In Response to Mr. Reid
Mr. Ruel Reid is once again putting forward a position on a matter that well thinking men and women find extremely troubling. On the first occasion that Mr. Reid felt it necessary to speak to his belief that poor Jamaican women are ‘dropping babies’ without any care or concern about how they should be taken care of, I was perplexed, I had imagined that he had revisited his position and had somehow changed his perspective. But unfortunately, he has not altered his position, he is apparently concerned that state resources are being used to care for the unwanted and unplanned children of people who are too poor to maintain them. Mr. Reid’s logic suggests that the poverty, lack of resources and economic opportunity which plagues the most vulnerable of our society are a result of unplanned pregnancies and unwanted babies.
Mr. Reid further suggests that Jamaica, because of these unplanned pregnancies and unwanted babies, is facing a cultural crisis and needs to re-evaluate its values such that a behaviour change will occur which will see a lessening of the immoral acts which poor people engage in which sees them having more and more children. Now I know Mr. Reid is a learned man, he is after all the current headmaster of one of Jamaica’s most respected colonial schools. One that has produced prime ministers and Rhodes Scholars and other men of stellar achievement and solid reputation, further he was at one point the chief shepherd of teachers and was recently sworn in as a Senator; Mr. Reid is for all intents and purposes an honourable gentleman. Not only is he honourable he is learnt and experienced and a man of good conscience.
Mr. Reid must not then know that a 2010 UNDP report pointed to the fact that the 2010 Economic and Social Survey of Jamaica records that we are currently experiencing decreasing birth rates and relatively low death rates, resulting in an ageing population. In other words we are faced with a very first world problem in the midst of third world realities. Mr. Reid must not know that the 65 years and older age group is the fastest growing segment of the population.
Mr. Reid might very well argue that his problem is not with all Jamaicans but with those poor Jamaicans who are having children who they cannot afford to take care of. It is quite strange that the best example of population control he can point to is China’s ‘One Child Policy’. Firstly, he is pointing to this at a time when China is relaxing the policy, at a time when it has been argued that the policy was and is an abysmal failure and at a time when Chinese children are abandoning their elderly parents in droves because as their parents enter into old age the one child is finding it financially challenging to take care of two elderly parents, this Policy failed in a number of ways not least of which is its impact on the Chinese labour force. But without even getting into the nuances of that debate I wonder why Mr. Reid, educator par excellence did not feel the need to examine the impact education has on population growth. In fact I would like to ask Mr. Reid to critically assess his statement, in that long tradition of academic writing where statements are put forward after credible research and a well thought out position. I would think that as an educator, with limited knowledge of Planned Parenthood, and reproductive rights he would know that he ought not to speak from an uninformed position, after all Mr Reid you are a distinguished gentleman and leader to boot.
Mr. Reid, I am worried that your concerns about balancing the nation’s budget and promoting economic growth are much too one sided. How about we examine the impact those big businesses which have been granted protracted periods of tax exemptions are having on the economy? What of those companies that do not turn over the taxes they collect from these said poor people to the state? What of the role of crime but better yet how about examining the role political parties have played and continue to play in Jamaica’s uncontrollable crime problem and of course the subsequent cost to our country’s economy and reputation?
Unless Mr. Reid, you yourself have become a part of the system that Bob Marley referred to when he described a system which ‘sucks the blood of the sufferer.’ Mr. Reid who is the problem in Jamaica? Is it the children of poor people? Or is it this ‘Babylon System’ that you seem hell bent on protecting?