by Cato Rand
I almost crashed my car the other day when I heard Minister of the Public Service, the Hon. Horace Dalley, on radio stating how tough the negotiations with public sector unions were as the Government tried to impose a wage freeze.
Unions Fall in Line
Now all astute observers of the local political scene know that the far majority of unions are in the back pocket of (or in bed with) the Peoples’ National Party; and a wage freeze or just about anything the Government wanted, is a done deal.
On the contrary, if the present opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) had formed the Government just imagine how stormy the labour environment would be if they had proposed something similar. Probably the unions would eventually sign on the dotted lines but not before painting the JLP as being heartless and not caring for “poor people”.
There are many things wrong with our country and the differing attitudes of our unions to the political party that forms the government of the day is one of them. Union leaders are now promoting the Government’s mantra that the wage freeze is all a part of the sacriﬁce that we must make for Jamaica. I hope workers realize that they will be nothing more than sacriﬁcial lambs as the efforts by the Government are more designed to maintain state power than leading to political, social and especially economic independence for the average Jamaican citizen.
Eddie and Mike
I think readers are familiar with the caption engraved on side mirrors of motor vehicles stating “objects in mirror are closer than they appear”. However, from the recent utterance from former Prime Minister Edward Seaga I think he is wearing glasses with opposite optical properties – in a recent column in the Jamaica Gleaner, he dramatically stated that economic growth for Jamaica is on the horizon. He seems to placing much faith in these big government-driven projects, supposedly to soon come on stream.
If these are such great income-generating ventures why wouldnʼt Mr. Seaga gather a number of fellow businessmen and bring at least one of these to fruition?
Member of Parliament Mike Henry was also recently in the media blowing the trumpet for some transportation hub in Vernamﬁeld, Clarendon, and proposed a bond to expand the Ian Fleming Airport. Again I ask the question why doesnʼt Mr Henry get together a number of investors and get the project going themselves? He won’t of course, as he knows that these projects are more about politics than economics.
Praise be to God. CTL is to be set free!
So at long last it seems as if the Jamaican Government is going to relieve itself of Caymanas Track Limited (CTL), managers of Jamaica’s only horse racing park, Caymanas Park. This may be one of the early beneﬁts of an IMF deal. Trainer Phillip Feanny remarked on CVM-TV’s Sportswatch programme of Saturday 23rd March, that the lending agency has instructed the government to divest itself of the racetrack.
As an avid horse racing fan since my days at primary school and a fervent believer in capitalism, à la Milton Friedman, few things would bring more joy. There is no sensible justiﬁcation for our government being part of a private enterprise such as horse racing other than collecting taxes and ensuring that the rights of jockeys, trainers, grooms, owners and other stakeholders are not in any way violated.
It will be interesting to hear the views of trainer Vincent Edwards – himself a former PNP parliamentarian and current President of one of the associations representing the interests of trainers – who in the past has rebuffed prior efforts to divest the racetrack as he fears the implications for the “small-man”.
It is obvious that the racing industry has been on a downward trajectory (as so many other things in our country) for many decades and can soon be aptly described as “dead man (horse) walking”. If we donʼt do something soon I suspect there will be no horse racing in our country and thus no “small-man” will be able to beneﬁt. With divestment, even if there some displacement, at least some of the “small-man” will be able to earn a living from the industry.
The local 3-year-old Classic season will commence soon and the build up by the promoters as usual leaves a lot to be desired. It will be interesting to see which of the main contenders – Willie Goldsmith or Bigman in Town – jockey Omar Walker chooses to ride in the 2000 Guineas.
Of course being a Winston Grifﬁths fan I hope that the former 5-time champion jockey gets live mounts in the 1000 and 2000 Guineas and comes away with one if not two victories after the Classics are decided over the next two weeks.
With acknowledgement to Jon Saraceno, columnist for USA Today – I wonder what has become of JC Lodge?