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NE OF the big flaws in democracy is that its wheels require grease to turn. Since they need money to finance their campaigns and their largesse with supporters, politicians have to pander to people with big money to get some of it. Then comes payback time. Yet, one of the foundations of democracy is that government is not only ‘of the people and by the people’ but that it is also ‘for the people’, rather than being for those with big money – the special interests who fund political parties to buy influence. A democracy becomes mature when it puts adequate checks and balances in place. The United States has such a mature democracy, where all donations to politicians, political parties and affiliated groups must be declared, and this information is made available to the public, for example, on a website. That way, those who watch over the integrity of their democracy can more easily detect whether favours are being granted in exchange for political donations, detracting from the interests of the people as a whole. Of course, such transparency cannot prevent bribery and influence peddling; it


It’s the empathy, stupid! Peter Espeut only makes its detection easier. As long as the system demands that politicians hold out their hands to those with money, influence will be peddled and favours bought. One of the attractive things about how Barack Obama does his fund-raising is that he does not rely only on big money. Obama specialises in small-dollar, grassroots fund-raising, while Mr Romney’s donors were more likely to make the maximum allowed donation (US campaign-finance laws strictly limit the amount any one person can give to a candidate’s campaign to US$2,500 during the nomination race, and another US$2,500 up to the election itself; readers

may wish to compare this to the political donation of US$65,000 made to the JLP to hire the lobbyists Manatt, Phelps & Phillips over the Dudus affair). Last August, for example, Obama’s campaign raised US$114 million, while Romney’s raised US$111 million. Team Obama noted that its 1.1 million August donors gave an average of US$58, and that more than 317,000 were first-time donors; some 98 per cent of the donations were for US$250 or less. In contrast, for Team Romney, about 31 per cent of their donations came through contributions of less than US$250.


With only two per cent of Obama’s August contributions being over US$250, this means special interests have little sway over him. If anyone has sway over him it is the grass-roots man, the small donor, which is who he should be accountable to anyway. I hope and wish

and pray that one day I will be able to say the same about Jamaican politics! I find the exit polls of US voters last Tuesday interesting. When voters were asked which candidate had a vision for the future, Romney won – 55 per cent to 43 per cent. Asked about Obama’s signature achievement (health care), 49 per cent said they wanted it repealed in part or whole. Voters also said the federal government was too large, which is a criticism of Obama and the Democratic Party. Voters who cared about the economy picked Romney by one percentage point over Obama, 49 per cent to 48 per cent. With these poll results, Romney should have won handsomely. But Americans seem to want more than someone who can fix the economy. When voters were asked which candidate cared more about them, Obama won more than 80 per cent of those voters, to Romney’s 20 per cent. American voters want


someone they think cares about them. It is the empathy, stupid! And there may, indeed, be a link between the copious grass-roots political contributions to Barack Obama and the belief in his empathy. But what is also interesting is Obama’s performance over the last four years. Despite not being in the pocket of specialinterest groups and the ‘big man’, Obama’s policies still pandered to Wall Street, and made things more difficult for the poor. Maybe he always had one eye on his reelection bid; but despite not being much better off, the poor again voted to re-elect Obama. Maybe the poor are saying they had even less hope in Romney. This reminds me of our electorate in Jamaica who continue to vote for Portia ‘because she loves the poor’, despite the fact that after 35 years, her constituency is as poor as ever. Maybe there is even less confidence in the JLP. But Jamaicans require no declaration of political donations, and our politicians pander to big men with money. Where is our hope? n Peter Espeut is a sociologist. Email feedback to

Step away from everyday fare


OU’RE SITTING in a restaurant in New Delhi eating the most heavenly tandoori chicken, or chowing down on some pasta in southern Italy. Imagine savouring all the tastes and aromas that you have till now only dreamed about. You may not get a chance to travel to all these places, but your taste buds and imagination can take you there. Let the participants in The Gleaner-sponsored Restaurant Week (RW) provide temporary satisfaction to your cravings by opening up your palate to unfamiliar flavours. Be seduced by the tastes of the continents in a restaurant setting right here at home. Remember that food, apart from being filling, should be fun. This RW, with the reduced prices, let your local dining experience take you to a happy place. Don’t just go to those restaurants you’ve always visited, or order the same things you have year in and year out. It’s OK to cheat on normal. Take this opportunity to step away from the everyday fare and embrace cuisine you would never think of eating. Remember food never feels slighted. There are many places to choose from the 70-plus eateries that have signed on to RW this year, so go check them out. If you’re fighting the battle of the bulge, you don’t have to miss out on the fun! Just do smaller portions. Don’t eat the entire entrée if it’s a large portion; pass on the dessert. There are always ways to get around whatever limitations there may be.


So grab a few friends and go out, try new stuff and let your palate take you where it will! A little libation should help to lighten the mood and make you more adventurous. Though having wine with our entrée is not a widespread practice in Jamaica, it is catching on. More people are choosing to enjoy a glass or two of wine in lieu of the sweet drinks and juices which were once the norm. When deciding on which wine to pair with your entrée, convention dictates that you think complementary or contrasting – complementary in the sense of

TO O U R R E ADE RS : The Gleaner welcomes your views on any issue. Letters must bear the writer’s signature, scripted, printed or typed name, full address and telephone number where possible. When submitting a pen name, kindly submit full name separately; names and addresses will be withheld on request. Letters to the editor of 300 words


Tennesia Malcolm

What’s On this week


Obama and Jamaica Most Jamaicans joined in the celebration after Barack Obama won a second term as US president. diGJamaica has dug up several landmark events in Obama’s first stint that impacted Jamaica. obama_jamaica

lighter wines with lighter fare or fuller wines with heavier fare; or a sweet wine may be paired with spicy dish to create a pleasing contrast. So you would find that, normally, a fish dish would be accompanied by white wine, while a hearty steak would be accompanied by a red. But don’t be a slave to convention. It’s OK to go against the grain and choose a wine that suits your palate, because wines may taste different with certain foods. If food flavours are too strong, they tend to overpower the wine. So be careful – stay away from overly spicy or seasoned foods if you truly wish to enjoy your libation. But whatever your choice, just have fun with it. Remember, it should be a totally pleasurable experience for you, so do what feels good. When you step out for Restaurant Week tonight, don’t be afraid to eat outside the (Styrofoam) box. n Tennesia Malcolm is a subeditor and freelance reporter. Email feedback to and tennesia.malcolm@

or less have the best chance of being published. We routinely condense letters and seek to correct errors of fact, spelling and punctuation. We may use letters in other print and electronic products of The Gleaner Company Ltd. Please send your letters to The Gleaner Company Ltd, PO Box 40, 7 North Street, Kingston; fax to 922-6223 or email

Football in time warp T Orville Higgins ELEVISION REPLAYS and the use of high-tech camera technology have become part of many sports. This was inevitable. Sport is now a multibillion-dollar enterprise which determines the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people all over the world. The need for the correct decisions to be made is, therefore, taking on greater and greater importance. Bad calls by sport officials not only shape the outcome of a game, not only can determine the outcome of a career, but, quite literally, can affect a person’s lifesytyle. Most sports have realised that getting the proper call is paramount, and have long embraced technology to help the officials. One sport that has been reluctant to fall in line is football. Supposedly the world’s most popular sport, football has been extremely reluctant to use television replays to help officials. Coaches and managers being critical of referees’ decisions in post-match interviews has become virtually standard, especially for the team that loses. One wonders if FIFA has decided not to use technology in football precisely because it feels that inevitable criticism of referees only helps to add to the drama of the game and, therefore, adds to the sport’s overall appeal. No one can convince me that FIFA is serious about doing everything possible to help get the correct decisions made in football. FIFA appears to be operating on the maxim that there is no such thing as bad publicity. Something as basic as goal-line

technology, where a device is set up to determine whether a goal should be registered, seems simple enough, but stubbornly, FIFA has up to now refused to make that a standard part of the game. A lot of football pundits argue that football is too dynamic and free-flowing for television cameras to be used during the natural run of play. That, I can understand. Most sports are really a series of events with natural built-in pauses inbetween, while football, theoretically, can be a nearunending series of movements for up to 45 minutes at a time.


Turning to TV cameras to determine infringements in football can, therefore, be quite tedious and cumbersome because of the regularity which the camera crew could be called upon. No one wants a game of football to be stopped and the TV crew consulted to rule on a decision every minute or two. Do that and a 90-minute game could take three times as long. I also don’t mind the human element of the referee in the middle. No one wants to see a football game being adjudicated by a little man in a room with a bunch of gadgets around him. We might as well be watching ‘Star Wars’! But where is the middle ground? How do we strive for the

correct decisions to be made in football and not make teams feel hard done by, without disrupting the natural flow of the game? It isn’t easy but I have a suggestion. I would have a rule that allows a team to challenge the referees’ decision, not indiscriminately, but maybe, say, twice per half. If a team feels it was given an unfair call, it would have the right to review the call via television wherever possible. So where a player gets booked or sent off unfairly, he can challenge that. He can ask for TV replays to verify things like a penalty given or conceded, or whether a goal kick or a corner should be awarded. The replay could also check for things such as goals from an offside position, or a handball that results in a goal or a penalty situation, etc. Like in cricket, if a team gets the reviews wrong, the team would lose access to them, and if they get them right, they would keep the privilege. Since there only two per half, it is in the team’s best interest not to challenge ‘any and any’ call, and this would mean that the game is unlikely to be disrupted for the 50-50 decisions. If this is brought into football, the standard of refereeing would improve because refs would not want to be embarrassed by an overturned call, and players will feel they have some say in crucial decisions that could cost them the game. The game and the players involved would definitely benefit. FIFA needs to institute something similar to this now. n Orville Higgins is a sportscaster at KLAS. Email feedback to

Ranny Williams Maas Ran’s 100th birthday was on October 21. However, members of the Little Theatre Movement had an intimate celebration of his life and work recently at The Little Theatre. We have captured the essence of the man in a slideshow featuring his stage performances. ranny_williams

King bows out Striker Marlon King is walking away from international football, leaving the Boyz to fulfil their Brazilian dreams on their own. Take a look at the turbulent career and life of one of Jamaica’s most high-profile strikers. marlon_king

Where does the alumina go? It is common knowledge that Jamaica exports alumina – but have you ever wondered who’s buying? Find out the location of Jamaica’s largest market for our valuable commodity. view/alumina_sales_by_ destination_2012

New data Get the latest figures on tourism, alumina and bauxite production, as well as remittances, exchange and interest rates. new_on_dig.

Whats On November 9