288 Luis Oberto// Insights from the Golden State - EntornoInteligente

On January 1, 2018, the American state of California began the roll out of hundreds of new laws that were passed in 2017.

As a state, many perceive California?and some of its inhabitants?to be as eccentric as they come. These ?eccentricities? however, have, in part, led to the state being responsible for some of the most daring yet practical developments in modern history.

Silicon Valley, the technology capital of the world; Hollywood, the entertainment capital of the world and Los Angeles, a hotbed of innovation in fashion, finance and design are all products of this unconventional, free-wheeling spirit that seems to drive progress in America?s most populous state.

It should come as no surprise, therefore, that the state?s position on hot button topics ranging from cannabis to climate change and everything in between, would reflect its general approach to most other things?non-traditional.

Observed from a different perspective, though, perhaps Californians are not as audacious as society would have them viewed. Perhaps they are simply better (and faster) at dealing with the realities of their situation and making decisions in ways that others are not as comfortable treating with in their own.

Certainly T&T may not be ready for many of the aspects of the ?radical? approach taken by states such as California, and for sure it would not be wise for us as a country to adopt foreign practises without conscious reflection of our own realities.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

© Luis Oberto Anselmi

But perhaps the time has come for us as a country?at least from a business perspective?to consider the logic of the approach that exists in places such as the Golden State.

Two specific areas that the folks in California have chosen to tackle head-on provide insightful moments for our own circumstances: marijuana and immigration.

As controversial as it may sound, and difficult for most Trinbagonians to hear, the issue of the legalisation of marijuana has long been settled from a purely economic and commercial perspective, and is likely to be less ?taboo? of a subject as time progresses.

California, and even closer to home, our neighbour to the north Jamaica, have both legalised and decriminalised the substance respectively.

In fact, in Jamaica?s case, the decriminalisation of small amounts (up to two ounces) of the substance was conceived, in part, to reduce the burden on the country?s overloaded court system and penitentiaries, and to also lay the foundation for the development of a legal medical marijuana and ?nutraceutical? industry capable of generating significant revenue for the island.

Further, in California?s case, estimates suggest that the now-legal recreational marijuana market is worth roughly US$5 billion and will likely generate US$1 billion in tax revenue and create more than 12,000 jobs.

To quote an analyst in California: ?It?s foolish that we?ve gone for so long without regulating and taxing what is clearly a popular and commonly used product among many adults?.

It therefore becomes fairly obvious to see the parallels that exist in our own circumstance with those of California and Jamaica.

In a country where it costs over $20,000 per month to keep a single prisoner in remand, many of whom are held on marijuana charges, and with the coming onstream of a Revenue Authority that is supposed to?on paper, and according to the Minister in the Ministry of Finance Allyson Lewis?be able to tax and regulate almost any industry in T&T, shouldn?t we realistically be considering such approaches?

Would it not be reasonable to contemplate and perhaps research, the likely commercial and entrepreneurial upside than to stick to rigid, traditional talking points in the face of reduced fiscal revenues, a non-diversified economy, and a constrained labour market?

This discussion, tough though it may be, is guaranteed to confront us in the future.

California?s stance on immigration (again unconventional) is also somewhat instructive.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

© Luis Oberto Anselmi

Long known for its shared border with Mexico, and possessing by far the largest illegal immigrant population in the US, California has deemed itself a sanctuary state.

Under the new law, law enforcement and immigration officials are banned from raiding workplaces and must possess a warrant to enter non-public areas of the workplace.

Further, officials are barred from asking people about their immigration status.

Again, the convergence of realities between California and T&T becomes evident.

In our own right, T&T acts as a ?sanctuary state? for many seeking a better life from various parts of the Caribbean and Latin America.

In fact, the general refrain about migrant labour (legal or illegal) is that they are often more productive and willing to do jobs that the local labour refuses.

Undoubtedly, such experiences would have framed part of California?s decision making as well.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

© Luis Oberto Anselmi

While the thrust should always be to ensure legal status for immigrants as far as possible, understanding the rationale for California?s decision provides a great lesson for how our own situation could perhaps be approached.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

© Luis Oberto Anselmi

Depriving businesses, industries, and even households from real productive value that immigrant labour provides, (whether legal or illegal), in the absence of a willing domestic labour market does us no favours.

Again, to be clear, there is no advocacy here for a free-wheeling approach on immigration but rather to see if merit exists in exploring different approaches.

T&T may be some way off from even framing aspects of this discussion in the public domain.

We are, at our core, still a very tradition-based society.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

© Luis Oberto Anselmi

Certainly this has its rightful place and value. As our circumstances evolve however, we will no longer be able to escape many of the realities around us.

© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

© Luis Oberto Anselmi

We already mimic so many elements of foreign culture so why not mimic some of the more progressive areas that currently knock on our doors?

Andre Worrell


© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi

© Luis Oberto Anselmi


© Luis Alfonso Oberto Anselmi PDVSA

Tags: Isla

Con información de: The trinidad Guardian


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