Thu | Jan 17, 2019

We have a lot to learn from Obama

Published:Friday | April 10, 2015 | 12:00 AM

The deodorant bar has been raised. Recently, I discovered a new trend in underarm perspiration protection. Makers of these hygiene products have put their best Ivy League scientists to work and they have come up with 48-hour protection deodorants. Forty-eight hours!

At first, I was impressed by the claim of longevity, but then various questions began to creep in my head. Are we no longer intended to bathe twice a day? Is this a new water-conservation tool? Who is so busy that they don't have time to cleanse their armpits for two whole days? Is that person touching my food?

What at first seemed like hygiene genius was quickly spotted as the agent of nasty it really was. These products were designed taking into account our WANT to smell good all that time, when, in fact, what we really NEED to do is bathe! I don't need to smell good for 48 hours non-stop. Twenty-four hours at best (for when I visit Mandeville because I'm not bathing in that cold water), but after that, my crevices itch.




I weigh the same want-vs-need conundrum when I watch US drug commercials. One famous sleep aid lists two of its side effects as "stroke or internal bleeding, which in some rare cases, can lead to death". Call me silly, but I'd rather have insomnia for eight hours than sleep forever! We want to sleep. We don't need the potentially poisonous sleep aid.

On Wednesday, the big boss touched down in Jamaica. The coolest, most popular, most powerful leader in the entire world. Heralded as one of the most successful and transformative presidents of the United States, Barack Obama comes to my newly paved island.

We want to put forward a good face. We want to show Jamaican pride and resilience, and show off our awesomeness and offer to him our best. And some of this preparation comes at a high price.

I'm all for presenting a proud Jamaica, but our wants (and our pride) should not come in the way of our needs. Perhaps, Barack should have dropped in a pothole or two to understand our real situation. Forget the rose-tinted glasses. I say expose him to some of our trials so he doesn't leave thinking our need is imaginary.

I hope we take the time to not only satisfy our want to impress, but also to recognise that as a state, we need both resources and advice from the leader of the free world.

We need conversation about:

- Affordable health-care ideas. Anything we can emulate from Obamacare to improve our own public offering.

- Recycling and waste management. Had the Riverton fire happened in any US jurisdiction, heads would roll. How did the transition to separation of garbage happen in the US, and what resources do we need to put in place to start that here? Are there any environmental minds he can lend us to set Jamaica on the right path to sustainable garbage management? Any grant funding lying around to address NEPA's concerns?

- Real job creation (and no, JEEP doesn't count). US employment is growing faster than it ever has in 16 years. What is causing this, and how can we learn from it?

- Immigration policy. How do we protect the interest of the millions of Jamaicans who opt to seek a better life in the US, legally and otherwise?

- Marijuana. We have the best! How can we develop the industry in a way that facilitates legal trade and benefit not just for Big Pharma companies?

- Talent sharing. The US often gets our teachers, nurses, farm and hotel workers. What learning can they pass on in this direction?

- Entrepreneurship. The US is home of the most self-made millionaires. How can we do it, too?

- Manufacturing. Can we return some of the garment construction jobs we had in the past?

- Sports as a business. US sports stars in so many disciplines have been able to make a decent (dare I say lavish) living from their talents. How can we replicate that with athletics outside of the chosen few? How do we mushroom netball into basketball's success?

There is a lot of conversation that needs to happen. The president's schedule is tight and the visit is short, but I hope we don't miss the opportunity by feeding our want to score political kudos.

Kingston's paved roads are the 48-hour deodorant. But so much more of the country stinks. Let's take the opportunity to learn the political hygiene we can.

- Patria-Kaye Aarons is a television presenter and confectioner. Email feedback to and, or tweet @findpatria.