2006 Articles

The Heart has its Season

From a coldly rational point of view Christmas is as ridiculous a notion as mankind has ever deluded itself with. A man marries a supposed virgin, discovers she's with child, learns from an angel in a dream that she has conceived by the Holy Spirit, and they travel to his hometown where there's no room at the inn so the Lord our Saviour is born in a manger?

Romantic but Wrong, Repulsive and Right

Augusto Pinochet and Fidel Castro both ruled with iron fists. They suppressed all opposition and did not allow freedom of speech or multi-party elections. Pinochet is now dead and the likely terminally-ill Castro's political career is probably over. The obvious question is whether they did more harm than good to their countries.

Intellectual Balance Needed

In A Conflict of Visions, Thomas Sowell posits two fundamental political outlooks, the constrained and unconstrained visions. The first is best expressed in Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations, which accepts man's moral limitations and egocentricity as inherent facts of life. Rather than wastefully attempting to change human nature, it tries to make the best of the possibilities existing within that context.

The Last West Indian Hero?

They should have talked of cut and glance

described the dance

he did on such or such a day

on what green floor

on what astonished field

Instead, they said he was a gentle man,

praised him as a model for his race,

noted with aplomb he took his place

as Senator; a leader cherished

by his men, in friendship steadfast,

who, in spite of bitter recollection,

loved his country at last

Any clown can play the gentleman.

First-Class Bully or Test-Quality JLP?

Cricketing first-class bullies excel at the regional level but flop on the international stage. You can't predict in advance who will step up. graeme Hick scored a record 50-plus first class centuries before his 25th birthday, yet was an infamous bust in tests.

Similarly, many politicians shine on the campaign trail but don't make good administrators. Portia Simpson Miller has been our most popular elected representative for years. But her performance as Prime Minister has been uneven. The unanswered Trafigura questions and bewildering 'Ask the PNP!' retort have many wondering if K.D. Knight and Maxine Henry-Wilson were right. 'Portia Not Ready?' Leighton Levy asked in The STAR of October 27, and the polls show he's not alone.

Wishing upon a War

George W. Bush's party ran, but couldn't hide from Iraq and Katrina. Karl Rove couldn't fool all the people all the time. And the supposedly terminal ills besetting American democracy - such as seat gerrymandering, unmatchable incumbency spending and an imperial president - have apparently been cured by, well, more democracy.

Remnants of Things Past

Politics can be fascinating, if it concerns your own country. But there’s nothing so tedious as other people’s politics. Affairs of state dominate the intellectual discourse in most countries. But a nation’s campaign obsessions are usually meaningless to outsiders.

Fairy Godmothers, Sheep and Goats

It's human nature to seek truth, or at least plausibility. So when we hear about fairy godmother multi-nationals flying from abroad unasked to donate US $585,000 with no strings attached, the natural response is 'bull shoots'. Trafigura won't be history until Jamaicans hear a convincing explanation from the Prime Minister. Nowadays not even eight year olds believe in fairy tales. And governments that take voters for fools get laughed at on election day.'

A Democratic Tipping Point

West Indies cricket once conjured up memories of halcyon glory. Nowadays, it usually means shameful humiliation. But, what one win can do. The Windies' victory over Australia on Wednesday put a smile on everyone's face and once again sportscasters waxed deliriously about the 'glorious uncertainty of cricket'.

Our Vision of Democracy

Criticise the People's National Party (PNP) and you are a Labourite. Call the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) to book and you are a socialist. Yet partisan politics is a fact of life in most countries.

Places like Scandinavia seem rather dispassionate about parties. But watch any U.S. political show and it's obvious that Americans, for instance, are scarcely less tribal than Jamaicans. Though at least they have buried the 'Support my side or I'll kill you' mindset that occasionally flares up here.