Let's loudly reject Bunting's insinuations


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

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On the eve of our most recent by-elections, the People's National Party's (PNP) Peter Bunting made certain disparaging comments about Jamaica Labour Party candidate, Rhodes scholar Dr Nigel Clarke. I was pleasantly surprised at the public pushback and hope it continues.

Sometime bout the mid-70s I was driving downtown and stopped at an intersection. Along came a magnificent new Mercedes Benz from the other direction which also stopped. I quickly recognised my former classmate (now dead) and we stopped for a Pepsi. I congratulated him on the ownership of a truly outstanding vehicle. To my surprise, he just scoffed at the compliment and stated that all he really wanted in life, was “a little old Vauxhall Viva”. This strange response exercised my mind for a long time, and I kept wondering what gaps in my upbringing made me prefer this marvellous feat of German engineering to an old klunker. But those were the times.

Not long afterwards, I returned home to find my housekeeper with her belongings packed. She 'cut' her eyes at me and I realised they were red and swollen. Why was she leaving, I wanted to know. She broke down on her first two attempts to explain. It was not until I hugged her that she was able to talk. She explained that she never had a father, as it's only one time her mother ever “see him”. Life was hard, and that was why she had to “work for people”, she said 'cutting' her eyes at me again. But she had a son who worked for a major Jamaican company. And he has his own office. (I knew that. She reminded me two or three times each week.) And, she said, raising her voice, “Is Michael Manley time now. And nobody is ever going to call her a 'bastard' or 'maid' again”. Yes, but I still wanted to know why she was leaving me. It turns out that a relative had called from Sweden while I was out. Not recognising the voice, he asked, “Is that the maid?” And all hell broke loose.

To better understand, it is necessary to point out to younger readers, that this was a time when Bunting's predecessors owned State power. A new wave of thinking had consumed us. The word “sufferer” was a badge of honour. The 'in thing' was to be 'conscious'. And to be 'conscious' one had to be a little unkempt, preferably with a knitted tam perched precariously on the side of one's head. Ideally, to qualify for a decent job in the public service one needed to look like Fidel Castro and live like Che Guevara. People striving to make a success of their business, were “rapacious capitalists”, “con men”, and “thieves” preoccupied with the pursuit of a pernicious thing called profit. People with this predilection were encouraged to take a flight. And they did — in droves.

It was not until the sight of empty supermarket shelves and uptown ladies weaponising Gucci handbags that we were forced to come to our senses.

The respite lasted less than a decade. The attitude to business, economics, governance and social interactions had survived. The Government propaganda apparatus that backed up these beliefs was awesome and successful. Successful businessmen were still rapacious capitalists and con men to be punished with punitive interest rates which reached 61.3 per cent, when it was well known that only the more efficiently run ganja operations could survive such rates. It took a previously successful, God-fearing, Mandeville couple's decision to die with as much dignity they could summon, by taking their lives, after they lost their entire belongings to this interest rate/liquidity experiment that we slowly awoke to the fact that a massive financial meltdown was consuming the entire country and would cripple us for generations. The Cayman Islands — “a few little sand banks in the sea” — used to be administered by us. Anyone who wanted to go to college had to come here. But that country had nothing against ambitious people striving for success. Today, they have 600 banks and trust institutions, including 43 of the 50 largest banks in the world, registered there. We have seven banks, two merchant banks and three building societies.

One of our problems is our scant respect for history. Another is the extent to which our intellectuals have failed us. Why aren't they exposing the lies of governments? Why aren't they analysing actions according to their causes and motives and possible hidden intentions? Intellectuals should be scavengers for truth. Then they have a moral duty to present these to us so we do not go through life carrying garbage for baggage.

Well, the legatees of that era are now comfortably ensconced in the palatial residences formally occupied by fleeing rapacious capitalists and are busy perfecting a reggae version of the affectations and preciosity of that group. They are doing well, financially. There is just one problem. They consider State power a divine right. And they no longer have it.

For them, Nigel Clarke and Norman Dunn are upstarts who portend a bleak future for them. Worse, they are successful and highly educated. So, since immediate solutions are evading them, the smart thing is to look for the last thing that worked. Bunting has found it.

But can it work again? It can! For the intellectuals continue to fail us. Because of that, we are unable to make a connection between the lessons of that era and our graduation into a future of persistent poverty and ignorance. So successive ministers of education struggle to understand why normal, healthy children cannot pass exams. We still cannot understand why “mopping up liquidity” should never, ever be a committed 'till death do us part' marriage, but a cautious, nervous, one-night stand with all the prophylactic precautions.

We cannot make the connection with crime. And, of course, that growth and development are not some elusive, magical, three-card trick perfected by other countries. It's just that 'sufferers' cannot grow an economy. There can be another financial -eltdown, because we still do not know why the first one happened. It's just that the remaining rapacious capitalists are here only to enjoy the sunshine and ensure the swift conversion and conveyance of their profits to more welcoming countries — not to invest here.

We need to loudly reject Bunting's insinuations. I say loudly because they can work again. The seeds were sown on fertile soil and took root. Show me any man of colour who has made it in Jamaica and the words being whispered is, “Him mus' inna sup'n.” But this time the country will never recover. Crime and corruption are the parents of anarchy. The PNP is a great organisation, with many bright, talented, well-educated members. We need it. Not to just “oppose, oppose, oppose”, but to share the great workable ideas they are capable of, instead of this poisonous hogwash, inspired not by a man called Karl Marx, but by a mentality called malicious and “bad mind”.

To the prospective converts to this way of thinking, allow me to say this. Regardless of who tells you otherwise, two and two will always be four — never 22. A tin can, however long we burnish and reconfigure, will never be transformed to crystal. And, oh! (shhh) a maid will always be a female servant.

Glenn Tucker is an educator and a sociologist. Send comments to the Observer or




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