YOU BROKE OUR STATE – FIX IT!

My December 29 Sunday Gleaner Column “Random Ride to Destiny” contained a message that mightn’t have been clear to those who believed it was simply about changes over time in public transportation.  It wasn’t. 

It was intended to show how shifting governmental priorities over decades have ensured we live in a failed State where meritocracy is a forgotten joke; values and attitudes are based solely on individual needs; growth and development impossible; and an environment of violence and voodoo economics has rendered life solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

This is our reality.  This will be our perpetual destiny if we don’t stop, think and immediately change our national priorities.  I know.  I know.  There are things to celebrate.  We run fast.  We sing well.  Those of us who prefer clear thought over pandering to political correctness recognize that, even in sport and song, we’re blighted by bandooloo values driven by selfishness and attitudes based on violence, depravity and greed.  For example, it continues to be a source of embarrassment and frustration to me that one of our best athletes, Johan Blake, feels obliged to present the spectre of a “Beast” as his public persona.    

The message in Random Ride to Destiny was how inappropriate (and often corrupt) government priorities have ruined Jamaica’s chances of development.  My intent was to expose the connection between decades of dishonest government priorities and the absence of locally developed talent from which governments and private sector alike could benefit.  In Jamaica, we waste resources on an unnecessarily large public sector supporting more than twice the number of government ministries required.  Consequently, our resource crisis is overly magnified as every ministry’s budgetary allocation is automatically insufficient; nothing is properly done; and all aspects of national life seem in permanent freefall (e.g. our public transportation). 

If only we’d focus on fundamentals and stop prioritizing cushy jobs for every M.P. and hangers-on, we might’ve avoided this catastrophe.  We can still turn catastrophe into triumph.  Government, especially in small developing economies like Jamaica, have four fundamental responsibilities.  They are:

1.    HEALTH:  Good government must deliver the most modern training in practical techniques; the latest vaccines; diagnostic equipment; and high quality hospitals.  Anything less is a gross dereliction of duty for which resource shortages is no excuse.  A healthy citizenry lives longer and acquires the tools to contribute to Jamaica’s growth.  A sickly citizenry is a permanent resource drain.  It’s not rocket science.  If the Health Ministry finds itself short of resources to produce essentials, then other ministries must be closed down and resources transferred.  We can no longer tolerate triage as the basis of our health care system.  The importance of Health care is exemplified by Republicans’ willingness to shut down America rather than give President Obama the credit his Affordable Health Care Act deserves.

2.    EDUCATION:  Michael Manley understood that a Nation’s MOST IMPORTANT national resource is its people.  Citizens mustn’t only be healthy but also educated for life (not to pass exams).  That education is government’s responsibility NOT parents.  An educated Jamaican (properly-so-called) will end up contributing by unlimited multiples to national revenues, growth and development over an uneducated one.  Parents’ responsibility is “broughtupsy”; government’s responsibility is education.  The brainless non sequitur being bruited about by police and politician alike that certain schools have been identified as producing criminals is just another attempt to divert attention from government’s failure to educate our children.  Which school did Dudus attend?  Who educated J.A.G. Smith?  How many exemplary scholars have been produced by Vauxhall?  Why are we silently allowing incompetent police and inert politicians to slander any of our schools?  What if your child passes for one of these schools? Should he/she attend?

Not all parents can afford their children’s education.  The government must step in with reasonable population control policies followed by free education (starting at the basic school level but, eventually, at all levels) for every child.

I hear the shrieking “But why should my children be treated the same as Mr Filthy Rich’s”?  Because they ARE the same.  As the legendary Bill Cosby used to tell his children when they complained about the social awkwardness of being rich, “No, no. You’re NOT rich.  Your mother and I are rich.”  An education system where some parents are seen to be paying and others not is fraught with psychological trauma and probable corruption.  The correct way to deal with affordability anomalies is to ensure that rich parents contribute more to the tax net (which pays for ALL children’s education) than poor parents.  The only efficient way to do this is to eliminate the iniquitous income tax and to rely on a GCT system which targets consumerism.

3.    NATIONAL SECURITY:     A Government’s third fundamental responsibility is to keep its people safe.  This involves a complex mix of policies which includes education and health; disconnect between politics and crime; a properly equipped and manned police force; and the elimination of the army (who’re we expecting?  Galactus?).

I recently heard our Prime Minister spouting the most ghastly drivel blaming non-informing communities and over-protective mothers for the crime wave.  Mark you, ever since “Don’t ask me.  Ask the PNP” I have stopped taking anything Portia says seriously but, in case somebody out there still does, my questions are these:

(a)Does Portia really expect Jamaican mothers to turn in their children?

(b)In a society where “informer fi dead” is the mantra, is Portia really depending on communities to help fight crime?

(c)  Who in these communities is she relying on?  Is it the relatives of those gunned down by the police in cold blood?

Does the PM have a Plan B in the event that mothers DO NOT turn their criminal sons in to the police and community members DO NOT inform?  In such a circumstance whose responsibility is it to tame crime?

JIS resident propagandist Booklist Boyne is once again disrespecting readers’ intelligence by supporting a “crime control hard policing model” (see Taming the Crime Monster; Sunday Gleaner; January 12) which has failed to control crime for 50 years.  Surely Booklist, a professed Christian, knows violence (a.k.a. “hard policing”) only begets violence.  Gangs aren’t dismantled by executing gang members.  Their resolve to retaliate is strengthened.  Gangs are like the Hydra.  Cut off one head; two will take its place.  Booklist, as a card carrying government “journalist” can’t admit anti-gang legislation won’t stop gangs; “strong policing” won’t cut crime; we won’t tackle crime effectively until we take a different approach.

So Booklist stubbornly panders to a corrupt, inefficient and under-equipped police force that he promotes by writing this astonishingly alarmist idiocy: “……when you have marauding gunmen preying on communities, wreaking vengeance on enemies and creating panic; when criminals control communities and have people under bondage so they can rape little girls by edict; when multiple murders are being committed daily, you have to find a…speedy way to stop those criminals today, not in the next few years when you get everything right and have an angelic police force……”

Government has had 50 years to begin a social intervention model.  It’s had 30 years to computerize the Force.  It’s had 50 years, since Rhygin’s extra-judicial execution, to note the increase in crime consequent upon every street killing of a notorious “gunman”.  It’s had 50 years to recognize crime is a long term fight.  During that 50 years ABSOLUTELY NOTHING but lip service has acknowledged this.  Instead, we’ve had Eradication Squad; ACID; OCID and now MOCA; SOCA and POCA.  We’ve had “hard” policemen like “Trinity”; Joe Williams; G.C. Grant; “Stomach”; “Trippa”; “Rough Neck”; Reneto; Laing; Bigga; Tony; Cowboy etc.  Guess what? Crime rates just keep moving on up and have never been as high as they are right now.

Booklist has forgotten that his annual crime column for 2008 insisted “We must stop the piecemeal approach to fighting crime. It’s not hard policing versus social intervention; intelligent evidence-gathering versus moral transformation. It’s both and not either/or.”  As usual, Booklist picked what he thought was both sides of the argument to support and has found a way to be twice wrong.  “Hard policing” is a proven failure.  It must stop.  Instead, what’s required is a mix of good policing, driven by modern technology and Intelligence gathering techniques together with social intervention by both police and State.

Policing can’t succeed in an atmosphere where police and gunmen are indistinguishable; where the “badman” culture, started by politicians who controlled it until it grew, flourished, transformed and now controls the politician is emulated by the police.  We can’t support execution of so-called criminals in the street while fraud and scandal are our raison d’être.  As a downtown gunman once said “We fire gun, yes.  But de uptown man fire pen” [Translation: You and me not different.  We use different tools]. 

4.    TRANSPORT:    Government MUST transport its people and reduce the demand for expensive vehicles the country can’t afford.  Transport (to include decent roads) allows safe, educated, healthy citizens to concentrate on their work not on distractions like car maintenance bills and reduces the nation’s demand for oil. 

So, four Ministries are essential:  Health (to include welfare and social security); Education (to include Youth and Community Development); Transport (to include Works); and National Security (to include Justice).  I suppose we can’t avoid a Finance and Planning Ministry. Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Home Affairs can mop up what’s left.  Bite the bullet.  Send the rest home.

We don’t need:   

·        Ministry of Tourism (there’s a Jamaica Tourist Board; TPDCo; TEF etc, etc);

·        Ministry of Commerce or Industry (an oxymoron; government has NEVER understood these concepts).   

·        Ministry of Environment (Land).  Good grief.  For what? 

·        Ministers without Portfolio:         Disgraceful waste.

·        Minister of Information:     C’Mon Man!  Any experienced JIS propagandist can make cabinet announcements.

Political leaders created the vicious cycle of organized violence followed by a new and violent police philosophy.  Then they blame silent society and over-protective mothers for violent crime waves.  That cycle created and included violence-torn homes from which children are sent to school.  Now we blame the school if that child lives a violent life. 

Stop the lying, cheating, expletive-deleted hypocrisy.  Stop the patronizing speeches.  Fix what you broke.

Peace and Love

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