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Democratic socialism: The only hope for Jamaica

Conceptual framework of the PNP's governance vehicle

BY CARL MARSHALL

Monday, July 22, 2019

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The mission of the People's National Party (PNP) is to build a new Jamaica with Christ as our pioneer by building communities of good works; providing equal opportunity for everyone to acquire the means to achieve maximum satisfaction of wants commensurate with talent, enterprise and hard work, and for the youth to hone critical skills and fulfil personal potential; and, achieving political and economic independence.

— views of Norman Manley, Fabian/Democratic socialist and founding president of the PNP

The PNP advocates the mixed economy (private and strategic public enterprise that balance social and economic justice) driven by democratic socialism as the “governance vehicle” for achieving the mission.

Socialism is biblical. Karl Marx did not invent it. The moral principles of integrity, justice, charity (love of one's fellow human beings), equality (in the membership of the common society), solidarity and ethical fitness that motivated socialism date back to the preaching of Old Testament prophets, especially Hosea and Isaiah, and emphatically strengthened by the teachings of Christ of an ideal based on love.

The advancement of the moral and economic principles of socialism in a democracy on the basis of reform, without resentment, is the essence of democratic socialism, with charity as its ideal and “The Word is Love” its mantra.

Democratic Socialism [“Christianity in Action” (Michael Manley)], is the synthesis of Lincoln/Rousseau formulation of democracy, equilibrium-demand-side economics and the moral and economic principles of socialism. It is about:

(1) achieving an economic-classless society in which class antagonism between the haves — the owners of the means of production who earn income mostly from dividend and/or profit — and the have-nots — who earn income mostly from selling their labour — is resolved by providing maximum practicable opportunity for the have-nots to earn income increasingly from dividend and/or profit, and the poor benefiting from the proceeds of dividend from equity held in trust;

(2) counterbalancing the inequalities of advantage that hinder progress; and

(3) building communities as positive socialisation agents.

Political independence has been achieved, but the full beneficial effect must be furthered by a deeper understanding and embrace of our history, society and cultural heritage, especially of triumphing over hardship. Crucial to the process is “change from within”, knowing who we are and who and what we can become, driven by enlightened leadership, educational fulfilment and national symbols that direct reflections on our historical journey; chief of which is our Parliament.

Economic independence is the defining element of the mission. It turns on economic equilibrium leading to surplus, achieved, when in the goods and services spheres' injections in the economy offset leakages from the current income stream. “People's wants are unlimited and the means for satisfying them are scarce.” Economic equilibrium leading to surplus provides opportunity for everyone to acquire the means to achieve maximum satisfaction of wants leading to wealth/prosperity (ability to satisfy wants that money can buy) commensurate with talent, enterprise and hard work. It is the essence of economic independence.

The upsurge in crime since 2016 and the general hopelessness of the majority of the people to satisfy wants are a reflection of a crisis of leadership — a besetting sin of the Andrew Holness-led Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Government, as shown by its short-sighted approach to resolving the crime problem and the injustice of its four “soak-the-poor” and immoral budgets; namely, Holness/Shaw recasted 2016-2017; 2017-2018; and Holness/Shaw/Clarke 2018-2019 budgets which have supported the placement of the burden of the $31-billion indirect tax package to finance the $1.5 million income tax threshold disproportionately on the backs of those who were earning or receiving $1.5 million or less per year in 2017, pensioners, teachers, nurses, police, soldiers, unionised and other employees, small business operators, artisans, small farmers, and the poor, causing them untold harm. Then, the Holness/Clarke 2019-2020 budget has done nothing to right the wrong. Still, it is giving $14 billion in tax give back to a few, but not a red cent of benefit to the majority, including the poor, and promoting trickle-down economics which delivers only crumbs to the poor and ordinary people. Add to that the fact that the marginal propensity to consume imported goods is high in Jamaica) and the Government'a total reliance on suppression measures — states of emergency (SOEs) and zones of special operations (ZOSOs) — to cure the crime problem which, instead, are causing psychophysical damage resulting in more soulless and wanton crime; all while corruption in government abounds.

Crucially, budgets (fiscal policy) must redound to improving value-added gross domestic product (GDP) growth, stabilisation, long-term employment, and social cohesion. But the Holness-led Government has failed to move the economy to the next stage of development beyond where Dr Peter Phillips left it.

A PNP Government embracing its mission and democratic-socialist/Christianity-in-action governance vehicle will right the wrongs imposed on the people by the Holness-led Government, achieve economic equilibrium leading to wealth/prosperity for all, ensure that students master grade-level learning, and reduce crime to a tolerable level in three years with the lived experience of the progress beginning in its first 100 days.

In this period that Government would:

• stamp out, once and for all, corruption in government, which is militating against positive attitudes towards work and effort (labour productivity), influencing corruption and crime at the workplace and robbing the treasury of billions of dollars annually;

• balance the tax burden imposed by Holness/Shaw/Clarke's “soak-the-poor” and immoral budgets to the advantage of those who are disproportionately bearing the brunt of the indirect tax package by reducing their cost of living, including providing access to 'free' education up to secondary level, tuition scholarship at the tertiary level (local) up to a first degree, critical skills training, financial assistance to access the opportunity based on means test, and support for self-employment;

• revolutionise the delivery and management of education to (a) bring to students, personal, moral, cultural and intellectual fulfilment grounded in the concepts, knowledge, construction techniques and application of STEAM underpinned by driven parenting, resulting in every grade six student mastering grade level learning and having a sense of correctness of behaviour, and (b) ensure that at least 85 per cent of the cohort scores between 85 per cent and 100 per cent on the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) to make recipient high schools schools of choice;

• incentivise teachers on the basis of self-competition in delivery and management of education;

• build communities of good works through civic learning and democratic engagement, de-garrisonisation, subsidiarity and improvement of amenities and social interaction;

• institute a programme of land reform that regularises ownership in a cost-efficient way and drives the production of income-related housing solutions to meet demand;

• end the ZOSOs and SOEs which are making criminals of innocent people who have experienced the injustice of displacement from their families and communities, or detention without cause, resulting in psychophysical damage that tends to be self-perpetuating as a downward spiral of criminality (mindset that drives crime) and the habit of disrupting the social order and emboldening crime-producers who view the crime plan as a spent force. (Further, ZOSOs and SOEs condition communities to believe that peace can only come from the barrel of the gun, causing a resurgence of support for “donmanism”, which is being strengthened by the garrison-rising effect of the “build” operation of ZOSO; and

• implement a result-oriented crime plan that (a) builds mindset against criminality by counterbalancing injustice, instilling positive attitudes and values and preventing or reversing self-hatred, drift-delinquency and psychophysical damage through “driven” parenting, educational fulfilment, community strengthening and poverty-alleviation measures; and (b) revolutionises policing by building police esprit de corps anchored to self-competition and achieving balance, consent, accountability and strengthening of investigative skills, buttressed by joint police/military action for immediate, targeted and surgical response in controlling flare-ups, stamping out intractable violence and bringing perpetrators to justice. With the “big-bang” approach every community will be impacted positively.

Building communities of good works is the central plank of PNP's mission. Christianity is about good works, and faith and good works align with the moral principles of democratic socialism. The call in the PNP for renewal is a call to return and give fresh life to its mission and embrace of democratic socialism.

As democratic socialism has undergirded the socio-economic fortunes of Canada and social democracies of Scandinavia, so it can turn around the socio-cultural and economic fortunes of Jamaica. Jamaicans will buy into the mission/message of the PNP if they connect with the deliverables and the betterment that will flow from them.

Carl Marshall is a former Speaker of the House of Representatives. Send comments to the Observer or carlonealmarshall@yahoo.com.


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