Friday, April 30, 2010

God Help Us! A Prayer for Jamaica

A Responsive Reading Prayer for Jamaica
Basil Waine 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. In our distress, we cry unto You. Trouble is everywhere and we are consumed with grief. The wicked kill innocent men and women. Our land is polluted with blood.
Leader: You 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. You promised that You would never ignore the cry of the afflicted and that those who know Your name will never be forsaken. How long shall our enemies be exalted over us?
Leader: We acknowledged our own sins against You. We confess these transgressions with the faith that you will now forgive us.
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: We lay our requests before You and wait with expectation.
Congregation: Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.
Leader: Let truth, peace and prosperity return to Jamaica so that the land may yield her increase and our children inherit a new land.
Congregation: From everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. May Your mercy endure forever.
All: Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Amen. Amen. Amen.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

An Idea Factory: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

A Think-Tank for Jamaica: Improving Political Decision Making through Research, Analysis and Consensus Building.

Basil Waine Kong, Ph.D., JD

Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has arrived. Chile climbed from 3rd world status to a booming economy with good ideas and purposeful implementation. Their leaders decided to rid the country of graft and corruption, educate their people, feed their citizens and increase exports by expanding agriculture. These initiatives transformed a country in a brief ten years.

It is becoming increasingly clear that Jamaica needs an institute where the full time occupation of really bright and committed people is to focus on generating ideas and guiding the changes needed to empower our people to unleash their energy, creativity, innovative and competitive spirit in their quest for financial security, health and happiness. The value of an institute to address a wide array of public policy issues at both national and local levels cannot be overestimated. Let us act quickly before we cross the Rubicon and lose hope. Without vision, our people perish.

Almost all important political and social change started with an idea. The ideas often originated with people who spent a great deal of their lives thinking and focusing on solutions to problems that plague the rest of us. Across the political or ideological spectrum, it would be difficult in the modern age to point to any major public policy initiative that did not originate from a think tank of some sort. Well researched, analyzed and developed ideas are important first steps to addressing the social, economic and legal issues facing our country. Objective non-partisan analysis and effective solutions are desperately needed and are essential for nation building.

As the incubator of innovative ideas, the proposed Jamaican Think-Tank (JTT) would work with decision makers in both the public and private sectors to find solutions to our difficult, sensitive, and important problems. In the United States, Health Care Reform, welfare reform, School Vouchers, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the War on Poverty Program and The Great Society initiatives all evolved out of think tanks.

Jamaicans have excelled in every field of human endeavor. Unfortunately, the United States, Europe and Canada are, on the most part, the beneficiary of our talents and contributions because of the migration of talented individuals from our island. These scholars are anxious to participate in the development of Jamaica in some meaningful way but are never asked. There is currently no forum to garner their input and make use of their formidable insights and intellectual acumen, the incubators of which may have been cultures far from the shores of Jamaica.

The Internet has made communication cheap, easy and immediate. It is now possible to bring a diverse group of scholars together to interact and brainstorm (at will) regardless of where they may live in the world. Because we are goal oriented, we can also contract with scholars to research specific topics and encourage solutions to well-defined problems and judge their righteousness based on their success in addressing Jamaica’s challenges.

Just like a butterfly flapping its wings can be the start of a hurricane, an idea can grow into an action and a movement once the tipping point is reached. An original idea may occur to someone while reading, praying, sitting in a barbershop,conversing over a game of dominoes or having a drink with friends. It could be subsequently presented in an article or book, brought up in discussions with more friends and colleagues in a speech at a conference or even a simple letter to the editor published in a local newspaper. As more and more people begin to talk about the idea, it will be helped along by people who may benefit financially in its adoption and the audience expands. Eventually political leaders climb on board and make it happen often claiming the credit.

The objectives of our Think-Tank:

1. supply experts to testify on various laws under consideration;

2. write articles for the op-ed pages of newspapers, and appear as TV commentators;

3. advise political aspirants and elected leaders;

4. lead orientation seminars to train incoming members of parliament;

5. create viable alternatives to programs that are not meeting expected objectives;

6. Study, suggest solutions and help to implement streamlined and workable government bureaucratic procedures;

7. Conduct impact studies for proposed programs;

8. Investigate unmet needs in the country and propose programs that could address these needs;

9. Investigate how some government policies are causing road blocks and stifling innovation and find the private sector solutions to better address and reform them;

10. Encourage research and provide a forum for scholarly interaction;

11. Derive income from consulting or research work related to our mandate (Ideas can be marketed like products);

12. Build expertise and institutional memory that could be brought to bear in later years when our political leaders are ready to address them;

13. Convene monthly issue related as well as an annual high level conferences;

14. Travel to distant shores to learn how other countries address these challenges.

This proposed non-government organization (NGO) will be home to our greatest and most creative Jamaican intellectuals and provide them with a forum to offer advice as well as prepare and publish position papers outlining clear options, and solutions that will be both effective and enduring if implemented.

Some of the formidable challenges needing thoughtful attention from the JTT include:

1, Overcoming Poverty.

2. Reducing Crime and Violence.

3. Eliminating Illiteracy by educating the all Jamaicans regardless of their ability to pay for school fees.

4. Developing skill training programs.

5. Promoting business and overcoming unemployment.

6. Promoting higher education regardless of the ability of a student to pay.

6. Improving the health of our people.

7. Using the law to meet the needs of our people.

8. Maximizing the use of renewable and alternative energy.

9. Providing adequate housing.

10. Protecting and improving our environment (air, water, oceans, rivers, etc.).

11. Developing the talents of our people---making it possible for them to become all they can be.

If we play or cards right, I foresee an explosion of intellectual activity and the generation of ideas that will transform and guide Jamaica to prosperity for all its citizens. One does not have to be a politician or actively engaged in the political process to change the direction of our country. This could be the beginning of a revolution that will set the stage for Jamaica to become the paradise it was always meant to be.

Do you know how this institute could be funded? Tell me what you think!



Stanley Redwood

Jamaica has the most churches per population with some of the highest levels of immorality, criminality and corruption. We have one of the highest debt to GDP ratio with one of the highest densities of the displays of affluence (cell phones, SUVs, mansions, etc.), with 50 plus million dollars mansions on streets gutted with potholes and with no running water. We are so renowned for our hospitality to tourists, yet so brutally violent to our own people. We are among the happiest peoples of the world, yet we are so frustrated, disappointed, angry and irritable. We are surrounded by such natural and feminine beauty, yet we are so coarse on the inside and require so much cosmetics, wigs and bleaching. We have such talents and potentials yet are so underdeveloped; and we have so much ambition juxtaposed with so much underachievement and mediocrity.

These paradoxes underscore the need for us to get to the heart of some of our fundamental and ideological issues and challenges. We have tended to come to our problems from the back end with remedies, rather than from the front end with prevention and mitigation which ought to include:

1. A spirit of patriotism,

2. Moral and social education,

3. Population growth control, (birth control),

4. Personal and collective pride, self-esteem/worth,

5. Personal and national fiscal prudence and restrictions,

6. Medium and long term planning, and

7. Human development, (with economic education and entrepreneurial training),

I am happy to see the Fourth (Regulatory) Branch of Government getting some currency, from the the Contractor General and ACP Justine Felice. Jamaica is in dire need of it. There should be a clear plan of action going forward. This could be a most abiding contribution to Jamaica's development if we can get our leaders to own and hone the related ideas.