26 August 2008

birthday eve

i say goodbye to one more worn-out year
it takes its tired way off the old stage
there's nothing left my sadness to assuage
a future comes with more than normal care
to challenge me and force me yet to dare
accept the perils that confront my age
discreetly as i can and still engage
with renewed wisdom and not without fear
so much depends on listening to pain
and knowing just what signals to ignore
but paying due attention to the sign
that stands out clearly even through the rain
reminding us just how close lies the shore
and what the price of every glass of wine

25 August 2008

naming the stream

all good flows into silence and the past
echoes of what we had not ever known
so much of what we feared but not alone

for what we saw was powerful and vast
coming from where no wind had touched or blown
all good flows into silence and the past

what we don't know is how long it will last
and what is written in the halls of stone
regarding which we might yet have to moan
all good flows into silence and the past

24 August 2008

a glimpse of something

so many pains and then you hit the wall
you won't expect the mountain to be there
when all you need is in the village square

it does not seem a hurtful height to fall
but all is magnified in this grey air
so many pains and then you hit the wall

inside each soul there is a solid ball
of honour and of treasure for our care
but not enough for each of us to spare
so many pains and then you hit the wall

'There's a Natural Mystic...'

John Maxwell

Sherwood Content in Trelawny and Waterhouse in St Andrew are about as far away as you can get from the big-time. The roads leading to both places are pitted, potholed disasters, and streetlights and other public amenities are singularly lacking, the schools ramshackle excuses for educational institutions held together by love and the dedication of poor people.

Yet over the last few days children from these and similar communities have, half a world away, basked in the adulation of more people than they have ever seen in their lives. They have all managed to defy the considerable odds against them, and are become international heroes; young men and women whose achievements have confounded, excited, astonished and enchanted billions of others round the world.

Their stories are all different, and although many of them will ascribe their presence on the Olympic podium to the care and attention of teachers, coaches and sponsors, their stories are in reality tributes to their own individual selves, to their ability to outperform their fellows, to convert lucky breaks into concrete opportunities and to deliver the goods before any audience, anywhere, any time. The Jamaican Olympic team as I write on Thursday, has not completed its agenda but it has already done better than any previous team from this country and better than teams from countries with much larger populations and resources.

In Track & Field, on Thursday afternoon, Jamaica and Russia were tied with five gold medals each, the US had four , Kenya and Ethiopia had two each. In the total number of medals won in track and field, Jamaica with 9 was third behind the US 20 and Russia 10 and ahead of all other countries.

Herb McKenley: Thou should’st be alive at this Hour!

What is most interesting to me is that the more level the playing field, the more dope testing is done, the better Jamaica does. The ‘natural mystic’ is powerful indeed and does not depend on technological enhancements of the chemical kind.

The fact that Jamaica has dine so well is disquieting to those who don’t know us and lots of questions have been asked about our testing procedures. The short answer is that our athletes are among the most thoroughly tested in the world.

Owen Slot, Chief Sports Reporter of the Times, reported: “In Beijing, the unprecedented success of the Jamaican track and field team has come to general attention. The IAAF accordingly produced the following statistics: there are 22 elite Jamaicans and they [each] have been tested out of competition, on average, two or three times since January 1. Bolt has been tested four times out of competition, three times in competition and six times since he arrived in Beijing.”(my italics)

I believe that the continual testing is probably what defeated Asafa Powell, who believes that the taking of blood for tests weakened him. I believe Powell, like another sporting genius, Lawrence Rowe, defeats himself before he ever gets to the arena.

In Beijing, our men and the women have performed above expectations, no doubt, powerfully inspired by Usain Bolt’s performances. I loved Shelly Ann’s wide-eyed jumping for joy in victory, Kerron’s steely courage and determination, Veronica’s gracious majesty – I loved them all, the medal winners and those who also ran . It was mindblowing to watch the women’s 100 meters, knowing what Bolt had done, and to realise that many of our young champions had never been on such a stage before. Their bravery alone is worth saluting; added to performances that did their country prouder than we had any right to expect.

The Man of the Moment

The American Michael Phelps with his eight gold medals was the statistical hero of the first week of the Games. There is no doubt that Usain Bolt has been the hero of the second week. The sportswriters have strained for adjectives to properly describe him, concluding that he is probably the greatest sprinter of all time. He is the only man to have broken the Olympic and World records in the process of winning gold medals in the 100 and 200 meter sprints, only the second athlete to have held both world records simultaneously since Don Quarrie of Jamaica three decades ago and the first man in a quarter of a century to have captured both Olympic titles at the same games.

There seems to be something in Bolt that brings out the best in sportswriters. Some of the reports of his feats are among the best sportswriting I have read for a very long time. Most have been as scrupulous as possible, and I was particularly chuffed to notice one who pointed out that while Michael Johnson’s 200m world record was done with a slight following wind, Bolt was running into a headwind when he broke that record.

But it is Bolt’s personality that has entranced the writers. His straightforward innocence – though none of them use that word – has captivated them. His is the essence of cool, no ‘side’ as the English used to say; just a natural unforced joie de vivre which even his beaten competitors enjoy and appreciate. So when the head of the Olympic movement, Jacques Rogge, slated Usain for discourtesy in ‘showing off’ and not congratulating his competitors, everybody came to Bolt’s defence. If Rogge had really ‘seen’ the race he would gave realised that unlike any other 100 meters ever run at the Olympics, the leader was so far away from the field that he would have had to go back a long way to perform the usual obsequies – sorry, courtesies.

Out of the Cockpit

I was born about ten miles as the crow flies, from Usain’s birthplace and my father used to preach at his community church, Waldensia. Driving to Sherwood Content now is not much different to sixty years ago. The road is still awful. but the scenery is grand, with the cliffs of the Cockpit Country looming over the road for much of the journey from Clark’s Town.

Usain Bolt proves, if proof were needed, that the Cockpit Country still has treasures to offer the world. The treasures include its people, who have never given up the real struggle for autonomy and self respect, as well as the natural endowment which is beyond cataloguing.

Here is the real Jamaican heartland, the geological, historical and cultural nexus of our civilisation.

That is why some of us want to protect it from the lustful embrace of the bauxite companies and other ‘developers’ who want what’s there for the money they can make out of it and to leave it barren, devastated and useless.

Usain Bolt behaves like a Trelawny man. He has taken his destiny into his own hands. He chose his coach himself and though he listens to everything he says, he is not simply a puppet – as some athletes are to their trainers and as some of us are to our leaders and our economic superiors.

The road away from Sherwood Content is a demonstration of the past, sugar cane flourishing where food should be growing.

Usain Bolt shows the new way to independence, self-development and community responsibility. I hear he is putting money into various projects in his community. He knows where he came from and he knows where he is going.

As he said, after the 200 meters final, echoing Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali after his Olympic triumph 40 years ago-– he is “the Greatest”.

It’s the truth. It is not a boast.

There’s a natural mystic, blowing through the air …


For a good word on Rogge, read Sally Jenkins in the Washing ton Post

Copyright © 2008 John Maxwell


23 August 2008

no grim foreboding

no grim foreboding may hold back the sun
a cycle comes around to those who wait
you just have faith in what you have begun

there is a tale that many folk have spun
about the sword that hangs above the gate
no grim foreboding may hold back the sun

a serious tool that no one could outrun
creator of inevitable fate
you just have faith in what you have begun

this is no illness that the weak might shun
nor is there room here for fools to berate
no grim foreboding may hold back the sun

enough to know the first hard blow will stun
and greedy onlookers will desecrate
you just have faith in what you have begun

i send the message knowing you have won
beyond what's given us to love or hate
no grim foreboding may hold back the sun
you just have faith in what you have begun

a sort of dialectic

we spend long hours just waiting for the rain
noting the anguish of the groaning trees
there's not a thing we do that seems to please

none of our choices ever turns germane
or leads us to the path of rest and ease
we spend long hours just waiting for the rain

it does not help just turning up the gain
or ducking under walls to dodge the breeze
these are the ones that nothing could appease
we spend long hours just waiting for the rain

22 August 2008

au plein air

there is no need to fear the open eye
it will not see what lies within each heart
but only what is made by normal art
this is the standard ordinary lie
that we accept by way of getting by
since each of us has got to play our part
to do our duty seem to give a fart
and then give everyone a plain goodbye
there are no honest signs of desperation
we simply wait for all good things to fade
while in the background there's a simple tone
appropriate to those in our dull station
with little left to show and less to trade
and all our blankness showing in the bone

active listening

we miss the word that no one wants to hear
so much is urgent at the changing hour
just before dawn and our faces are dour

so many needs and so much we hold dear
our hearts must quail and we just have to cower
we miss the word that no one wants to hear

no one can see behind the sharp veneer
to all the swords that still sustain our power
instead they praise the fruit within the flower
we miss the word than no one wants to hear

21 August 2008

advice to the young

you ask for gifts that last longer than gold
not knowing how the clouds assemble fast
this is the way the story's always told

we seem so formal stiff and even cold
our hearts are given to the vanished past
you ask for gifts that last longer than gold

what you expect are souls ardent and bold
whose urgencies and wishes have to last
this is the way the story's always told

but those who have bad cards just have to fold
the noble outcome cannot be forecast
you ask for gifts that last longer than gold

it does no good to scream rebuke and scold
nor nail your tattered colours to the mast
this is the way the story's always told

only the wary live to become old
those who are foolish cannot take the blast
you ask for gifts that last longer than gold
this is the way the story's always told

an older sort of burden

each is in turn a giver of good names
assigned to govern within lines of light
with eyes keen focused on the simple flames

it never does just to admit your aims
before the last bright bird has taken flight
each is in turn a giver of good names

we might have chosen to make larger claims
and kept our targets always in plain sight
with eyes keen focused on the simple flames

instead we set things out in complex frames
and made our object something of a rite
each is in turn a giver of good names

it's not enough to say we banish shames
and curses for we have not been forthright
with eyes keen focused on the simple flames

we turn our purposes into vain games
our chances of survival seem but slight
each is in turn a giver of good names
with eyes keen focused on the simple flames

20 August 2008

theft of memory

here where they work in silver and in jet
ages of dust and tarnish tell the time
each shadow hides a memory of crime

none of us knows the purpose has been set
but cleans the dirt and wipes the wet and slime
here where they work in silver and in jet

it does not rain and we must not forget
the pilgrim's journey the long tiring climb
out of the darkness into the sublime
here where they work in silver and in jet

18 August 2008

open remarks

a word unspoken means much more than speech
what is unseen is valued more than sight
what we most seek is that which most is right

we ask that you repair the open breach
restore the tenor shaken in the night
a word unspoken means much more than speech

you learn the thing that we know we can't teach
and must do so though we cannot requite
with any kindness nor with hope of light
a word unspoken means much more than speech

17 August 2008

fit of cases into paradigm

we need not wonder at absence of shock
what we expect is far from what we need
the world insists we pause here to take stock

this matter moves us faster than the clock
no one could know the force within the seed
we need not wonder at absence of shock

but there's no safety now behind the lock
and little enough glory in the deed
the world insists we pause here to take stock

no one can hide secure within the flock
nor wait for other wiser ones to heed
we need not wonder at absence of shock

the truth is such that not a one could block
with force enough to make us all concede
the world insists we pause here to take stock

all of us cringe and wait for the last knock
knowing we have capacity to bleed
we need not wonder at absence of shock
the world insists we pause here to take stock

Hypocrisy and Homophobia

John Maxwell

Hypocrisy is an essential element in diplomacy.

As Oscar Wilde or somebody once said, hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue. And, to continue the quotation game, diplomats are, according to Lord Palmerston, people sent abroad to lie for their country. Condoleezza Rice is the US top diplomat, so one should normally expect her to titrate the truth. No one expects anything vaguely resembling the truth to issue from the lips of George Bush, even when he’s making what seems to be sense.

But this week’s performances have been landmarks in the history of hypocrisy, especially since huge expanses of the US Press appear to have become accredited members of the US diplomatic apparatus.

The president of Georgia, Mikhail Saakashvili is an American puppet installed after one of the trademark color-coded ‘revolutions’ in Eastern Europe. Georgia’s was the ‘rose’ revo, following the ‘orange’ revo in the Ukraine, both part of the supposedly invisible American campaign to encircle the Russians with hostile regimes, Lilliputian warriors primed to tie down the Russian Gulliver and render him harmless and ready to yield billions of barrels of petroleum to Mr Cheney’s friends.

According to the US government and its official press, Russia, that big bad bully, has cruelly attacked and mauled poor little Georgia – a shining light of Western style democracy is the formerly limitless expanse of Soviet empire.

The problem is that that statement is a lie.

The break-up of the Soviet Union has some parallels to the breakup of the British Empire. Both were composed of a variety of states in various states of development. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics contained not only autonomous republics like Belorussia and the Ukraine longtime members of the UN, but other republics like Kazakhstan, autonomous regions like Inner Mongolia and a mishmash of statelets and mini-nations of ethnic minorities and indigenous ethnic groups. Some of them had been attached to larger republics for administrative reasons. Some, like Abkhazia and South Ossetia, were Russian ethnic enclaves embedded in newly independent states, yearning for reunion with mother Russia.

This is not quite the same situation as in Kosovo, where a decades long invasion of ethnic Albanians transformed Serbian ‘heartland’ into what the west now recognizes as an independent nation.

The West permits Kosovo type solutions when it works to the advantage of the US and its allies. It fixes its face firmly against the adhesion of places like South Ossetia to its sibling North Ossetia, although both have been full of Russians for a very very long time.

The Russians may very well have a grievance against Georgia because that is the homeland of the most successful tyrant of recent history, one Josef Vissarionovich Djugashvili, a.k.a. Stalin.

The Georgian president, an American educated American-installed puppet, has been less than a stellar success since he took charge of Georgia, despite the fact that he shares a name and familial antecedents with a recent head of the American military and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff.

Mr Saakashvili developed a surefire way of deflecting criticism of his governance. Whenever he felt threatened he would turn the argument to the so-called re-integration of the Soviet-era enclaves Abkhazia and South Ossetia, into the body of Georgia. Recently, under very serious pressure from his electorate for other reasons of nonperformance, Saakashvili decided yo forceful reintegrate South Ossetia. In this, his army, trained and armed by the United States and israel, was supposed to have made short work of South Ossetia. Another link in the NATO ring round Russia would have bee forged and Central Asian petroleum supplies made safe for Mr Cheney and the bankers.

They did not expect the Russians to react as they did. In their brotherly intervention, the Georgians blitzed the capital of South Ossetia, killing thousands of innocen people, destroying the university and most of the capital city. Unconditional surrender should have followed.

Instead, the Russians came to the defence of their nationals and in three or four days of fighting routed the Georgians and seemed determined to teach them a lesson not to be soon forgotten.

In their panic, the Georgians demanded and got the return from Iraq of 2,000 of their troops, illegally engaged with the Americans British, Australians and sundry others, in the rape and pillage of a country which had done none of them any injury.

As the Bible says, echoed of course, by Bob Marley: “He that diggeth a pit shall fall in it, fall in it …”

Mr Bush and his administration are said to be ‘seeking to punish” Russia for its behaviour, which it has described as disproportionate and tending to lower the Russians in the estimation of right thinking people round the world.

He said:Russia has invaded a sovereign neighbouring state and threatens a democratic government elected by its people,"

"Such an action is unacceptable in the 21st Century."

In Haiti, where the Americans without provocation, kipnapped and deposed a lawfully elected president, and where it is now one year since a leading opponent of the occupation has disappeared, people might be forgiven for thinking that Mr Bush is being s little disingenuous. But perhaps Mr Bush no longer cares about lowering the United States in the estimation of the world. No hypocrisy is necessary in relation to Haiti.

Georgians have rights. Haitians have none.

The Bible and Homophobia

I have good news for the Jamaican homophobe community: homosexuality is not contagious.

And for the journalistic and political ignoramuses who support the homophobes, I have some startling information: homosexuality is not illegal so it cannot be decriminalised.

And for those policemen who blackmail homosexuals I have more information. Buggery is illegal whether practiced upon a man or a woman. That should extend the scope of your extortionate enterprises.

The problem of trying to argue rationally with fundamentalists is that they bring their own facts to the table, and nothing that has happened in the last 4,000 years is important f it in any way challenges the rules of Leviticus if those rules are convenient to them. They are ready to put homosexuals to death, but routinely dishonour their parents, commit adultery and curse and blaspheme, all serious crimes and deserving of the death penalty according to Leviticus.

The real problem has nothing to do with the Bible, but with the sexual insecurity of the homophobes.

It is a fairly well known fact that all human beings pass through stages of sexual awakening in which very little is obvious or clear and many of us never have anyone to help us through the sexual swampland of teen age. Teenagers of all sexes develop ‘crushes’ on all kinds of objects, other human beings, movie stars, animals, teddy bears.

Some never get the chance to grow out of these dead ends and imagine themselves guilty of all kinds of wickedness because according to the Bible, lust itself is a capital offense.

In the state of fear that grips some of us in youth we imagine ourselves as demons of the deepest dye and some of us kill ourselves or try to, because of our avoidable confusion.

It is now as clear as anyone could wish that homosexuality is not a disease, it is not a psychological disorder, or learnable behaviour, it is simply another expression of the genetic variousness of humanity.

Recent research has confirmed what many have suspected for centuries, that homosexuals are born, not made. Measurements of the human brain provide compelling evidence that

• Ordinary male brains are different from ordinary female brains

* homosexual (male) brains are almost indistinguishable from ordinary female brains

• The brains of female homosexuals – lesbians – are almost indistinguishable from ordinary male brains

There are other studies, for instance, of identical twins separated at birth and brought up by different ‘parents’ which indicate that if one twin is homosexual the odds are almost even that the other twin is also homosexual.

These and other studies would seem to me to make it plain that an enormous amount of psychic energy is wasted, especially in Jamaica, in trying to change the facts of human sexuality.

What we proud heterosexuals should do is to be happy that we are what we are and allow the homosexuals to be happy with who they are, since none of us can do anything to change the situation.

If we manage to do this we can gain millions of man and woman hours for creative things, like making life miserable for those who throw plastic bottles out of buses and otherwise despoil the environment, stealing beaches and so on.

We journalists do a disservice to the public interest when we fail to inform ourselves of the facts and so mislead people. To argue for justice for homosexuals is not to argue that we must join in homosexual behaviour. And, as I said earlier, homosexuality is neither contagious nor illegal.

Get a life!

Copyright©2008 John Maxwell


16 August 2008

a matter of perception

this is the way in which the heroes wail
about the horrors of the long hot night
we set our best up every time to fail

the sweetest water will we find turn stale
and cease to be a source of our delight
this is the way in which the heroes wail

you watch as we in doubt and anguish flail
smiling no doubt at such a stupid sight
we set our best up every time to fail

it's not a matter of the scope or scale
nor of the honour of the sacred rite
this is the way in which the heroes fail

justice and decency are still for sale
and we have someone who we know will bite
we set our best up every time to fail

there's not enough to fill a tiny pail
your chance of victory is less than slight
this is the way in which the heroes wail
we set our best up every time to fail

a sort of understanding

the proper strategy is calm mistake
you march away from the intended goal
and do not seek to exercise control

the most transparent becomes most opaque
and what is partial soon pervades the whole
the proper strategy is calm mistake

only the shark knows what is in the wake
it has to carry out its proper role
consume the body and destroy the soul
the proper strategy is calm mistake

at the rubicon

the word is spoken and shall not return
we ask permission now freely to speak
none would allow the session to adjourn

so little time to express due concern
for those required by fortune to be meek
the word is spoken and shall not return

you aren't allowed to cross the final burn
nor see what lies beyond the sunlit peak
none would allow the session to adjourn

nor see just what the dignified would spurn
as subject to the militant critique
the word is spoken and shall not return

what we have left you may not soon discern
it is not in the class of goods you seek
the word is spoken and shall not return
none would allow the session to adjourn

15 August 2008


we tell the story and it is a game
so many years pass without a thought
and then we pause and know we have been caught

what we believed a lamp was just a flame
and we've forgotten most that we were taught
we tell the story and it is a game

this is the point when we are half past shame
and well past counting all that we have brought
to the last table this adds up to naught
we tell the story and it is a game

14 August 2008

in the long race

so much of effort made to take the gold
it matters little if we win or lose
the ending is the same not hot nor cold

each tries so hard to fit into the mould
to make of the self a thing fit for use
so much of effort made to take the gold

what we sought was to be safe and controlled
not caring for a small case to abuse
the ending is the same not hot nor cold

we lift our eyes and see the wicket bowled
a thing that in the end we would not choose
so much of effort made to take the gold

we have to keep only what we can hold
and set our minds on what you won't confuse
so much of effort made to take the gold
the ending is the same not hot nor cold

13 August 2008

news of nations

before you reach the shore the cargo sinks
and with it all your hopes and every thought
of changing what you feared or had been taught
into a wilder form instead the links
reform and you must still endure the stinks
of memory and wrath and all the fraught
terrors in which our lives have long been caught
and groan as gaolers calmly close the chinks
those were you ponder brighter younger days
when happy sails could cross well-charted seas
and not be threatened by the coming storm
this is the time when we can't pierce the haze
and only horror comes upon the breeze
while even darkness seems to be too warm

decolonisation reconsidered

what we were left was echo of your word
the shadow of a kingdom of the blind
where error and unkindness were enshrined

our truest ruler was the carrion bird
who never feigned to be another kind
what we were left was echo of your word

all our ordinances are quite absurd
creations of authoritarian mind
for you and not for us they were designed
what we were left was echo of your word

12 August 2008

strut and fret

we are still guided by the words of will
far past the lights of that old stormy shore
our hearts still leap and our lips still adore

minds and hands turn as instruments of skill
bending in ways they had not done before
we are still guided by the words of will

the message is the same on each new hill
and each sign is the same on every door
the meaning has not changed with each new score
we are still guided by the words of will

absence of irony

some miss the certainty of solid steel
and do not trust because they cannot care
since all the world dissolves to empty air

you blame this on the turning of the wheel
while thinking that life never is quite fair
some miss the certainties of solid steel

the choice is made to die or else to kneel
no one expects that you would ever dare
go past the limits of what we both share
some miss the certainty of solid steel

11 August 2008


at the world's end we banish each desire
into the past and wait without pretense
knowing that what will come is only fire

you give us only what we most require
intending only that we show some sense
at the world's end we banish each desire

it took long years to move out of the mire
and longer still to build a good defence
knowing that what will come is only fire

you ask that we cease to hope and aspire
with peace and honour we must now dispense
at the world's end we banish each desire

no choice is left to sleep nor to retire
we're past the moment of cost and expense
knowing that what will come is only fire

you pay us off as worthy of our hire
thinking us merely plain foolish and dense
at the world's end we banish each desire
knowing that what will come is only fire

10 August 2008

no time for hymns

in deepest dark any may see the track
of countless stars flickering with false light
no guide to us from that too distant height

we know too well the many goods we lack
but also that you do not share our plight
in deepest dark any may see the track

and wonder why we stayed out of the pack
while all our friends were giddy with delight
and could not wait to enter in the fight
in deepest dark any may see the track

Let them eat Croissants!

John Maxwell

‘ First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win’

– Mohandas K Gandhi.

It’s not just us.

The world really is over-supplied with jackasses.

We are pretty good at making fools of ourselves but we have lots of company.

The Jamaican Port Authority , along with the UDC, are our leading competitors in the World Olympics of Waste and Futile Activity (WOWAFA.)

As everybody but the Port Authority knows, fuel prices are making mincemeat of globalisation and world trade.

Distance costs money, as Jeff Rubin of CIBC World Markets (CIBCWM) points out. Rubin is one of the world’s most trusted economic prognosticators and has recently published an analysis of the effect of transport costs on world trade. There seem to be no serious critics of his conclusions.

Rubin/CIBCWM report that the cost of shipping a standard 40-foot container from East Asia to the North American east coast has already tripled since 2000 and will double again as oil prices head towards US$200 per barrel over the next two years These soaring energy costs are threatening to offset decades of trade liberalization and force some overseas manufacturing to return closer to North AmericA.

“Unless that container is chock full of diamonds, its shipping costs have suddenly inflated the cost of whatever is inside," adds Mr. Rubin. "And those inflated costs get passed onto the Consumer Price Index when you buy that good at your local retailer. As oil prices keep rising, pretty soon those transport costs start cancelling out the East Asian wage advantage."

The Port Authority’s development plans are predicated on the permanence of the East Asian wage advantage. The Authority believes that for the foreseeable future, enormous container ships from China and the rest of Asia will provide an assured agency income for Jamaica. We simply have to destroy the environment of Kingston Harbour to build an enormous container transshipment port and the riches will flood in.

Mr Rubin says, on the other hand, that oil prices and transport costs will soon cancel out the advantages of low-wage driven globalisation. “"Higher energy prices are impacting transport costs at an unprecedented rate. So much so, that the cost of moving goods, not the cost of tariffs, is the largest barrier to global trade today."

Rubin points out that Chinese steel, which has for years rendered US steel production uncompetitive, is now, suddenly, uncompetitive in the US market and imports are now falling by more than 20% year over year while US steel production has risen by almost 10%.

So, the Port Authority of Jamaica is proposing to squander more than a billion Jamaican dollars on the next stage of its Hunt’s bay reclamation project. Earlier phases consisted of relocating toxic waste from the bottom of Kingston Harbour to newly created land adjacent to Portmore – the world’s first known instance of the deliberate creation of what in the US would be called a Superfund site, a toxic health menace.

All of this has been done out of public view, with public money, with no parliamentary oversight, no Environmental Impact Assessment, no information to the public on the health or financial dangers implicit in this development.

It is nearly a decade since i first warned about these lunatic schemes, about the same time as I was warning about the environmental and financial disaster built into the Doomsday Highway.

We in Jamaica are experts at expensive and futile unsustainable developments, we are only now understanding the price we are paying for bauxite development and we have just begun paying the real price for the Doomsday Highway.

The Gleaner Business section, on Independence Day, on the page after the Port Authority story, carries a discreet story which should have been on the front page

“Jamaica giving up on export bananas” was the headline, written no doubt, by a descendant of Christopher Columbus.

We have been talking about the idiocy of trying to export factory farmed bananas and sugar, We have recommended getting out of those ratholes voluntarily and finding alternative and better options while we had time.

We could have used the time to restructure our farming and revitalising family farms. We need to use our land to grow food, not to produce profits to be lodged in Liechtenstein or Cayman.

But we are not done. The elites who know everything are busy recommending that we sign the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the European Union for some glorious globalised benefits for the fifty or sixty companies engaged in the moronic slavery-based production of sugar. The head of the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery says that if all the Caribbean ‘partners do not sign the whole deal may be off.

I haven’t heard better news for years.

We were being asked to swallow agreements negotiated for the benefit of finance houses and antagonistic to the public interest. Only Guyana has the nerve to say that the agreements are an unfair disaster. One hopes that the Guyanese will not sign and thereby derail the whole corrupt process. Corrupt, because the people have had not the slightest say in agreements which will bind them for decades if not centuries. Not only do we not have any say, we don’t even know what’s in these agreements.

In the Observer on Emancipation Day there is news that light may be dawning in certain quarters. It has been discovered that we have a tourist industry which can be a reliable market for home grown, organically produced cosmetics. In a decade or two it will become obvious that the same possibilities exist for locally produced food. Despite some recent easing in the the inexorably rising price of oil, the Jamaican farmer (an almost extinct species) will soon have serious advantages in the national and regional markets as well as in niche markets abroad.

What would make sense is for us to turn these massive investments in crazy schemes into investments in more practical plans. Solar energy for one – photovoltaic arrays on some of the lands made worthless by bauxite mining, on offshore wind turbines and on submarine wave generators using the energy of the perpetual currents of the North Atlantic drift passing through the waters north and south of this island.

In Portugal, a relatively poor country which, like Jamaica, imports nearly all its energy, the world’s largest photovoltaic electricity generating plant is about to go on stream. It will have taken four years from start to finish and will provide Portugal with electricity from the sun at prices competitive with thermally generated energy.

The new facility at Moura in Alentejo in Southern Portugal covers 700 acres, about as much as the Port Authority’s installation in Kingston.

At 250 million euro the cost of the Moura plant is about the same as the cost of the Port Authority’s Phase Five expansion .

At 65 MegaWatts, it ‘s capacity would be about one quarter of the installed capacity at the JPS Old Harbour Bay power station. Construction costs are about the same as thermal generation units but the big difference is that after the station is built the fuel is free sunlight, making an immediate and serious dent in money to be found to import petroleum. An additional bonus is that the Portuguese – as part of the development– require the contractors to build a plant to manufacture photovoltaic modules providing good local jobs and skills. And since photovoltaic power stations can be built almost anywhere, transmission costs and problems are minimised.

Wonder of Wonders

“EU to give Haiti millions for food, health care” is the headline over a story from Brussels, Belgium (AP) — ”The European Union says it will give Haiti $4.6 million to help pay for food in the world's poorest country.”

Millions, think of it – Millions! It will buy an enormous number of mud cakes.

The munificence and self sacrifice of the Europeans is astounding. It will amount to the stupendous sum of about fifty cents per Haitian.

Parliament should pass a vote of thanks.

Some of Haiti’s other predators, including USAID, are providing similar pittances to rescue Haiti from destitution and desperation. The coordinator of the anti-Aristide coup, Senator John McCain’s International Republican Institute has not said whether it will contribute to the recovery process. Perhaps the Haitians should be paying them for their good works. The Haitians paid France about 25 billion dollars in modern money to be allowed to trade freely after winning their war of independence.

It is a safe bet that none of the people responsible for the decapitation of Haitian democracy will contribute as much to its rehabilitation as they did to its rape. It is as if a man who has just comprehensively violated a woman, should turn round, and out of the simple goodness of his heart, buy her a croissant.

Copyright©2008 John Maxwell


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