A Toast to Jamaica
First, the Third World is trying to get to the First World on a philosophy that, for the most part, embraces capitalism. Key to capitalism is liberal democracy – which is about basic freedoms and economic liberalism.
People want to have more choices and need to be allowed to reach for the proverbial promise of a better future for their children. That is what the Arab Spring was about; this is why China sometimes allows people to protest against the Communist Party and this is why Mr. Putin of Russia will lose the battle for the Russian soul. These liberal things and freedoms are rife in cities such as London and New York. Yes – government’s footprint is not as felt in these modern cities. Nonetheless, the private sector has aggressively stepped up efforts to do what the government was doing. Therefore, Mr. Chaplin’s complaints about the government failing to provide a social safety net are spot on. If government had done its job, perhaps the private sector would have done its part in propelling Jamaica to the next level.
The second perspective in directly co-relating Western development and underdevelopment of the third world is simply based on an emotional kick felt by Diasporians such as myself. Why should the women in these Western hospitals be guaranteed a happy ending while those in Mandeville [Jamaica], Nampula [Mozambique], Mbale [Uganda], Port au Prince [Haiti] or Eldoret [Kenya] have higher chances for tragedy while simply trying to have a child? Why should American or British hospitals and equipment manufacturers throw out dialysis or heart machines while hospitals in Nairobi, Kampala and Kingston lack the basic facilities? Are our children in Princeton more precious than those of our brothers and sisters in Portmore, New Kingston or Old Harbour?
Yes … Let us go right ahead and celebrate our independence. Yes … Even those new services and roads ought to receive a slap on the back. But let us not forget that we could have done so much better if our own leaders had done a much better job.
Just like all those post independence countries in Africa, Jamaica has had the opportunity to shine. And on many an occasion, it has failed to step up to its potential. Nonetheless, its financial services industry is stepping up. And a few months ago, Mr. Coke – the infamous Kingston kingpin – was extradited to the U.S.
Things are probably moving and wine ought to flow in the achievement of another milestone. Seminally, the justification for melancholy in the middle of a toast is based on what it feels like to have a pyrrhic victory.
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