5 things that make Jamaica the way it is, today-September 3, 2022

Heightened sense, and experience, of uncertainty. Doubt is worrisome; assurance is reassuring. Too many Jamaicans live their lives facing major doubts concerning their daily existence.

Poor quality is far too common as the accepted norm-in key areas of physical infrastructure, service delivery, and childhood education. That means the best most people get and expect is mediocre.

The legacy of poor educational attainment is a millstone on both individuals and collectively. It’s hard to find cases of national progress being when most of the people fail in learning, more so if that failure is in what is deemed the basics of numeracy and communication skills.

Most people’s eyes have looked too readily to the north than to the south. This is most understandable because the value of learning foreign languages has never been seized by most people-quite odd for a country that has built itself into a major tourist destination. That’s ironic, given that many Jamaicans are functionally bilingual (Patois and standard English). But, comfort in the English-speaking world is easier to achieve than in the French-, or Spanish- or Portuguese-speaking worlds that are important elements of our region. So, Jamaicans are more at ease in the midst of English-speaking tourists and business people than if they are Spanish, French, Portuguese or Russian, to cite some groups that send many to our shores. In a simple economic sense, it would be less of a sociocultural adjustment to function in South America. In almost all of Jamaica’s neighbours, political structures are different, being republics rather than parliamentary democracies (and not based on the ‘Westminster’ system). Simple truth, too, is it’s far easier to travel to North America than to Central or South America.

Political leaders and too many constituents have been content with streams of announcements unmet with the delivery of promises. That has fed a long legacy of little or no accountability in terms of loss of political power. It’s rational, therefore, that if politicians are not ousted for failure to deliver they will continue to fill the electorate with promises they can’t or wont fulfill. A clear example of that is to look at the socioeconomic fortunes of so-called ‘garrison’ communities, where, even those on whom political power has been easily built, live in some of the most parlous and deplorable conditions. (The continued acceptance of that is worthy of social and psychological study.) It’s equally rational that voters don’t really buy such promises. So, it’s a conundrum that the country is happy to peddle in emptiness. The price of Independence has been political indifference.

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Author: Dennis G Jones (aka 'The Grasshopper')

Retired International Monetary Fund economist. My blog is for organizing my ideas and thoughts about a range of topics. I was born in Jamaica, but spent 30 years being educated, living, and working in the UK. I lived in the USA for two decades, and worked and travelled abroad, extensively, throughout my careers and for pleasure. My views have a wide international perspective. Father of 3 girls. Also, married to an economist. :)

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