NO RESURRECTING BRUCE GOLDING

We can always depend on Booklist Boyne to trumpet some new academic guru at least twice per month.

Additionally, we’ve been following his column’s love affair with Bruce Golding for years.  Last Sunday, he combined his two loves and the ménage à trios produced one big, loud, sustained intellectual orgasm.  Guess who’s his new academic guru and saviour of Jamaica (if only we’d listen and follow)?  Bruce!  Yes, the same Bruce Golding who was actually in charge of Jamaica for four years but, instead of saving it, tried to save Dudus instead.

In a nationally attempted cerebral resurrection of which Richard Nixon would be proud, Boyne trumpeted from the outset “One of the sharpest, most scintillating and intellectually stimulating analyses of the crisis facing Jamaica that I’ve seen was given by…..Bruce Golding in his New York Caribbean International Network lecture recently.

Wow!  Where’s this guy been the past 35 years of my life?  Oh dear.  I remember now.  He’s the same Bruce Golding who held Ministerial posts during the 1980s and was Prime Minister just two years ago?  Where were the “intellectually stimulating analyses” then?

According to Booklist, Bruce’s most brilliant accomplishment, other than saying something Booklist thinks agrees with him, was to postulate I caution against the belief………….. that if we stick to our guns and are able to meet all the stipulated commitments, we’ll finally be on the road to recovery and sustained growth. It’s contended that fiscal consolidation, which essentially means cutting spending and increasing revenue collections and a targeted-debt reduction programme, will put us in good stead for economic growth in the medium to long term.

Booklist writes “I have, for long, been making this exact point, emphasising the limitations of the neo-liberal model”.  What point?  All Bruce said is cutting costs and increasing revenues can’t by itself produce growth.  Why’s that brilliant?  Every kindergarten student knows this.  What’s that got to do with “the neo-liberal model”?  Why does Booklist have to label everything multi-syllabically to confuse readers with unnecessary complexity?

Booklist attributed to Golding, with admiration, “a scorn for simplistic analysis”.  This is the last refuge of the pseudo-intellectual.  If analysis can be simplified, it means anybody can do it.  Pseudo-intellectuals would be evicted from their ivory towers and columnists like Booklist would be exposed as just another writer of exam papers posing as opinion columns.  Simpletons like me know neo-liberalism as less government control of the economy; more regulation of trade; less privatization.  Pragmatically speaking, every simpleton knows that “neo-liberalism” isn’t even in the conversation once you’re running a 150% of GDP deficit and have agreed to an IMF Programme.

Where was Bruce in June 2011 when the IMF told Jamaica (within a context practically identical to 2013’s): “More growth is generated by getting as much as possible from the combination of technology, capital, labour, and other inputs. Growth facilitators include a stable and enabling economic environment, sufficient access to and provision of financing, adequate institutional frameworks, good governance and rule of law. On the other hand, a high tax burden, market distortions, political instability, and the absence of the enablers inhibit growth.”?

That was the IMF’s Gene Leon addressing the Jamaica Exporters’ Association (June 29, 2011).  Boiled down to gravy, he was saying that fiscal consolidation MUST go hand in hand with low crime, high human capital development and a business-friendly environment.  He also said:

..low growth can be linked to a few key obstacles – high levels of crime, deficient human capital, a challenging business environment, and fiscal distortions – each contributing to low productivity- directly or indirectly – through economy-wide linkages.

Didn’t Booklist spot this genius in 2011?  Where was Bruce?  Oh, snap, Bruce was the Prime Minister who signed an agreement with the IMF based on these same concepts.

He must’ve been listening.  According to Booklist, two years later in New York “Golding pointed out that when a government’s expenditure is so constricted that it can’t provide resources to effectively tackle crime and violence, maintain and develop infrastructure and deal with education and training, job creation and growth will be ‘but a fleeting illusion’.”

Booklist, fawning, as is his wont, over any of his academic heroes’ ideas and in his anxiety to attribute these ideas to Golding, writes in thunderous triumph “And this is precisely the kind of recognition which must undergird all our discussion on the Jamaican economy. This is what is lost in our ray-ray politics and our meaningless chatter masquerading as economic dialogue in Jamaica.

No, Booklist.  This is precisely the kind of recognition the IMF itself has been trying to drill into our political leaders’ thick skulls (including Bruce’s) from 2011 and before.  This is precisely what our leaders (including Bruce) have consistently failed to recognize.  This is precisely the kind of recognition Prime Minister Bruce Golding ignored to pursue an obsessive and expensive crusade to save Dudus but of which he’s suddenly convinced enough to make it the subject of his speech in a foreign land.

In a desperate, transparent and pathetic attempt to resuscitate Bruce Golding, Booklist closes with an anticipatory riposte “The pity is that despite his commanding and arresting lecture, people will be more interested in discussing the ghosts of his past and his role with Dudus than fixing their minds on his surgically identified issues.

Like when Booklist infrequently tries to be witty, he’s half right.  I’m far more interested in discussing Golding’s political past which only ended with the national disgrace that was Dudus’ defence.  Lest we forget, Bruce Golding’s “past” includes a stint as Housing Minister/Central St Catherine M.P. when Spanish Town’s Tawes Pen garrison was built.  His past includes a stirring final Budget speech as JLP Finance Spokesman when he asserted separation of powers was but an academic foolishness that couldn’t work in Jamaica.  Within months, he was on an NDM stage, launching that Party on a platform of separation of powers.

Lest we forget, Bruce Golding’s past, as NDM Leader, includes a public confession he was associated with gunmen; an emotional plea for an end to garrison politics; and a grand announcement that he was through with old-style politics.  When the NDM went belly-up, Bruce bolted from the lighthouse and returned to the JLP, immediately selecting as his constituency base Western Kingston, the home of “The Mother of All Garrisons”.  Then, as Prime Minister, he spent nine months protecting one of Jamaica’s most notorious thugs, gunmen, drug runners and murderers from extradition citing “constitutional rights”.

Whether Booklist likes it or not, Bruce Golding’s past will deservedly continue to haunt him.  No monuments will likely be erected in his honour. His political record is one of such glaring failure that only an intellectual like Booklist Boyne could ignore it.  He hasn’t “surgically identified” anything least of all “issues”.  He appears to have simply absorbed and regurgitated Gene Leon’s 2011 speech.

I’m sorry, Booklist.  I don’t know what crusade you think you’re on but you can’t bring Bruce Golding back to political life.  Why’d you want to?  Now that the lowing herd of jaundiced journalists has already conceded the JLP leadership race to Audley “Are You” Shaw, is Bruce lurking in the shadows, looking to make a comeback under Audley’s leadership? 

I know you like hyperbole, Booklist, but even for you “If we ever needed any reminder that we can’t afford to lose this fine intellect from the public square, that penetrating and poignant lecture provided it” goes miles beyond the pale.  Have you read the result of the Gleaner’s latest coup de grace namely the Report on the JLP’s 2011 election loss?

The major share of the blame goes to Bruce for the political disrepair in which he left the JLP.  Andrew Holness is blamed for calling the election too soon before he could properly prove himself to the electorate as a leader.  I wonder how that happened.  Did Young Andrew take that decision unilaterally?  Is he such a brainless clown that he wasn’t aware of the benefits of awaiting the Jamaica 50 celebrations and the 2012 Olympics?  Or was he advised by his Finance Minister that Jamaica’s finances were running on fumes so that, long before Jamaica 50 or Olympics, 2012 would produce such bitter financial medicine that any JLP popularity bounce from the leadership change would be lost?  I wonder if history will record that, in an act of political statesmanship not seen since Norman Washington Manley in 1962, Young Andrew levelled with the Jamaican people; told them what to expect and then called an election to let them decide?

 

As it turned out, the electorate preferred PNP “sweet mouth” promises including that they would bring the IMF to heel in two weeks; that JEEP would provide jobs; and that milk and honey would flow down the streets of Kingston. 

I don’t care who wins today’s JLP Leadership race or any general election between now and the required fundamental change to our system of governance.  I don’t care because it doesn’t matter.  Nobody’ll be able to produce economic growth in our cockeyed system featuring zero checks and balances, pork barrel traditions, increasing debt, murders galore, an illiterate workforce and bureaucrats whose favourite indoor sport is the obstacle race.  

So, it matters not who wins.  But I do know this.  My generation and the one before it ruined Jamaica.  Only new thinking can rescue us.   No amount of “ra ra” or “tek it to dem” will cut it.  New thinking from my generation isn’t likely.  We mucked it up. 

So, a member of Generation Next should be the One.  Maybe the new thinking he/she brings will include urgently needed radical constitutional change instead of another “anti-crime” Bill.  Young Andrew is the sole leadership contender in either Party who fits that bill.  But it doesn’t matter if he loses.  His generation will eventually get its chance.  If he wins and fails, that doesn’t matter either because by then, we’ll be assured that his successor will be of Generation Next.

Regardless of today’s vote, none of Audley, Bobby (Pickersgill), Darryl, Delroy, Ed, Karl, Mike, Omar, Pearnel, Peter or Portia can rescue Jamaica.  It’s the likes of Andrew, Chris, Julian or Lisa that will.  If not today, tomorrow.

Peace and Love

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