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How Stable is Jamaica?

Since becoming independent in 1962, Jamaica has remained uprising free, suffered no major political assassination, adhered to the rule of law, maintained a free press, and held regular multi-party elections in which the incumbent party has been voted out more than once. This might seem a rather common-place achievement. But over the past 46 years, few of the over 150 nations with more than a million people can make such a collective claim. In fact you can count them on fingers and toes: Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Germany, France, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Holland, Finland, Norway, Switzerland, Costa Rica and Jamaica.

Political Déjà Vu in Rverse

Given the worldwide economic crisis and the Jamaican fallout of drastically shrinking remittances and bauxite collapsing to almost nothing, elections are the last thing on people's minds right now. So the general reaction to last week's North East St Catherine by-election was "Stewps. Me too busy trying to pay my bills to worry 'bout that foolishness!"

A Weak Hand Poorly Played

In domino terms, Prime Minister Bruce Golding has drawn an economic hand with six doubles, meaning he has very few options on how to play his cards. After all, Jamaica entered the global financial crisis with a net government deficit of 113 per cent, the fourth highest in the world, leading Forbes magazine to list it as one of the world's ten hardest hit economies - and this was before bauxite collapsed and remittances plunged.

Davies, the Exchange Rate and Inflation

Yes, Dr. Davies, maybe I was unfair to you in some respects in my January 6 piece. As you wrote on January 15, it's perhaps not unreasonable for a finance minister to leave himself wiggle room in case of unforeseen.

Raising the Bar, Drawing a Line

I don't know Bruce Golding very well. But those who do, say his political mantra is 'substance not style'. Or at least it has been since his National Democratic Movement (NDM) reincarnation. Some who have dealt with him over the years say there is a marked difference between today's Golding and the 1980s version. Then, they found him your typical politician reeking of arrogance. Now, he comes across as pretty much BS free with his feet full on the ground.

That's the way, uh-huh, uh-huh, We like it.

It must be a miserable experience to live in a country with the world's highest homicide rate, and one of the lowest official GDP growth rates over the past 20 years. Or, maybe not. According to the February 24 Sunday Gleaner poll, 59 per cent of those living in statistically broke and murderous Jamaica say they are happy.

Possibly Stupid Laws, Definitely Stupid Politics

LAWS ARE MADE to serve people, not people to serve laws. So when a piece of legislation that once made sense ceases to do so, the reasonable response is not to keep forcing it on the populace, but to alter it to suit the times.

All Different, all the Same

The Olympics may be the most unifying international force humankind has ever known. Over a billion persons watched the opening ceremonies in Beijing. And black, white, yellow or brown, who didn't feel a momentary sense of kinship with every one of the 204 national contingents parading by? All different, yet all the same human beings as us. This, too, am I.

Expecting Too Little or Too Much

There has never been and never will be an ideal government. But this doesn't stop many from judging their rulers by a standard of perfection not found on Earth. Places we Jamaicans look up to as models of democracy and prosperity - Britain, United States, Canada - regularly show large majorities thoroughly dissatisfied with their politicians. In contrast, many abysmally governed places freely re-elect leaders who keep them mired in poverty and violence. Between 1989 and 2007 for instance, the murder count in Jamaica went from 429 to 1574, and the economy grew by an official cumulative total of less than 10 per cent. Yet the PNP won four straight terms and only missed winning a fifth by 3,000 votes.

PNP Race: Heart vs Head

Politics, goes an old adage, is two-thirds emotion and one-third intellect. And in the heat of elections, when the battle is soon to be lost or won, the ratio often seems to be nine to one. Intra-party fights can be as vicious as broad-based elections, or even more so. Veteran political observers remember Pearnel Charles and Rosemarie Shaw being physically assaulted at the 1992 JLP conference. Now, when the unlettered masses, or 'the lumpen' as Professor Don Robotham likes to call them, get carried away and do foolish things, you hear people remark, "Well them just don't know better." But when highly educated people start acting in a totally irrational manner, all one can say is c'est la politique.