Sixteen SUVs?

Say it ain’t so!  Tell me I mis-heard.  Or misunderstood.  Not sixteen brand new SUVs.  Plus five more luxury cars.  When tax waivers are included, my conservative estimate of the taxpayers’ cost is over $100 million.  Tell me that a recession hit poor country’s government has NOT just bought sixteen brand new SUVs for cabinet ministers.  I feel like Amadou Diallo.  This body blow feels like forty-one shots all on target.  So, with apologies to The Boss:

(16 SUVs) and we’ll take that ride
‘cross this bloody river to the other side.
(16 SUVs) cut through the night.
You’re kneeling over his body in the vestibule
praying for his life.

Wait a minute.  What’s that I hear?  The Information Minister has assured the media the purchases were approved by Cabinet.  Well, whoop-de-doo!  That makes it ok.  But who are the beneficiaries of the purchases?  Aren’t government ministers and cabinet members one and the same?  So, let me see if I get the Minister correctly.  It’s ok for a poor country just hit by a natural disaster with at least two eastern parishes reeling and rocking from the shock to spend over $100 million buying sixteen SUVs for cabinet ministers because it was approved by cabinet ministers?  Will we soon hear the SUVs have been sold to their custodians for J$500,000 each?

Lord deliver us.

Is this democracy?  Are we beseeched to go to the polls; are the sick, lame and infirmed lifted and carried to vote; do corporations make huge campaign contributions; do we vote one out and another in so that sixteen brand new SUVs could be bought for sixteen new ministers?  Is this what politics is all about?  Did this happen in an economy that contracted 0.6% in the third quarter alone?  Is this why our BOJ Gov has been making obviously flawed growth projections all year?  So that ministers could buy sixteen brand new SUVs?  Don’t you dare tell me the JLP also did it.  So what? Better put me out of my misery.  Shoot me now.

Well, is it a gun, is it a knife?
Is it a wallet, this is your life
It ain’t no secret (it ain’t no secret)
no secret my friend.
You can get shafted just for living in your Jamaican skin.
(16 SUVs)
(16 SUVs)
(16 SUVs )
(16 SUVs).

Hold on.  More coming through from the Information Minister.  She says some ministers have been driving their own cars.  Well, skewer me with a Japanese spanner.  Belizean Prime Minister George Price took the bus to work.  Many Jamaicans, who can’t afford to drive their own cars, take the bus to work. It’s a privilege to be able to drive one’s own car. What’s the Information Minister saying now?  Ministers drivmg their own cars can’t get “gas cards”.  WHAT?  Are you really trying to tell me that Jamaica’s Government has no process by which ministers can be refunded for gas bought to drive their cars on government business?  Every other civil service “Travelling Officer” must present claims and wait months to be reimbursed.  None drive gas-guzzling SUVs which cost over $100 million AND incur massive monthly petrol bills.

Are cabinet members Saudi oil barons that they can deliberately, premeditatedly commit taxpayers to supporting monthly gas bills for sixteen SUVs (plus five)?  Schools still offer pit latrines; police stations are falling apart; hospitals lack basic equipment; pensioners must live on miserly stipends; yet Sixteen SUVs must be purchased and maintained for ministers?  Don’t they care?  Or is it just a matter of sheik, rattle and roll.

When we canna cross it during floods, will cabinet ministers cruise by in one of the sixteen SUVs and splash us?  While we slip and slide in the Port Maria mud, will sixteen SUVs flash by heading to a north coast jaunt (oops, sorry, “retreat”)?

16 SUVs, and we’ll take that ride
‘cross this bloody river to the other side
16 SUVs, I got my boots caked in this mud
Baptized in these waters (we’re baptized in these waters)
and in each other’s blood (and in each other’s blood).

Nothing but the lyrics of the legendary Bruce Springsteen’s poignant “American Skin (41 shots)” inspired by the fatal police shooting of Amadou Diallo as he reached for identification will suffice to describe the blatant, boorish, brutish betrayal of every Jamaican by this vulgar display of greed.

It’s official.  We have no shame.  We have no leadership.  We have no hope. Lord deliver us.

Peace and Love


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