Post #3 – Nationalism & Inequality

I am back with my third blog that focused on major issues that involve the world and where Jamaica stands on them. On this blog, I will focus on the issues of nationalism and inequality. To enhance my findings, I will use readings that were assigned in class that can relate to the topics I will discuss.

To begin, I will talk about nationalism. Nationalism defined by Merriam Webster (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/nationalism) is, “a feeling that people have of being loyal to and proud of their country often with the belief that it is better and more important than other countries”.

kings-house

King’s House, home to the Governor-General of Jamaica

Going to back my first blog, I shared a little history of how Jamaica became a country. In 1962, Jamaica gained independence from Great Britain. Around this time, a lot of people in the newly formed nation enjoyed getting to participate in a government that is more aware of local issues. Still to this day, Jamaicans continue to participate in their government by exercising their right to vote. They also feel a great sense of nationalism in their athletics, especially when it comes to track and field. They are home to the world record holder in the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes. Whenever he steps onto the track, most of the country watches and feels excited when he usually wins his races. They get to enjoy hearing their National Anthem being played when he is on the podium.

Nationalism is usually attributed to positive things such as creating a sense of unity amongst a country like Jamaica. Unfortunately, there are some bad things that come out of it. Globalization expert, Fareed Zakaria, thinks that Nationalism is bad by creating and growing “sub-nationalism”. In his book The Post-American World, “sub-nationalism” is like a dividing force that can create factions in a country. To use the United States as an example, I think Zakaria means that nationalism is like us supporting our teams that compete at a world competition like the Olympics. The “sub-nationalism”, I think he means could be our political parties, Republican and Democrat.

jamaican-police

Jamaican Police with Local Government officials

According to Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamaica), in the 54-years that Jamaica has been a country, there haven’t been any significant conflicts of nation-states and ethnic groups. Most of the conflicts that happen in the country are only between different ethnicities. For example, there have been attacks on supporters of the LGBT. In 1962, the murder rate wasn’t even at 4 people per every 100,000 citizens. Over time, that rate rose to 62 people in 2009. It was considered the highest rate in the world by the United Nations. Recently, the rate has gone down, probably due to more government intervention through more patrols and curfews.

Social issues aren’t only the only things that people struggle with, they also struggle with personal finances. The country faces many forms of inequality. In class, I got to learn about a way to measure financial inequality amongst different countries. That way is by comparing Gini coefficients. Higher coefficients mean that there is a greater wage gap in that country. According to 2013 data from the United Nations Development Programme’s website, Jamaica’s Gini coefficient is 45.5. Compared to the United States (40.8), there is a greater gap in Jamaica then the U.S.

In terms of effects of the wage gap in Jamaica, there haven’t been big repercussions. Other countries have had riots and protests. Jamaica has been pretty calm in those terms despite their Gini coefficient. However, according to a 2013 article from the Jamaican Observer (http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/How-will-inequality-in-Jamaica-be-tackled_14759534), the Jamaican government is promising that they are willing to narrow the wage gap. That tax rates for the poor are around 20 percent while tax rates for the rich are around 33 percent. Not only that, some people that have collateral can’t get loans while some that have no collateral can get loans. Most of the loans in the 21st century are given for entrepreneurial reasons such as starting up a business. The problem for the lawmakers is trying to find a good point that there is plenty of economic growth while also allowing financial equality for the Jamaican citizens.

In the future, I would want to see how these politicians come together and make changes for their country.  I wonder if they talk to other countries to find out what they have done to combating financial inequality, then what policies that they implement.

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