If you've been around as long as I, reading or listening to what passes for recent history can easily provoke the dry heaves. Mr Edward Seaga, a centre of turbulence as a politician, remains a centre of turbulence as an old age pensioner. Some of the claims made by Mr Seaga or on his behalf are bizarre.
A couple of years ago, Martin Henry, while rightly castigating Seaga for his racist, [my word] elitist view that it is "the masses of simpletons who determine election victories and defeats. And since the people are incapable of sophisticated political understanding only simplistic messages can be delivered to them as entertaining sloganeering from the political platform." (Seaga, quashee and campaigning' July 19 2007, Sunday Gleaner)
Mr Henry almost proves Seaga's point by referring to Seaga as "the creator of the first and great Independence Five Year Development Plan, 1963-1968"– apparently blissfully unaware that the plan was the work of Don Mills, Arthur Brown and Raphael Swaby of The Central Planning Unit working to specifications laid down by Norman Manley, David Coore, Vernon Arnett, Allan Isaacs and other members of a PNP Brains Trust.
Mr Seaga has never attempted to publicise the truth. And why should he?
When he now bravely speaks of education it is from his eminence as the pro-Chancellor of the University of Technology and a Distinguished Fellow of The University of The West Indies. Mr Seaga is quoted in a story in the Gleaner of September 2 2009:
"If the IMF is able to address [the budget deficit and the foreign exchange shortfall] and is able to lend other funds to help fund the semi-productive sector, Seaga said, the best way to use that fund is to put it into education.
"That is where I would like to see the funds go, because that is the real resource base of Jamaica that has not yet been fully utilised,"said the former prime minister …' (IMF the only option, says Seaga)
Mr Seaga's concern for education is truly touching. Preening himself on the mistaken belief that he is the only political heavyweight of the fifties still extant, Seaga no doubt forgets the big, bold JLP campaign at the end of the fifties – "Saltfish better than education".
He similarly has no memory space for his government's unremitting campaign against the UWI in the sixties as a nest of intellectuals and subversives; the campaign against the Jamaica Teachers Association which led to wage-freezes for teachers and the desertion of the classroom by male teachers who turned to selling insurance and liquor or else fled to Britain or Brooklyn.
Turn Them Back
Seaga forgets the assaults he led on the PNP in the seventies when that party proposed extended vocational training in sophistication and coverage; and the fact that he destroyed the Vocational Training Institute and turned it into a college for cosmetologists as soon as he got the chance.
He forgets the destruction of the Jamaica School of Agriculture and any other institution created by Norman Manley by himself and others obsessed by the idea of destroying all trace of the Father of the Nation.
He forgets the corruption and destruction of the Social Welfare Commission and of its community integration and development work and the destruction of the Jamaica Youth Corps and the promise it bore for the future of our country
Mr Seaga should also remember his part in destroying the Agricultural Extension system and the network of Agricultural Experimental Stations which helped enthuse and invigorate Jamaican farming, producing, inter alia, Dr Lecky's four world class breeds of cattle, The Jamaica Hope, the Jamaica Black, the Jamaica Red and the Jamaica Brahman.
The loss in brainpower, in expertise, in biological science and in foreign exchange is incalculable. How much to restore the Library at Alexandria?
Seaga forgets the assault he led against free secondary and tertiary education and the fact that as soon as he became prime Minister he reinstated fees for poor children and boasted that these savage cuts in the Jamaican integument were the work of the government, not of the IMF. The destruction of the JBC was a joint venture between himself and Patterson.
Mr Seaga has blamed the PNP for the dreadful state of the economy,
forgetting that within three years of taking power in 1980 he had doubled the debt burden and effectively, put it forever beyond human control.
Mr Patterson, Seaga's only close competitor for the title of worst prime minister in history did his part, playing the Tony Blair to Seaga's Margaret Thatcher. Despite his faults, many and grievous, Patterson was not a patch on Lord Edward of St George's, (Grenada).
Jamaica? No Problem!!
Mr. Martin Henry in his more-or-less paean to Edward Seaga two years ago, noted that
"The one and only time that Edward Seaga led his party to victory in a contested general election was when the critical issues at stake were starkly clear and voters/citizens, understanding those issues and their implications, overwhelmingly took a stand. Despite his participation in pandering to the quashee in Jamaicans, this country, including even Michael Manley, owes Eddie a debt of gratitude for clarifying and communicating those crossroads issues in 1980 and winning the vote which turned back a looming disaster."
It would be nice were Mr Henry to sketch, at the least, the basic parameters of the looming disaster of which he speaks.
I happened to have survived those interesting times and survived Mr Seaga's attempts to starve people like me into submission. In 1980, the election year, that year of transcendental clarity, 889 murders were registered, more than twice as many as the 351 of the year before.
Within three years – according to Carl Stone, the Gamaliel of the revisionists– Mr Seaga would have lost his majority had there been a free and fair election. Which makes one wonder about Mr Henry's 'crossroads' issues, not to speak of the Halfway Tree issues and the Time and Patience issues that bother people like me.
These issues are provoked, as is so much else, by the Gleaner's news that
Spanish Gov't to help agriculture ministry.
The Spanish Ambassador is to hand over a cheque for $35 million Jamaican (about half a million $US) towards a Centre of Excellence in Agriculture. I can imagine what Sam Motta or Hugh Miller could have done with that or Jerry Bell or any of dozens more – some like Buddha Webster who gave their lives in the service of Jamaican farmers, not to speak of Dr Lecky and his world-class cows.
José Martí was to have been a coeducational boarding school for young farme to send qualified students over to the Jamaica School of Agriculture. Seaga changed José Martí into an ordinary school and turned the School of Agriculture into a "Police Academy"
He sold the Research stations for a song and to build housing schemes.
And now they want to turn the Usain Bolt stadium into a battery-chicken-house for Goldman Sachs.
I tell you! Mr Seaga is FULL of the most wonderful ideas.
Always has been.
I kid you not.
Copyright © 2009 John Maxwell firstname.lastname@example.org