2007 Articles

Wise Voters and Grown-up Politicians

If we learned to shut up and get on with the job and not commentate on everything, our productivity would no doubt soar. Yet, the constant chattering may be one reason we are so good at peacefully changing our leaders.

A Sexual Theory of Jamaican Democracy

In 13 contested general elections since 1944, the Jamaican electorate has retained the sitting government seven times - 1949, 1959, 1967, 1976, 1993, 1997, 2002 - and voted them out six times - 1955, 1962, 1972, 1980, 1989, 2007. In 1949, though the JLP administration won the most seats, the PNP opposition actually won the popular vote. So in effect, incumbents and challengers are tied six and a half all.

Does History Beat Biology?

'Meditate upon history,' said Napoleon, 'for it is the only true philosophy'!. But then he also called history 'a set of agreed upon lies'. Still, there's no doubt that history tells us how mankind has acted, as opposed to how we are supposed to act.

Twilight zone Crime Fighting

Over 10,000 radio and television ads were run in the recent election campaign. Not a single one focused on crime, even though Jamaica has one of the world's highest murder rates.

It's easy to understand why the then People's National Party (PNP) government ignored the darkest stain on its record. There were 429 murders in 1989. In 2006 there were 1,340. No government can defend a 300 per cent increase in homicide levels during its tenure. So who can blame the Comrades for pretending crime wasn't an issue?

A Modern Paradox

HITTING OR kicking balls are amusing diversions that should never be taken too seriously. But the compressed dramas of sport often illuminate real-life dilemmas. The 20/20 cricket World Cup final was one such parable.

It was everything the 50-over Cricket World Cup wanted to be but wasn't - a well-organised month of pulsating action that engrossed billions worldwide. Advertisers licked their lips. ICC bosses talked of 20/20 at the Olympics - and it does offer more consistent excitement and variety than baseball.

A Man of his Word?

"Having spoken to him only a few times, I don't know Bruce Golding very well. So my judgement of the man is based on media reports and the opinions of those who have worked closely with him. But it's my strong impression that there is no more intelligent and honest politician in Jamaica. And everyone who puts their country's interests first - as opposed to party agendas or personal vendettas - must be happy at having a man of such stature involved in national affairs once again." Jamaica Observer, October 7, 2002.

Wisdom, Luck or the People?

Call us lucky or God-blessed, but Jamaica sure has a knack for just-in-time escapes from disaster. Last month, Hurricane Dean swerved away at the last moment and just brushed us. Monday night we escaped a political dead heat by the skin of our teeth.

Getting it Over with at Last

Only he knows why, but God sure loves this country. Once more a potentially catastrophic hurricane headed straight for middle stump, swung away at the last minute and merely brushed us. My sympathies are with the unfortunates who were flooded out and had roofs blown off and crops washed away. But had 'Dean' not changed course, the suffering would have been a hundred times worse than it was.

Seeing and Hearing for Ourselves

Political commentary is really nothing more than running your mouth in public. Writing a column or talking on radio doesn't give anyone special insights or knowledge. All it really means is a bigger audience than the normal rum bar. The average 'expert' is generally no better at guessing the future than the average man or woman. Even Nostradamus only gets it right after the fact.

Democracy at its Best, and Worst

Is Jamaica the world's most exuberant democracy? Only a political globetrotter could say for sure. But our party conferences and meetings must be as electric as any on the planet. And it's not as if we're just discoveringthe joys of choosing our own destiny. Forty-five years of largely free and fair multi-party elections, adhering to the rule of law, and remaining coup- and assassination-free is no mean achievement.