as you may or may not know Jamaica is about the enter Tax Armageddon as a part of a)trying to ‘save’ the country and b)the IMF ‘deal’ that we may or may not get.
I use the quotation marks to imply the highest levels of shade possible and I hope they are read just like that. I am not an economist, but I have done a bit of reading on the IMF and Jamaican’s economic history, either way i’m not speaking as an economist, i’m speaking as a Jamaican.
IMF is the modern day incarnation of babylon and yet another imperialist mission into the countries of the Third World. Very few countries that sign IMF deals ever get out of them and stay out of them.
Add to that the fact that through the IMF the powerful countries get policy making power in the so-called developing countries, especially those in the global south. Now, i know some people are thinking ‘dat mek sense, black man cyaan run country, look how Jamaican mash up’, or some variation of that. And there are those among us who would gladly re-welcome the Queen because her Majesty and her kind are much better at fiscal affairs than negroes. You know what, fair enough. Based on what you see, I can see why you would say that.
But what about what you don’t see or don’t remember? First, yu memba when Jamaican did stop focus pon growing banana and sugar and start deal wid alumina and bauxite cus di world say industrialisation? Yu remember when a whole heap a farrin money did invest inna Jamaica and we start depend pon di money fi carry we? Yu memba how di heap a farrin money and di fact say we start depend pon it did mean say we haffi play all kinda nice wid di farrin country dem lest dem cripple we by withdrawing? Yu memba dat? Farrin involvement inna we country and we lose sovereignty ova we own decision making. Who fault? Partly us, di govament go follow up everybody else wid di industrialisation and figget fi grow local industry while dem a dweet. Is a trend weh a go haunt we. But di odda side of it is di farrin companies were all too happy to come down here and take our local resources for their personal gain, yu tink we mek half a di money offa red dirt weh dem mek a sell di finished product? NO. If dis nuh bun yu yet, think bout di Garmex freezone. Yu tink we mek half a di money offa sewing sleeve and button weh dem mek offa selling Tommy Hilfiger finished product. NO. But the Caribbean is a place weh yu can pay likkle, get nuff, and den tun roun sell it back to dem and dem will buy it, and dem govament will mek it gwaan, partly because on top of other things, the government does not have the support of the people nor are they accountable to the people. The people depend on the government too much but also they watch them to see if they will fail so they can turn around and cuss them for not doing their jobs. And you wonder why ‘black people can’t lead’.
So all a dis gwaan now and we jus reach independence. Independence come and di two party dem set up, but nuttn never change. We never decolonise we thinking, we did still have di same attitude dem from before independence and to be honest di new leader dem did carry some a di backra massa attitude wid dem. So it was still all about power, only instead a it clearly being black vs white it became black vs brown. Den wah happen, oil prices spike. All a fi we money a come from one place so we nuh have no likkle buffer. So wah, Manley go to di bauxite people dem and say hey, more money, caw we have bills fi pay. Bauxite people say but yu bright likkle black bwoy! a try tell big First World country weh fi do? yu stink! And dem leff. Nuh only dem leff, dem spread it say Jamaica unstable so odda people start leff too. So why Jamaica unstable? 1) Manley did a push Federation. I am not PNP but I am pro-Jamaican and pro- Caribbean Regional Integration, I am also pro-poor people, and pro-actual independence, pro-decolonization. What was so wrong with the idea that the Caribbean should turn its eyes inwards, look to ourselves instead of out. Yes, some tings never good wid plan, but what was so offensive about it? What was wrong with it is it would have taken away some of the First World’s power over us, and they don’t like it. A ‘black’ nation trying to stand on its own two feet, a Third World nation trying to make its on its own, is unstable because the people in it have an idea that they are equal, that they are good enough, that maybe they are stable by themslves. And these ideas will make them feel they can talk back to the big countries in the North. This is a problem when the Third World country is where the First World countries rape and pillage for raw material, get cheap labour, get a ghetto slam, test out new medications, set up their torture chambers. When these Third World countries get the idea that they are OK without the First World then the First World loses something they need: the ability to take and take and never give back. So, YES, declare the country unstable. Take your support. Cripple the country. And make their leader an example for any other uppity n*gger who would ever try to side with his own kind over bowing before the First World again. And what happened on top of it, the country people will turn against him, since they too are accustomed to being mommy’d and daddy’d by the First World and are very comfortable with it. So now, the government can’t win, and the First World looking like a better option to come lead our countries again. Everybody fly out. Brain drain lick, some a fi we brightest people gone go build fi dem country. Crime rate a rise. And so it goes.
We still nuh sign di first IMF deal yet. But we will. Election will run and IMF deal will sign. Austerity measures a go lick fus, not even tin milk deh pon di shelf. One last try. People even more frustrated. IMF a go sign. Neoliberalization under IMF mean what? Freeing up yu market. Dem mean free up market fi trade within the region? Nuh really. So wah dat mean? Farrin good can come through. Regional goods will never as cheap as farrin goods because farrin set up shop inna Third World countries like Jamaica weh dem basically use we as slave labour fi mek di same products dem tun roun sell back to we. So freeing up a market always benefit dem more dan anybody else. And memba say as a part a di cut inna government spending, agriculture tek a lick so wah…fi we farmer dem cyaan compete wid di farrin goods, dem nuh have di backitive agen. Even when we a do we internal trading, a imported goods we a trade so once again, di oil prices a kill we off. Deal after deal after deal. Poverty increase because of the IMF, and again, people lose faith in the government. Dis prove it! Black people cannot lead! On top of it the populace never properly prepared fi di new kinda market, so dem nuh know how fi function. Hustlin and crime rise.
Wah again? The likkle trade agreement weh we did have wid di European Union, dem lick dat weh because USA waan access to di market. Dem flood fi we market wid fi dem goods but still nah free up fi we. Better yet dem mek fi we agriculture industry dead and tun roun start grow crops di way we used to grow crops and a sell it at 15 times di price say it organic. And on and on it goes. Now it come to a point, di country nuh have no money, so dem waan black list yu now. Govament fool like all di rest, dem only know how fi put out hand too. But a nuh jus di fool dem fool, dem inna a sticky situation because of international fren and company business. On top of everything else, di IMF acts like a big brother organization for the countries with agreements. Dat is to say, even though yu nuh have money, if yu have a IMF deal people will do business wid yu because IMF basically say nuh worry man, we will keep a eye pon dem. So govement kinda stuck.
And see we yah, right back a di beginning. Di likkle ‘black’ country wid di farrin masters a give an eye pon dem. And we still a run it down, we waan di watchful eyes a di master because we never learn/nuh waan learn/too fraid fi look fi weself. And we never learn fi whistle and ride, tek di IMF money but gwaan develop fi we local tings same time so dem can contribute to di economy and hopefully help we pay off di loan. And yu know di worse part, half a di people dem weh coulda help do dis, gone work inna farrin land and di odda half inna di country so frustrated dem nuh interested fi do nuttn. See we yah.
Yu know a nuh dis me did intend fi write. Me did intend fi write bout di newspaper article dem bout di new tax packages and how it write inna gibberish weh normal people cyaan undastand. But dis mussi did deh inna me soul.
A few tings come up over and over agen. 1) international over involvement in local affairs and our willingness to let them be so involved. 2)poor decision making on the part of the government 3)over reliance on the government by locals 4)no accountability required from the government by locals, we leff dem fi do wah ever dem waan do so longs goat run come election time 5)no support for the government, we leff dem fi sink or swim and kinda hope dem sink so we can cuss dem 6)persistent racist thinking among locals that maintains that black people cannot lead.
Is a lot of things, and some may seem to conflict, but Jamaica has always been a complex place to live and to lead. If you look at it closely it all goes back to the plantation.
I don’t know what are the ways forward, or even what to suggest. I do know all these big words and fancy financial talk in the paper not doing nuttn fi help people understand nuttn and we still nuh know weh kinda wickedness a come fi we. But this is where we are today, and have been for a while.