How Jamaica Is Recovering From the Recession
Orette Bruce Golding has served as Prime Minister of Jamaica since 2007. He is the leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and was the founder of the National Democratic Movement (NDM), and is the country's eighth Prime Minister since it declared independence. He s the current MP of West Kingston and he hosts a monthly talk show called "Jamaica House Live."
Question: How has Jamaica fared in the wake of the recession?
Bruce Golding: We faced a particular challenge because even before the recession we had serious economic difficulties. We had accumulated 11 years of fiscal deficit, we were heavily indebted. We are a very small and open economy so that we are particularly impacted by what is called "exogenous shock," which is external influences. And therefore, we were particularly hard done by the recession.
We took the decision that we needed to fix that. And therefore, we introduced very, very tight fiscal measures to reduce our budget, to cut our deficit, to rein in our government borrowing—because we were borrowing so much that we were crowding out the private sector. In a sense, we were doing what we needed to have done even before the recession, without the recession. But we felt it was even more important to do that now and to position ourselves so that once the recession had passed, we would be in better shape to attract investment and to secure economic growth.
It has been tough. I give you an example. Bauxite alumina counts for more than 50% of our export earnings. And because of the global recession, three of our four refineries had to shut down. You can understand the devastating effect that that has had. But what we have done, we have used the time—a crisis as an opportunity and we have used that opportunity to put in place a proper fiscal framework. We have... we have reduced our dependence on credit and we are pursuing a fiscal responsibility program that I think will [...] to our growth and development once the recession is over.
We are a little concerned that the recession is... the recovery is so slow. And the recovery is likely to be elongated and therefore it’s going to take time before we benefit from all the sacrifices that we have made, but we believe that it is a good investment for our future.
Question: Jamaica's debt load reached 126% of GDP last year. Is that dangerous?
Bruce Golding: The size of the debt is one thing, the cost of the debt is even more important to us. We have borrowed significantly, both externally and on the local market. We were borrowing on the local market at an average rate of 17% with various instruments commanding rates as high as 28%. And the cost of servicing the debt—not so much the size of the debt—is what impacts on our fiscal ability to do the basic things that government needs to do; provide proper security, provide proper education, proper health care and so on.
So what we have done has significantly reduced the cost of that debt. We did a debt exchange program on the domestic debt, on the domestic portfolio of our debt, $700 billion Jamaican, some $7-$8 Billion U.S. That has significantly eased the pressure on our budget. Rates on government paper have fallen from more than 20% to now 8%. So that has given us some space.
Where we have been a little disappointed, is that as we rein in government, as we pull government out of the economic space, that space ought to be taken up by the private sector. But the private sector has still not fully recovered from the effects of the recession. Investors are still risk-averse. They are still reluctant to plunge in. Not until they are certain that the recession is at an end. They have been talking to the United States, as you know, about the possibility of a "double-dip" recession. I don’t think that’s going to happen, but I think that investors are waiting to see when would be the right time, when would demand have recovered sufficiently to make investments secure. And we are at the tail end of that. So, we will have to wait a bit longer, but I think that way we are well-positioned for investment.
In the meanwhile, what we are doing is, we are seeking to spearfish particular investment projects that, hopefully, could kickstart our recovery, and could lead the way for others, particularly with major companies. The largest telecom provider in the Caribbean, for example, Digicel, is undertaking a major investment in downtown Kingston as part of the redevelopment and renewal of downtown. We’re going after projects like that because those can seed the recovery and those can ensure that the recovery can come sooner than it otherwise would have.
Recorded on September 25, 2010
Interviewed by David Hirschman
The country introduced "very, very tight fiscal measures" to reduce its budget, cut its deficit, and rein in government borrowing, says the prime minister.
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What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
Researchers dramatically improve the accuracy of a number that connects fundamental forces.
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The WashU electrolyzer<iframe src='https://mars.nasa.gov/layout/embed/model/?s=6' width='800' height='450' scrolling='no' frameborder='0' allowfullscreen></iframe><p>The WashU electrolyzer—it has no snappy acronym yet—will not be the first device capable of extracting oxygen from Martian water. That honor goes to the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment, or <a href="https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/spacecraft/instruments/moxie/" target="_blank">MOXIE</a>, which is en route to Mars onboard NASA's <a href="https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/" target="_blank">Perseverance</a> rover. The rover was launched on July 30, 2020. It will arrive on February 18, 2021, and will perform high-temperature <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrolysis_of_water" target="_blank">electrolysis</a> to extract pure oxygen, but no hydrogen.</p><p>In addition to being able to capture hydrogen, the WashU system can even do a better job with oxygen than MOXIE can, extracting 25 times as much from the same amount of water.</p><p>The new system has no problem with Mars' magnesium perchlorate-laced water. On the contrary, the researchers say it ultimately makes their system work better since such high concentrations of salt keep water from freezing on such a cold a planet by lowering the liquid's freezing temperature to -60 °C. He adds it may "also improve the performance of the electrolyzer system by lowering the electrical resistance."</p><p>Cold itself is no issue for the WashU system. It's been tested in a sub-zero (-33 ⁰F, or -36 ⁰C) environment that simulates Mars'.</p><p>"Our novel brine electrolyzer incorporates a lead <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0926337318311299" target="_blank">ruthenate pyrochlore</a> <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anode" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">anode</a> developed by our team in conjunction with a platinum on carbon <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cathode" target="_blank">cathode</a>," explains Ramani. He adds, "These carefully designed components coupled with the optimal use of traditional electrochemical engineering principles has yielded this high performance."</p>
Back home<p>"This technology is equally useful on Earth where it opens up the oceans as a viable oxygen and fuel source," Ramani notes. His colleagues forsee potential applications such as producing oxygen in deep-sea habitats with ample water available, such as underwater research facilities and submarines.</p><p>The study's joint first author Pralay Gayen says that "having demonstrated these electrolyzers under demanding Martian conditions, we intend to also deploy them under much milder conditions on Earth to utilize brackish or salt water feeds to produce hydrogen and oxygen, for example, through seawater electrolysis."</p>
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Pfizer's vaccine needs to be kept at -100°F until it's administered. Can caregivers deliver?
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