Monday, December 28, 2009

Our Economic Crisis

Why don't the rich fix it?
Published (Jamaica Gleaner): Thursday | December 31, 2009


While I am not surprised that The Gleaner's editorial of December 28 called for the resignation of Mr Shaw, I am surprised that the call did not include several other ministers. Why just Mr Shaw? Are the ministers of health or foreign affairs doing any better?

My suggestion is that Mr Shaw should ask Mr Golding to resign. I believe Mr Karl Samuda once said: "Di whol' a dem (JLP) don't mek one good comrade!" Mr Samuda is a wise man indeed.

While Jamaica is on the precipice of economic and social collapse, sufferers are looking to our 'rich man' Government to take us forward. As Mr Golding and Mr Shaw have ready access to the 'big men' of Jamaica, who are reaping record profits even in hard times and not paying their share of the taxes, can I suggest that our leaders use their access to persuade them to save the country? What a wonderful statement it would make!

Monuments for 'generosity'

We could offer them 'instant immortality' by creating a monument to these 'generous' individuals who came to the aid of their country in this our hour of need.

Why must the poor always foot the bill? Ladies and gentlemen, you may be able to take it with you to the United States and Canada and further ruin the country but, in the final analysis, you cannot take it with you.

According to Mrs Portia Simpson Miller: "Many of the rich and powerful in Jamaica have never heard of the Sermon on the Mount, the story of the Good Samaritan or Psalms 41:1 (Blessed is he who considers the poor)."

Obviously, our perception of the rich is that they are callous people who are only looking to exploit every opportunity to make more money. As we speak, they are lurking in the shadows and waiting for the opportunity to pounce on good deals when the Government unloads the people's prized assets to cover our bills.

Piranhas of society

Will they continue the reputation of being the piranhas of society?

As we sit on the edge of disaster and brace ourselves in these uncertain times, just for a moment, ask not what your country can do for you and contemplate the heroic things you could do right now to save Jamaica.

We readily admit that 50 of you can hurt our economy, but we are also hopeful that you will be mindful of your legacy.

Messeurs Golding and Shaw, you can rise to the occasion, not by trying to squeeze blood from our turnips, yam and callaloo, but demonstrating the transformational and exceptional leadership needed to inspire the rich in Jamaica to stand up and be counted. Call 50 of them and ask for a billion dollars each. Poor people vex.

I am etc.,

Basil Waine Kong, PhD, JD
Response to My Letter

(Mark Wignall)

(Dr Edward Johnson)


I have just finished reading the Sunday Observer and I have noted where Wignall is punching you up because you say the rich must fix things-help to do so-in Jamaica. And he even used the Bible to help him. As I see it, the mentality, morality and spirituality that drove the rich in society then and which is what the bible in its allegorical manner addresses, is essentially the same one that drives the politicians and the rich in our society now. So, if any change is to come in society, outside of the politicians, it must come from those who can do it best, afford it - and that is not the poor man, but the rich. And in fact it is they who have paid for in our society, the triumphing of one party over the other.

If the spitituality of the rich is to use money to help others to be more productive and not to look for the highest returns now - 15% on their money in our poor society, rather than perhaps 5% as occurs in your rich corner of the world , then in fact they would be helping in the matter and fixing it! The poor man does have his place - not seeking hand-outs, but the rich has more power now than the poor to do it peacefully. The poor can certainly storm the streets, but then that has all sorts of complications, particularly when it comes to our security - yours and mine when we are sometimes there, and for him most of his time, as I think he resides there ful-time. But then if he patronizes the right people at the right time, he will get his social space and be okay.

Like as how he has called your name, you will have to talk to him my friend. I am here, master, in my little corner listening to you and him. Just had to dip into the argument - but I am gone now,so take care and stay well.


(Mr. Mike McKenzie)

My Brother:

Thanks for letting me realize that I am not the only dysfunctional mind, who believes that the wealthy have the moral responsibility to help the poor. Just imagine if they invested just 10% of their wealth in social nation building, the 10% that would not change their lifestyle one iota, but just imagine the impact on illiteracy, crime, needless suffering it would have.

I saw Mr John Issa (Superclubs, Hedonism hotel chain owner)in a television interview saying how happy he was that the Government was able to find the US$25 million to advertise for them after 911, and then in the same breath he wished more could be done for social programs for the poor like housing and education.

Brother Basil, I wanted to reach into the tv and while choking him ask, what are you doing for the poor with your US$250 million wealth? My conclusion is that greed is a pathology, its just an illness we have no incentive to cure. I don't know how their minds operate, but when I pass a mother on the street with a baby on her lap begging, I wake up at night unable to sleep thinking what can I do to help out that situation. How they rest comfortably and wake up the next day contemplating how to accumulate more wealth that they could never possibly spend in this lifetime, is beyond any rational I can conceive. Anyway I have been too long winded as it is, but my brother if you can figure out a way to more equitably redistribute the peoples wealth, I think at this point I would be willing to devote my life.
Walk good.
Mike McKenzie

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Success Strategy for Economic Development

A Success Strategy for Jamaica
Basil Waine Kong

One finger may not make much of a difference, but fingers coming together as a fist can be a formidable weapon. There is no doubt that Jamaica needs a unifying direction and a winning strategy. The list of our woes get longer with each passing day. So far, we have allowed the tyranny of the urgent to prevent us from implementing prevention strategies. Imagine that we are sitting on the banks of a river. We look out and to our horror we see babies drowning. I would hope that we would make every effort to rescue and revive these children, but we cannot afford to stop there. We must also quickly run upstream and stop the man from throwing the babies off the bridge. Mediocre doctors only diagnose and treat disease. Superb doctors also prevent disease. Our government is stuck on crisis management with no investment in long term solutions.

1. A prevention strategy. Intellectuals and politicians try to solve problems; geniuses prevent them. The number one killer in the Caribbean is heart disease. It is a disgrace that so many of our grand parents succumb to this disease when it is a lifestyle problem and entirely preventable. Crime, poverty, motor vehicle deaths are also preventable if we can be smart enough to implement the strategies that will address these problems adequately. When we were implementing half day schools for our children, couldn’t we have predicted that with ten hours of idle time on their hands young people would form gangs, get into sex, drugs and crime? In situations of crises when many quick fixes and simplistic solutions are tempting, considering all the angles with an eye to prevention, can help avert disastrous decisions.

As social theorist John Ruskin reminds us, “Punishment is the last and the least effective instrument in the hands of the legislator for the PREVENTION of crime.” Of course, it’s necessary, but we should be mindful that when we get to the point of punishment, at least as regards that one individual, that’s an opportunity we have ALREADY missed. I would rather focus on preventing crime than catching criminals. Each Government Ministry should be asked to come up with an effective prevention strategy.

2. An educational strategy. We can solve a great deal of our problems if we properly educate our people. I am ashamed of the fact that a third of our people cannot read a newspaper. Not investing in education is a predictable way to prepare our people for failure, poverty and crime. Japanese children are in school for twice as many hours as Jamaican children. As the educational level of any population increase, uncivil conduct decrease, health status increase and wealth is less concentrated in the hands of a few. Our English-oriented educational system dictates that we concentrate our resources on the talented tenth. The difficulty with this model is that most of the beneficiaries of this educational investment leave the country and you can find them contributing significantly to American, Canadian and European societies. Ninety percent of our nurses, doctors and pharmacists live foreign.

3. A change strategy. We cannot continue to react and keep going back to watering holes that have dried up while squandering new opportunities. This is a new world reality that cannot be ignored. In 1998, Spencer Johnson wrote a parable entitled: “Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life”. From this little parable, he points out that:

(a) Change Happens: We cannot continue to make typewriters, horse drawn carriages and buggy whips when the demand for these products is gone. While there is strong demand for our athletes, music and entertainment, alcohol, coffee, honey and our unique tourist product, interest in our sugar, bauxite and bananas are waning.

(b) Anticipate Change: The only thing that is certain is change. We must anticipate what products will have value in the future and start offering them even before the demand peaks. Jamaican banks have a bad reputation for not loaning money for innovative ideas and will only lend money to support tried and true business ideas whose usefulness may have passed. The government has a huge coordinating responsibility to develop new business ideas.

(c) Monitor Change: We need good data and have our eyes and ears open so we can anticipate the winds of change. Someone needs to have their ear on the train track to let us know what is coming. But with so much data available on the web, it is not difficult.

(d) Adapt to Change Quickly: The quicker we adopt, the more competitive we will be. How many Jamaican businesses are going after the huge solar energy market?

(e) Engineer Change: Instead of becoming victims of change, we can become agents of change. We can develop and market new products. Health tourism, alternative energy and call centers are huge industries. Wouldn’t Americans prefer to come to an English speaking country right next door for these services than go to India if they had confidence in our skills and customer service? We must produce goods and services that will be attractive, replace imports and obviously export more than we import. We continue to chase after markets in the United States, Europe and Canada when there are tremendous markets in Africa and Asia. Why don’t we have a direct flight between Jamaica and Nigeria?

(e) Be ready to change and enjoy the ride! Our legal system, our government bureaucracies and banking systems are not business friendly and need to be updated to address the reality of a changing world. Our civil servants should support and facilitate business not hinder them. We should have an ethical, educated and motivated employee pool to support our various enterprises. We will have no difficulty attracting foreign investments, particularly from our various foreign nationals if we become more business friendly. Right now, the World Bank ranks us 75th in the world for doing business. A simple procedure of paying business taxes in Jamaica require that business entities spend 17 days in lines and make 72 tax payments per year to meet their tax obligations. I congratulate Trinidad and Tobago for their extremely efficient handling of this detail. We should learn from them.

(4) A nation building strategy. Rather than attacking each other politically, we need to find common ground and a shared vision. We need to recognize that we are in this boat together and a rising tide will lift all boats. There are tremendous opportunities in Jamaica where we can find synergies to improve the welfare of all our citizens. Let us set aside the differences that separate us, stop blaming each other and focus on the bonds that unite us. I believe we all love Jamaica. We just need to be a little less selfish and share the wealth.

(5) A self reliance strategy. Not only should we develop a food policy that will have us eat what we grow and grow what we eat, there is so much more we can do to reduce importation of foreign oil and dependency on imports. We can be a reliable source of food because we have a twelve month growing season, lots of available land waiting to be put into production, ample rainfall, good soil, expert farmers and inexpensive labour. There is no reason why we cannot feed ourselves. With regard to energy, we have wind, the sun, redundant cane fields that can be converted to grow avocado pears and other vegetable matter that can be easily converted to diesel fuel. We must think outside the box to survive. It is not going to be business as usual.

It is imperative that we develop a new way of thinking for the changing world in which we live. This proposed five-finger strategy is a start. If we fail to plan, we plan to fail.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Tipping Point

My Blog is Off and Running

Basil Waine Kong

In Michael Gladwell’s book: The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, the author describes a tipping point as the stage when the momentum for certain phenomena becomes unstoppable and rise in popularity. Over the past month, this blog has experienced these phenomena. There is no simple explanation, it just took off. For the first year, the blog averaged twenty five hits per day. That has grown to several hundred (up to 600 sometimes) per day and growing. I couldn’t be more pleased. My pursuit is to celebrate my Jamaican heritage, my relationships and to be healthy, wealthy and wise. If that is also your goal in life, visit often and I promise to make it worth your while.

The primary audience for my blog is Jamaicans and the Diaspora. I have published over fifty articles grouped as follows:

1. My current experience as a Jamaican who returned to Jamaica after spending fifty years in the United States. If you are contemplating returning, I can be your canary in the coal mine.

2. Childhood stories from my first fifteen years growing up in Woodlands District in St. Elizabeth in the fifties. I would like very much to share with you the best childhood any boy could have---much better than Huck Finn.

3. You will also enjoy my Jamaican jokes, poetry and short stories.

For those of you who visit my site, I ask you to:

1. Leave a comment or send me an e-mail ( Let me know your thoughts;

2. Tell your friends and family to log on;

3. Liberally use whatever you find on the blog;

4. Contribute (if you can) to improving access to healthcare for heart patients, particularly the children who cannot afford this care. The Heart Institute of the Caribbean Foundation (HCIFoundation) is registered with the State of Georgia and the IRS as a fully tax exempt not for profit foundation. It is also registered as a Non Governmet Organization charity with the government of Jamaica. Website:

Finally, my wife and I wrote a prayer for Jamaica. Prayer changes things. If each of us recite the prayer, particularly in our houses of worship, God will bless us in a mighty way. We need relief from crime and violence. We need heroes. Let us pray.

Basil Waine Kong Ph.D., JD
Heart Institute of the Caribbean Foundation
23 Balmoral Avenue
Kingston 10, Jamaica
Telephone: 876-906-2105
US Cell: (678)325-9255
Jamaica Cell: (876) 291-1506
Fax: 876-906-4413

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Psalm 151: A Prayer for Jamaica

Good Has Never Lost a Battle to Evil
A Responsive Reading
Basil Waine and Stephanie Hisako Kong

Leader: O LORD God of hosts, how majestic and magnificent is Your name.
Congregation: Our father, strong and mighty, incline Your ears and hear our prayer.
Leader: We stand in awe of Your miraculous creations, particularly the splendour of the Island we call home. You are our light and salvation.
Congregation: In our distress, we cry unto You because our souls are hungry for Your wisdom, guidance and intervention.
Leader: Trouble is everywhere and we are consumed with grief. The wicked kill innocent men and women. Our land is polluted with blood. A stubborn and rebellious generation who do not keep Your commandments torment us.
Congregation: All night long we flood our beds with weeping and drench our pillows with tears. Our eyes grow weak with sorrow.
Leader: We are desolate and afflicted as desperate violent men have united against us.
Congregation: Leave us not to our oppressors. Deliver us quickly out of the hands of the wicked and declare Your glory among the unbelieving. But instead of turning your hand against our adversaries, we ask that you forgive them and turn their hearts and minds from wickedness and crime.
Leader: Let those who hate You submit to Your commandments. Let them be born again, never to return to folly.
Congregation: Bring us out of our distress. Have compassion on Your affliction and deliver us Almighty God, We put our trust in You.
Leader: You have never failed to keep your promises Almighty God and You said the needy will not be forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted perish. You are a refuge for the oppressed, the ever present stronghold in times of trouble.
Congregation: Your promise is a lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our paths. Your words are sweeter than honey to our mouths!
Leader: You promised that You would never ignore the cry of the afflicted and that those who know Your name will never be forsaken.
Congregation: We shall wait on You and not be weary. We shall be of good courage as we lift our hands to You in supplication. Let not evil triumph.
Leader: Almighty God, many are our foes that rise up against us. In their arrogance, wicked men hunt down the weak who are caught in the schemes they devise. They compass us about like angry bees and wasps.
Congregation: As a nation, we have become corrupt. Criminal gangs have joined with gunmen to do abominable deeds. Their mouths are full of curses, lies and threats. Their victims are crushed under their strength.
Leader: How long shall our enemies be exalted over us?
Congregation: As our rock, our fortress, our deliverer and our strength, we call upon You to save us from our enemies.
Leader: Make the wicked come trembling from their garrisons. While we seek no personal revenge as You proclaimed with righteousness: “Vengeance is mine!”
Congregation: While You pledged unfailing kindness for your anointed, Iniquities prevail in all of us. You know our reproach, shame and dishonor. We pray therefore that You purge these sins from us.
Leader: Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy loving kindnesses. Remember not the sins of our youth. But according to thy mercy forgive us for our many transgressions.
Congregation: We are merely strivers to be pure in heart, trying to keep ourselves from sin and to live by Christian principles.
Leader: We acknowledged our own sins against You, and our iniquity we will not hide. We confess these transgressions with the faith that you will now forgive us.
Congregation: Forsake us not O Gentle Savior. Teach us to do Your will and lead us into the land of uprightness, integrity and truth so that sinners will walk from darkness into the light and become gracious and full of compassion for our fellow citizens.
Leader: Watch over the righteous, bless us and surround us with your favor as with a shield and make the nation our inheritance.
Congregation: Defend us from those who rise up against us. Place a shield around us and restore glory on us so we can lift up our heads.
Leader: Order our steps in thy word and let not any iniquity have dominion over us. Deliver us from the oppression of sinful men.
Congregation: Let the lying lips of the wicked be silenced and call them to account for their sins so they may terrify us no more. Let those who dig holes fall into the pits they make. Let the trouble they cause recoil on them. The violence they perpetuate come down on their own heads.
Leader: For those of us who have done evil. We ask thy forgiveness and mercy. We repent of these sins.
Congregation: Take away, O Lord, the desires and propensities of the wicked to be violent and the unrighteous to give thanks unto Your name. They are also our sons and daughters and You are the father of us all. But what has a man gained if he owns great wealth and loose his soul?
Leader: O righteous God, who searches minds and hearts, bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure.
Congregation: Give us relief from our distress and be merciful. Let the light of Your face shine upon us and give us peace.
Leader: We lay our requests before You and wait with expectation.
Congregation: Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
Leader: If You be for us, who can be against us? You only are the strength of our lives. If we trust in You, who shall we fear?
Congregation: From You come blessings and deliverance from wickedness. We will give thanks and sing praises to You, our LORD Most High, for You have kept Your promises and dealt bountifully with us.
Leader: We make a joyful noise unto You and come before You with thanksgiving. Your mercy is everlasting; and Your truth endure forever.
Congregation: May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be forever pleasing in Your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer.
Leader: Though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil, for You are our constant companion. We promise to never let go of your hands.
Congregation: You prepare a table before us in the presence of our enemies, exalting the righteous.
Leader: Save Your people, and bless our inheritance. Feed us until we want no more. Turn our mourning into dancing.
Congregation: Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us. We put our faith and trust in You. Put off our sackcloth, and gird us with gladness. We will join all those who are upright in heart to sing a new song and shout for joy.
Leader: Let truth, peace and prosperity return to Jamaica so that the land may yield her increase and our children inherit a bountiful land.
Congregation: You water the land and provide us with a rich harvest of fruits, vegetables and grain.
Leader: You cause the grass to grow for the animals, they multiply greatly and herb for the service of man that we may bring forth food out of the earth. O LORD, how manifold is Your works! The earth overflows with riches. So is the great sea that caresses us, full of Your bounty,
Congregation: From everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. May Your mercy endure forever.
All: Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Amen. Amen. Amen.

Dr Kong: This is awesome. I wish everyone on earth could read and understand and follow these words. This Canadian loves the Jamaician people and your country , all the best. JR Thornton