President-Elect Trump: The Unsurprising Surprise 

Before I go any further, let me be clear that I was in active support of neither of the two Presidential candidates. Also, since there is a tendency to brand anyone that isn’t a Clinton groupie to be pro-Trump or a part of a basket of deplorables, let us also dispel veracity of that branding- it is flawed, it is stupid and it gave you President Trump! 

I am furthering a conversation that I put forward via many tweets and posts over the electioneering period. 

When the Democratic National Convention allegedly rigged the elections against the unelectable, anti-establishment candidate for the electable, pro-establishment, entitled candidate, I knew that Democrats were in deep trouble. The media became accomplices to the DNC’s plot; vigorously opposing Sanders’ candidacy and seeking to create fear about Democratic Socialism, all while propping up Hillary Clinton on a pedestal, not knowing that they were setting her up for the eventual defeat. 

 What they didn’t understand (or refused to acknowledge) was that these elections were never about socialism vs capitalism, nor about more conservative vs more liberal, who was more democratic or more republican but about who was less establishment! In a packed field of candidates across the two main parties, only two persons represented the “anti-establishment”- Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. 

So when the election boiled down to a battle between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, it essentially became narrowed down to the establishment candidate, Hillary Clinton and the anti-establishment candidate, Donald Trump. From this point, the DNC’s electable candidate was in deep trouble. 

The Polls

When the Presidential race is between a man described as being bigoted and racist, and the angel sent by God to save the world and the margin in any major poll never made it to double figures, the Democrats should have known that they were in poop and in very very deep. Those same polls would have shown Sanders outperforming Trump by significant figures nationally while the primaries were still going on- this all while the media and DNC gave Sanders very little regard and the bitter end of the stick to ensure that the weaker candidate went forward.

Tuesday’s surprise

I tried being a little bit surprised by the election results like the majority of my fellows.  I just couldn’t because I knew that I wasn’t at all surprised by the election results. Months ago, I told my peers that I could never support Hillary Clinton for many reasons that she and the media hid. Months ago, I also told them that that was the sentiment of many Americans and that Trump would win and why he would win. They often rebutted with the colourful defense that the pro-Clinton media gave to them, not realizing that Americans have been observing Clinton prior to 2015/16 and weren’t fooled by the sham being fed to them for the purpose of winning elections. 

In the grand scheme of things, many didn’t vote for Donald Trump but against Hillary Clinton. So for the school of thought that believe that everyone who voted Donald is a racist, sexist, P^$$¥ grabbing bigot- you are wrong! People wanted change and Hillary did not represent that change. As terrifying as it was/is, Donald represented that change. Bernie also did but the DNC establishment ensured that they drowned him out for Hillary Clinton. Donald was being real and what you saw was what you got. Hillary on the other hand, we didn’t know who she was and she was hard to trust and what to expect was really a mystery.

 
The Clinton Strategy

Between DNC confirming their establishment candidate and Election Day, there was hardly a change in the Clinton strategy. The strategy was simple and very mediocre: attack Trump, attack Trump, get some friends to attack Trump, ensure that the media attacks Trump and if that fails, attack Trump’s wife, get friends to attack his wife and get the media to attack his wife and when that fails, attack his children… I heard little from the Clinton camp about why she should be elected and what she brought to the table. The tweets from her account were hardly ever about Hillary but about Donald Trump. 

It is said that Donald spent half as much as Hillary on ads and that’s because he was getting free ads all day, all night. And from Clinton’s paid ads, maybe half were focused on Donald Trump so right there…. even more ads unpaid for.  

If one compares Trump’s evils with Hillary’s good, as the media campaign did, then we’ll be sure to believe that she was the better candidate, and he, the worst candidate ever. If, however, you are like me, observing the good and evil side of each candidate and not buying into media propaganda, then you’d find that they were probably both the same (or Clinton worst… *unpopular opinion*).

Moving forward, USA and the world must accept that Donald Trump is President-elect and will quite possibly make a better President than Hillary Clinton ever would. As one who’s definitely not conservative, my only regret from Tuesday is that none of the Houses went to the Democrats but did they bring this situation on themselves…

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For Sale: Journalism 

rationalarrogrance.wordpress.com

Growing up, I enjoyed listening/watching the news. I read the newspaper everyday. The media, I believed then, was a credible source of information. Fast forward to 2016 and I have to question the veracity of almost everything blurted out in the media. The Press Association has a serious task at hand to restore credibility to local media.
Breaking News

Many journalists/reporters have perfected their role in breaking news to the public while neglecting their role in helping to educate the people of the country. There is this immense desire to leave a breaking story after getting the reaction from the public or drag on a part of the story for the fame that comes with half truths. Let’s take for example what was referred to as the dead baby scandal, where members of media seemed to have adopted the political stance on the matter on the eve of a general election. Little attention was paid to the key fact that the mortality rate at the time was in keeping with our national mortality rate and that the figures were far from epidemic levels as defined by international health organizations. Advising the public that the deaths were caused by superbugs due to antibiotic resistance which we all contribute to, was also a difficult thing for members of the media to do. Advising John Public that very low birthweight and being premature comes with a greater risk of not making it home also did not satisfy what I believe was a clear agenda; a political agenda. 2016 and there’s a deafening silence on recents neonatal deaths. While I do not expect it to be politicized at all, (especially since there’s an election on the horizon and it wouldn’t satisfy the agenda) I would expect greater scrutiny as was the case in the previous instance. Instead, the conclusion that the mother’s vagina is the only way that Group B Strep could be transmitted was rapidly gobbled down.

 I also take umbrage to reporters playing the roles of all professions; drafting their scandalous conclusion and publishing them before actually consulting the professionals from a sector in question. 

Ethics in Journalism

The decay of journalistic integrity is a glaring problem locally and internationally. The desire for sound bites and stinging sensationalism has superceeded ethics. Releasing a child’s autopsy report before it is seen by parents or authorized to leave from within the bounds of the family just to be the one to provide news first; recording conversations had via phone without informing the individual on the next end of the phone; soaking up to political agendas and satisfying them without question are clear demonstrations of a decay in ethics and morals. Why publicly ridicule a press release sent via email when you can respond via email to notify the sender of errors and seek clarification? Is that any way for any decent organization/individual to operate? Again, the Press Association of Jamaica must put in place a standard and if there is one, the public needs to be aware of it and know that it’s being enforced. A medical doctor who malpractices is brought before the medical council to answer with the end result being either absolution, sanction which could include revocation of the right to practice. The medical personnel responsible for leaking an autopsy report could be held accountable if found but in journalism, you get a slap on the wrist and an award for being mischievous. Unless a standard is set and upheld, Jamaican journalism will continue to ethically and morally decay.

Commendations 

It would be remiss of me, even while critiquing some actions, to not acknowledge that many journalists have stayed true to their cause of putting forward the truth without bias and refuse to sell their soul in exchange for “breaking news”. There still exists probing and investigative journalists and their work I must say that I respect. Those who have maintained their integrity must now protect it at all cost and encourage some of the “wayward souls” to engage in a sort of journalistic repentance; seeking to act with integrity and without bias. 

Going Forward

Not everything is a scandal. The Public Defender would have reminded the country and the media of this in the report on what was callously touted as dead baby scandal. The privacy of individuals should not be trampled on without consequence, in the selfish interest to break a story and gain notoriety.

If the Press Association is serious about maintaining the respect for and credibility of local journalism, a standard must be put in place to guide journalists. It needs to be clear that publishing half truths and lies as a professional isn’t acceptable. I long for the days when I’d reference broadcast news as credible information without question. Maybe it really wasn’t credible and I was naive when I believed it was, but in any case there’s a credibility issue to be solved.

AK Dixon

PNP at 78: Maintaining Relevance


Well, the polls of the 78th Annual Conference have come and gone. As with any election, some were not pleased with the results but we must accept democracy for what it is. Some are disappointed at Blythe being blighted once more; a greater portion that Lisa Hanna was not elected Vice President of the People’s National Party. While I too hoped for her success, it was not to be this time, and the party must commence the healing and fence mending processes

PJ Patterson lost out on his first VP bid but went on to win his second challenge and the third and fourth and… For PJ Patterson, it was about the mission that he had for the people of Jamaica; not about the position. As such, even while tasting defeat at the first go, he continued to work in the interest of his party and his country. Lisa Hanna had outlined some plans for the party and the viability of her next VP challenge (should there be one) will be dependent on whether she stays on the ground and actively push for those progressive ideas to be implemented or disappear into the shadows. Following her graceful concession speech, she promised to remain on the ground and I look forward to her work.


If we subscribe to the notion that one can only effect change from top down and stand by that notion then we will drive ourselves into oblivion. The very foundation of the People’s National Party is rooted in building from the ground up. This is the golden opportunity for Lisa, others aspiring for leadership and those with the flawed belief of top down only, to build out a strong base, which is the only way that the PNP can truly return to its core principles (and government).

Renewal

As PJ Patterson outlined, renewal is necessary for any organization to remain well oiled and relevant. Many have found issue with the word renewal and the issue I believe stemmed from the way that renewal was marketed. At the onset, it emerged while many comrades were still licking the wounds from the February 25 election loss. Many found its emergence to be premature (hours after the loss) and demonstrating an abandonment of the principle of collective responsibility. It was almost a separation from the party- losers over there and me over here. 

Renewal then seemed to mean getting rid of the old and in with the new. I have always been a proponent of balance between experienced and new. Is there that balance in the PNP? Not yet, but there is work in progress. The newly elected VPs must now do what Portia Simpson Miller has been doing all along in bringing new talent under her wings then propelling them to leadership. Dr Ferguson outlined this as one of his missions for this term as VP and I would urge the other VPs and even MPs and caretakers to adopt a similar approach to youth and leadership. 

Moving Forward

In going forward, the People’s National Party must clearly outline its mission and a clear message especially to the young people of this country. There must be a drive to strengthen and empower groups; returning to building from the ground up in an era when many only subscribe to top-down leadership. With the recent turmoil over, now is the time to outline that message, that vision, which will move the party forward and give hope to the people of this country. 

The future of the party depends not just on President and Vice Presidents but on Regional Chairmen, Constituency Chairs, Divisional Chairs, Group Leaders inter alia.

 As the party leader outlined, fences will need to be mended and bridges built towards a brighter future. The marketing of renewal, change, revitalization or whatever word, must demonstrate it to be a process. Renewal is not a point but a continuous process which surmounts any single individual. It must open the door to continuous dialogue and new ideas while providing fora for dissenting views. Though renewal has been a constant feature of the party, some of the systems to address the glitches have not been working effectively. The leadership has acknowledged that and I wait like so many others to see if it is lip service or whether there will be deliberate attempts to make the systems work for all.

The onous is on every single comrade from the grassroots-up and from the top to the grassroots to make this 78th year a glorious one. 

AK Dixon 

Proactive approach to Zika, Guillain-Barré needed

Just some months ago, I could not take up my devices without seeing news of Chik-V plastered on social media and throughout traditional media. Jamaica was well aware of Chik-V and its complications because back then, people were trying to win over voters so that they could win seats and form government. H1N1 would wiggle its way in close to the February election and had people jumping for joy at the news of every infection and every demise. 
 Let’s fast forward to now, and you realize that those who trumpeted their desire to keep Jamaica informed weren’t so genuine about informing the citizens because now that they have won their seats, health information can now take a back seat. There’s no longer clamoring for proactive management of diseases- reactive has become acceptable. The loud voices have been reduced to whispers perhaps. Portia Simpson Miller’s Presidency of the PNP has become more important to Jamaica than how we manage the health sector and health crises. Portia Simpson Miller and the PNP, though out of government, haven’t been short of newspaper front pages even while lives are ravaged by Zika Virus and the complications of same. 
In a country where allocation to the health sector is woefully inadequate, proactive and not reactive management must be the order of the day. With all the flack for the reactive approach to Chik-V, one would then expect Zika Virus to be proactively managed. And a proactive approach to Zika Virus is what then Minister Horace Dalley took in his few months managing the health ministry; establishing a local testing facility and also recommending that all pregnant women be tested. One would expect greater efficiency would be the order of the day with the country’s own Zika testing facilities and the lessons from Chikungunya, but alas, we are reactive as per usual. Several months after a link was identified between Zika and Guillan-Barré, many still do not know what this complication is or what it means. 
Guillain-Barré Sydrome and microcephaly in newborns are just two of the complications now linked to the Zika Virus which isn’t being effectively managed. The equation of Public Relations to good management seems to have confused a nation. Government operatives have shut down the debates on female reproductive health (specifically abortion) in the face of Zika complications and the nation still awaits the plans to ensure intensive care or high dependency unit spaces are available to tackle a worsening crisis consequential to Guillain-Barré Syndrome. There are still so many Jamaicans who do not know what symptoms to look out for to ensure proactivity where Zika and Guillain-Barré are concerned. We need an education campaign and it cannot be limited to social media. 
I implore the MOH and GOJ to shift gear where management of health is concerned to make the approach a more proactive one. The Ministry needs to:
1) Engage in a massive campaign to bring light to the epidemics/pandemics that are facing us. Health empowerment is paramount in managing the health crises that loom.
2) Proactively (and not reactively) put a plan in place to deal with the shortage of intensive care and high dependency unit spaces which could leave our baxides exposed if the Guillan-Barré outbreak gets much worse. 
3)Present to the nation a plan to finance the medical expenses associated with the treatment of Guillain-Barré Syndrome which runs millions per patient. 
4) Take seriously the consideration for expanding medically recommended abortions to include those detected to have microcephalic foetuses. Dr Dayton Campbell seems to be the only one to have taken seriously this aspect of women’s reproductive health. I am disappointed that women (and more than one man) in parliament haven’t raised this topic. 
5) Test all pregnant mothers. Only 1 in 4 persons will display symptoms of Zika Virus. The minister then cannot mandate that only the mothers to be tested are those who display symptoms of Zika Virus. 
Health care, unfortunately, is not one of those areas of government that can be managed just by good government PR. It is time to be proactive or else…
Read: Zika and Guillain-Barré Syndrome (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention) http://www.cdc.gov/zika/about/gbs-qa.html
Delano Frankly’s battle with Guillain-Barré Syndrome (The Jamaica Observer) http://m.jamaicaobserver.com/mobile/news/A-costly-journey-to-death-s-door-and-back_68981

AK DIXON

#SaynotoCoalJA

In April 2016, Jamaica was among 179 signatories to the Paris Agreement which essentially tackles the issue of Climate Change. 

It is appalling then that the Government of Jamaica would even put thought into use of coal as a fuel for the proposed 1000MW plant to be built by the Chinese. This is essentially a retrograde step in the same week that the government signed a US$7.2 million deal to boost initiatives to tackle climate change. 

Coal plants are one of the top sources of CO2 emissions which is primarily the cause of global warming. Jamaica then should be seeking to craft new ways to reduces its carbon emission; not increasing our contribution to a world crisis, unless of course, the GOJ agrees with Donald Trump that this issue is a hoax. 

The issues with emissions from coal goes past just climate change to health. Sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and other particulate matter emitted from these fossil fuel plans hold serious implications for the respiratory health of our people. The heavy metal, Mercury, which owes a huge percentage of its presence in the environment to coal plants, can trigger damage to the brain and heart. These are just a few of the compounds that can lead to serious health issues which we should not be seeking to create especially with our inadequate and underfunded health sector. 

While I understand the need for more employment and investments in our country, the government cannot seek to court investors at the expense of our environment. Now is the time to find ways to reduce Jamaica’s carbon footprint- not increase with a  coal plant! 

This leads me to ask the government: why there is no dedicated environment ministry? And even though we hear that such issues will be overseen by the PM’s mega ministry, why do we not know which, if any of the many ministers in that ministry is dedicated to the issues of climate change? 

Any attempt to introduce a coal plant will be staunchly rejected but I take it this is probably just another announcement by the government to test the waters on a controversial issue, as has been the case since it took office. So with the waters now tested, I look forward to the announcement about a clean energy plant.

AK Dixon 

PETROCARIBE AGREEMENT UNDER THREAT?

Jamaica and seventeen other countries currently benefit from the PetroCaribe Agreement. PetroCaribe, created in 2005, is the brainchild of Comandante-President  Hugo Chavez Frías, the socialist president of Venezuela who passed away in 2013. Under the agreement, regional countries are allowed to pay for 5-50% of the oil at current market price with a one to two year grace period with the remainder covered over 17-25 years.

 In the Jamaican context, while the price of oil exceeds US$40 per barrel, between 30% and 70% of each invoice is financed and the loan is repaid over 25 years at 1% interest rate per annum. Below US$40, between 5% and 25% of each invoice would be financed over 17 years at a 2% interest rate per annum (petrocaribejm.org)

The PetroCaribe Agreement has provided for Jamaica and many other CARICOM and non-CARICOM countries a secured supply of energy which has helped to cushion our people from economic harshness especially in the times of high oil prices where up front payments for our supply would wreak havoc in already weak Caribbean nations. The stories of PetroCaribe in every single country that benefits are very positive and for the positives that this agreement has provided our nations, we owe an obligation to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

As Nicolas Maduro signals that he is being undermined by external forces, we have sat silently, being soothed by stories coming from the media painting him as delusional and positing a view devoid of reasoning. Let us face it, the media is a very biased institution. If we take a look at the USA right now, we see the many media houses that have banded against Bernie Sanders just because he describes himself a Democratic-Socialist and the many houses that cannot help but be biased toward the Democrats of the GOP with zero intent of being objective. What then of Maduro? Would any of these outlets really write an objective story of Venezuela? A socialist country on the far left? The media is controlled by monied interests who would love to just see a fall of the Maduro regime and the rise of Capriles so they may enter and exploit the Venezuelan people.

President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela

Until proven otherwise, we must give Maduro the benefit of the doubt that he is being undermined by external forces. His main opposition, Henrique Capriles is a known supporter of capitalist governance and I do not put it far from “the west” to grant him support in overthrowing the socialist Venezuelan government (remember Chile? Grenada? Cuba? Guatemala?)

While media try to create panic about Maduro’s leadership, it is Henrique Capriles and the far right wing opposition that we should be worried about as PetroCaribe countries. Lest we forget, Capriles did plan to scrap the PetroCaribe Agreement had he beaten then opponent Hugo Chavez in the 2012 Venezuelan elections. Now I cannot tell you all the benefits of PetroCaribe in this single blog post but you can find those benefits rather easily from the PetroCaribe website (petrocaribe.org). 

Capriles back in a 2012 speech said, “From… 2013, not a single barrel of oil will leave to other countries.” 

Henrique Capriles has urged the military to lead a coup against the Maduro government 

It’s 2016 and thanks to the continued preferential deal under the Chavez and now Maduro government, Jamaica and seventeen other countries continue to benefit from PetroCaribe. We are being presented with a classic case to “do supn before supn do we.” Nicolas Maduro is a friend of CARICOM and Latin America and friends must seek to assist each other especially when in crises (time to return a favour to Venezuela).

Today, I call on every beneficiary of PetroCaribe to protect Maduro’s government (and themselves) to assist with providing relief to the Venezuelan people. Capriles and his men determined to gain state power by all means. Their intent at this point is not to seek assistance for Venezuelans but to see to the worsening of the crisis at hand (manufactured or real) then lead a coup d’etat post two election losses; two rejections! 

I urge PM Holness to take the lead in organizing a meeting of PetroCaribe beneficiaries to put a plan in place to assist Venezuela and I urge the opposition, The People’s National Party, that formed government when the deal was signed to apply the pressure to the government until Jamaica does its part to assist a nation that has been so generous to us.

AK DIXON

Of Coups and Socialist Regimes…

The clashing ideals of the left and right wings  have caused many governments to be hostile to each other. The many clashes of the two ideologies remain present today within the Latin America and the Caribbean as it was decades ago (to a far greater extent).

In 1973, a coup was orchestrated against first Marxist president in Latin America, President Salvador Allende of Chile; whose only real crime was nationalization of state resources. Then US President, Richard Nixon, feared that Chile would become “another Cuba”. Aide was subsequently cut off and support given to Allende’s opponents even as he sought to create a more equitable Chile for all. According to declassified documents relating to the coup,  President Nixon would have ordered the CIA to make the Chilean economy scream to prevent Allende from coming to power or to unseat him. (National Security Archive, GWU) 

Marxist President Salvador Allende: Chile (1970-3)

A CIA document released in 2000 would have supported the claim that the CIA actively supported the rise of the military junta of Augusto Pinochet. 

Taking it home, Democratic Socialist Prime Minister Michael Manley saw many underhanded tactics used to undermine his own quest for equity in Jamaica. As one would expect, the classists and capitalists could not deal with the masses having their own bit of wealth through ownership of their own land, educational opportunities inter alia. There is no declassified document to suggest a direct request to make Jamaica’s economy scream but it did scream like Chile’s. One would then wonder the veracity behind some of the claims that there was much external influence geared towards toppling the Manley regime. 

Did Michael Manley destroy the economy as some would posit or were his efforts undermined by partnerships between external and internal forces that would fabricate any claim against his administration to see it toppled? Like Chile, there was a concern that Jamaica would become “another Cuba” under Manley; like Chile, the economy did scream; like Chile, the socialist regime was toppled (not by military junta but by election violence which struck fear into the masses). The truth about this we may never see in black and white but the truths of Manley’s programmes for equity and equality still stand today in human forms and tangible legislations.

Fidel Castro and Michael Manley in one of their many 1970s meetings

  In 2011, the Libyan regime’s Socialist President, Muammar al-Gaddafi was also toppled by power hungry rebels who were granted assistance by the West. Under the Gaddafi regime, his countrymen flourished with state resources redistributed for the benefit of all; state provided housing, free electricity inter alia. 

Today, Libya stands socially inequitable with two governments and many militias (after distributing guns to rebels, criminals, how does one retrieve them?) Libya today remains in the utter chaos which has befell it since 2011 and it is said that many who revolted; being now in abject poverty recognize that the Gaddafi regime was looking out for their best interest. Gaddafi was the biggest proponent of the United States of Africa and the redistribution of African wealth to benefit Africans. 

 Young Colonel Muammar al-Gaddafi
Obama admitted that not preparing for the post Gaddafi era in Libya was possibly his biggest mistake as president. I find Obama to be a much more peaceful president than his predecessors and I hold the view that he was probably nudged in his relatively young presidency back in 2011 but a war ensued. He has then exercised much care about intervention since then, however, an intervention was done and I doubt the Libyans, who still face chaos and live in everyday fear of rebels and militants kept at bay by Gaddafi, would be very forgiving of the President for the mistake 

 Fast forward to 2016, what is described as a coup under the guise of impeachment was orchestrated against Dilma Rousseff, Socialist President of Brazil. Allegations have been raised against former VP and now President  Michel Temer and questions emerged on his own character and role in the coup following the publication of a Wikileaks document where it was alleged that he had been an US informant. As allegations of corruption rage against Temer, we are led to wonder if this “coup” allegedly orchestrated by him was on a matter of principle as impeachment proceedings have purported. 

 Impeached Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro
Possibilities of a coup in Venezuela remain an everyday threat to the elected government as the country now faces a crisis (manufactured or real) and opposition forces take the lead in organizing revolts. Notable among those forces is the two time defeated presidential candidate Henrique Capriles who seems determined to get power by all means as he now nudges the military to choose his side and lead a coup d’etat against the Maduro regime. 

Maduro and his many ambassadors maintain that external forces are attempting to overthrow his government through support for revolutionary groups. It seems of recent that Maduro has been battling to hold on to power granted to him by the electorate for six years back in 2013. 

The view created that socialism and capitalism cannot content in this world is flawed. The view that everyone must subscribe to the “western” ideals of government is erroneous. And the image painted of socialist nations where a true attempt at equity is made is most times blurry. It is a world where several ideas and beliefs are contending and left should also be given its space to contend. 

With Cuba being the only Latin America/Caribbean country to maintain a regime dissimilar to that of the USA for a great many decades, I wait with bated breath to see the Venezuelan situation (manufactured or real) unfold. Is this the last hurrah for Maduro and the near 2 decade Chavista government? While that happens, however, beneficiaries of cheap oil through PetroCaribe must band together and support our sister nation as she faces a crisis (manufactured or real). 

AK DIXON

THE MOST GLORIOUS DAY IN RECENT HISTORY 

You’re probably expecting me to write about a major scientific breakthrough or if you’re a basketball fanatic- about Steph Curry’s historic unanimous selection as season MVP or if you’re one of the few Leicester City supporters (like me… just joking)- about their unpredicted victory in this year’s English Premeir League or maybe about Sadiq Khan becoming London’s first Muslim Mayor. Maybe you’re a ‘Trumpist’ who views Donald Trump’s presumed Republican nomination as that “Greatest Day”

Alas, I discuss none of the above. I am blogging today about what was the biggest subject in the recently held general elections. In fact, the opposition, The People’s National Party, probably helped the then opposition, now government, into power by generating publicity around this plan. It almost created court drama when The Most Honorable Portia Simpson-Miller referred to it by a term other than that published by its crafters. It led to debate stand off and some campaign animosity. It’s called the 10 Point Plan aka $1.5 million Plan aka 10 Point Co…

Holness discusses JLP’s Manifesto
In any other year, I would call the day “Budget Day” but today I call it $1.5 Million Day; I call it The Most Glorious Day in Recent History for In the year of our Lord two thousand and sixteen and this 12th day of May, we shall hear how the greatest, most beneficial plan for tax payers in the Western Hemisphere will be funded. 

 While the plan put forward by the then opposition has nine other points, it is the “tax break” for those earning up to $1.5 million that has been on everyone’s lips. After all, some pundits have it as being the election deciding factor. 

As one could imagine, it has been a rat race to find money to fund this plan, which the government projects will cost some $12.5 billion (and which a Private Sector Working Group projected could cost some $31 billion), especially with the rude awakening that the touted main source, the gas tax, which was publicly known to be pumped into the consolidated fund, was not sitting and waiting on a new government near the end of the fiscal year. But as I would also imagine, money must have been found prior to today, The Most Glorious Day in Recent History. Despite my concerns about the potential economic impacts (these could be flawed- I am but a student trying to make it out of university), I have maintained that the government would fund this plan at all cost, regardless of what analysts have been saying; regardless of what the spokesman has been saying. 

No New Taxes
Dr Peter Phillips, Damion Crawford and many financial analysts maintain that the plan cannot be funded without increase in taxes. Damion Crawford pointed out to us that consumption taxes would be the most likely target. Through it all, the proponents of the most glorious plan in recent history said that there would be no new taxes! 


Haha! No new taxes, but as one of my fellows highlighted, it is in fact true that it was said that there would be no new taxes, no one ever said there wouldn’t be increases in the old taxes. You see in politics (well in life), you have to be smart and you must always have a back up plan. I think this might be the back up. No new taxes but let’s mess around with old taxes a bit! 

Not so happy but optimistic
Since my mother’s meager salary currently falls within the existing threshold and I am not yet employed, there is really no direct benefit for me- indirect for sure because this will induce major growth! 

My current concern is the impact that any increase in consumption taxes could have on those currently earning below the nearly $600,000 income tax threshold. After all, they would not have the additional $18,000 (or dividends thereof) increase in spending power. The most glorious plan in our history could end up being a burden to them, to their dependents; to the unemployed, to the retired.
But I will not continue speculating on what could possibly happen for today is $1.5 million day, 10 Point Plan day, Budget Day and for some, 10 Point Co… Day. Today we learn how this grand plan will be funded- and as Minister Shaw hinted, everyone will be happy. 

May our day not be clouded by any new taxes (or upwards adjustments in old taxes) for today must be a Happy $1.5 million Day and more so, it shall be The Most Glorious Day in Recent History! 

AK Dixon
drajdixon@gmail.com
Twitter: aujae_dixon

An Extremely Violent Country?

Following the murder of two missionaries in Jamaica, social media erupted, mostly with condemnation, after Ashleigh Banfield, CNN Anchor, dared to call us an extremely violent country! How could this American who knows nothing of our struggles and our reasons for being murderous call us a violent nation! 

I too raised eyebrows and I fumed at 75 degrees for just 3 minutes because before I got to boiling point, I realized something- she said nothing wrong, the statement could not be more truthful, Ashleigh Banfield was right! We are an extremely violent country. And no comparison with mass killings in the United States or Pakistan or Afghanistan or West Bank will change that fact. We are very violent as a country and the value of life has been diminished.

I have maintained and continue to maintain that any nation that tolerates indiscipline and disorder will become a haven from crime. And if we examine our communities closely, we realize how truthful that is and how tolerant we have been. Crime is only heart-rending when it is close to home. When one of our own falls victim. Eating a food has become a justification for disorder, disobedience and criminality with a rapid shift from “eating a one food” to a culture- our way of life; an acceptable norm. A theft a day, a rape a day, a murder a day is lauded for our average is usually four or five or six or worse. 

We condone kids stealing little things… After all, they are little innocent kids and it’s only a little thing but it grows with them and the virtue of honesty is never enforced. Before we know it, we are in the street crying for justice for our sons and daughters who have met their demise at the hands of law enforcers or other forces when it’s a little too late. The small theft grew exponentially and in the process, the hands of our sons and daughters become bloodied. Oh how we wish then that they were scolded about the petty theft. 

But they are not the ones I grieve for most (because I do grieve for those who have lost their way). It is the innocent souls, especially our young children who fall victims to criminals before we are able to apprehend them. I grieve when the news item notifies us that space at the monument for children who have fallen victim to crime is running out. 

How is our target for murders every year “below 1000”? It should be below 100! It should be below 50!

The task to reduce crime we now realize, is not the job of any one minister or any one government. It will take a collective effort for us as a nation to address the monster called crime. It will mean us as citizens being less tolerant of the indiscipline and disorder that has become the modus operandi of a people. It will mean us working within the constraints of established structures and guidelines as we seek to “eat a food.”

It is painful to see missions being cancelled because our way of saying thanks to those who help us has become a game of Russian Roulette. Curbing crime will take a mix of short and long term policies from the Ministry of National Security and co-operation from all law abiding citizens.

So for now, we can accept what the anchor had to say as being our reality and work to change that, or we can continue hiding our heads in the sand and refuse to face reality. We are a nation of extreme promise and potential but our development will remain arrested… stagnant… blighted, until we become less of an “extremely violent country” and more of a nation at peace.

AK Dixon  

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