The world is really a village

Wowwwww…so many life changing and dare I say earth shattering things are happening and have unfolded over the past two weeks or so. I want to zoom in on one significant thing and that thing I believe may have some long term implication for those who engage in business and who trade in goods and services. I have been led to reflect on this matter because over the past week I have had the privilege of attending two well thought out events that were aimed at educating businesspersons on how to operate a viable and sustaining businesses. These were namely the hosted by the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce/Jamaica Coalition of Service Industries and the SEBI Summit ( A JN Foundation/USAID/ British Council et al affair).Both were extremely well planned and organized to optimize the resource persons quite effectively.

The ‘significant thing’ though was US President Donald Trump’s decision not to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which was a flagship trade deal with 12 countries from Latin America and the Caribbean, North America, Asia and Oceania.The TPP was to constitute the largest free trade area in the world, as measured by its members’ combined GDP, and it differed from most previous trade agreements in that it was both plurilateral and interregional, as well as for the breadth of subjects it covers. The TPP had a strong regulatory harmonization component in such areas as e-commerce, public procurement, regulatory coherence and various labour and environmental matters. The agreement was signed in 2016 but was not ratified, thus Trump’s executive order took care of that. It is to be noted that the previous Obama led administration  had argued that the deal would have provided an effective counterweight to China in the region.

The implication for the LAC region, which includes Jamaica can be inferred from the economic outlook provided by ECLAC which had outlined that;

the region’s participation in the global economy continues to lag: its share in global exports of goods and services remains stagnant and it has lost ground in trade of high-technology goods and modern services. Although the share of Latin America and the Caribbean in global foreign direct investment flows has risen, its low-technology specialization has deepened. The region’s participation in global value chains has increased this century, but remains below the global average and consists mainly of providing raw materials for third countries’ exports. Poor digital connectivity also hampers the region’s capacity to enter new dynamic sectors. Amid still-sluggish regional and global economic growth, the Latin American and Caribbean region’s exports and imports [fell] for the fourth year running in 2016. [However it was expected that] thereafter, a modest upturn is projected in regional trade in 2017-2020.

This is especially complex as according to an investement expert in the government of Jamaica  entrepreneurship and the medium to small microenterprise sector is poised at the forefront of Jamaica’s growth agenda. This is within the context that fiscal challenges continue to be the biggest concern for the government as Jamaica seeks to control its public finances. Evidenced by the growth rates of 0.9%, 1.1% and 2.2% in the first three quarters of 2016, respectively, posted for the Jamaican economy with growth projected at 1.1% in 2016 and 1.2% in 2017. The implication is of a gradual strengthening in growth, largely owing to the negotiation of a precautionary agreement between the government and the International Monetary Fund.

We have matured enough to understand that trade with our cousins up North is still important. The challenge will therefore be navigating with other members of the global marketplace to forge new or expanded trade partnerships. Similarly countries within the LAC configuration with flagging economies perhaps have to take cautionary measures to insulate manufacturing and increase employment opportunities within borders. Buying local is also a major cornerstone for growth.It will be interesting to see how small economies maneuver the itinerant trade and foreign policy landscape. We are afterall one global village and one big marketplace.

 

Fighting Inequality(ies)…

The week of January 14-20, 2017 is being utilized as a week of action to FIGHT INEQUALITY. Initiated by the  Fight Inequality Alliance, its aimed at drawing attention and focus on inequality within the global economic realm and especially highlighting the far reaching effect of poverty and general impoverishment. This is purposely to coincide with the World Economic Forum occurring within the same period in Davos, Switzerland.

fight-inequalityThe reason for this global call to action is expressed below, as per the website – http://www.fightinequality.org:

Inequality has reached extreme and dangerous levels, and has put too much power into the hands of millionaires and powerful corporations. What’s worse, a growing number of hate-filled leaders are gaining power by pretending to stand up for the poorest. But they are not champions for ordinary people and have no intention of ending corporate greed, tax dodging, privatisation of services, and exploitation of workers, women and minorities. In fact, they are stirring division and discrimination that threatens to take us back to the horrors of the past.We know it’s possible to have a society where everyone matters, and nobody is rich or powerful enough to be immune from the rules. But powerful elites and corporations won’t change a system that works for them without pressure.

Evidence to this is given for example by OXFAMAmerica which highlights that just 8 men have as much wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population. Source:www.oxfamamerica.org/just8.

 

Related image

Image source: Sustainable Human

Consequently this leads to disparities in income (micro) and the disproportionate economies of scale (macro) which manifest into all types of inequalities and inequalities at all levels, namely social and spatial inequalities. The capitalist mindset stemming from modern day commerce and industry have through the centuries, post -Industrial Revolution era, contributed to the accumulation and amassing of familial wealth. The wealth have been so concentrated within these hands that it is a vain attempt at extricating same except through philanthropy and endowments.

Image result for inequality definition Image result for inequality definition

The promise of wealth accumulation by those outside of these circles have had flickering success through the signing of social entrepreneurial spirits. New inventions and the technological age have opened new frontiers for innovation and thus creating new opportunities for virtual richest.

North-South debate (examining inequality on a geographic scale)

To dial back to an earlier point in the discussion though, the laissez-faire /captalist model is referenced as having contributed to the highly extractive approaches that have left many countries in the developing world reeling with the after-effects. The growth and development of many countries in the ‘North’ at the expense of countries in the ‘South’ is debated in many lecture theatres, college hallways and in social media. The main take home is that the wealth in the hands of the few have been also at the expense of so many  with far-reaching geographic impact.

So in the inequality dialogue one must examine what the global recessions – in quick succession, harsh economic climates and banking crises and such have unearthed- serious and indepth analyses at the individual all the way through household and country levels.  From a theoretical perspective it is not surprising that many of the economic paradigms of the last decades have been reviewed and are now being examined. Many of the problems of this world involving inequality for example cannot be resolved by economic means. This is as many researchers and policy analysts have determined that the economic approach have contributed to and have been the cause of much inequality. As we navigate a paradigm shift social engineers only seek to determine whether or not there are key salvageable and meritorious elements of economic models that can be utilized to assist with a re-engineering of our thinking. Inequality after all is a quantitative measure, in so much as it is able to be, used to explain the qualitative construct of the problem.

 

 

 

Marginalization and its consequences…

fight-inequality

I have been grappling with the thought that sometimes- well meaning efforts can have inadvertently deleterious effects despite being impactful. This often happens when I am immersed in some gender related activity. I think on the ways in which many cultures still do not allow the girl child to achieve her fullest human potential. Some girls are primed only as brides and thus chattels of their male counterparts whether as a parent or later as a spouse. It is therefore important work to empower females who are so socialized or who have escaped these oppressive regimes they had been forceably subjected to.

However, observations made in the field, in other societies including mine, is that young males have, or had at some point previous, become themselves marginalized. In Jamaica girls are out performing their male counterparts in most of the indicators of human development. See below for the educational attainment indicator example in Jamaica.

Although the number of boys and girls in Jamaica is roughly equal, according to some recent statistics, 48,992 boys and 81,111 girls sat CSEC subjects, and the girls outperformed the boys in all arts subjects and all science subjects, except mathematics. More than twice the number of females (67 per cent) are enrolled in the University of the West Indies (UWI) than males (33 per cent), and 59 per cent of those enrolled in post-secondary non-tertiary education are women.

Its long been accepted that boys develop differently than girls. Strong family support is needed to nurture  the children  in such a re-socialization process so as to take these into consideration. Girls have a proclivity to learn at faster rates than most boys. The education system must, even through resource constraints, have specialized approaches to capture and retain boys as well as girls. Concurrently, there must be a demystified definition of the gender roles. Our boys AND girls must be equally socialized to realize their fullest potential  within the context of modern societies. Traditional roles have to be retooled such that there are no restrictions contained in either.

Correlation between inequality and crime

Thus, it is ironic that the men are expected to be primary bread winners and providers in their traditional roles as ‘heads of households,’ within the current system that is failing them. In previous articles I have written about the high rate of male drop outs and the large percentage of unattached youths primarily concentrated by the males in the population. With the increasingly high national crime rate and the spate of murders in St. James, data can be found to provide evidence to the underlying cause and effect, not excluding the educational attainment. It is an imperative that we do not attempt to only mitigate against the attendant results but also strive to bring resolution to the innate nature of the problem.

We watch the news and documentaries and we wonder how can people be so murderous. We also wonder how people can be so callous as to scam the elderly out of their pension and life’s savings. It is time for us to get into the belly of the beast and slay the dragon from within. We need to start to understand, not empathize, but to dissect the mindset of deviants. As stated in a TEDWomen talk delivered by Jacqueline Novagratz in 2010 we should seek to understand how someone, ‘…[can] look at other beings, human beings, as lesser than [them]selves and in the extreme, to do terrible things.’ In an episode of the series Black Market on the Vice network, some young males (including boys as young as 12) who were involved in carjacking activities in Trenton, New Jersey, stated, ” its ‘us or them,’ when we are hungry.” This echoes the sentiments by many males who hang on the corner in many inner cities or impoverished neighborhoods here- as well some hardened criminals- and those relegated to a life of crime and illicit activities.

To help to make the connection and to solidify the call for attention to neutralizing gender gaps at the socio-economic levels, Novagratz makes the following point even as she was reflecting on a female parliamentarian who was imprisoned for war crimes.

And there is no group more vulnerable to those kinds of manipulations [see quotation above] than young men. I’ve heard it said that the most dangerous animal on the planet is the adolescent male. And so in a gathering where we’re focused on women, while it is so critical that we invest in our girls and we even the playing field and we find ways to honor them, we have to remember that the girls and the women are most isolated and violated and victimized and made invisible in those very societies where our men and our boys feel dis-empowered, unable to provide. And that, when they sit on those street corners and all they can think of in the future is no job, no education, no possibility, well then it’s easy to understand how the greatest source of status can come from a uniform and a gun.

‘Evolving Intelligence’

I recently, while channel surfing, came across the movie ‘Simone’ starring Al Pacino. What had seemed like a harmless, frivolous quasi- science fiction movie- when I watched it during its first release- had now become an insidiously reflective modern dramatic representation of the reality of artificial intelligence. Further I was led to also reflect on the covert ways in which false narratives have infiltrated our mass media and by extension our minds’ spaces. A pattern is emerging that we need to be aware of in mass media. This pattern can be framed in a question which is- Is it just me or when there are some real serious and earth life threatening events that something- seemingly innocuous- emerges that operates as a side event and/or deliberate distraction. …I am just saying. For example the numerous and questionable killings of black males in the USA vs. Pokemon, Mannequin, etc challenges.

2016 was a watershed year. A lot of societal and value system changing events took place and may have occurred undetected by the masses. It was a pivotal year for Mother Earth and her inhabitants. Just like the discussion around climate change, i.e. is it real or not? There were so many other crises for which real needed attention and resolutions were being derailed by rhetoric. We are in an age of constant ‘clear and present danger,’ environmentally, socially and politically. This requires global consciousness.

The average man cannot afford to be average anymore. We must be (not become) sober. (There is no time for a learning curve). 2017 is the year! This is the year that will set the tone for ….well everything. Our senses, our knowledge, our intelligence should evolve. We should all, as much as possible, dig deeper. Seek clarification. Be more discernible. Determine one’s core belief system. Be resolute. Evolve.

When Love becomes war…

Towards the end of the 2016 period  there was a lot of persons who seemed extra anxious to just be done with it… in some instances one cannot blame them. There seemed to have been so much that happened in the past several months, especially here on the island, which have given us quite a few scary pauses. One of the most troubling was an inexplicable spate of murders committed against women by their domestic partners. At the close of the 2016 the total stood at 24. As a woman this is twenty-four too many. As a social scientist I know that the reasons will be many and deep rooted. A writer in one of the main newspapers here offered up some suggestions as to why a man would kill a woman with whom he would have had a love relationship, at some point. Some of those suggestions were:

  • hurt pride,
  • sense of being betrayed,
  • the ‘no-other’concept -that the woman was made for ‘him’  and ‘no other’ male should get her,
  • the ‘my investment’ concept- that he has invested in her and no other male should reap the dividends,
  • the “my flagship” concept. This is where the woman through her attributes, whether by way of her education, colour, money, or beauty, makes the man look good. These things he does not possess, but because of his association with her, he looks good…and yet another reason, more often alluded to by many as the underlying cause for most domestic violence against women,
  • he deems her as his’“property”. He claims her as his own physically and emotionally. He feels that he can do with her as he wishes, even to the point of killing her.

These are very thought provoking and also insightful. I would like to add to the discussion that most human beings today operate in a state devoid of the core emotions. I engage with persons each day who are experiencing and have experienced abuse and I have surmised that too often we are so overwhelmed by life that we block out those intrinsic elements of our beings such as – empathy and love.  This suppression happens internally BOTH to the victims and the abusers. For example sometimes the victim stifles self preservation for the economic stability afforded her by being in the abusive relationship. At least on the surface of it that is how it would be perceived. Another example may be that she has low self esteem that the abuse sometimes becomes a sick, warped view of being love until it is too late. To the abuser who would have loved the woman, at some point or even during and throughout the abuse feels he loves her, he I posit, does not understand that love- in its most organic state- is not controlling nor hurtful. Love, in fact, is such that it is able to transcend human nature to dominate and to hold captive, thus enabling the ‘loved one’ to be free instead of bring any harm. Free to leave. Free to live.

Similarly,  suppression of basic human emotions happens, externally, to the ‘others’ who are around. We are able to quite easily videotape human tragedy before offering first aid. We are able to easily stay on our side of the wall or fence and listen to couples squabble and not get involve. Us, the others are able to excuse ourselves with, its their problem, I have got my own- which is so much more consuming. We have primarily become less of our brothers keeper. We have become allies in the love war.

 

Is it really the start or a continuation?…

I have been reading a lot of history and gaining background insight, context and knowledge to a lot of the meanings behind the holidays. There were some information I knew having studied European history from the renaissance to revolution. However there was quite a bit that was astoundingly new and quite enlightening. As we get into this I want to share this gem- Knowledge IS power. GET IT.

Moving forward

Many persons make new year’s  resolutions at this time. The belief, I suppose, is that new year, new beginnings. I had undoubtably also subscribed to this in the past, however I have since been reformed. I now strongly operate from the understanding that life- from birth to the grave is a process…a continuous one. Therefore each blessed year is a continuation. To see this clearly, for each birthdate one does not cap off the past and start over. So too analogously  the new year, each year, whether the gregorian calendar or otherwise, is a continuation…If you subscribe to this then you know its a matter of taking stock and realizing that it is never too late. Everyday the universe teaches us  lesson and reveals new things to us. It unfolds such that people we thought we knew we make discoveries about them. We learn more about ourselves we get to understand just how much we are able to tolerate, who we must avoid, who are true and trustworthy, who really wants us to succeed and who is watching for our downfall.Thus we must be aware.

This is an imperative as you strive to become a better you. You must shed useless situations and people. Learn the lessons and keep it moving. The pressure within must be greater than without.  Similarly, we must make choices. Choose to avoid people and situations that have no real value to your well being. You will know them, these things will  drain your energy, totally defeating your efforts and attempts at growth. Summarily, each juncture is an opportunity to sober up, opening your eyes to all truths, the greatest of which is make your life count. Whilst doing this sustain yourselves spiritually, mentally and physically. Love thyself. If you do not care for yourself then you are no good to anyone. Do yourself the favour.

Happy Independence Day Haiti!

Our sister island Haiti celebrates 213 years as the first independent black country. When you read the history of the series of events resulting in this feat you will be amazed at the tenacity and courage inherent in the people of color.

http://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/History/Haiti-history.htm

However sadly, it perplexes a lot of us and often begs a common question, in relation to the current state of Haiti – why is Haiti so poor? Watch this video directed by Noland Walker.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8iwPM64DjI

To think that whole process endured for twelve years before the final result! Which brings me to a very important piece of wisdom.

KEEP PRESSING… your best is yet to come. All the very best to a better you!