Lifestyle, Social Commentary

SEX is very important, we’ve just been miseducated to think otherwise

 

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For most of my childhood, I was brought up in the Pentecostal church. My grandmother, especially, insisted that her grandchildren needed a strong moral orientation to navigate the evils of this world, predicated on the Judeo-Christian value system. I agree that the Judeo-Christian philosophy is an excellent foundation to teach values and morals from, but my reservations come in where the application of the philosophy is concerned; particularly around sex.

In my humble opinion, sex seems to be that sin that is permissible in marriage but still within certain limitations. These limitations seem to dictate the very manifestation of sex, even after permission is granted through marriage. With these limitations, it is therefore still (subtly) treated as a sin. I can’t speak for all interpretations of Judeo-Christian philosophy, but the predominant Jamaican interpretation would want to have us believe that sex is not as important as the “worldeans” have made it out to be.

What I have come to observe, is that today’s children of the former generation that was subject to this miseducation about sex from the church are thinking in the same vacuum as their parents. Specifically, I’m speaking to my millennial brothers and sisters here, attached or detached from the church who are content in their unfortunate belief that sex is unimportant in the courting of a mate. Some have argued to me, very convincingly too, that the education, income level, job security or spending habits are much more important considerations when courting a mate. To that, I say, absolute nonsense!

Let’s start at the root of the problem, which is the miseducation of sex. What is sex to you? I can bet your answer to that question was either:

  1. a graphical depiction of sexual intercourse
  2. the churning of gears in your loins you feel when you see a certain person
  3. an episode of gyration from our hypersexualized dancehall culture
  4. all of the above

The Oxford dictionary The Oxford Living dictionary/sex defines ‘sex’ for us aptly as:

Either of the two main categories (male and female) into which humans and most other living things are divided on the basis of their reproductive functions.

So sex, as a construct, is simply a classification – to make the understanding of humanity easier. Now, let’s see what the derivative of sex i.e. sexual intercourse is defined as by The Oxford Living Dictionary/sexual intercourse:

Sexual contact between individuals involving penetration, especially the insertion of a man’s erect penis into a woman’s vagina, typically culminating in orgasm and the ejaculation of semen.

A far more vulgar definition than its original and that is because it is supposed to be. Sex is the theory, but intercourse is its application. But what stands out for me the most in this definition is not what the penis is supposed to be doing to the vagina, but symbolically what that action represents: a connection between two people. So Sex, in essence, is about connection. It’s about people being able to connect in a way that produces mutually inclusive happiness. How can this not be more important than the person’s education or income level? Wouldn’t you at least want to connect first before exploring anything else?

It’s unfortunate what is happening to sex and what it means to be sexy in our culture. Unfortunate, because we are arguably one of the most sexual people on the planet. Our music, our dance, our politics, our commerce, our very expression is sexual and many nations envy us for the mere fact. But some of us, by virtue of our miseducation, still find it difficult to appreciate this quality.

We, humans, are all primal by nature and it’s evident in how we respond to the various stimuli in the environment. If the sun hot, we feel hot; if the time cool, we feel cool; and if it is raining we feel wet. It’s the same way if someone is sexy we feel a euphoria, best described by some as goosebumps or lightheadedness.

Sexy for me, doesn’t have to be sexy for you. It’s a very personalized experience that each person will have as a result of their socialization. So in thinking about relationships, we must be mindful of our sexual value system and prepared to articulate it definitively in the courting process. It’s time we start having these conversations with ourselves, to find out what our unique flavour of sexy is; and if currently, that which we are projecting to the world will attract a compatible flavour of sexy to make for a great (sexual) connection that we can build from to have great relationships, marriages and lifetimes together.

I know my analysis feels very objective and might be prompting some indifference in your mind where your standards for dating are concerned. This is actually good. You’re coming into the light, and soon enough you’ll realize that the courting process is very much an objective one. When you see someone for the first time that you feel connected to, that is a sexual experience stimulated by objective variables native to that person. How the person deports themselves, their charm, their smile, skin, hair, make-up and even feet all start to compete for your brain’s approval before the person even says the first word.

I will leave you with a verse from the Bible, Genesis 2:24-25, which says:

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed

As is implied here, man would have to know his sexual flavour and the woman would have to know hers, for him to hold fast to her and become one flesh. Be not ashamed my friends, sex is very important.

-GB

 

 

 

 

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Social Commentary

Jamaica is a KC country!

 

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Disclaimer: I am a proud Wolmerian! No school can begin to come close to the admiration and respect I have for THE Wolmer’s Boys’ School, especially Kingston College (KC). However, my affinity for Wolmers’ doesn’t cloud my judgment enough to acknowledge a known truth, that Jamaica is a KC country.

To add a little context, my Father and younger brother went to KC and it was a heartbreaking time in the family, especially for my father, when I decided I wanted to attend Wolmers. After years of my father’s strategic conditioning, having brought me to the North Street and Elleston road campuses for various football matches and events, he was certain I was destined for KC. Ironically, to this day people will assume I was a KC old boy, by virtue of some personality traits I have that are similar to a KC alum (I bet even you thought the same). But alas, the Universe had a greater plan in store for me, hence the transition to Wolmers.

My Father and I are still good (at least, I think he’s gotten over it), but I know for certain he would agree with me saying, Jamaica is a KC country. I don’t make this conclusion based on the school’s successes in Football, Debating and most recently Track & Field and School’s Challenge Quiz. I have always held that view, and after hearing my reasons below, you may be inclined to agree with me too.

Wolmer’s Boys are the respectable bunch i.e. the gentlemen and the nerds, and often times considered the socially and intellectually elite of all prominent all-boys schools in the corporate area. But with all of that under our belt, we are still not a Kingston College. Kingston College has evolved from being just a set of schools in Kingston to a complete value system that most Jamaicans have wholeheartedly bought into. KC is the home of winners and holds a secret formula for producing champions in a variety of ways.

Jamaican culture is one predicated on producing and celebrating champions, and we have a tendency to get emotionally attached to our champions but rigidly detached from our losers. If you’re a Jamaican I want you to think about Asafa Powell before Usain Bolt and Asafa Powell after Usain Bolt, and you’ll begin to see what I’m saying.

We try to win at everything, and we’re very hype about it (even if there is a high chance we might lose). However, this culture of winning transcends competitive sports and can be traced all the way back to our Emancipation from Slavery. We must remember that emancipation was not gifted to us by the Queen for all that hard work. Rather, her hand was forced to free up the State as a result of multiple uprisings from pockets of frustrated slaves who figured out how to beat the planter class. If you notice, each revolt has centered around a person with perceived superhuman traits over their peers, most notably our beloved Nanny of the Maroons and her (alleged) ability to catch incoming bullets with her buttocks.

Subsequently, Nanny and other heroes of the revolution were officially recognized as the National Heroes of Jamaica. And that’s how we’ve been cultured; to passionately celebrate our wins, but also honor and fall in love with our winners. Bob Marley became our King of Reggae because he was able to bring our culture to the wider world and get global acceptance. Usain Bolt became a celebrated sprint legend because of his consistent ability to win over the course of his track and field career. But Bob Marley, Usain Bolt, and KC all have one thing in common besides their ability to win; and that’s their ability to beat white privilege.

White privilege is a global system of ethics, values, and attitudes that inform how a white person will fair in life comparable to a black person. This is why the brown class in Jamaica, being a derivative of white privilege, have been able to hold a monopoly on opportunities for social and economic advancement for so many years.

I think the spirit of KC is a manifestation of the Jamaican struggle to prove that we can rise to the top, and break the ceiling of white privilege. KC’s history is rooted in its commitment to making quality secondary level education available to the poorer class; comparable to other prominent all-boys schools like Wolmer’s, Munro College, St. Georges College and Jamaica College which were reserved for children of the aristocracy or brown class. With the vast majority of Jamaicans currently among the lower class of our society, you can understand why there is this national embrace of a Kingston College.

Noteworthy also, is KC’s commitment to a diverse schooling experience. Unlike other prominent all-boys schools in the corporate area, KC seems to make a concerted effort to recruit boys from all classes of society, especially the lower class. Most importantly, they have an Alumni that invests heavily in the development of these boys year after year, instilling in each graduate a duty to give back to their alma mater. This is not just an act of benevolence on their part, but rather a genuine belief in the awesome potential of the average Jamaican to be turned into a champion.

KC represents the Jamaican struggle to show the world, that despite our social, economic and geographic disadvantages, WE CAN STILL BEAT THEM. Jamaicans want the world to know that we are winners, we’re hype about the fact and we will keep winning if you keep testing us. No other school has been able to consistently connect with this burning desire in the hearts of every Jamaican, in the way that Kingston College has. KC’s ability to position their brand in this way is what has, and will continue to attract talented young men from all over Jamaica who want to be champions.

-GB

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Social Commentary

Dear Santa Clarke: Forget trickle down, This is how you bubble up the economy..

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Micro, small and medium businesses account for the majority of economic activity in the Jamaican economy. Unfortunately, many micro and small businesses are still operating informally which prevents us from fully appreciating the social and economic impact they are having on our gross domestic product (GDP). But there is a view, shared by most social, economic and development practitioners, that we must find more creative ways of encouraging their participation in the formal economy.

Former Senator, Ms. Imani Duncan-Price penciled an article a week ago, titled ‘Trickle down’ disguised as ‘bubble up’? that sought to challenge the Finance Minister, Dr. Nigel Clarke’s aspersions that his recently tabled budget presents policies that will ensure an economy that works for all.

Duncan-Price finds it hard to appreciate Clarke’s high hopes for growth from this budget when she says “Clarke himself projects only 1.5 percent growth [for the economy]”. She presents several points to support her position, but the one that has caught my eye is when she posits that, “Forty-one percent of the economy is informal. That means that most of them don’t even deal with formal banks or pay taxes (except maybe General Consumption Tax [GCT]).”

What I want to pay special attention to, and endorse, is Duncan-Price’s criticism that this budget will not benefit the micro and small entrepreneurs of the business class in the way it is being sold to the public. The budget gives me reason to believe that Minister Clarke was not very mindful, in his orchestration of the budget, that the majority of the micro and small business operators in Jamaica operate informally.

His $14-billion stimulus package seems to benefit one class of the business community, which are the registered Jamaican companies. I make my claim based on the following benefits Clarke laid out in his presentation (as taken from, Pursuing growth with equity: A preliminary analysis of Jamaica budget 2019/20 by pwc Jamaica):

(i) elimination of ad valorem stamp duty on financing security documents and property transfer with a specific flat rate of stamp duty of JA$5,000 per stampable instrument.

(ii) reduction of transfer tax (from 5% to 2%) on transfers of real estate, shares, and other securities – but the average micro and small business operator does not own commercial real estate, shares or other securities

(iii) the abolition of minimum business tax ($60,000) on registered companies

(iv) Abolition of Asset Tax imposed annually on companies, excluding specified regulated entities. 

(v) Increase in General Consumption Tax (GCT) Turnover Threshold for registration from
JA$3 million to JA$10 million per annum – again, applicable only to registered companies

(vi) Increase in minimum estate value on which transfer tax is levied on the value of a deceased person’s estate from JA$100,000 to JA$10 million. 

While the statistics she presents are deductive at best, I believe Duncan-Price’s position that around forty percent of our economy is informal. I also believe that the vast majority of the sixty percent of businesses that are formal, and the vast majority of the forty percent of businesses that are informal are micro and small business operators.

Therefore it would profit the government tremendously if they could figure out ways to incentivize active participation from this base of micro and small business operators; particularly those operating informally. Clarke needs to present creative strategies to get micro and small business operators excited about joining the formal economy.

‘Tax concessions for the majority’

Abolishing the minimum business tax of $60,000 was a good move, but it hardly benefits the base of micro and small business operators. In the case of a sole proprietorship (which most micro and small businesses operate as), this tax would be applicable only if they make a gross annual revenue of $3 million and over. Most of these entrepreneurs are earning below this threshold, so the tax never mattered, to begin with.

What matters to them, from my assessment, are the opportunities for growth through debt, equity and grant financing; which they know they will be unable to access if they continue operating informally. A lot of these entrepreneurs would want to register and start paying taxes but are afraid to do so because of the penalties that they would be obliged to pay since they started operations.

A good show of faith would be to create a tax concessionary period for micro and small businesses operating informally to encourage them to get registered. For this to work, there should also be some type of debt forgiveness program for micro and small businesses operating formally who have accrued penalties since registration for failing to file their annual returns. Clarke must be mindful that the vast amount of Jamaicans, inclusive of micro and small business operators, were not formally educated on Jamaican tax laws and policies. To date, our primary and secondary level school curriculums are absent of tax education. Even at the tertiary level, foundation courses address it minimally at best. So, we can’t keep faulting the people for not doing what we failed to properly teach them.

‘Grants for good behavior’

To support the implementation of the tax concessionary period, I would like to see Clarke Introduce a grant scheme that directly benefits micro and small business operators who accept the gov’t’s invitation to join the formal economy. However, to avoid this looking like a handout, it would have to be fashioned as a development grant, similar to the Voucher for Technical Assistance – Development Bank of Jamaica. One critical requirement to access this grant should be the applicant’s ability to provide evidence of tax compliance over the period of the tax concession.

‘Building Santa’s helpers’

Thirdly, and what is probably most important, is the government finding a way to strengthen the capacity of business support organizations (BSOs) that help micro and small business operators.

In both the public and private sector, there is an array of BSOs available to give assistance in this regard, but many are stretched in their capacity to do so. A multi-agency approach must be taken, through the pooling of resources and talents, to provide affordable, convenient options to micro and small businesses for development, incubation, and guidance into the formal sector.

Particularly, I would love to see a policy that mandates all financial institutions to have a business advisory unit that offers support to their business customers. I would suggest a public-private partnership between the Companies Office of Jamaica (COJ) and all financial institutions to run a national sensitization campaign encouraging their customers to take up the advantages that exist when they join the formal economy.

These ideas are not perfect, and I am inviting you to challenge me with your disagreements (if any at all). However, despite its shortcomings, this budget is by far one of the most ambitious and inclusive presentations I have seen in a long time. The Andrew Holness-led government must be commended for a valiant effort. But we must be careful how we label this budget as one designed to pursue growth with equity. Equity implies equality, and as you can see the benefits here are unequally yoked.

-GB

 

 

 

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Politics, Leadership and Governance

Digitizing Political Participation: Can this Save Jamaica’s Democracy?

 

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Jamaica’s Democracy is dying. An article in the Jamaica Observer, titled The meaning of the 2016 General Election lower voter turnout, posited that in our 74 years of Universal Adult Suffrage since its declaration in 1944, the percentage voter turnout in 2016 was the lowest in a general parliamentary election ever recorded. Voter turnout in a contested general election fell below the 50 percent mark at 47.7 per cent. In other words, for every ten Jamaicans, you see anywhere, only 4 were compelled to vote and more than half the amount of eligible voters boycotted the elections.

electorate turnout history with 2016

Source: Election Turnout by Percentage: 1962-2016

However, I am optimistic about the possibilities that exist if we can leverage existing technologies to save our democracy. I want to make reference to another article published in the Jamaica Gleaner on March 17, 2019, titled Fisher: Make Ja’s Voting System Fully Digital,  where former Director of Elections in the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ), Orette Fisher, was interviewed about his recent visit to observe the general elections in Nigeria; by invitation from Tanzania’s Independent National Electoral Commission.

Fisher, in his capacity as an election consultant for Nigeria’s parliamentary elections held on February 23, believes that Jamaica should move towards a fully digitized voting process by introducing computerized elector verification.

Fisher claims to have observed several similarities between Jamaica’s electoral process and Nigeria’s, including continuous registration, political party registration, and campaign finance regulations. However, he observed that there were marked differences in the voter verification process. They have electronic card readers to verify the validity of the voter’s card so If the card is not authenticated, you’re unable to vote. Fingerprint verification is used to show that the person carrying the card and fingerprints presented are one and the same.

The thought of a fully digitized electoral process really got me dreaming of how it could actually work for Jamaica. Especially, with hotly contended East Portland by-election on the horizon with allegations of vote buying being spewed from both sides of the political divide, it’s an interesting proposal to consider.

Our current System

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Fortunately, Jamaica has something of a foundation to build upon if we were to ever take on this endeavor: in the form of the Electronic Voter Identification and Ballot Issuing System (EVIBIS).

The EVIBIS was introduced in 1994 to limit occurrences of voter fraud such as impersonation of an elector, multiple voting by persons and the use of unauthenticated ballots.

How the EVIBIS works

As taken from the Electoral Commission of Jamaica website, Registered electors are identified and verified at the polling station by using their fingerprints after which the system (EVIBIS) will issue authenticated ballots for voting. The elector will then proceed as before to mark the “X” with a pencil on the paper ballot issued. The main objectives of this Elector Registration System are to provide accurate information on all eligible electors from which to compile a voters list every six months and to effect the enumeration of voters by continuous registration.

Continuous Registration is the process whereby the Voters’ List is continually maintained by adding the names of eligible voters as well as deleting the names of those who no longer meet eligibility requirements. e.g. the dead.

This means there is no need to automatically conduct a full enumeration/registration as was the case in previous years. A voters’ list is now produced and published every six months, May 31 and November 30, with the necessary additions and deletions.

During the enumeration exercise, the elector’s fingerprints are now used in the creation and storage of unique records. To detect and eliminate duplicates, the records for each individual’s fingers are now matched against those of all other persons enumerated. Persons with prints not matching anyone’s is placed on the Voters List.

This ensures that each person who applies is listed only once and can only vote ONCE. The Elector Registration System generates an Identification Card (Voter’s ID) for each person on the Voters List. This card contains the unique records created for that person.

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How the new EVIBIS would work

While the current system has been working relatively well, it still has its limitations. Despite this technology of convenience being made available to the Jamaican populace, we have still suffered declining rates of political participation in successive general elections since its implementation in 1994; with the lowest ever recording in the last election exercise. This says to me that other variables in the electoral process are having a stronger bearing on voter motivation than the benefits the EVIBIS provides to an elector.

I would envision an update to the system that embraces elements of cloud computing and digital marketing. With the proliferation of our scamming culture over the years, it’s very possible that Powerful Jamaicans intent on manipulating the political process may venture to find creative ways of circumventing the fingerprint verification process. Studies have confirmed that artificial intelligence now has the capability to generate synthetic fingerprints that a nearly impossible to detect.

Source: AI can create synthetic fingerprints that fool biometric scanners

So it’s very possible to create a “synthetic Jamaican” with synthetic demographics and enumerate him/her accordingly. With the right amount of resources, a politician could someday craft his own synthetic base of voters to retain power (if that isn’t happening already). I believe that storing the system in a cloud would add the next level of complex code for these scammers to break into, and a more sophisticated level of cybersecurity than what currently exists.

Another level of biometric verification that I would venture to introduce is eyeball and facial recognition. While it’s true that Artificial Intelligence may also have the capability to generate synthetic eyeballs (and maybe faces), to put it bluntly: it’s harder to hide a fake eyeball (or face) in the enumeration exercise than it is to hide fake fingerprints.

The second update I would make to the system is by way of the avenues that are available to better engage with the process, and I think digital media presents us with various new channels to consider. I would love to see an online platform created (accessible via desktop and mobile), as the front end of the new system with a seamless and interactive user interface. Accessibility could be granted after qualifying three time-sensitive tiers: facial recognition, password (at least 20 characters) and a fingerprint scan via a portable third-party fingerprint scanner would be issued along with voter’s ID in the enumeration exercise.

The platform could be modeled as a social networking tool, encouraging electors:

  • to create profiles
  • to form communities
  • to collaborate with like-minded citizens
  • to engage virtual manifestos from their representatives
  • to participate in periodic polling exercises
  • to be able to, safely and securely cast a vote through the app

Allowing citizens to vote in this revolutionary way can have positive social and economic implications for the country. It can allow people to participate in the process while still being economically productive. It limits political tensions that the physical voting experience has had the reputation of encouraging on the day. It provides for greater control of the counting of ballots and data analysis as overseen by the ECJ. But most importantly, it can be the first step to building a culture of prioritizing transparency and accountability that is missing in our current model of governance.

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I know my ideas for improving the EVIBIS system seem radical, and I would be surprised if you thought otherwise. However, with the rolling out of the National Identification System (NIDS) over the next two years, I can see our social and political climate becoming more accepting of ways in which technology can be leveraged to improve the systems that work to serve the Jamaican people.

-GB

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Business, Investment and Economics

The New housing trap: The curious case of Kingston city

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At the end of 2017, Jamaica’s population was estimated at 2 728 900, according to the 2017 Economic and Social Survey Jamaica commissioned by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ). Of that 2 728 900, approximately 670,312 reside in the Kingston and St. Andrew metropolitan (KSAM) alone. Interestingly, two sources i.e. the Caribbean and Co and World atlas have reported that KSAM is one of the most densely populated metropolitans in the Caribbean, holding the rank at 5th on the table with approximately 1,190,763.
This interest in KSAM did not amount by chance, but can be attributed to the fact that the city has emerged to be Jamaica’s foremost social, political and economic hub. Kingston is where entertainment, culture, commerce, and politics have found a way to exist in harmony (and sometimes disharmony).
KSAM is also the only city, in my opinion, that very aptly demonstrates the wealth disparity that exists in the country. The “Uptown” geographic, traditionally, has been reserved for the Upper-class Jamaicans who have either inherited generational wealth or are self-made wealthy. Uptown also seems to be home to Jamaicans of the fairer complexion, but I will not venture to investigate the degree to which wealth and skin hue are correlated here. Let’s just agree that a relationship exists.
The “Downtown” geographic, traditionally, has been reserved for the Lower-class Jamaicans, who are usually employed to the wealthy uptowners and are aspirants of wealth creation; but are psychologically, socially and economically disenfranchised in their pursuit to build wealth. Downtown also seems to be populated with darker complexioned people, so maybe a relationship does exist after all.
Recently, I’d say maybe in the last decade or so, there has been a boom in the local real estate market, particularly in urban centers of Jamaica. Thanks to the proliferation of overnight stays and layovers, due to the popularizing of Airbnb, what was once a niche demand from business travelers and backpackers has grown into a mammoth of demand, with significant investment potential. The multiplier effect this can have on other complementary industries is something to consider; especially in professional services, business process outsourcing, and food and entertainment, just to name a few.
Seeing the potential that exists if this demand is nurtured, multiple high-level investments have been encouraged by successive governments to create a supply of goods and services that can match this demand. We’ve seen, for example, many high-end restaurants, business process outsourcing contact centers, international food and beverage franchises and top tier hotel chains all claim a piece of KSAM’s real estate grab in the last 10 years.
While this is a welcomed investment interest, given our precarious state of economic affairs, we must approach with caution. Housing is still a growing concern in Jamaica, and the NHT has not been doing enough to provide innovative housing solutions for the growing lower and middle class in the KSAM who demand affordable housing.
With the many concessions being created to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in KSAM’s real estate, the property value is expected to go up. The profit-seeking financial institutions, in seeing this goldrush from investors, might want to drive up interest rates on JMD denominated capital financing, making it more expensive for locals working and living in KSAM to buy and/or rent property in KSAM.
However, thanks to the prudent oversight from the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ), interest rates on JMD denominated loans are actually trending downwards which should encourage an expansion of the disposable income in the economy but also increase inflation rate. This would prove beneficial for the middle and lower class in KSAM if wages were to be increased simultaneously to create net savings, which we are hoping and waiting for with fingers crossed.
In other words, if the government fails to deliver on wage increases,  Kingston might be on the verge of becoming one of the most expensive and exclusive cities to live in, which spells trouble for the growing lower and middle class of young professionals.
The government, in its attempt to secure investment for KSAM’s infrastructure development, could inadvertently trap its citizenry in a cycle of poverty. The trap is a result of working, young professionals being forced to forfeit more of their disposable income to buy/rent property in KSAM. The only other feasible options are to live out of town if you plan to work in KSAM, with the nearest livable parishes being St. Catherine and St. Thomas. You’re even poorer if you choose to live in St. Catherine thanks to toll fees, and very soon St. Thomas will charge us a toll for entry as well. So, in essence, you’re trapped.
This housing trap has cultural implications as well, particularly in nightlife entertainment. Dancehall street dances are fighting a culture war with the creeping influences of all-inclusive parties. The usual patrons of Dancehall street dances, who live in KSAM simply can’t afford the expensive preparation it takes to support a street dance because they have less disposable income to spend. Promoters are also less inclined to keep a dance these days because they realize the business model is failing. Patrons are now opting to either stay in or consider the cheaper, more secure all-inclusive soca parties where Dancehall music is reduced to an honorable mention. Dancehall culture, something that was once the bedrock of KSAM’s nightlife culture is also stuck in this housing trap.
A case can also be made for how this housing trap is affecting us socially, politically and even healthily, but I wanted to restrict the analysis to economics and culture for you to see how far reaching the implications can be. Infrastructure development is good, in fact, I want them to continue. But I’m cautious of the benefits being accrued from these developments, and to whom. I just want us to be free.
– GB
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Social Commentary

Dread Locks or Pretty Vaz: Who makes more sense?

 

Crawford-Vaz

 

Wow. This is my first blog post in well over 2 years and I didn’t think politics would be the reason I dust my pen off to write, but alas here we are. Thank you for patronizing me with your time, and I hope this article adds some value to your life.

The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the People’s National Party (PNP) are set to buck heads in a by-election exercise on April 4, 2019, that pundits are saying will be the most important election since the showdown of a general election we had in 2016. The victor from this election will replace the late Dr Lynvale Bloomfield of the PNP as the member of parliament for the constituency of East Portland.

The election itself will be an important litmus test for the respective political parties to understand how organized and ready their political machinery is for the general elections in 2020. It could mean the start of a political dynasty with the Vaz family controlling an entire parish, and by extension increasing their (his) influence in the JLP leadership. This could spell trouble for the current Leader Andrew Holness, who we must recall, was not Vaz’s preference to lead the JLP after Bruce Golding’s tumultuous exit. Andrew might be well favored by John Public, but any student of politics knows it’s the party delegates who pull the strings, and the man (or woman) with the most delegates is the puppet master.

On the flip side, Peter Phillips needs to win this election to prove to his growing base of detractors that he is not a losing president. Peter needs this win to get his party hungry (again) for victory. He needs this win as leverage to invite donors to join his campaign for victory in 2020. Damion, the sidekick Robin to Batman Peter, needs to win this to validate his national appeal as Jamaica’s most formidable youth in politics; and the country’s next Prime Minister. Damion needs to win this to keep the semblance of party unity resembling unity. But most importantly, he needs to win this to send a message to the old PNP establishment that his recent Vice presidential win was not accidental. This election win could solidify the mandate for new and young blood championed by Crawford and his allies, to come in and replace the remaining veterans we have come to regard as Dinosaurs.

We are living in an era where conventional politics is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Once upon a time, politicians could count on loyalty (sometimes blinded) from their political base to assure victory, but this is changing with the new face of political loyalists. Today’s political loyalist seems more loyal to themselves than to any party and I would reason this indicates a major paradigm shift in our political culture. People are now more informed and more empowered to cast their vote in the direction that best serves their personal interests; and not the interests of the constituency (or country).

Unfortunately, for the politicians, this new face of party loyalists is attached to a body of economic welfare and not one of development. The Jamaican reality has gotten so hard for some, that they (we) are now forced to assess political agendas in terms of the economic welfare it can offer if voted into actuality and not the medium to long term development it can create. This seems to be the conundrum happening in East Portland; a vote between economic welfare and development. Some are still firm believers in Development, but there is a growing minority that prefers economic welfare which is threatening the status quo.

Though a small constituency, comparable to more larger ones across the country, because of the attention this election is receiving I submit that this result could represent where the mindset of the Jamaican voter is 3 years into the JLP’s stewardship of government. It may also show where Jamaica will likely vote in the impending general elections.

Damion Crawford, an academic and entrepreneur by profession makes a very convincing case for why he should be made the member of parliament for East Portland. His agenda heavily surrounds education, development of the constituency local economies and what is probably his biggest bargaining chip, employment through Tourism by way of Foreign Direct Investment into Portland. He also presents himself as the more relatable candidate to members of the constituency, by leveraging his dreadlocked Rasta image and meagre to modest socio-economic upbringing, to suggest he understands the struggle of the people. It also doesn’t hurt that the PNP has held this seat for 30 years, which gives him and the PNP home-field advantage.

Ann-Marie Vaz, a philanthropist and wife of sitting MP for West Portland Daryl Vaz, is equally convincing in her bid for the vacancy of MP for East Portland. While she may not have the political experience and star power of a Damion Crawford, she has something just as valuable: access to resources. It is no secret that she is a wealthy woman and her husband is a wealthy man. It is also no secret that the JLP’s style of politics has always favored the business community more than the PNP’s style of politics.

So without articulating a full agenda for the constituency as yet, she has already sparked the imagination of many as to what she can accomplish with more resources at her disposal, seemingly greater knowledge of wealth creation and having the ruling party in government as her driver. It is reasonable to suggest that she stands a very good chance of upsetting the PNP prediction of holding on to legacy; with the allure of her agenda to invest directly in the economic welfare of the people in East Portland over Crawford’s focus on Education and Development.

The people of East Portland have been crying for high-level development assistance for years, and it is a shame that it had to take the thirst for power to get our leaders to hear their plight. But such is the nature of our politics. The fact that this seat has been held for 30 years by the PNP is inconsequential. The fact that the JLP is the ruling government at the time of this by-election is also inconsequential. The only thing that matters here is the people of East Portland. The candidate that wins will be the candidate who is able to successfully capture the imagination of the East Portland electorate with an agenda that adequately represents the needs of the people.

 

– GB

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Art and Poetry

A Deadly Love

Couples-In-Love-Hugging-Art-HD-Wallpapers

 

The first time we met, I was tempted to say it was nice to finally meet you in person.. After all this time chasing you in the interception of our dreams… But in that moment my nerves held my courage hostage and all I could afford to say was hello
I remember you had a smile like the first day of spring..a gleeful, mysterious beauty dipped in enthusiasm
I remember our eyes being locked into each other like Jupiter eclipsing the sun.
An overwhelming, heavy heat of passion piercing the membrane which hid our souls
When our hands touched, that stinging sensation was reminiscent of thunder crossing paths with an asteroid
Powerful, psychedelic and dangerous to our well being
But we didn’t care … Your love penetrated my heartmosphere like an alien spaceship as it crash landed in my sea of expectations.
My world was ravished,  but you used your love to reassure me you were harmless
and like the fool that I was, I believed it.
It was climbing your mountain of complexities, navigating your most sacred intricacies, that I lost my grip and fell.. And you jumped after me, and as gravity pulled our bodies towards their predestined death you reached out your hand to hold me.. the clear skyline in your eyes was ambushed by dark clouds and for the last time I felt the rain.. As we fell towards our demise, you hugged me close..pressing your heart against mine until our beats harmonized… And just before we hit, you kissed my soul and I knew.. salvation awaits us on the other side
-GB
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