by CATO RAND
I must say that I have not been impressed with Holness as a political leader. Many have been criticizing Holness (and his Shadow Cabinet) of being reticent on many issues of national importance. He also does not seem to possess that ʻfire in the bellyʼ to energize the party base and engage independent voters. As important as these may be, my criticism of Holness rests more with his political philosophy which sad to say will not be taking Jamaica on a path to peace, progress and prosperity.
Holness seems to be another in the long line of big government/statist politicians that continue to be a millstone around the neck of the country. Listen to minute 58:00 of his speech at last year’s JLP conference:
Holness has for example expressed his desire to expand the rolls of the PATH programme and he sees free health care as good policy. These initiatives however are expanding not reducing the size of government – a surefire recipe for the continued managed decline of the Jamaican economy and consequent diminution in opportunities for our fellow Jamaicans to maximize their God-given potential.
Lamentably, Shaw does not strike me as someone whose leadership will positively impact our countryʼs fortunes – if his tenure as Finance Minister (2007- 2011) is anything to go by. Shaw famously opined that Jamaica would not be affected by the global financial meltdown that was triggered by the recession in the US economy that came to the fore in the latter days of the Bush presidency. For a reminder view his address to the nation here:
Lets hope Shaw was not being serious and this statement was just a manifestation of his dark humor. Maybe he was subtly trying to make the point that happenings in the wider world donʼt affect us much, with him extrapolating from the fact that Jamaica benefited little if any from the greatest and longest expansion in the world economy in the history of mankind that occurred from the 1990ʼs to the early years of the 21st century. Shaw also took credit for the relative stability of the Jamaican dollar during 2007 – 2011 when it had more to do with the stagnation of the economy rather than any bold policy moves by Shaw.
Well thinking Jamaicans should be concerned at some of the utterances emanating from the campaigning so far. I am particularly saddened by the Holness camp playing up issues of colour and class. Apparently Shaw does not deserve to be party leader as he is a ʻbrown-manʼ and is being heavily supported by ʻbig moneyʼ. It seems as if being rich disqualifies you from having any preference as to who should be leaders of the political parties. Wealthy Jamaicans should just pay their taxes (which the politicians need for redistribution) and then shut up. I yearn for the day when we will all see our country as belonging to everybody – not just the poor.
One hoped that the JLP would leave the mantra on the virtue of being poor to Mama P and the Peoples National Party (PNP). Also I thought the vote for party leader would be characterized by individuals exercising their free will. However, I heard parliamentarians Andrew Wheatley and Everald Warmington remark that all (my emphasis) the delegates from their respective constituencies will be voting for Holness. I wonder if the same applies for delegates from constituencies in which the Members of Parliament or caretakers are supporting Shaw.
I had hoped that the JLP (that claims to be a center-right party) would be using their time in Opposition, to among other things, educate the citizenry about what it takes to lift our country out of its economic quagmire and positioning itself as an organization espousing the principles of capitalism. And please note I am not referring to capitalism as so many (especially its liberal/progressive critics) do as just about profit-making but capitalism as defined by Ayn Rand as a social system based on the recognition of individual rights , including property rights, in which all property is privately owned.
Our people need to understand the many developments over the centuries that have marked the progress of Man from a time when Life could be described as ʻpoor, nasty, brutish and shortʼ to the present day when we can send machines to examine the outer reaches of the Universe and a child born in most parts of the world can expect a life expectancy in excess of 70 years.
So Jamaica awaits the November 10 vote and I suspect the ʻwinnabilityʼ (can he lead the JLP to victory in the next General Elections) of Holness or Shaw will be foremost in the minds of delegates. However I am more interested in ʻeffectabilityʼ. Can Holness or Shaw as Prime Minister be the transformative leader that our country so desperately needs? Their records suggest otherwise.
I am of the opinion that if the JLP continues in its present mode, its fortunes in the foreseeable future will not depart much from the recent past, in which it will spend many years in Opposition with the occasional short tenure in Government whenever the electorate wants a time-out from the PNP. The worldview of the average Jamaican is primarily informed by socialism and thus Jamaicans will on most occasions chose the party it deems to be the better left-wing party, that is, the PNP rather than the JLP.
By the way what has become of former PNP Senator Deika Morrison?
Cato Rand is a Black Jamaican of Libertarian and Conservative persuasion. He is a fervent believer in Capitalism, Freedom and the principles outlined by the US Constitution and it being applicable to all peoples, including Jamaicans. He is a strong advocate for the limited role that a government should play in the lives of people.