Market economics, Jamaican style

“Six fi tri undred!” That’s the answer I got when I asked how much were those tangerines, sitting atop a stall laden with a range of fruit that would tempt and satisfy most people. So, six big tangerines for J$300 (or about US$3, for those of you who need translation). I bought a dozen, and added to them with a hand of bananas, some mangoes and sweetsop. The lady gave me the total price in a flash, and took my cash, gave me my scandal bag full of fruit and then my change. “Tek dis wun yah fi yu wife. It sweet.” She handed me a good-sized Julie mango; its smell was dizzyingly intoxicating. I asked the vendor when she would have some other fruit that I wanted, and she told me to come back after the weekend. She didn’t need to sell me the small, uninviting remnants still on her stall. I’d started shopping at her stall in Barbican (an upscale area) a couple of weeks ago, and had some lovely ackees for a Saturday breakfast. Then, I’d bought some mangoes and naseberries. All good and a happy shopper, who now toots his horn as he passes her stall to signal my passing.

Relationships in markets of many types are often built on trust.20130909-201659.jpg In a street market, a close and real seller-buyer relationship can be built quickly and be long-lasting. If the vendor is honest and fair with customers, they tend to come back often and will sometimes recommend the seller to others. Recommendations may not happen, if the vendor seems unable to protect the special needs of the original customer. But, we see win-win situations opening up regularly within these relationships. It’s in the seller’s interest to maintain quality, and that can go back through the supply chain to benefit many other sellers. The buyers show loyalty and also often buy in good quantities, mindful of keen pricing and happy to concentrate their buying at a few, trusted places. But, buyers like to feel that they are not captive to a single supplier and like to test the waters elsewhere.

During the same weekend, we went randomly to some vendors outside the main market in Papine (a bustling little spot, near the main Kingston universities, filled with taxis and lots of people working at the universities and hospital, but also lots of locals from upscale neighbors, poorer neighbourhoods, and nearby hillside settlements). We were attracted by a huge green breadfruit I saw a woman carrying, and going to where she’d bought it. image But, our initial hook soon changed. We bought a roasted breadfruit and then some sweet potatoes, with which we wanted to make a pudding, some peppers for my daughter to have in her home, some ginger to make ginger beer. We had a lunch invitation for Sunday and thought we’d carry some contributions to the fare. We struck up good a conversation with the breadfruit seller and she gave us a great one and some good prices on the Scotch bonnets. We walked to another stall and the vendor followed us: “Dis a fi mi tu,” she told us as we looked for other items on the stall she also ran. She got us left and right. We were all smiles. (The next day, both pudding and ginger beer were enjoyed greatly, and our consciences was clearer as we tucked into the other food our hosts had cooked.) So, now, I have another spot to check when I’m in the area near the universities.

Buyers get comfortable with good sellers, and can become less discriminating about price. Sellers, too, can get comfortable with regular buyers, and be ready to offer ‘sweeteners’ to keep customers happy, whether in the form of little bonuses (“brawta” in Patois) or some items that is scarce or highly desired but only available for selected buyers.

Going to market daily can become addictive. Some will do it mainly to keep abreast of goods and prices. Some like the social interaction and banter around the stalls, even becoming a meeting place from which one can get bragging rights. “Man, mi guh a market dis mawnin, early, early…”

Market activities can be good indicators of life in general. Lots of activity usually happens when times are good and people feel good or want to be seen to be in good spirits. When things are down, and you see vendors reading the papers instead of wrapping with them, then gloom and doom are lurking nearby.

Markets have quaint social rules, though I won’t pretend to be an expert in them. In Jamaica, touching of produce is usually allowed, so too is occasional and limited tasting without permission, though sellers prefer to proffer (maybe, making sure that the better items are sampled 🙂 “Dem all sweet,”) Eating your wares on the premises is often encouraged–it’s good advertising. You are not obliged to shop on foot, and many a great trade is done in the drive-through fashion (better to slip in those goodies that have been kept under wraps 🙂 or to add that little extra payment to lock up a deal later :-o). Promises should be kept. Buyers, don’t say you’re coming back if you have no plans to do so. Sellers, don’t promise to have goods at a future date if you cannot be sure of their supply. Keep personal drama to a minimum: it puts off other customers, whether it’s the seller telling how hard it was to get the thieving banana grower to let him have what had been paid for, or the buyer who just got ripped off with a bundle of callaloo that was full of worms. Save it! If you’re so stressed out, better to close the stall or let your cousin sell today, or send a friend to buy the plantains for you, and sit at home and eat ice cream.

But, the last warnings apart, the bottom line is, get up and rub up with the market people. You’ll learn a lot.

Serve the people!

One aspect of life that has to change in Jamaica is the functioning of the public sector. My view may be idealized but I believe that until that change occurs, little will improve. If anything about Singapore makes sense for Jamaica it’s the approach to service. Now, I know the arguments about our confusion between service and servitude, that run from our slave and colonial past. If this is really an immovable obstacle to our progress, then stop reading.

The Jamaican public sector has to become a symbol of excellence. People need to be immensely proud to work for the government or public corporations. People need to come away from dealing with public agencies with a set of positive emotions, not distress, depression, annoyance and a range of other negative feelings. They also need to feel that results will,follow.

So many aspects of life in Jamaica is marked by the presence of public sector activity. When people interact with the public sector, they take away a clear impression of how the country really works. Too often, that experience is discouraging. Why can’t the public sector have a simple set of objectives that involve ensuring that every transaction should leave the customer satisfied? That does not mean resolving all issues on a first visit. But, it’s important for the public servants to ask each time “Have I addressed effectively, efficiently, and courteously the needs of this customer?”

It means taking seriously the questions and complaints of each inquirer. The interactions should not be a substitute battleground for personal displeasure. Many public servants may react by saying “Some of the people we deal with are disgusting!” They are absolutely right, but it’s not relevant. The job isn’t about dealing with nice people, but about dealing with people nicely.

Several ways exist to try to turn around the attitude and performance of public servants, and they are all about incentives. People usually do well when they feel good about what they do and if they hear from others that they are doing well. It’s good old back rubbing and ego stroking. Could public servants be encouraged to improve if they had to get high customer approval ratings? Someone suggested rewards for public servants, which were linked clearly to better service delivery–not numbers dealt with, but quality. The public needs to give its feedback and the positive results should et rewarded and negative assessments see the removal of staff. Like rotting fruit, the bad apple will spoil everything. We could devise different systems, but at its simplest it’s like when a restaurant worker asks for an endorsement after serving tables, and presents a little form stating something like “X showed me patience, courtesy and knowledge…” We know that these rating schemes can be rigged but they tend to shift the focus away from the worker to customer satisfaction.

Humans are flawed, so this simple desire that I have has to confront the many ways that people want to be confrontational, aggressive, assertive, rude, saboteurs, back stabbers, etc.

Many people know that fish rot from their heads. As a metaphor for doing things, we look to the leadership to set the right tone. By this measure, we would expect politicians to take the lead clearly in setting the right tone and attitude. Can political figures change to do this?

20130909-094940.jpgI’d like to think that the change needs to happen at many levels simultaneously. In schools. In hospitals. On the roads. On building sites. At the airport. In the police stations.

I know the lasting impressions we took away from simple exchanges at airport immigration in two different Caribbean countries. One was sour-faced, disengaged, and grumpy, another was pleasant and engaging. We know clearly which country we look forward to visiting again, whatever meets us outside the airport. Those experiences and the impressions they left have carried through for months.

I know that I’m asking a lot, but I refuse to accept that mediocrity and unpleasantness are the order of the day that most people want. A simple start would be a smile. Another easy thing would be to make eye contact. Enough of the gruffness and the puffiness.

No more sitting on hands

LETTER OF THE DAY – Private Sector Must Get Off Its Butt!
Published: Saturday | September 7, 2013

THE EDITOR,
Sir:

Friday’s report that “sections of the private sector remain sceptical about the extended fund facility’s chances of success …” and that “this doubt is borne out of the previous failed International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme, as well as the magnitude of the challenges Jamaica faces,” is truly troubling.

Finance Minister Dr Peter Phillips said last week that there was “a slight but important and significant improvement in investor confidence” from approval of the IMF arrangement. He added that “business confidence will improve further with Jamaica having passed the first quarterly IMF test”.

Now, we know that the private sector is not a homogeneous mass, but for this doubtful view to be given prominence makes me wonder if Dr Phillips has been misled or if he has misinterpreted the mood of local entrepreneurs. We would expect that foreign investors would be even more sceptical than locals.

My concern is that, if the Government is really going to rely on the private sector to get Jamaica growing, we have a bigger struggle ahead than we realise. If the view is that Government’s failure to adhere to the previous IMF programme holds so much negative weight, how much success under the current programme will be needed to shift that view?

Clearly, if investors wait until the programme period is well under way to get off their hands, the likelihood of growth by the end of the programme would seem to be limited, if not impossible.

Catch-22

This is a real catch-22. I’m not faulting the private sector for its doubts, because Government has betrayed trust badly in the past. This is one of the costs of lack of commitment to reform.

However, if the new social partnership is to mean something, the so-called emphasis on consensus should mean that the private sector has to show that it takes the Government’s latest commitments seriously and believes in the State’s policies and commitment.

If not, let’s all stop fooling around and talking about making more sacrifices. Let’s not hope for more foreign direct investment. If the private sector wants to get behind the effort to move the economy forward, it has to be behind the Government.

Maybe I misunderstood the views expressed, but my feeling is that the private sector wants to play a wait-and-see game, and I fear the patient may well be dead and about to be buried by the time they are ready.

DENNIS JONES

Economist

dennisgjones@gmail.com

I want to compete

The World Economic Forum’s 2013-2014 Global Competitiveness Report was released yesterday: it assesses institutions, policies and factors that determine the level of productivity of a country. This year’s report places Switzerland first, for the fifth year running; Singapore remains in second position and Finland in third. The rest of the top ten are Germany, the United States, Sweden, Hong Kong, Japan, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Jamaica ranked 94th; it was 97th out of 144 countries last year and 107th out of 142 the previous year. The report notes that the most problematic factors for doing business in Jamaica are inefficient government bureaucracy and crime and theft. The report also notes that corruption, tax rates, access to financing and the poor work ethic of the national labour force are also affecting the country’s competitiveness.

For context, it’s worth noting that the report states that Latin America and the Caribbena is a region with low productivity and slow productivity growth, which requires urgent action in many areas to improve its competitiveness.20130905-220231.jpg

People who know the country will quickly see reasonableness in the areas cited as weak.

Inefficient government bureaucracy: ‘Red tape’ is known to be a problem and supposed to be on the list of things to be tackled under the current IMF arrangement. So, success there should see a stronger pillar for competitiveness. Is Jamaica worse served by public servants than in most other countries? Some systems are old fashioned and involve too much paper handling. Electronic processes are less common than they could be. Too many procedures require face-to-face transactions, and may falter because the relevant person is absent. Do public servants care about the quality of service given? The work ethic issues suggest this has to be less than it could be.

Crime and theft: The headlines focus on murders, and at some 1,500 a year, or about 55/1,000 people, it’s easy to see that the country is decimating itself. Add to that, shootings, robberies of persons, agricultural produce, personal property and other things. Credit card frauds and lottery scams are common sport. Do many citizens see petty crime as normal and too tolerant of something that really makes the country less effective than it could be? Conversely, I can cite many instances of scrupulously honest behaviour in instances where a little slightness of hand or lightness of fingers would be easy.

Corruption: I wonder how much of this is actual or apocryphal. Poiticians or covil servants taking their ‘piece’ of deals? Let’s watch the Cuban light bulb scheme trials carefully. I’ve noted press reports about fraud and malfeasance. Let’s watch the case develop with the missing funds from the Jamaican Teachers Association. I’ve not lived here long enough recently to see many instances of possible corruption. I’ve not had any official indicate that a little grease will help a process go faster. No policeman has offered to turn a blind eye to an infraction, or let it slide for ‘some considerations’. Just a matter of time?

Tax rates: They are high. The country has a huge debt burden. Rock and a hard place.

Access to financing: Small business and farmers constantly complain about this. But, I’ve never been in a country where that’s not the case. Everyone wants more to borrow on easier terms?

The poor work ethic of the national labour force:We know that there are many people who work crazily hard. We also know there are many people who cannot wait to just give the minimum or nothing at all. How do they balance? The policeman who warned me that my csr would be towed if I parked it in a no parking zone was doing more than his duty? The crossing guard who just waved his finger at cars that would not stop to let the school children cross instead of stepping out and hauling up his sign was doing less than he should? The bank employees who cannot figure out how to issue my check books after three months are indolent? The Rasta who buys peanuts from St. Elizabeth and roasts them in a drum made from an old butane gas cylinder to sell in Mandeville is doing just enough? I don’t want to harp on about it, but I really wish Minister Hylton had not so proudly been late for his meeting because he wanted to watch TV. That could have set such a bad example and undone many a good set of lessons about taking work seriously. Alas…

We will have a hard time finding better examples of what competitiveness looks like than any of the athletes who’ve participated in major events over the past decade. Or, just look at the students pushing to perform well in GSAT exams. We’re brought up knowing what to do, then go off track as we grow?

Time to fess up and take responsibility and be the best that is possible.

Living in a bubble

Jamaican public officials seem to have put themselves into a series of awkward positions, and unlike yoga practitioners, it’s not clear that the contortions are anything but accidents. They are, nevertheless, painful to hold or unwind.

In the grand scheme of the world, we’re a young nation–51st birthday of Independence just passed. We’ve been playing many roles on the world stage over that time, and we’ve moved from just being in the chorus, to understudy for lead roles, to star, if I can use a theatrical metaphor. We now command respect in several fields that inspire and excite worldwide, especially entertainment and sport.

Our political leaders and public officials, however, do not seem to have received and read several important memos. They are not alone, as I’ve seen similar ignorance in other countries. Too many politicians seem to think that holding office is for their benefit, not for that of the electorate locally or nationally. They also have a hard time understanding that insubstantial mutterings do not substitute for substantial statements. These figures are easily found out, and often become the butt of jokes or ridicule. (Admittedly, politicians provide good butt-fodder for many other reasons–weight, height, looks, voice, choice of romantic partner, etc.) Their political careers stall or get derailed and they then seek new work as tele-evangelists, game show hosts, or directors of shady companies.

The modern world has moved away from the impression that decisions are made in ‘smoked-filled rooms’ or ‘behind closed doors’. People now expect real transparency from elected officials, though will often accept the semblance of transparency, given that very few know what really is happening.

Modern media can spread information worldwide in less than the blink of an eye. If the information is correct or not, matters little. So, pressure is on to make sure that the right information goes to the public, otherwise, false or incorrect information gets spread, and fast, and it will do its damage.

20130905-084005.jpgHere is where Jamaican politicians seem to have tried to get into a full lotus position, having not mastered downward-facing dog. They seem to be still under the impression that they are insulated from the humdrum outside world, and that they control information flow and reactions to it. Recent instances make this clear. A minister arrives late for a major meeting and gives his excuse as the desire to watch one of our top athletes run abroad. He asks for the media to be removed from the meeting. A journalist leaves a recording device in the room and then world later hears how the minister was “nauseated” by the media coverage of issues related to his portfolio. Hello! Well, cue the guffaws for his temerity in taking liberties with people’s time. Cue the possible viral reaction that he could have found many modern ways to do both things and still be on time. Cue to raised eyebrows and face palming that follow from his appearing to be unaware that actions and comments would hit the WHOLE world without his doing a thing and probably before Bolt’s chest hit the tape. Was he living in a bubble?

We’ve seen and read about other seemingly silly instances in recent days. A very important hearing on alleged drug abuse by a star athlete is being held in camera, or behind closed doors. The media were unwelcome and the venue was changed to a secret location. Surprise! The location was discoverd and its address publicized, with pictures to confirm. The opposition political party is perhaps about to witness a challenge for its leader, and partisans are putting on show their likes and dislikes. Plenty of mouth-in-foot opportunities. Maybe, they’re not surprised, but whatever their cases others are quickly deciding if the bags are full of loot or rotting fish.

John Donne’s poem begins “No man is an island“. Good journalism is built on a desire to eke out information, and if someone is trying to bury it, to try to dig further to uncover as much as possible. Jamaica has some good journalistic traditions, so it shouldn’t surprise public figures to be probed, prodded, questioned, doubted, praised, mocked, vilified, etc. So, why won’t they seek to help to move the rocks rather than watch them rolling down the hill and find oneself buried? Donne’s poem ends “And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.”

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We’ve moved a long way from being some little island, known for very little but rustling palm trees, lovely beaches, sun, rum, and exotic fruit. We’ve produced mega stars whose reputations far outstrip our size, and who’ve encouraged a long line of new stars both here and worldwide. They stand on the stage and show that they know what their doing and how to get the audience swaying with them. Our public figures seem to have not yet grasped how to do this. We have a public well versed in making up stories if they cannot be told one. We have a public hungry for news and able to digest many nuances. Do public figures understand this? Many politicians now use social media to spread their messages. They also take opportunities to get out the message in different ways: President Obama being on late night shows is an example. Are ours dragging their feet, thinking silence is golden or no news is good news? Do they believe that what I don’t say can’t hurt me? Wrong!

These figures should know how to manage their audience, and be very interested in being ‘masters of the moment’. So, why have they given the impression that they do not know or lack such interest? Surely, they care.:-)

Why you doing diss?

When public frustration starts to rise in the face of things done by politicians it’s always worth watching carefully. Jamaica does not tend to explode suddenly when political figures perform badly. Public demonstrations are one of the ways that people use to vent their displeasure. People complain vociferously, using print, radio, and television media, as well as social media now. Their complaints can be very pointed and filled with very offensive remarks. But, the frustrations do not boil over often into situations sometimes seen in other countries, with mobs burning tyres, or having major confrontations with police or military forces, or mounting demonstrations outside Parliament or the Office of the Prime Minister, for example. In that sense, Jamaicans seem very orderly for a nation supposedly filled with hot heads and murderous people.

Recent discussions about the prospective development of a logistics hub in Jamaica are tending towards familiar rocks. The general public is being forced to acknowledge, if not accept, that their elected officials are not as good at governance as they ought to be. The Caribbean has a long tradition of paternalism when it comes to institutional life, meaning that those in power or control are often very protective of information that they have, often holding from the electors much vital and important information about decisions taken or to be taken. The belief is that “We know best” or “The people cannot handle this information”, neither of which would take much to be proven wrong.

20130904-134708.jpgOne of the local reggae stations (Irie FM) made the point this morning that, if after 50 years certain things have not happened why would people think that today it would be different? The basic point is many doubt that politicians have the electorate’s concerns at heart.

If you have a strong political bias, which many people do, the government of the day if not our party is a ‘bunch of liars’, or ‘all thieves’, or some other breed of miscreants.

20130904-135228.jpgIn Jamaica, political figures often show themselves to be craven. So, it takes little for people to revert to a “What do you expect?” stance.

What does it take to get people really worked up against politicians? A few clear incidents exist. Hiding things, especially about restrictions in deals that really impact lives. Who knew all the limitations associated with building the toll road? Selling out national interests or assets. Are people getting incensed about apparent moves to take over a piece of land, maybe making it an enclave?

The process of moving ahead with the hub has several instances of politicians doing plenty to annoy their own people. You have to wonder why they’d do that to voters.

Have you done it, yet? Stop digging!

Most adults know the feeling that comes when you have an assignment to do, and a good amount of time to get it done, but somehow time has been allowed to slip, and the deadline is fast approaching. In some cases, it’s clear that doom is just around the corner: you have 30 oranges to peel, each takes 20 seconds, and you have only five minutes left. You can only peel half of the amount. Let’s be brutal, and accept that time was wasted and really you’ve shown a clear inability to set priorities properly.

Those adults who are parents or often with children may be familiar with this situation when it comes to school homework. The child says he or she has three things to do and they should take an hour. The child comes home at 3pm, then eats for half an hour, then decides to go and play with some toys, or read a book. Five o’clock comes along and you hear nothing. You check on your child. She’s in the bathroom with green moose in her hair, and trying to use a shower head to rinse it out. The mousse just keeps foaming. An hour later, the mousse is all out. It’s now six o’clock. The child goes to the school bag and looks for the homework folder. You hear some frantic shrieking and some loud noises as books are pulled off shelves and draws are opened and shut. You hear a grunted “I can’t find my homework!” You take another sip of coconut water and turn the page of the book you had been reading. “I CAN’T find my homework!” now comes with more volume and clear tone of panic. You muster the energy to go to the sound. A little conversation ensues, ending with your saying “It’s now 6:30 and we’re not heading back to school to find your homework.” Tears follow and the evening descends into a sort of chaos, with a sobbing child being tucked into bed and kissed goodnight. A piece of the adult brain is thinking “I hope you’ve learned a lesson.”

It’s a good hope. Of course, no lesson might have been learned.

20130903-124743.jpgThere shouldn’t have been any problems and things ended up much worse than should have been the case. You know what went wrong, but trying to point that out and discuss it with the child ends with raised voices and more tears. You leave it alone, but keep on giving the little reminders about timing, and planning, and checking, and preparing. For years, and years, and years. How does the child turn out? I wont go there, yet.

Those images of the oranges or the child and its homework make me think of Jamaica and its attempts to deal with a range of events: eventually, time takes control and things either don’t get done partly, or done at all.

Public schools started their new year yesterday, and the Minster of Education mentioned that it was a “smooth start” for most schools.

20130903-130217.jpgThat seems generous given talk of incomplete schools and lack of adequate furniture in some schools, as well as awkward issues about payments of supplementary fees, higher bus and taxi fares, struggles to get text books, etc.

This morning, there was a report that only about half of the 40,000 graduates from high school and universities this year would be able to find jobs in the private sector. So, time spent on education for successful students seems to hold the prospect of limited employment opportunities, for half of them. We also have to accept that those who don’t succeed in education are more likely to fall into the unemployed heap.

So, what has Jamaica been doing? Idling away its time to prepare for the employment of its students? We know that the general economy has not been capable of absorbing new potential employees–hence, unemployment at 16 percent and youth employment around 38 percent. One hears little beyond the hope that big projects will come along to offer work. Yes, there’s some vague talk about ramping up ‘growth sectors’ such as information technology and communication. But, Jamaica has dug itself into a deep economic hole and keeps digging.

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That we haven’t prepared very well is clear. We keep letting time slip by without using it to prepare well. We end up on our tush, too often. When you keep digging in a hole, it’s really hard to climb out.

Goat, anyone?

Let’s go with the splash headline. EVERYONE IN JAMAICA TALKING ABOUT GOAT ISLANDS. I know it’s not true but the topic has taken up a lot of headline space and news reporting. What’s the big fuss? A couple of largely abandoned islands off Jamaica’s south coast may be part of some plans for industrial development. The islands are in an environmental protection area and reefs around them are supposed to be the breeding ground of many fish. Very few Jamaicans know where these islands are and even fewer have been anywhere near them. They generate little directly that can be called economic activity, but by allowing fish to breed, they provide the base of livelihood for local fishermen.

The islands are also home of some important flora and fauna, in the form of cacti and mangrove. They have lovely beaches, largely unspoiled, we’d expect. They were once the home of local iguanas–thought extinct in the 1940s–but these have mostly been eaten by other predators, such as goats.

Local environmentalists are worried that any development may go ahead without due regard to the need to protect the special qualities of the Goat Islands.

Some feel that local environmentalists are like rich kids wanting to protect their comfortable lifestyles without regard for the needs of those who are not financially secure, have few or no job opportunities, or are struggling in other social ways. They see only the prospects of jobs and feel that any noise over protecting the environment will kill those jobs, even though no one can say how many or what types these may be. Some have rudely told the environmentalists to “Go to Hell!”–rudeness, for sure.

Developing the area industrially could go ahead without destroying the special environment, but protective measures would be a burden on investors that they may wish to avoid. Disturbance, pollution, invasion of other species of animals or plants, and more, will take place once development starts in the area. Over time, the area could recover, though there’s no knowing if that would happen.

Of course, the need for jobs is desperate, and like a drowning person about to suck on the mouthpiece of an air tank, any attempt to cut off the possibility of oxygen–or jobs–leads to panic.

Right now, one thing that is clear is that little information has been shared about many important things concerning possible development of the Goat Islands. All of the information is not in one place or any single person–about the investors and their plans; about possible impact on the islands; about possible legal restrictions on developing the islands; about local concerns; and more.

Little by little, that fog of ignorance is being lifted, but as often happens, ignorance and misinformation will guide many discussions in the meantime.

We need a few goats in the area to deal with the rubbish. We could use them also to butt a few people so that they see more clearly what is going on. We should also remember that goat milk is very good but people love to milk things till they’re dry or till just they are satisfied.

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The good, the bad, and the ugly (September 1)

Good
*Fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington, and Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream speech”.
*Discussions bubbled in public about development of logistics hub in Jamaica, possibly with Chinese investment, possibly based on Goat Islands, possibly bringing with it up to 15,000 jobs. Topic got much press coverage and air play, with politicians and environmental lobbyists leading the way, but plenty of public comments being heard and seen on local TV and in printed media. Still, hope lives to help preserve the Jamaican iguana.
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*Victoria Duval, American-born tennis player of Haitian parents, won her 1st round match at US Open against former champion, Sam Stosur: great match poise by the 17 year-old, who dug from a 1 set, 2-4 deficit in 2nd set, to win the match. Last year, she played 1st round against Kim Clijsters, in her farewell tournament. Wonderful story, including that her father was dug out from Haiti’s recent earthquake. Wonderful post-match interview, where she reminded us to take nothing for granted. Still so young at heart. She lost in 2nd round.
*British policemen who were caught on video ‘doing their thing‘ at London’s Notting Hill Carnival.
Bad
*Minister of Industry, etc., Anthony Hylton, arrived late for a meeting with exporters and claimed indulgence because he’d wanted to watch Usain Bolt race live from Zurich. Hello! Industry? Time is money. Productivity? Politeness. Have someone show the minister how to record live events for later viewing. Do we have politicians who want to be taken seriously?

Ugly
*The still scary number of road traffic deaths in Jamaica.
*Pride of place: Syria: alleged government chemical attacks on citizens, killing some 1430 people; prospects for possible international military intervention; UN diplomatic ‘playing in the sand pit’ by Russia. Assad situation, all round 😦

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