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A nation divided against itself must fall

James Moss-Solomon

Sunday, August 26, 2012    

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THE truism expressed in the title serves as a very sober reminder of the reason that basic self-analysis is an imperative. This gains further importance when your back is against the wall and you need undivided effort to escape your predicament unscathed.

Jamaica is there now, and this analysis simply outlines the need for unity and trust. We need to go directly to the root of several problems and address them quickly.

First, we have the political divide of JLP/PNP political representatives harmoniously sipping a drink in Gordon House but encouraging the people to hate each other. In many ways this has stifled the ability of skilled persons to move freely in order to get work.

It therefore makes each job in an area to be seen as the "only job we may see" and we will kill the contractor or stop the work whether they are skilled or not. It takes away initiative to improve skills, it supports "donmanship", and it drives up the costs of the job, and has become a line item of expense that we now think is legitimate.

Second, we have communities and families at war with little hope of winning or having any form of economic independence. Families are divided by imaginary lines (not like the equator), but more like "no fly zones". So relatives have gone for decades not seeing each other because lines cannot be crossed, yet we stand idly by and allow this to continue.

All of us in our relatively quiet uptown homes need to think what our lives would be like if people in Stony Hill couldn't pass Manor Park, or those in Norbrook couldn't cross Cherry Gardens or Jack's Hill.

Third, we have a notion of riches without work that cannot coexist. The "vote for me and I will provide for you" has superseded the Marcus Garvey view on self-reliance and has taken firm root. The so-called "love of the poor" is not expressed as a hatred of poverty and a need to eliminate that scourge, but is reminiscent of sharing the suffering of Jesus without wanting to remove the nails if we are able.

The first point on free movement defeats the genuine efforts of the poor to change their own status and free themselves from that inhuman bondage.

Fourth, we have a divide of the political directorate and the civil service. The common divide is mistrust between the two. The minister seeks blind compliance, and the civil servant is not going to jail for the malfeasance of the minister. Therefore, the result is no action and no way of sensible compromise seems to be at hand.

The very British-inherited system does not and will not surrender the integrity of the service to the assumed power (albeit short-lived) of the elected representative. Thus enters the law of physics as it pertains to two equal forces acting in opposite directions — a recipe for inertia.

Fifth, we have government agencies against other agencies seeking the redress of the court as the deciding factor. The Contractor General versus the Attorney General is heading to court. The former minister, now Senator KD Knight, is of a different opinion to Senator Mark Golding, the current minister of justice, and as usual when lawyers contend, judges have to decide.

The Port Authority of Jamaica is ejecting the Fort Augusta prison in favour of Chinese expansion, but the Government has not provided an alternative women's prison, despite the fact that this has been talked about for over five years.

So why don't we just let all the women out and save time and money? Then we could be at least as good as the Russian rock group and have our own Pussy Riot.

The Government has a law dealing with the rights of property owners for quiet enjoyment. The grace period has long expired on Duke Street, so persons are lawfully evicted and squatters' homes demolished. The people are out in the street with young children and babies and this is when the Government calls in the ODPEM for a disaster for which there is no budget and the only disaster was the Government's inertia to protect property rights and offer alternatives to the persons evicted. Brutish and uncaring attitude by our own Government rears its head even as they weep for the poor.

The sixth concern is the private sector's reluctance to disengage from the trough created to capture them and imprison their initiative. Their dependence on the political favours far exceeds their initiative and creativity to chart a new development of modern businesses, products and services and the so-called "engine of growth" finds itself stalled and seemingly reluctant to start the road to progress without the easy political expedience of getting favours in exchange for kickbacks.

The seventh and final item this week is that Jamaica has positioned itself like a secret spy club and has adopted the famous "need to know" doctrine, except that everything seems to fall in this category. In fact, if you do find out anything and speak about it you are charged with our version of treason, that is "informer fi dead". So we should not write or speak anything that tends to refer to the lack of logic in our actions.

Things like not wanting to speak and write English but wishing to sit exams written in that language. We think we should all be taught a standard Jamaican language, take an exam in Latin, and then mark our own papers, matriculate to higher learning, and grant our own degrees that will have value only in Jamaica.

We seem to be the only people who wish not to be competent in the most widely used language in business, but we want to be rich. It reminds me of an old horseracing joke that cannot be printed here, by command of some Commission on "bad words", all of which are vital to my Jamaican expression.

That's enough for this week, my friends. I refuse to laugh at our own stupidity anymore and so I take my leave, or in other words, "mi dun to r...."!

See you next week.

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