The immediate event has passed, but helped by the several outstanding performances of our track athletes in London, the euphoria of the occasion will linger.
We have no qualms with that.
It is not every day that a country marks its 50th anniversary of Independence. Nor are there too many countries which became independent around the same time as Jamaica that have enjoyed half a century of uninterrupted democracy, can claim our high standing on the global freedom index, the vibrancy of our culture, or the 'coolness' of our national brand.
It is important, however, that the exultation from Jamaica 50 and the brilliance of Usain Bolt, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and company in London don't lull us into a false sense of security about the overall state of Jamaica.
For anyone who cares to look, there are huge problems with which to attend, and with urgency, if 50 years from now Jamaica is to avoid the lament of the assessors - as is now the case - of its too many missed opportunities.
Facing our problems
The most towering of these problems is the state of the national economy that, for the past 40 years, has been largely stagnant. Real annual average growth has been under one per cent.
This underperformance is exemplified in a per-capita GDP that has hovered just above US$7,000; in perennial public-sector deficits; and in our Greek-style national debt - now above J$1.7 trillion, or around 140 per cent of GDP. The economic failure, buttressed by a sometimes dysfunctional political culture, has been the major contributor to our high rates of joblessness, poor education outcomes, weakened infrastructure, and high levels of crime.
Fixing these problems will not be without substantial pain and will require the understanding and buy-in of the Jamaican people.
In this regard, we believe that our Government missed an opportunity provided by the jubilee celebrations to seriously engage the Jamaican people, at a time when they are likely to be most receptive, about our national circumstance and to seek their support for reforms that must be done now.
This is not to suggest that there ought not be celebrations. Rather, jubilation ought to be interspersed with sober discourse, between political leadership and the people, over what the finance minister, Peter Phillips, sometimes refers to as the "wrong turns" we have taken in national life.
We, however, do not believe it is too late to robustly initiate the conversation, even as we start the hard work of reform to which the Government has largely paid lip service.
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