The Problem with PNP voters. In a 30 second video.

Based PNP.

It used to be that trying to obtain a better life for yourself in Jamaica was like a man running up a down escalator, not realizing that the escalator was running down. You had work ungodly hard just to get where you wanted to go. Well, what if you can’t even get to run up the escalator in the first place? An incident that took place at the People’s National Party rally in Half-Way-Tree on the night of the 31st of January, can be taken as what happens the escalator gets blocked.

The Jamaica Urban Transit Centre’s main Half-Way-Tree bus park is divided into an upstairs and downstairs section. When entering the conference for the first time, one gets of the (usually chartered) bus, walks to upper the section, and towards the centre of the city where the rally is situated. You may also walk to another upper section, the top floor, if you wish to easily get to your bus, or get to Molynes Road. That wasn’t happening about after about 7 in the evening. Police blocked off the stairs. Why? “Councilors and candidates only pass this point!” The upstairs section had then been refashioned to be used as a speech rehearsal room, among other things. So now that we were down, there was no way to get back up to where we were originally. Unfortunately, none of the supports that were with me seemed to get the symbolism of that particular event.

Notice that in the video, the supporters were calling the policemen “Labourites” (the main opposition party is the Jamaica Labour Party). It’s not that the councilors and candidates failed to create a secure area for them to congregate outside of the bus park. It’s not that they failed to realize beforehand that their supporters would need to go up- and downstairs, in the central location of the rally. What we have here is that the typical “die-hard”, not just PNP, voter fails to see that her political actions impact her personal life. The politicians up at the top know that they won’t be blamed for their actions, but that the police would be. They don’t see the need to curry favour with the supporters. They know that once there on top, they’ll stay on top. And that those on the bottom will stay on the bottom.

This is it. The final stretch. No, not for the election on the 25th of February, but final stretch as in final. For all intents and purposes, Jamaicans are now locked in three classes: rich, poor, and broke. Nobody talks about social mobility in Jamaica anymore. Yes, we do talk about education, Business Process Outsourcing jobs that are being created, and other such economic indicators, but those don’t matter. What does matter is that the 100 dollar bill can barely buy what it could 4 years ago, much more 8 years ago. And number of 100 dollar bills in one’s purse or wallet hasn’t changed. That is because our politicians are more focused on giving the IMF and multi-laterals interest on their loans than to be bothered with such silliness like sustained economic growth, stable exchange rates, and whatever. The type of PNP supporter that goes to such a rally simply cannot imagine a better life for themselves, not in the types of leaps and bounds that one sees in the history of nations like South Korea, or post-World War 2 Western Europe. The idea that your wallet can become fatter without having to stand in line at the Western Union or the MoneyGram is an alien concept to them.

What makes The System so perverse is that the typical die-hard PNP supporter cannot see how far he has fallen down the stairs. He doesn’t even realize that there was a staircase in the first place. Voting is more a social event done as a member of a tribe than a form of political action that is a necessity in a functional democracy for those attending these rallies. Tribal peoples don’t react to rational appeals. Splitting and ad hominem attacks are how they engage in political discussion. Those at the top of the staircase make their decisions based on how much more they will get from the next tax cut they will get this time around. After all, when you’re at the top of the staircase, its easy to catch the money when our political leaders decide to give out tax cuts and contracts. But how long the tribe will hold together when there’s no more space downstairs, or when the money stops trickling down is something I don’t want to be around to see.

(Non-Existent) Male Jogger Raped by (Non-Existent) Homo Thugs

Right now I’m supposed to be in exile and solitude, studying the works of the Philosophers and mastering my techniques, but I have to it leave now. I have to confront this fuckery. The fuckery in question is that which appeared on the front of the Jamaica Observer, i.e. Male jogger gang-raped. Now before, we go through the story and pick apart the the bullshit, let me declare my stake in this.

I jog there.

Four days a week. Including that Monday morning , from about 4:20 in the the morning, to 5. And I didn’t see no women helping no man bleeding out his ass (excuse my double negatives). On Tuesday, i.e., the day after the alleged incident, I had a day off from work, and when I went out,I did not hear about any such incident  from my friends in the adjoining communities of Meadowbrook Estate, Patrick City, or Duhaney Park.This is rather odd, as the last rapist in our community, was easily identified and very well known, having done his campaign of rape and pillage on the poorly lit Daytona Avenue section of Patrick City. So for a man to have had been gang-raped, and no news or gossip of it for two days is rather odd in our community.

Bu enough of that. We constantly hear about a Gay Agenda, but does the Jamaica Observer have an agenda of its own? Look at the story and tell me this –

1. Who are the confirmed, named sources?

2. What is the name of the author of this story?

3. What time did this occur? It had to be very early, seeing that we are in summer, and the sun rises at 5 in the morning.

4. What was the model and make of  the car that was used?

5. When he was (no doubt) carried to the hospital, which hospital was it , and who was the attending physician?

6. Are there any other sources for this story?

One will get no answer to these questions, indeed because the point of the Observer story is not to give answers, but mainly to instill pictures. One of those pictures is that of some poor bastard,of regular build, sitting down  naked, sobbing softy to himself, while a small pool of blood spreads steadily outward from his anus. It could be any one of us. Here are the quotes from the article:

“He was found by some females who were shocked and even more surprised to see that he was bleeding heavily from his rectum,” one man, who said he assisted in untying the victim, told the Observer.


And above that:

A group of joggers reportedly found the victim naked, with his hands and feet bound, sitting on the sidewalk at the foot of the hill close to Perkins Boulevard.


Now that I have ordered the article in that order, we can see how the story is falling apart. The man has been raped to the point where he is bleeding, not from his sphincter, but his rectum, yet he is able to sit down? Let me tell you about this time when I was at KPH, and this guy was , well, “clogged up.” The guy was lying down on the bed to my left, when I see two big orderlies draw the screen, leaving just the silhouettes of the two 250 pound men holding this poor guys legs open. Then I see the doctor go with the glove on his hand, hear the Fwipm!  – and then one of those screams from the horror movies like “Friday the 13th.” That guy was on is belly for two days, and that was from one finger.


So how could this guy be sitting down, after getting gang-raped?

They say the guy parked his car at an apartment complex and went jogging. The only apartment complex is Perkins Estate – a gated community. That means the only way you’re getting in or, out is if someone who lives there knows you, and can buzz you in. Yet the Observer could find no one who could help them with this story? None of the passers-by could find one offf these people to help him? This does not include the various KingAlarm private security vehicles and public transportation that regularly pass by in the mornings while I, and others jog.

So why would the Observer publish an obviously fake story, backed only by anonymous sources, with no official or named sources, or any byline? After seeing Sunday’s equally sensationalist Observer headline,  a friend of mine thought that the Observer had decided to stop competing with the Gleaner, and had decided to compete with Star, for the much larger readership. While both the usual Star leader has much in common with the discussed Observer article – the problem is deeper. My friend assumed that the Observer was in the journalism business. It is not.The Observer is the in the propaganda business. Propaganda relies on hate to motivate people to to take (usually violent) action.

There are two hates that the Observer exploits in its propaganda campaign. The first is the irrational hatred of homosexuals that is espoused by very loud groups of Jamaicans.

Wanna guess what the other hate is?
Wanna guess what the other hate is?

I’m sure most of you have realized by now that all of the recent stories about homosexuals by the Observer are thinly disguised opinion pieces that have to do them engaged in crime, banditry, corruption , or their second exploited hatred – the PNP.

I think it is fairly obvious that the Observer has a very serious problem with the Simpson-Miller administration. That is quite alright. Bu instead of relying upon rational arguments rooted in logic, economics, history or common sense, they have instead decided to create a “Gay Menace.” It is a strategy that is working, at least in getting website hits. Just look at how the web hits rose yesterday, and how the Comments just piled up.

But  what the Observer is trying its best to do is to create an instinctual association in the Jamaican people’s mind between Homosexuals, Criminals, and the PNP. They seem to be succeeding in associating criminals with gays. Now, as the below quote shows, they are now moving towards associating the PNP with the previous two.

Murdered People’s National Party (PNP) activist in Montego Bay, Kenley ‘Bebe’ Stephens, was a known member of the homosexual community and one of the western city’s prominent cross-dressers, who was also connected with the criminal underworld, police said.

Stephens was fingered in the illegal lotto scam, the stealing of electricity, among other illegal activities. He had strong connections in the ruling PNP, as he was one of the main fund-raisers in that part of Jamaica, and was recently elected vice-chairman of the party’s West Central St James constituency, headed by state minister for industry, commerce and investment, Sharon Ffolkes Abrahams, who is also MP for the constituency.


The move from Journalism to Propaganda by the Observer is a troubling one. It means that a very large media organization has abandoned any hope of using rational arguments to fix our problems and address its audience, and now only sees its audience as a herd of sheep to be tricked and manipulated into doing the “Right Thing”. This is a story with many troubling antecedents,including one society similar to ours, that had a rapidly devaluing currency, mass unemployment, virulent right-wing minority with a mastery off propaganda techniques, and a hedonistic middle class that did not take political activity seriously. History shows us how that worked out. We can only wonder how it will work out for Jamaica.

Old Theories from Young People

Recently, I lent one of my friends a move called “Goodbye Uncle Tom”, just to fuck with his head. Be warned, this is really NSFW, as it is a depiction of American Chattel Slavery, with graphic depictions of stud farms, torture, castration, and  industrial scale graphic rape of black slave women, by both whites and blacks.

This film has apparently affected him deeply, as he now sees themes of slavery everywhere. He watches that bleaching show that came on recently , he sees Willie Lynch Syndrome”. He even sees office workers as modern slaves in a cubicle plantation.

Amazingly, this type of thinking, that modern Jamaican society is just an extension of 19th century chattel slavery seems to extremely common amongst Jamaican Millenials – just look at this post from Javed Jaghai. I, mean, Jaghai hits all the right points that make People stand up and cheer: The Evil Uptown Families who don’t care about us, the Plantation Society that we are in today, and the Poor Ghetto People parading with their semi-literate pleading, who don’t know what’s good for them.

Do I even need to explain why this is bullshit? We are not rural slaves under a totalitarian system with all our needs taken care of by Massa. We are, mostly, urban serfs in a corporatist society, held in captivity, not with chains, but with a salary just low enough that we only have enough for our basic needs. I mean if the workplace is a plantation, why the hell are so many people applying to go to it – even when its for a shit job? Just look at any call center Job Fair. Over a thousand people applying for forty positions. In other words, The System turns the whole, Jaghai, Mutabaruka style critique on its head. You run to the Plantation , not away from it. Instead of the Church and Massa brainwashing you, you put yourself in debt to the Student Loan Bureau to be deskilled by our Universities, with their bullshit (Mis)Management Degrees.  And instead of hating our blackness, our blackness becomes an irrelevance, or even an annoyance, as it makes our  tattoos hard to see. This last point was made all too clear by that recent bleaching special, where the Downtowners articulated their Post-Black position , by emphasizing that they do not hate being black, but that blackness was, more a complexion better suited to the summer months.

To put it simply, Chattel Slavery is NOT Wage Slavery!

So why do still have young people like Jaghai talking the same old Michael Manley , Farrakhan, Malcolm X shit, when that is no longer relevant in our society, battered by failed infrastructure projects, IMF Structural Adjustment Programs, a neo-feudal ghetto system , and the neo-liberalization of the workplace and education system? Well, because they have no new ideas to help us with. They’re too stuck on old ideas, and old YouTube videos to see that the world does not conform to their ideas. Not only that, but they are victims of the very same system that they claim to oppose. Some, like Jaghai, are servants of that very same system!

If we are to solve the political impasses, technical follies, and economic dead-ends that our predecessors have initiated, we young people will have to focus using and creating new ideas to solve our problems. That will we be the main focus pf  this blog.And naked black women.



The J-FLAGging of the Postmodern Rasta

I had the pleasure of listening to “culture” musicians Queen Ifrica and Tony Rebel quibble like a bunch of market women quarrelling over who stole their bleaching cream on Nationwide News last night at around 7 last night. Naturally, it was about homosexuals. As you may already know, Queen Ifrica managed to make a fool of herself at the Independence Day Gala with some of the usual crap about shit she neither understands nor has any business talking about. Not surprisingly, J-FLAG complained about her, as they had done about Tony Rebel a year previous, so naturally Ifrica was pissed off at them

Queen Ifrica has deemed herself an expert on matters of sexual perversity due to her songs “Daddy don’t touch me there” and some encounters she had with young male prostitutes. Because some of these young men had been molested by male relatives, she decided to point out that many homosexuals had “initiated” through molestation, and the work that she done to “help” these young men. Tony Rebel then joined in after the commercial break to bitch and moan as well.

Enter Dane from J-FLAG. Dane from J-FLAG wanted to defend his organization, and by extension, the “Jamaican Gay Community” by stating their position on the matter of Ifrica’s and Tony Rebel’s statements. The problem is that Dane from J-FLAG did this by going on Nationwide News Network, instead of a news program, or a media station dedicated to bringing news and facts to the Jamaican people. The result was that Dane from J-FLAG got utterly and completely clowned, owned, mocked and made fun of. You see, Cliff Hughes and company do not deal in news – they deal in entertainment. It is impossible to have a serious discussion with the type of round table format used on that type of program. Nationwide News does not have the capability or the desire to do the investigative journalism, undercover specials, multi-part documentaries or thoroughly researched interviews that one sees on BBC Hardtalk –the types of activities that generate actual new-stories so that the Jamaican people make sense of their historical, economic, social and existential position. Neither is he or his staff funny enough to do satire like Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert. All he can give is a pastiche of a news program, with him pretending to be a referee, when his and other Jamaican news programs serve as a mirror to reflect the collective consciousness of the Jamaican people. Only last night, he reflected Queen Ifrica’s ugliness.

No, that is not a crossdresser

The extent and significance of Queen Ifrica’s fugliness cannot be overstated, so I will give it a paragraph here. Fucked up teeth. Reptilian jawline. Overall masculine facial characteristics and behaviour. Is it any wonder that the Rastafarian male community has turned away from Rastawomen , and are now more interested in non-Rastafarians? Just take a look at any video from Buju Banton, Sizzla, or any of the rest of them. All women with pounds of makeup and weave. Considering the Rastafarian male to female ratio is 6 men to 1 woman, this should come as no surprise, but what does come as a surprise is the utter breakdown of Rastafarianism as it is traditionally thought of in Jamaica Not only is the sight of Rastafarians eating chicken patties from Tastees or oxtail lunches from your local tuck shop, but one can see them freely walking around with white women in Half-Way-Tree, turning out at political rallies, and all the other things that would be verboten to Rastafarians recent as ten years ago. In other words, all that is required to be considered a Rastafarian nowadays is the hair, and the attitude, no belief system necessary.

Back to Dane from J-FLAG. Had Dane from J-FLAG been have had sated that although he was a member of J-FLAG, he was speaking on his own behalf. As a member of an organization mainly concerned with generating publicity for themselves and crafting press statements, he should have had focused on rhetoric, instead of trying to assert facts. He could have had brought the fact that anti-gay activists can have a noticeable effect on the already all-time low reggae album sales (Ifrica’s 2008 album sold only 2800 copies.). He could have had mentioned that both artistes would be concerned about the effect that the international network of gay activists could have on their ability to make money from international tours.

Oh no!!! Gays fucking up my album sales and tours. One ting alone fi dem battybwoy….
…now I can tour again!!! Yippeee!!!!

Lastly, he could have mentioned that all their bravado was just an attempt to backtrack on their statements that they made at the Independence Galas as an attempt to “get a forward.” But no, he simply played his part in the Cliff Hughes Variety and Comedy Show. Hughes pretending to be the impartial referee, Ifrica as the valiant heroine, avenging the injustice done against her by the faceless organization called J-FLAG, Tony Rebel as the calm, impartial, mature but forgiving Rastaman. And then we have Dane from J-FLAG, the badmind effeminate faggot who gets put in his place by the righteous Rastas. Everyone played their appropriate part.

The joke is, J-FLAG and the Rastas have much to offer each other. The picture of a Jamaican butch is not baggy pants and canerows, but a dreadlocked woman with tongue ring and oxford shirt pushed neatly into pleated dress pants. And as stated above, the Rasta male-female ratio isn’t looking too good. So what J-FLAG and the Rastafarian community need to do is unite. The butch lesbians can offer the straight Rastaman threesomes, and the Rastamen can let themselves out of the closet, as the only type of person who would want to be a Rastaman, in this day and age must be already gay as fuck. It would work out for the best – two organizations who have abandoned all ethics and integrity for the sake of publicity belong together

Peter Bunting is batsh_t crazy

While Nationwide News Network can be generally acknowledged to be useless, there are still a few instances where it serves some purpose. Take for example yesterday,  when they basically did a repeat of the Biography Channel’ Gangsters: America’s Most Evil episode,The Kingston Kingpin: Christopher “Dudus” CokeThey did the usually thing they do in their Cover Story segment. They basically just took large segments of the show and aired it verbatim (do they have the rights for this show?), without any moral judgement, just boring commentary.

This meant that I was able to get most of what the “documentary” was about without any unneeded commentary. And what I got was that Peter Bunting has serious emotional problems stemming fro a desire for approval, perhaps resulting from some childhood trauma, or a lack of attention from his father. In other words, he is batshit crazy. This guy makes “Shady” K.D. Knight seem absolutely sane.

Peter Bunting, looking crazy as fuck
The very picture of mental stability

His batshit craziness revolves around two statements:

  1. That the 2007 -2011 JLP (Jamaica Labour Party) administration was a client of Christopher Coke
  2. That the Attorney General’s Department was under the thumb of Christopher Coke

These two statements are extraordinary claims that require extraordinary evidence – none which was given, or could be given, by Mr. Bunting. The first claim that was made rests upon two other mini-claims made during the documentary by him and other sources.

The first mini-claim was that the JLP’s electoral campaign was funded by Coke. This is of course , nonsense. No one man has the power to fund the electoral campaign of a major Jamaican political party. Both parties, if they choose, can rely on the much more legitimate funding of the group of capitalists at the heart of their respective parties, local and overseas. They are the refugees of the Jamaica Democratic Party’s failed 1944 campaign, who instead decided to join the two main parties. So you have names like Matalon for the PNP (People’s National Party), and Ashenheim for the JLP. These are men whose wealth and access far exceed that of Mr. Coke. The Ashenheims ran the Gleaner newspaper for nearly 100 years, and the Matalons basically built most of urban Jamaica. These are the people behind the scenes, not some gangster dressed in drag.

Business, Sar?
Business, Sar?

The second mini-claim is that Coke swung the vote for JLP in the 2007 General Election. If all it took for the JLP to win elections was for a Coke to swing the vote, then they would not have had lost an election since the days of  Lester “Jim Brown” Coke. The PNP got booted out due to a middle class electoral being tired of scandals, corruption and incompetence. If the Trafigura scandal was the snowball, then the Cuban light bulb scandal was the avalanche that got an apathetic middle class running for the polls. That is not something that Coke, or the JLP, could have had orchestrated.

The idea that Coke could have had manipulated the Attorney General’s Department is libelous at worst. But this is to be contested, as such claim is unsupported by subsequent investigations.

Most of these things are common knowledge to most Jamaicans,yet Mr. Bunting chose to make a fool of himself on a “documentary.” And I use the term “documentary” loosely because the structure of the program is not one that is geared toward education, but one for entertainment.

  • The use of the quick, MTV-style jump cuts that do not linger on a scene for more than 10 seconds,
  • the rapid-fire comments from the “interviewees”, the preference of phrases over paragraphs,
  • the deep voice of the interviewer to suggest authority, who produces “Dudus”as “Doo-Doos” in a basso profundo baritone
  • the use of theme music to create a leitmotif

These are all techniques that serve to manipulate a viewer into thinking that what he is watching is a serious work of journalism, when it is really nothing more than a cheap ripoff of BET’s (Black Entertainment Television’s) American Gangster. Does anybody really expect that the complex history of the intermingling of crime and politics in Jamaica could be explained in one hour, minus 12 minutes for sponsors?

Apparently Mr. Bunting did, which is what makes a him a complete nut. Could you imagine Michael Manley, Edward Seaga, P.J. Patterson or Bruce Golding appearing on a trash program like this? No, we cannot, because we still think of these men as serious intellectuals who would not degrade themselves to appearing on some trash documentary with mediocre ratings. We used to think the same of Mr. Bunting, but he is apparently a man driven by emotion, not reason. The problem is that his emotions are the type of crazy driver that cuts of 5-ton trucks to get to head of traffic at an intersection.

This is just the latest of Mr. Bunting’s recent insanities. But this should come as no surprise to the average Jamaica, as this is itself the latest stage of Jamaican politics. No longer are our politicians intellectuals who take on the persona of either “The Preacher” (Michael Manley, Alexander Bustamante) or “The Dignitary” (Edward Seaga, P.J. Patterson), but emotional clods who can only (barely) manage, not lead.  And they manage through displays of emotion and and gimmicks, like Last Lick Politics, not through reasonable analysis, sensible ideology, or moral character. This is how we have this fool Bunting , bawling like a little bitch, saying only God can save us, and appearing on trash TV making a fool of himself. Mr Bunting is the new generation of Jamaican politician – the politician not as leaser, but as a cartoon character.

Three Commandments for Jamaican techies (and salespeople)

  1. Thou shalt not hype thy self, but be humble in the face of the non-techie: 6a00d8341d417153ef017c32120484970b-800wiA lot of people who are considered “techies” are really just walking gadget reviews. Not that there is anything wrong with being familiar with gadgetry – being the go- to guy for Android phones is actually a pretty neat skill. But most techies no longer try to understand the internals of their devices, preferring instead to engage in pointless debates and “my phone has more memory than yours” dick-measuring over gadgets they either fantasize about owning, or are too expensive for the average Jamaican. All that is really just a form of idolatry. Let’s go back to learning theories and techniques so that we can help ourselves, and each other.
  2. There is but one God, and his name is not Android, or iOS, or BB or…. : google-apple-e1299142097174 It used to be that a techie was thought of as a socially awkward person who made up for that with true technical skill. Now he is just awkward, with an obsession with whatever brand he is ogling over. It would same that brand loyalty has replace political ideology and even religious beliefs This is almost as bad as Jamaica’s legendary political divide, except with nerds instead of gunmen. And like that political divide it represents a pointless, self-destructive idolatry. If we are going to waste hours online flaming each other, at least let it be over something meaningful.
  3. And the Lord hath made richer phones for the rich, humble phones for the humble, mighty phones for he who seeks might, and simple phones for he who seeks simplicity: 113_3_1_13123288 A gadget exists to fulfill people’s needs, not the marketing departments sales quota, or as a tool for hyping over online. Most people do not need four cores. Or even two. The memory barriers on ARM making Out-of-Order Execution on their multicores difficult enough anyway, so most programs get locked into using one core, making your multicore arguments moot. Advise, and sell people phones based on their ability to fill people’s needs. This is especially the case with the sales department –It’s a hell of a lot easier to sell ten 5,000 dollar phones, than one 50,000 dollar phone.

Too Dumb 2 Be True – Smart Phones, Dumb Sellers

Imagine this scenario. A group of Jamaican electronics distributors decide that the general public are too ignorant of some of the most famous electronic devices on Earth, and thus hold a conference to educate the hoi polloi on these gadgets, never mind the fact that these gadgets have already saturated the public imagination through music videos, advertisements and social media.

Imagine that, the audience of programmers, mobile developers, gadget salespeople, and technicians are to be educated about the technical specifications and system software of these gadgets – by the Marketing department.

Imagine that these Marketers, who are supposed to be skilled in demographics, market segmentation, product cycles and the economic condition of Jamaica, decide to highlight exclusively high-end phones, to a public that not only is undergoing wage freezes and a depreciating currency, but only changes phones every three to four years. Never mind that one of those phones could buy a taxi cab, or pay for half a preparatory or tertiary school education for a year.

No need to imagine this. I experienced this personally Wednesday evening at the “Too Smart 2 Be True” conference held at the Waterfalls on Old Hope Road. In the relatively short time that I could endure the presentation, I had my intelligence molested by what must have had been the most condescendingly vapid set of presenters that could Jamaica’s main electronics distributors could have had found.

One presenter did not understand the security model behind Free-Libre/Open Source Software (FLOSS). When he compared Android to iOS, he believed that the ability to read the source code put the Android FLOSS at a disadvantage, when no hacker with any sense is going to read through thousands of lines of source code to find vulnerabilities anyway. There are enough tools available to reveal what functions, API/ABI calls or libraries any software, FLOSS or proprietary is using. After that it is simply a matter of the usual smash stack, buffer overflow mischief. Another mistook Windows 8 for the Windows Phone 8 on the Nokia Lumia 925, continuously repeating that the phone was running the desktop OS. Yet another repeated the above FLOSS fallacy, while advertising the Samsung Galaxy S4. That was about as much as I could endure without LMAOing at the people’s fancy presentation.

The general aim of the ”presentation” was to for the marketers educate technically-minded persons on technical specifications of various gadgets that most technically minded people have already memorized by heart. While I would have loved to be in whatever meeting vomited forth that idea, I learnt some very important things from that conference. Not so much learnt, but crystallized, as much of these ideas have been floating around the Jamaican technical collective unconscious for some time now. These ideas can be distilled into four commandments:

  1. Thou shalt exhalt thine smartphone, for expensive is the way to heaven: A “techie” is no longer a person who is theoretically and technically skilled at scientific, computational, or electronic techniques, whether credentialed or not, but merely someone who is able to rattle off the various specifications of whatever expensive device they have chosen to purchase. Understanding the software they are using how the software mods actually affect the phone, the difficulty of writing parallel/concurrent code to run one their many-core fancy phones is not a priority. They just need the phone to be expensive, like buying a Porsche, but not bothering to understand the engine.
  2. There is but one God, and his prophet is Steve Jobs. Honour his name, and keep it holy: The techie does not owe his allegiance to a particular local group of similar minded friends, or even an organization. Instead, his loyalty is to the particular brand of smartphone that he, and whatever friends he has. Brand loyalty thus functions as a replacement for any useful political or social ideology. And remember, down with M$, up with Open Source!!!
  3. Render onto the workplace what is the workplace’s and render onto the workplace what is God’s: Even if you have failed to become a techie after the presentation, you will still need this expensive smartphone if you want to be of any use in your current job. Don’t you want to increase your productivity? Don’t you want to keep you shit job? You think that those degrees and certifications matter? Not as much as this smartphone! In the future, we will all be contractors, so not only will we need Reliable Motor Vehicles, but Reliable Smartphones as well (I’m not kidding, this was actually said)! The fact this represents a significant rollback of worker’s rights and guarantees is irrelevant, what matters is that you should buy this expensive phone!
  4. Thou shalt upgrade frequently, whether or not you want or need to, as it is Invention that is the mother of Necessity: I have a new phone that I want to sell you. Its got a 200 terapixel camera, 936 cores, 17 terabytes of memory and 42 petabytes of onboard storage. The screen is also 121 gigapixels and can give direct UltraHDMI via the port that you should have on the back of your neck. What’s that? You only want to type up some text messages, do some minor office work and shoot a few short movies? Why are you so primitive? Don’t you want me to meet my sales quota this month want to unlock the full features of your mobile life? Don’t you know how much better your life would be if buy this expensive phone with features you didn’t even know that you want, or need?

When you combine the above ideals together, you can see that the distributors and retailers of electronics in Jamaica have been trained to sell to a first world, consumerist society. The fact that we inhabit a small country, whose currency is constantly weakening against the US dollar and lack the necessary household income or credit market to afford those gadgets is irrelevant. They have sales targets to meet so rather than adjust their business strategy to focus on the Jamaican market; they try to sell us phones – that are subsidized by American carriers- at full price. The sad thing is that they did have a good phone for the Jamaican market – the Nucleo Fusion. But as a cheap non-name phone with only the features one needs, it violates three of the commandments, and was not a priority at the presentation.

Just look at that cheapo piece of crap

It should not come as a surprise to anyone that such consumerist silliness would come from Watts New- the organizer of Too Smart 2 Be True. This is a series of stores that sold the Playstation 2 at a price so expensive that it was actually cheaper to buy a cheap overnight ticket to Miami and buy it – and you would still have money left over for an extra controller, and a copy of Zone of the Enders. This is better now, with the maturation of online shopping and Their pricing strategy does not seem to come from a place of incompetence, but a complete inability to empathize with Lower Middle Class Jamaicans, who not only make up the majority of the population but would be most in need for a device to supplement – or replace – their aging computers. These are the guys at UTECH with the netbooks, cheapo tablets and plasticky laptops. No Apple for them, that money has to pay their school fees.

The funny thing is, for all their fetishizing of high end phones, that is not the future. Companies like Nokia and Samsung are working hard to capture India and Brazil with phones, similar to that of the Nucleo Fusion. The major manufacturers know that high end, easily destroyed fancy phones are not ideal for poor third world countries, but durable smartphones that can sell for less 100USD, and can replace the cheap feature phones that many of us carry around. That is the future. Hopefully Watts New and the rest won’t be too dumb to catch up with it.

Phillip Paulwell’s Magic Bullets

It seems that Minister Paulwell’s scheme for getting tablets out to schools is going well. All it took was 850 million dollars from the Universal Access Fund.

In other completely unrelated news, not only are teachers to be given a four year wage freeze, but teachers past retirement age are to be sent home, never mind that much of our schools a re overcrowded.

The use of technology to undermine the rights of skilled workers is an old one. This is what the historical Luddites fought against – not technology, but the way that technology was used to destroy their way of life. This is not to say that Minister Paulwell (or Minister Thwaites) sits around plotting ways to screw over teachers. But if you fire teachers, and buy tablets, you may just get the idea that tablets can replace teachers, or supplement teachers in some way. My thesis, however, is that technologies like tablets, as well as ill-thought out social policies implemented by Phillip Paulwell will have the effect of dis-empowering skilled workers, as well as other unintended consequences that are worse than the problem that it is intended to solve.

This is one of the main problems with technocrats (not that Paulwell can be thought of as a technocrat) – they believe that any social problem can be solved with the right technological bullet.

Take for example our energy situation. Jamaica’s electricity price is currently 40 US cents a kilowatt, compared to 10 US cents a kilowatt for an advanced nation, and 3 US cents for Trinidad and Tobago. So he puts out an offer for a 360 Megawatt plant. Never mind the fact that we lose 23 percent of our electricity through distribution losses that occur due to heat losses, outdated transformers and theft. But that sort of thing is basic maintenance, and that is not sexy. Not like LNG barges and all that.

While we have had many discussions of various Natural Gas Wunderwaffen, what we have not heard is anything resembling an energy policy, one with milestones, 10 year goals, strategic investments, maintenance, futures contracts, energy security, that sort of things. What we have is, basically this:

  1. Get 360 megawatt LNG plant
  2. ???????????
  3. Profit!!!!!

and with Tablets?

  1. Get tablets that will make dunce students smart with pretty Flash animations
  2. ??????????
  3. Profit!!!!!

It’s rather interesting that, out of the blue, comes Energy World International – with their own Natural Gas field. Anyone who has ever paid attention to energy gets the impression some sort of bandoollo is going on, that the Energy World International plan looks something like this:

  1. Proposition dumb-ass third world technocrat wannabee with the short con , bait him with natural gas field, and build him a nice cheap plant (razor, inkjet printer).
  2. Lock the fool in with a nice natural gas supply contract.
  3. Use the fact that natural gas prices are extremely volatile, as they inevitably go up, as they have been doing over the last 25 years – the long con (the blades, the inkjet cartridges).
  4. Profit

Anyone with basic knowledge of the historic world energy prices knows that natural gas prices are volatile. They’re too unpredictable to use as a national policy especially for a nation that is perpetually starved fo foreign exchange, like ours. Unfortunately, Mr. Paulwell cannot be described as one who is knowledgeable about anything regarding energy, or education. This is despite the failure of technological strategies  such as Nicholas Negroponte’s One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative.

Yet, men like Paulwell continue to bang the technology drum. But technology without policy , or economic considerations is like a gun wielded by a deaf and blind man – he will just hurt himself and others, but almost always miss his target.That’s the thing with magic bullets, the guns and gunmen that use them usually have in common the fact that they both come with empty barrels that make a lot of noise.

Dr. StrangeTax (or how I learnt to love the Laffer Curve)

Economics and Applied mathematics are not inherently difficult topics. In a lot of cases, they are merely an expression of some specific ideology in a symbolic form. One example of this, is the Laffer Curve.

Laffer_CurveThe point of the Laffer curve is to show the relationship between the amount of revenue a government collects at each point of a tax rate. A tax rate of zero percent obviously raises zero revenue, while a tax rate of 100 percent is what mathematical economists call “slavery”, and is usually avoided as a fiscal policy. The idea is to find the point on the curve  which revenue collection can be maximized.

Another example of a Laffer Curve

Obviously, this parabola is nothing more than a graphical illustration of the porridges that Goldilocks had to drink. Too hot, and no one has any money to pay taxes. Too cold, and government gets no revenue. We have to find the point where its just right.

Laughable Laffer

The problems with this should be fairly obvious at this point.

  • In a country with a progressive tax rate, you will need more than one Laffer curve. Sometimes, a lot depending on the demographic. This is a problem, because the Laffer curve was originally intended to help rich people.
  • There may be multiple peaks on the curve.
  • There may be other variables at play affecting tax collection. If they are quantifiable, you’re going to have to get out that Div, Grad and Curl. If they are unquantifiable, like say, a Kafkaesque bureaucracy that prevents people who want to pay from paying, well then, that’s another problem.

The first bullet point needs some more explaining. The Laffer Curve was formalized by one Arthur Laffer, one of the main proponents of Supply Side Economics. The thrust of his argument was that the tax rate that maximizes revenue was at a much lower level than previously believed: so low that current tax rates were above the level where revenue is maximized. So, what should be done was to lower the tax rate – for rich people.

Supply Side Economics defined

Previously, Supply Side Economics was called horse and sparrow economics. Why?

According to John Kenneth Galbraith, the theory dates back to the 1890s when it was called horse and sparrow theory — i.e., if you feed horses enough oats, it will pass through their digestive systems and their droppings will provide enough leftover oats to feed the sparrows.

It is now known as either Reaganomics, after its most popular promoter, or trickle-down economics,, based on the idea that  the rich will use the money saved from taxes to re-invest in the economy, instead of, you know, hiding it the Cayman Islands.

Suffice to say, the implementation has had some controversial results, especially under George W. Bush.

Bush cut taxes for the rich, eliminated the inheritance tax for wealthy people too stupid to consult with a financial planner, gave away bribes called tax incentive packages, sought and got an $800 billion bailout package (which he called $700 billion bailout), and paid for it all with a Chinese credit card.

During this same period, the dollar slipped against world markets, losing so much ground that some nations chose to no longer peg their currencies to the US dollar. Once at par with the euro, the US dollar lost a third of its value. When Bush junior entered office, the Canadian dollar was worth about 65¢. By January 2008, the Canadian dollar exceeded the value of the US dollar for the first time since 1976, although it has since receded to about 95¢, due in part to governmental intervention,and falling oil prices.

It’s also worth noting that N. Gregory Mankiw, who was at one point the chair of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, actually lists supply-siders in his introductory economics textbook under a section entitled “Charlatans and Cranks.”

However, like all economic policies, it has its place, but a problem occurs when you shift the tax burden from the rich to the middle and poorer classes.

Peter Phillips, you bloodclaat dunce

Jamaica is a nation of higglers. Not in occupation, but in thought. Our idea of wealth creation is a simultaneous exchange of good for money – it is present centered. W do not appreciate that over time assets – and this includes people can , well, appreciate. So we ignore the stock market, but get caught up in monthly payout Ponzi schemes like Cash Plus. And this is what Peter Phillips has essentially created with his policies – a national Ponzi scheme. The government has already squeezed all the taxes they can from Jamaican people. See that second Laffer curve? Let me show you again:

Growth, not maximum revenue

We are waaaayyyy on the right hand side of he Laffer Curve – meaning tax evasion and black market trading, but the cool thing about the above curve is that it focuses on growth maximization, not revenue collection. You keep collecting more and more taxes, you will reach a point where you can’t get anymore taxes, just like how a Ponzi scheme reaches a point where it can’t get bring in any more money to pay its investors.What you need to do is stop taxing middle and lower class people, fix the bureaucracy and fix our infrastructure,  if you want to get your our damn money. In other words, Supply Side economics for everybody.

He even looks like a fucking retard
He even looks like a fucking retard

Phillips and company seem to believe that only way to maximize growth and tax revenue is through more and more taxation. But anyone with half a brain should be able to realize that doubling taxes will not double tax revenue. That is like having nine women pregnant for one month to get a baby faster. The Laffer curve is a parabola, not a straight line, and is merely a mathematical model of common sense. Perhaps if Dr. Phillips paid attention to the policies of previous administrations, he would realize that the Laffer Curve is no laughing matter.

Last Lick Politics

The latest political hullabaloo comes to us care of the Sunday Gleaner, by way of Southern Trelawny. Apparently, the independent representative, Paul Patmore, has put forth the claim that the JLP Member of Parliament for that area, one Marissa Dalrymple-Philibert , has been giving out houses to her supporters. These are Food for the Poor houses that are intended for the most destitute, but have allegedly been going to wealthy JLP supporters. To these allegations, Mrs. Dalrymple Philibert has skilfully defended herself in the radio media (Jamaican radio doesn’t believe in podcasts, sorry) , while the Gleaner has now published some follow-ups

This reminds of that whole Richard Azan saga. No, not the similarity of the circumstances, or the fact that PNP politicians have no objective sense of morality, but of something that the Milk River Councillor, Carlton Bailey said. To paraphrase:

The JLP do some of the same things, and if we ever were to name some thing s them do , you would see how bad them is.

Now that the Azan saga has gone on for about 20 days (as of April 30 2013), instead of the planned 9 days, we must have something to distract us with. Something to show, not that PNP is innocent, but that the JLP is just as guilty. Kind of like the nine hour wonder that was the scandal over Bruce Golding’s bakery back in 2006.

When I was a boy, we used to play a game called “last lick.” You tried to hit one of your friends right before they left to go home. So all day you would try get yours in, while strategically dodging your victim, so that they would not catch you as you leave. And this is what this whole Food for the Poor scandal is. Politics as a children’s game – a food fight. Political parties in Jamaica have basically given up on morals, ethics, ideology, economic interests, sociological commonalities, and even identity, preferring instead to score points in tit-for-tat battles. It is at this point that we must abandon all hope for government to help us, and start working on traditional government responsibilities at a community level.