People Profile: Richard​ Blackford (Social Commentator)
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This Week on People Profile: Richard Hugh Blackford (Social Commentator)

Richard Hugh Blackford

Richard Hugh Blackford

This week on People Profile: Richard​ Blackford (Social Commentator).
Have you ever watched a friend be bullied or otherwise mistreated and wanted to do something about it? Maybe you physically stepped in, or perhaps you wrote about the experience on your blog. This particular blog entry could most likely be considered a work of social commentary, or one that critiques one or more aspects of society so as to highlight its flaws and ideally prevent their continuation.
Social commentaries have existed for as long as societies have been around to comment on. Since humans first began interacting in groups, issues surrounding the cultural, political, religious, or other aspects of that interaction in society have attracted the attention of those who feel they need fixing. Many people, particularly writers of social commentaries, feel there’s an innate sense of justice and overall humanity that each of us possesses purely by the virtue of being human. These authors, then, might hold themselves as guardians and expressionists of these inborn sentiments.
It is therefore our privilege to have as our guest this week Mr Richard Blackford. Welcome to People Profile Richard.

Richard Hugh Blackford
wha a gwaan Doctor C?

Dr. C
Some may have seen your numerous thought provoking posts on “The Artful Dodger”. Others may have seen you not as a social commentator but more of a political analyst. Please tell us who is Richard Blackford.

Richard Hugh Blackford
It is actually “The Artful Blogger” Doc, Funny though that you have asked as I had not really given thought to a definition of who I am. That you ask though I would say that in the simplest of terms I see myself as a spiritual being, having a human experience. I am driven by my artistic and by extension my expressive nature. After more than 50 years I have come to a greater appreciation of the absence of social justice globally generally and specifically in Jamaica. I am appalled at what passes for leadership back home today. I am gutted by the lack of opportunities for our people generally, and the disinvestment that our country has made in our youth. Those who claim to serve are in it for themselves and we are back to that point where the masses are being left to await the crumbs that fall from the table.
Having lived through this in the 1960 to 1980 period I find it difficult to remain silent and since the Good Lord has blessed me with an ability towards self expression I have accepted that this is my calling. I have decided to use that gift to bring these issues to public attention …sort of my way of getting involved in the struggle for social justice.

Dr. C
I apologize, i thought it was the “Artful Dodger” as one will soon realize..lol.
Richard, the struggle for social justice involves both the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the People’s National Party(PNP). It is highly expected that the general elections in Jamaica could be as early as December this year. In your view, what is the state of readiness as it relates to the JLP?

Richard Hugh Blackford
Sounds like you are attempting to pre-empt the Prime Minister and “Fly di gate” early Doc. But to both your question and your suggestion, I do not think the issues are as significant today as they had been in previous election cycles to warrant holding an election in December of this year. Strategically, that would suit the PNP as it would take complete advantage of the JLP which is no where near to being in a state of readiness for a national poll. An early election would suit the PNP but would hurt the country especially the end of year commercial/retail trade players.
In terms of the JLP; they have spent most of the last two years bouncing from one crisis after the other with the biggest issue of all; Leadership still under resolution. While there has been acquiescence of Andrew Holness, there is still unease and distrust at some levels as key players in that party are still on the outside. Funding is a major issue and with its biggest source of election funding now on ice the JLP faces an uphill battle to find money to fund a proper campaign against the incumbent PNP. Issues of candidate selection, enumeration and constituency mobilization and canvassing machinery requires huge sums of money which the JLP at this time does not have. The JLP’s best hope for mounting a challenge to the PNP is an election in a years time. I do not think the PNP will wait that long.

Dr. C
Yes funding is a critical component for a successful campaign Richard. The current PNP administration has been criticized as being an active player in the slow economic growth of the island. What is the role of corruption, cronyism, and leadership as it pertains to the PNP?

Richard Hugh Blackford
The People’s National Party has been in government for at least 30 of our 53 years of Independence and must take responsibility for the failures we have had during their stewardship, especially in the period 1989-2007. We can argue about the Manley years of the 70s when the country was the target of deliberate destabilization in order to effect a regime change but that is another discussion. But to your point; Jamaica today ranks as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. It is estimated that we have squandered in excess of US$14 billion over the last 40 years through corruption Do the math. Is it any wonder that we are one of the most indebted countries in the world?
Begining in 1940, Jamaica when measured against Singapore grew at a similar rate and was regarded as one of the fastest growing (developing countries) in the world. Between 1976 and 1978 Jamaica’s growth literally stopped. We have barely moved since and Singapore who we were being measured against has grown into the stratosphere. Corruption causes the redirection of resources away from the use and benefit of the state to hand-picked individuals and creates significant imbalances in the distribution of the country’s wealth. This happens because the state apparatus creates policies and programs that directly or indirectly encourages this approach. Both sides are guilty, but I would have to say that the PNP has to take the brunt of the blame. NSWMA, the Road Construction and Development projects, the questionable use of NHT funds (Outameni purchase for example), the government Tax waiver programs, Sabina Park Redevelopment, the Trelawny Stadium… these are just a few examples. It will require strong individual leadership to re-set the dial and I do not see that in either of the two parties at this time. We are in for a long rough ride.

Dr. C
Wow, you have painted a bleak picture especially for our children. What’s your perception of the effectiveness of Portia Simpson on a scale of 1-10 for the following :
A.Visionary,
B. leadership,
B. Management capabilities,
C. Looking out for the poor.

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Richard Hugh Blackford

Richard Hugh Blackford
Those questions are leading questions Doc as there is a well held view regarding the Prime Minister’s competence and it isn’t a positive one at that. Let me answer your questions this way:
When one considers the debacle that was the PNP’s performance between 1989 and 2007 with Finsac and it crippling effect on the island’s economy, there is no way on God’s earth that the PNP should have seen the halls of government for at least another 50 years following their defeat in 2007. That the JLP was so uncermonously trounced after four years in office speaks to the caliber of the JLP as an alternate. It says that we are screwed politically as the JLP is all talk and no ability.
Compared against Bruce Golding, Andrew Holness and PJ Patterson, Portia is doing the job of re-setting the economic fundamentals…something that has to happen if we are to “right-size” SS Jamaica. In this respect she has done a far better job that her predecessors. This is the first time in 40 years that a Jamaican government has stuck to its economic targets; something that we have no choice but to do if the country is to get to a point where our debt to GDP ratio will be brought to a level where we can grow the country’s economy and attract investments.
Am I comfortable with her leadership style? No! I believe that she needs to be more available. Talk to the country…even if her oratory isn’t Ivy League…just talk. People needs to hear from her.
As to looking out for the poor…That can only be done realistically by getting the economy on a proper footing so that investors will come in with more jobs. The days of providing hand-outs are long gone and that is what got us into our current problems in the first place.

Dr. C
A quantitative description of the variables ask would have given us a more definitive answer as to your perception of her. I know that you have been living in the US for quite sometime now. How do you compare Jamaica’s politics with the US in terms of the systems of political campaign.

Richard Hugh Blackford
No comparison really. The politics here do not directly impact the average person as it does in Jamaica. There the campaigns are more involved at the various levels. Maybe it is because Jamaica is a much smaller society and the individuals involved actually impact communities more directly and as a result the activity evokes more involvement at the grass roots level. I do not believe that Jamaica’s politics is any more or less corrupt than here. I believe that here the politics represents the interests of big businesses and that the candidates are bought and sold to and by their funders. The same is true in Jamaica but the impact not as discernable there as it is here.

Dr. C
If you were Republican, who would be your candidate for 2016?

Richard Hugh Blackford
To go back to your earlier question: I believe that PSM has done her time. I believe that she cannot contribute to the kind of PNP that now needs to emerge in order to reconnect with the 18-30 year olds and the more educated voter.
Her stewardship of her constituency is an absolute disaster for one who has represented the same community for more that 35 years.
To your question: None. Republican politics runs completely counter to my ideological thinking. I am a Socialist. I am about inclusion…the creation of a more inclusive/participatory society. Nothing in Republican politics identifies with.

Dr. C
What role do you see Donald Trump in the political process? Do you think he is a viable candidate for the Republican party?

Richard Hugh Blackford
I see him as a great entertainment draw for the TV stations and other media owners. Electorally, he is not viable. While he will have his cheering section (given the vast population in the US) he isn’t a politician. He is a bigot and he is a racist, he is disrespectful and divisive. These are not the qualities of a politician. Maybe it is good for some Republicans as he says what they want to hear but that makes him completely unelectable.

Dr. C
I see, do you think Ben Carson’s political ideologies are in line with those of the Republican party?

Richard Hugh Blackford
Ben Carson is a study in psychological deconstruction. I am quite saddened that a man who was once such a brilliant individual has fallen to this level. His utterances are bizzare…he needs to be “strait-jacketed” so that he will stop embarrassing himself and his family.

Dr. C
Lol…using the words of a friend “lawdofhismercy”…
How do you think the situation surrounding Hilary Clinton’s email coupled with the Benghazi’s revelation will affect her chances of being the Democratic nominee?

Richard Hugh Blackford
I do not think that it will have much of an effect really. In fact, I saw a report recently where the CIA is claiming that Republicans had actually doctored those emails to make her look bad.
What will make her chances a bigger hill to climb will be Joe Biden (if he enters the race) Biden represents four more years of Barack Obama; who is the most successful US President in history. That Hillary appears to have been walking away from some of Barack’s policies to date is not a good sign. That will be her biggest challenge.

Dr. C
Do you think the winner of the Democratic nomination will be our next president?

Richard Hugh Blackford
Absolutely.

Dr. C
Wow! A response with only one word from Richard Blackford! Unbelievable! !!!! Lolololol
Who would you want as a close friend Hail Selassie or Mahatma Ghandi?

Richard Hugh Blackford
Neither. Mahatma Ghandi was a Racist and Haile Selassie was more of a metaphorical hero for his color than for his contribution towards the development of Ethiopia.
I admire Ghandi’s work as a believer in non-violence but that is it. Selassie for his speech to the United of Nations on racism which became parts of the lyrics for Marleys anthem War…but that is it.
My hero is Marcus Garvey.
That is who I would be if I had that choice.

Dr. C
Marble or kite?

Richard Hugh Blackford
Kite…they soar

Dr-Allan Cunningham
Lolololol……
This is the biggest question:
Camperdown or KC ? (Sorry Richard i had to ask) lol….Let’s see you wiggle through this!

Richard Hugh Blackford
I love them both. KC gave me the start and provided me with the initial tools. The ethos of Kingston College is what defines my existence and I live the motto Fortis, Cadere, cedere, Non potest…the brave may fall but never yield. I realized this when my business failed in the late 90s and this provided me the ethos of my survival and re-definition.
Camperdown is special. It provided me with a platform for self-development….gave me a taste of responsibility. Jeff Brown was my mentor in this regard and through him and the experiences at Camperdown I learned what it meant to get involved. Some of my best and longest standing friends today are from Camperdown.
By the way i should have known that this question was coming. Lol.

Dr. C
Lol but you still dodged the question with you genal self! Lol
Richard Blackford People Profile would like to thank you for your insight in the political landscape of both Jamaica and the US. It would certainly be a pleasure to chat with you again in the near future, walk good my friend.

Richard Hugh Blackford
People profile is a standout on social media Dr Cunningham and it was a pleasure for me to have been selected. Nuff Respect!

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About the author

Dr. Allan Cunningham