Going to heaven without dying

BY DENNIS CHUNG

Friday, November 30, 2018

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“Everybody want to go to heaven but nobody want to die. Everybody want to go up to heaven but none o' them, none o' them want to die.” These are lyrics from the song Equal Rights by Peter Tosh.

It amazes me how much people always want objectives without doing what is necessary to achieve it.

As an example, people see athletes performing very well and don't understand the pain, hours of training, and discipline they have to maintain in order to put in that exceptional 10-second performance on one day in maybe a year.

People also think that in order to lose weight, they don't have to exercise and eat healthy, but can instead take a pill or go on a four-week crash diet.

Because of this belief that we can “go to heaven without dying”, our view towards development is that we can continue to do the same things we have always been doing but expect much better results.

My experience has shown that this is simply not true, as in order for us to achieve a different result from the one we have always got, something has to change in our actions.

This is whether the new objective is for the better or worse. Let us say that, to be very extreme, someone who is a well-behaved Christian decides that they want to end up in prison. They cannot do so by continuing to be the Christian-minded and well- behaved person they are. In other words, they have to do something that will cause them to land in prison. At the other extreme, someone who has always been in trouble with the law who wants to escape that sort of life must do something deliberately to change that outcome.

It is precisely because companies, people, and even political parties do the same thing consistently, while the environment is changing around them, why they either fail or don't do as well as they did before.

In the case of a political party for example, they may continue to think that the beliefs and actions which got them in power 10 years prior are the same ones that will keep them in power 10 years after. They therefore don't renew their leadership perspectives and think that what the people need are handouts, when the electorate has, in fact, changed its views.

It is with this in mind that I thought about a few things which prohibit our development as a country.

The first thing that came to mind was the situation with the Road Traffic Amendments (RTA) and consideration of not just the action of the taxi operators, but more importantly the reaction from citizens and the Senate.

We say that we want better discipline on the roads, but we are not prepared to do what is necessary to get better discipline on the roads. We don't for example understand that penalties and fines must be impactful to ensure compliance, and so we bow to the pressure of people who say that the fines may be too high and seek to appease them by not making them high enough to have an impact.

While we argue over maybe $10,000 or $20,000 for an offence, if that same person goes to the US and gets hit with a US$250 ticket sent in the mail to the owner of the vehicle, they gladly pay it or they may end up in jail. In Jamaica though, we protest fines as if we expect that we will break the law — and then we ask why we don't have the discipline that the US has.

At the same time, the RTA, which has been years in the making, is delayed by the Senate because they want to have further public education on it, while we have more than 300 people per year dying on the road. Introducing it at this time when accidents escalate would have been most appropriate.

On another matter, I recently read an article with a headline to the effect that NSWMA is not picking up the garbage in the Drewsland community. Reading further in the article, however, it says the residents admit that the truck comes twice weekly (and they want larger trucks to come in but the roads cannot accommodate them) and they also admit that they were given a skip by Tankweld, but because people burned things in them and burnt up the skips, Tankweld removed them.

So because the garbage trucks only come twice per week and they have no skips they dump the garbage in the gully. Note, they don't even stockpile it until the trucks come or engage the trucks about making another trip —the solution is to dump it in the gully.

Another letter this week from a resident in Angels is that the NWC has consistent water lock-offs, and that garbage collection in the community is once per month (which is not accurate and not possible, because if it were then we can be assured that the action would be much more than a letter). The writer also says in the letter that he received a summons to attend court for non-payment of property tax, which he promptly paid in order not to be charged.

Again, we want all the services but we have a tax compliance rate of just about 60 per cent, and service needs to be provided to the squatter settlements that do not pay property tax and also do not have the infrastructure for the services to be delivered.

So the police, for example, cannot properly police the communities and I can say for the NSWMA that we have to find additional resources to find solutions to collect garbage from these communities. Again, however, if the authorities make any move to try and remedy this situation you will hear that they are “uncaring and wicked”.

I can never understand why some people celebrate the reduction in crime in the communities under the states of Emergency, but at the same time say that it was not necessary, even though the actions before never worked. With that said though, I support the view that its application must adhere to respect for human rights, or we will again fail to change the culture of abuse.

But the point is that if we want better results, then the only way to get it is to take the necessary actions that can impact that change in results. One way in which we have seen this work is the introduction of the Contractor General's Office and INDECOM. Both have met opposition, and admittedly both could have been implemented differently in some ways, but they do represent a change in course that has had significant impact on governance and accountability, which areas are not yet where we want them to be, but one cannot question the impact they have had.

Another action that has resulted in significant improvement, and was a fundamental change in the way we do things, was the 2013 IMF Agreement and establishment of EPOC under Peter Phillips. That singular move I think was responsible for where we are today. In many cases it is a single action, which is impactful enough to cause the shift in direction, but it requires bold and decisive leadership.

Therefore, while we contemplate the development we want to see in Jamaica, we must understand that the only way to get to heaven is to die.

Dennis Chung is the author of Charting Jamaica's Economic and Social Development AND Achieving Life's Equilibrium. His blog is dcjottings.blogspot.com.

Email: drachung@gmail.com

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