What the UK deportations tell us about Jamaicans and their expectations–it’s called ‘anarchy’

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I don’t want to make light of the real plight of some of the ‘Jamaicans’ who find themselves put on a plane of deportees from the UK headed back to Jamaica, but they display something quite common about Jamaica and Jamaicans, which is now coming to bite each of them (and has implications for the rest of us). Jamaicans have become used to living in a world where rules and regulation do not apply. I’ve argued many times that, it’s not that Jamaicans don’t abide by rules, but they are prompted to follow rules that they know will bite. The UK deportations stories are interesting, as many of them revolve around people who knew they were not compliant with regulations, but tended to leave that status uncorrected. They were then faced with a system that did not appear to impose heavy or quick sanctions for that, which tended to encourage people to ‘just take their time’ to get things right. Then, almost suddenly, with little warning, the UK screws get tightened, and all the people ‘in transition’ of just doing nothing, get caught.

Of course, as with many things in life, we have sad stories, which make us ponder whether compassion should trump other things, such as the mother of a sick son, who had lived in the UK for over 25 years, but is listed to be deported, while the son can stay in the UK. Many see the need for compassion; others see a case where someone did not do what was required to regularize a situation and now has other life complications, that are unrelated, and need not have any compensatory bearing. We also have the common case of what to do with people who knowingly break a country’s laws and whether that removes certain rights to remain in a country, if you are a non-national or not a citizen.

Sadly, because Jamaicans (and their offspring) are so used to ‘getting a bly’, they react with shock and horror when that option isn’t there. Many territories do not apply an ‘anything goes’ attitude to their affairs–it’s one reason why they are not in some state of chaos. There are systems and they work, and if you decide to not follow what the system requires, there are consequences. That’s not something that applies consistently in Jamaica, or in the life of Jamaicans, who often transport that ‘bly’ expectation abroad, alongside its cousin ‘I know someone’.

One of the things that will start to indicate where Jamaica goes in the next five years–during the current government’s term, loosely–is how the series of risk: reward equations in life start to change, so that the incentives go more strongly in the direction of being law-abiding. Accountability needs to be more than a catchy phrase.

I know from personal observation that the way things are done in Jamaica, and by Jamaicans, affects how ‘non-Jamaicans’ behave. Take for example something I’ve cited before–how people (this group may include Jamaicans who have lived abroad and now live in Jamaica) from countries that have strict laws against driving without seat belts behave in Jamaica: you find they tend to be much looser with that rule because they see the sanctions barely ever applied. So, years of being accustomed to ‘order’ suddenly drops away. You may get the reserve, however, with people from overseas trying to hold on to ‘good ways’. One instance concerns recycling and conservation: those accustomed to separation of garbage may try to still do that, even when the options for making that work are few and far between. They tend to find personal solutions and may manage to spread that to small community groups, even though there is little or no national support for the practices. [I put my household into that category: we separate plastics and have several outlets for them, other than into the garbage; we take food waste and save that for ‘dog food’ to be given to those who have animals to eat it; we compost vegetable matter. That means our garbage is much less than it would be otherwise, though more than it was when in US, because we cannot find outlets to take glass, aluminium or paper waste. But, I keep searching.]

People wonder why Jamaica hasn’t made more progress. It’s at least a two-sided problem. On one side, we need to stop accommodating ‘unruly’ behaviour (and it’s often more widespread that we admit, because we are often in that practice, though criticising others). But, remember, such behaviour is often not criminal, but about personal convenience. On the other side, we need to stop expecting our unruly behaviour to be without much consequence (and that is often harder than it needs to be, because the incentive is strong to keep doing it–for instance, people are shocked that I will not ‘call my friend’ to get the things sorted out, preferring to ‘suffer’ with the system and try to get it to work the same way for all). Just look at how former Cabinet Minister, Dwight Nelson, has behaved and you get an idea of how warped we’ve become“I did not attend any disciplinary hearing because I did not think I breached any regulation. Can you imagine suspending a former minister?…This is gross disrespect. I think they were out of order. I believe I tore up the letter because I was so angry.” (Nelson told The Sunday Gleaner).

If everyone thinks they are so privileged that rules don’t apply to them, you can imagine what that means. It’s called ANARCHY.

Andrew Holness is better than Portia Simpson-Miller: the people have spoken again

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I have no doubt that Andrew Holness is a popular prime minister. I have no doubt that he has surprised many people with the way he has led the country since assuming his position as PM just over a year ago. I have no doubt that part of his popularity is not based wholly on a positive assessment of what he has been doing, but a combination of that and a negative assessment of what his predecessor did–or more, accurately, did not do. I tested my opinion in a totally unscientific poll on Twitter, the results of which are shown below. As such things go, the number who voted (145) is more than decent. But, I would not like to take on Don Anderson if he said that many reasons exist why I should not trust the results. But, this is the world of social media, so I will thank Don, but march on regardless 🙂 My poll shows clearly that PM Holness is favoured by more than 2 to 1 over his predecessor.

Some would say, with reasonable truth, that the result of the poll was already known. After all, Mr. Holness led his party to a memorable national election victory a year ago, and also to a resounding victory in local government elections a few months ago. True, other than the fact that our elections are not for a national leader, but I accept that many people vote for the ‘top of the ticket’ when voting for local representatives.

I think the reasons for Mr. Holness’ popularity are several, and I am going to touch on a few.

He communicates, openly. Whether you like it or not, the world of social media is the window through which many now see the world. So, a politician who embraces that as a means of getting across his message is going to look good. Add to that a tendency to encourage others under him to do the same and you get an impression of more and more open communication. I would be lying if I told you that I did not think that his predecessor and many of her team were a communications disaster: unable or incapable of giving clear messages, or worse still living with the deadly sound of silence from on high, when a word or two from that place would have done much to cement the idea that someone was in charge, and the mice were not running the kitchen.

One of the things that happened under the Simpson-Miller administration, and which is hard to understand, is how Portia became an enigma, and almost a betrayal of herself. I have heard her speak with passion about certain topics, namely issues of equity and equality, especially for women and children. But, in her latter days, she hardly went to that well of good words and much commendable action, but floundered in the world of bigger policy ideas, especially on matters economic and financial. If I were a management guru, I would wonder how and why the management of voices was not better, at least in putting in front of the people the clear message that ‘the leader has a team of excellent ministers, whose words and ideas the people can trust’, rather than fumbling and bumbling on topics which had not been mastered. I say ‘mastered’ because it’s rare for a leader to really know all the portfolios, but good briefing and sticking to key messages can make a puppy seem intelligent. Worse still, PSM was turned into a badly functioning mouthpiece that went badly off-message when caught unawares, and was kept out of the public eye as a spokesperson so much that one had to wonder what was really going on. The puppeteers were pulling strings well, but the puppet often looked as if the strings were mostly cut.

The tendency to be unbelievable is something that the PNP administration seemed to embrace and sadly that was led by the leader.

It came with remarks such as how PSM felt the pain of ordinary people, when it came to inflation, and claiming to suffer this in her regular shopping. One need not even go to the perks that are the regular part of being a national leader to start guffawing. Rather than touch a supermarket, PSM could have at least seemed sympathetic had she been seen uttering those words at a regular ‘bend down’ market over a hand of ripe bananas.

It came with remarks, often repeated, about how much PSM loved the poor. So much so, the cynic said quickly that she led the march to create more of them. But, the PSM-led administration did so little to protect the poor or most citizens that the claim was as hollow as the middle of a doughnut. It was bolstered by the regular appearance of scandals that had much to do with cronyism, smelled of corruption, and had the indelible mark of wasting public money that the country does not have.

But, enough of the poor side of the poor-loving.

I think that the new PM has become a master of PR. I am not surprised by that, and am not totally critical of it. Messaging is important, and if it’s not well-managed then it can lead to unnecessary problems. One piece of PR that I have seen, and it’s a bit subtle is how the PM seems willing to step in front of problematic positions. It’s early, so one has to watch carefully how that plays out, but his recent remarks about how to deal with the monumental matter of violent crime and also the lesser matter of ‘music from prison’ suggests that he’s not just going to bend to populist positions.

I am not yet convinced about how boldly he will go on matters of corruption, governance and accountability, and am not happy to see that he let imoportant initiatives like ‘job descriptions’ for his Cabinet were not issued, but can understand his giving ministers another six-months to prove that they can deliver on their portfolios. We will have to wait to see how the poor performers are dealt with.

I’m also intrigued how certain holes that were dug with enthusiasm only for the dirt to start falling on top of his head get deatl with. If I say ‘Caricel’ will you say ‘not well’? (Note today’s story that a sale may be in the works.)

Just in case you think it, don’t! I am not a JLP supporter. My political position is independent. I do, however, try to see a spade for what it is.

Time keeps on slipping into the future

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Time is a fascinating variable. It’s personal use is often regarded as highly valuable by its ‘owner’, yet strangely regarded as unimportant by many others. Jamaicans, for example, see few problems in being late or not making appointments, which is both disrespectful and costly. They are often shocked when people arrange things and stick to the stated times. Nothing funnier than meeting people on your way out of somewhere, as they traipse in 15, 30, 60 minutes late, and you are headed to your next appointment 🙂

Time is a continuum that is often fraught with conflict over its use. Its use comes at a price, often implicit (when it’s lost the costs often become explicit), sometime explicit (lawyers and consultants have billable hours).

People hold contradictory views about time, simultaneously: ‘I love to just sit and do nothing’ can be uttered by the same person who says ‘How can you spend 3 hours playing golf?’screen-shot-2017-03-02-at-7-07-00-am

Economists have a lot of fun with time: it’s often a key variable in understanding many phenomena because they really only make sense when seen over an historical period, either looking backwards or trying to look forward. Economists don’t often put too much store in things that are evident now, or at a single point in time.

In economics, time preference (or time discounting) is the relative valuation placed on a good or service at an earlier date compared with its valuation at a later date. Someone with a high time preference is focused substantially on his well-being in the present and the immediate future relative to the average person, while someone with low time preference places more emphasis than average on their well-being in the further future.

Time preferences are captured mathematically in the discount function. The higher the time preference, the higher the discount placed on returns receivable or costs payable in the future.

People often confuse themselves about time, which is a construct in the way we measure it, but is an absolute (assuming we cannot do inter-temporal travel). The same amount of time is always available, but what matters is how people decide to prioritize actions in blocks of time. Having more time for x, usually means less time for y: even with so-called multi-tasking, one is giving less time to something than could be the case if it were being done alone.

Guilty as charged: the Jamaican psyche doesn’t welcome it

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In my experience, Jamaicans have two very distinctive and contrasting ways of reflecting personal guilt: one is silence (often associated with a slightly haughty attitude, which makes it seem insolent–hence, silent insolence); the other is loud protestations of innocence, soon followed by silence (if the guilty action remains noted, especially if the ‘accuser’ is still present), though it can often be accompanied by constant muttering under the breath (somewhat, like the air going out of a tyre). 

In any situation when you think that a Jamaican should be accountable for a misdeed, and it’s not clear that the scale of the deed matters, look out for these traits to be present.

Myths and reality: waiting to retire to play golf

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I spend a lot of time trying to explain to people that they have views that are contrary to facts. In the current world of the US administration, it’s timely, perhaps, to state that facts matter. One area where I bridle is when people say things like ‘I want to be like you when I retire, and can have time to play golf.’ I point out that, if one waits until retirement, it will be far too late. So, let me state this as clearly as I can, and if I’m not clear enough just look at the data for yourself.

Most golfers (based on US data)–nearly 60 percent–are people in the prime of their working lives (i.e. >30 and under 60/65); just under 40 percent are in the category that covers most ages when people are eligible for retirement (>60 years old). The demographics suggest that, if the bulk of golfers continue, many will have played golf through their working lives into the period when they are likely to be no longer working.

Most golfers are men, married, well-educated, likely to be professionals, and higher-income earners and have high net worth. So, golf tends to be for those who are financially better off in society. Earlier in my life it was accepting that notion that kept me away from the sport: I did not fit the profile 🙂

Anecdotally, in Jamaica, most amateur golfers work in the private sector and are in their own businesses. Few are civil servants. A small handful are doctors. Tourists (mainly from North America) whom I have met in Jamaica who are playing golf fit fully into this profile. I’ve not played much in Europe, but my limited exposure to golfers there gave me the same impression.

These sets of attributes cements golf as a sport for those who have more disposable income. 

What’s often clear, to golfers, at least, is that playing a full round of golf may take time (say 3-5 hours), but that is something that those who are in control of their time can manage better. So, when someone reaches retirement, such control over time is more evident, but it’s clear that to have had the chance to play much golf before retirement: golfers needed to be able to play when (and where) they wanted to. More likely, the typical golfer is a business person who can decide when he plays. Classic examples are the executive or business owner who toggles golf with business activities (and networking may be part of that). I have a friend whose boss is a golf fanatic and he tells her to pack her clubs whenever they have to travel for business; he (and her) play golf as soon as as often as he can on the trips and make trips as often as he can. Anecdotally, golf courses in Jamaica have many local golfers playing regularly on a couple of midweek afternoons (after 1pm)  and at weekends. The vast majority of these golfers are not retired, but still at work. 

So, seeing golf as a sport for retired people is a myth. Next time you see me and wish that you could be retired like me to get your golf game on, accept that you keep missing the bus. Get started on your golf game well before you retire!

Why does The Gleaner not publish online comments?

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I can understand why a print edition limits the publication of comments from readers, eg letters to the Editor: there are real space constraints. I do not understand, however, why an online edition would limit the publication of comments, other than those that are clearly offensive or abusive: digital space is very elastic and almost limitless. So, I am puzzled by a practice I’ve noticed for some time with The Gleaner, which I have started to track, of not publishing online comments. Of course, I can only track my own offerings, but that is plenty for this issue.

I’m not backward in coming forward, as the British say: I have views on many things, or can form opinions on them, and I am not generally afraid to express those. I try to keep my comments ‘on point’ and not attack a person, but tackle the ideas expressed. Some say that I am eloquent. My comments can sometimes be long, but that’s usually because the subject matter and views expressed by the author are not simple, and I don’t pretend that things have easy solutions.

So, twice in recent days, I have expressed critical views–on a ‘Letter of the day’ about currency stability, and on a article about the BPO sector. I’m an economist, and both topics lend themselves to some simple and complex economic arguments. On the latter, I’ve had a vigorous discussion on Twitter with the author about the style of his ‘attack’ on the sector. I posted my comments early, but so far I have not seen them published. In the case of the former topic, online comments are now closed (it’s nearly a week since publication of the letter). Now, I know that the Gleaner sometimes converts online comments to letters to the Editor. But, I wonder what the policy is with my or others’ comments, which having been moderated, and consigned to somewhere out of the public eye.

Let me share links to the relevant articles, and my comments: I took care to make screenshots (and will continue to do so, for the record, going forward).

Currency stability crucial. Here are my comments:

For the record, I show the comments published on that letter.

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‘Only’ two comments published, as of this morning?

The second topic was ‘BPO growth at what cost?‘, published on February 23. My reactions were written and submitted early that morning (and appear below, as a Twitter post). As of this morning, ‘only’ three comments have been published online.

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‘Only’ three comments on BPOs?

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My interest is several-fold. First, as an ‘editor’, myself, of online comments on my blog: I moderate all comments, and publish all, except those that are abusive or use offensive language. So, I will take comments whose content I know or suspect to be untrue, but then deal with them in my replies. I rarely delete comments, unless the author asks for that. Secondly, as a simple member of the public: I would like to know the full range of public opinion on a topic. Thirdly, there are some who think that they see ‘the world’ of public approval and disapproval in online comments, implying that these get published all the time: this is clearly a misunderstanding of what goes on.

For a range of reasons, I do not comment much of pieces I read in The Observer, but I will be monitoring my comments online and how they are dealt with in the case of that paper, too. For reference, comments I’ve made on a range of other news publications, such as The Washington Post, New York Times, or Times (of London) have always been published after moderation.

For further context, I have had letters published by The Gleaner, including several ‘Letters of the day’, and also had commentaries published as guest columns in The Gleaner and The Observer. So, I don’t believe they have a problem with me and my views in general. So, I’m more puzzled with what I see happening online.

I’d love the Gleaner to react and offer some explanation. I hope, sincerely, that the response will not be ‘It’s our paper and we can do what we like’. 

‘Jamaica 55’ celebrations? We really want to spend J$200million to ‘party’?

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When I read this tweet from Jamaica Information Service,

my first reaction was “Please, no!” So, let me just state for the record: I am not a fan of funding celebrations (or spending money of non-essentials) when you have a country and people with so many basic social needs unmet. No fan, at all!

I do not think a case has to be made for better uses of J$200 million. But, maybe, it does. It was too ironic that in the press release for this special budget allocation, it was announced that Cabinet approved an annual budgetary subvention of $120 million to the Hope Zoo Preservation Foundation towards the upkeep of the Hope Zoo.

Jamaica has people and things craving funds to deal with real social issues. Must we dip into the meagre resources we have available for another wave of self-congratulation? What are we congratulating ourselves for? That’s almost a rhetorical question, to me. I’m not going to insult my fellow Jamaicans by listing the things that we say we care about which could benefit from J$200 million being spent on them. I will just mention one that should be topical and should be relevant and should be fixed before we lift one straw to ‘party’ yet again. A SHELTER FOR ABUSED WOMEN!

Fell free to vent your frustration or opposition to my view, or to the government’s proposed use of budget funds.

Jamaica is famous for talking about its ills and what needs to be done about them, yet failing to then do the basics to address those ills. Is this yet another example of that national failing?

 

Jamaica’s dunderhead economy? Flow has problems the EGC must address

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I’ve written before about a persistent feature of Jamaican life that is dragging our growth and progress downward. It’s a set of simple inefficiencies that affect everyday lives and waste time and effort. They reduce productivity because of some simple little things. Sadly, their existence can continue and leave us with the illusion of progress when in fact we are standing still, or worse, regressing.

I pointed out previously how our regular ‘patch and mend’ approach to road repairs is literally the old style ‘dig a hole and fill it’ kind of economic activity. In our case, the weather and some usage dig the holes, men and machines fill them; weather and usage dig them again in less than three months; the repairs are repeated. So it goes on. The data record income, spending, and use of materials and labour and we will see higher numbers for national income, aka GDP. But, the economy hasn’t grown in any meaningful way. Traffic delays and damage to vehicles are eased for a while, then reoccur. The repairs make no fundamental changes: the road base is still weak and prone to deterioration.

So, a year on we may see a so-called upturn in GDP but it’s a fiction.

One of my concerns about the government and the Economic Growth Council is that the growth ‘strategy’ talks about not repeating past mistakes but leaves them enshrined in the country. You don’t need to be a brilliant person to see how this status quo suits lots of people. It’s money for old rope–a kind of great swindle.

One can take a certain view when such things are set in the affairs of public sector agencies. But what to do when they’re cemented into private sector activity, too?

Flow is not my favourite corporation for a simple reason: it enshrines inefficient practices that are easy to fix but are left untouched and customers just have to live with them. Competition hasn’t forced Flow to be more efficient. Here’s another strike against them.

Early yesterday, I noticed that I had no wifi service at home. Everything seemed fine with the devices, but the essential connection to the Internet was missing. The TV was working fine, so it appeared that all was well in Cableland.

I contacted Flow via ‘chat’ and then via Twitter.

Chat generates an email exchange with a promise of attention within 24-48 hours. So, it’s not a chat at all. Fix that!

Talking the talk, but walking the what?

My Twitter exchange had more immediate results and highlighted that no technical problems showed up in my area but the matter was passed on another department who would get back to me once the problem had been identified. 

Up to 9pm last night, nothing had changed. I used my data plan all day. I tried to help my daughter to get internet service to do her homework. No joy.

Early this morning nothing had changed after the usual solutions had been tried and all devices shut down overnight and restarted this morning. So I tried to call Flow. My house phone told me service had been suspended. I called them from my mobile. After some checking on the account, I was informed the problem was due to a bill being overdue. The first step, apparently, is usually to call or advise the customer and then suspend service. Not all services, though. Interesting.

I’d never been informed. No one I contacted yesterday had any flag on the account that showed it had been suspended. If that had been the case both I and Flow employees would not have spent time searching for technical solutions to a financial problem.

The agent apologized for the inconvenience and said she’d pass on the point about ensuring customers are advised.

With all the powers of telecommunications at their disposal a way must be there for the simple message to go to the customer. A banner on the TV screen? A text message? An email? A call to the line associated with the service? They know how to find us. 

But it’s part of the corporate MO to not do such simple things. Why? Time wasted is an economic good, now?

The company would rather have its customers and some staff running around aimlessly. Why?

That’s a lot of wasted effort on a regular basis that doesn’t show up as retarding economic activity.

If I had 20 employees dependent on Internet connection who were stymied because of a bill but thought we had technical problems, I’d be fuming. I’m fuming.

For all its PR the EGC doesn’t look geared up to solve problems of Jamaican corporate inertia, such as this episode shows. (I presume that the region suffers as Flow likely has the same practices throughout.)

It’s really all fake, in Jamaica: new news for old wives’ tales

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I wanted to write something about the trend of fake news that is sweeping many countries. Social media and the spread of Internet access has made sharing information and misinformation as easy as breathing in and out. I am not going to rationalize why some people would want to spread things they know to be false. They’re mischievous at the very least, and downright nasty and malicious at worst. But, there are many things that go on in the world that are plausible, and unless one knows a lot about a lot, then it’s easy to be caught out.

So, I’m not going to town on people who believed the USA was going to ease visa restrictions on Jamaica, when we have a new US administration that is dead set against most forms of immigration. I will not lampoon those who thought the story of Jamaica becoming a part of the USA like Puerto Rico was real. Some of these stories pander to what people hope would happen to ease lives that are perhaps set in a fragile way regard their legality.

Let’s not knock it! Elvis lives!

Just looking around what passes as ‘news’ in this island is baffling enough. I decided to just look at random at some of our daily papers, especially those known for more exotic stories. Look at what I found as the main story in one–the ‘star turn’, one might say.

The Star: Condoms being used to apply make-up – Jamaican beauticians reject new trend. Should I believe the report? Do I care? If I had a stock of condoms, would I be concerned that they may start disappearing as the lady in my life strives for more beauty? In the absence of a major loss of memory, would I start to panic if my supply, stored in a discreet place, started to dwindle? Would I wonder if I had wandered a bit too much? Let’s leave it there, with a look at the lovely image the Star put with the story.

When the rubber hits the road…

 

What about last summer’s story that wasn’t, of Elaine Thompson being dated by Prince Harry? That was too silly, especially as the pictures used were always of the two ‘lovers’ side-by-side only in two separate pictures. You never noticed?

We were so besotted by the thought of our new sprint queen being in line to become Queen of England? Princess Elaine of Banana Ground. Let’s invite the Royal Family for a tea party…’Ganja tea, anyone?’ 🙂

 

Then, we had our own ‘fake food’ story just a few weeks ago, with rice ‘made out of plastic’, which seemed to be a rehash of a well-known hoax, but all of a sudden, Jamaicans were finding reason to believe the island was awash with bendy and stickier-than-normal rice. We banned imports. We tested batches of rice. But, nada. Not a grain of truth? But, maybe people just didn’t know how to cook rice! My suspicions were raised when I heard the lady from Manchester utter that well-known Jamaican word ‘spatula’. Yes, the rice stretched…the imagination…for sure 🙂

People are often unsure about news coming from other countries, that seem plausible. Imagine waking to read headlines like ‘Trump wins!’ After sucking back in the mouthful of cereal that morning, how many thought this was a true story? How many thought it was–surely–a hoax set up by the so-called ‘alt right’? Time to pinch yourself and open your eyes. Surprise! Now, anyone who watched the new US president’s first, impromptu, solo press conference this week–which lasted over an hour–will be rubbing their eyes and asking ‘Is this real?’ It quickly became the stuff of highlight reels. 

“It’s all fake news…The BBC…Quiet!…I’m not ranting and raving…This administration is running like a fine well-tuned machine…”

But, the Chinese, who are often the butt of fake news stories are only one silly story away from being blamed by Donald Trump for the flood of fake news that seems to be sweeping his new administration off its ‘well-oiled-machine-machine’ way.

Jamaica, of all places, though! This is the land where people are making new grief out of old gullibilities, by telling mainly older people in the USA that they have won money in lotteries. How more fake can you get? Well…Our Minister of National Security invoked the spirit of his uncle, whom he claims is an Obeah Man–call that a ‘Witch Doctor’ in standard English–in his fight (or is it ‘fright’) against crime. For real?

Maybe, like The Donald, we should just keep yelling “Your organisation’s terrible…Quiet!…Dont be rude!…You are fake news!”

Heaven help us the next April 1.

My word! A day is a long time in politics? Orwell, strap in.

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I’m not a great student of politics, but I do love language. What the new US administration has done for language is something quite extraordinary and we must embrace that we are living in such times.

Not telling the truth is now a linguistic art form. In less than a month, we have had some gems.

KellyAnne Conway gave us ‘alternative facts‘, when the Counselor to President Trump,

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So, Steve, you and I are not actually walking side by side. That’s clear, right?

appeared in late January on NBC’s “Meet the Press” with Chuck Todd and uttered the now famour (or imfamous) phrase “alternative facts” when pressed about the falsehoods uttered the previous day by White House press secretary Sean Spicer regarding the crowd size at Trump’s inauguration. Do we need to explore the oxymoronic properties of this phrase? I thought not. Anderson Cooper, clearly could not contain himself

 

But, such terms have spawned counters that embrace it. Last night, I overheard a CNN commentator, talking to Anderson Cooper, who gave us ‘fact-free statements’, referring to utterances from the White House.

Hours later, the administration lost its first Cabinet member, when National Security Advisor Michael Flynn resigned,

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Michael Flynn, and his guiding light

after telling Michael Pence some huge pork pies about his conversations with the Russian Ambassador, and lifting of sanctions on Russian, which for a while he’d been reportedly been unable to recall.

 

In his resignation letter, Flynn gave us “I inadvertently briefed the Vice President Elect and others with incomplete information”. screen-shot-2017-02-14-at-7-45-49-amThis stands tall, compared to ‘being economical with the truth’.

If you’ve never read ‘1984’, I suggest you do so before the week is out.