegaMart where the security post is covered and they have a remote-controlled gate. It really can't cost that much to follow MegaMart's example.


Anonymous said...

Thought provoking and truer words I have not heard in QUITE some time!!

Anonymous said...

Why am I not surpised that MegaMart Portmore does not have remote-controlled gates.

Anyway, great article, my concern though is how do we get Jamaicans to rid ourselves of the oppressive Politicians from both parties?

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