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Why Parliament celebrates failure

Franklin JOHNSTON

Friday, October 19, 2012    

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At the start of a new half-century a nation needs inspiration, not recriminations. Parliament does not serve the people. It is a law unto itself and out of touch with our reality. We have just emerged from disproportionate celebrations, spent much money, but bought little. We have much to celebrate - all things have nothing to do with Parliament. The curtailment of Parliament's work week by long-service award speeches for PM Seaga was out of proportion and insensitive. Why traverse the memories of a failed past into a new era? A minister is part of the public service despite the fact that he does not have to submit to its exacting selection processes to get the job, and the service does not stop work or use their workplace to fete each other. There are many who achieve long service this year but their workplace will not echo with mirth. The political class has a mutual admiration society kept alive by our apathy. They rule us and know we do not appreciate waste amid the lawlessness.

Edward Philip George is more Jamaican than most of us, served us long and he deserves his "roast". But service has context and his is failure. He did not cause it, he did not solve it, but he is in it. The last 50 years have not been good to us and long-service politicians are not blameless. They prospered, but our legacy is belt-tightening, rapine, violence, child abuse, illiteracy, butchery. This should have led to a sincere muted mark of PM Seaga's service. Whose is the next grim memoir? Who next to beat his breast? Failure is a virus which must not infect this new generation. The strategy is containment. The Bible speaks of "hard sayings". This is one. Keep the lid on.

Long service is good, but how does a public servant celebrate? How does a top performer of a company? Lock down the business and fete? At a bus stop a lady offered me a tract. I declined. She asked if I was happy, I said yes, and she proceeded to tell me why I could not be, as the evil would burn in flames - a hard saying. She took joy dilating on the heat - a victim of generational hardship. The insensitivity of perverted caring. Do not foist bad vibes on a new generation. The bus came and as the market drew closer I pondered my body burning forever - bad chemistry. What becomes of the caring after years of hurt? My God will "screw you up" if you don't love him? Sad lady. MPs celebrate 50 years with their pasero and hurt is palpable. Many scarred, walking wounded; women's brows weathered by a thousand tears, men with backs bowed from joblessness and depression; young men with darting eyes, prepubescent girls showing flesh; "Yu a go buy wan suck-suck?" No please! Politicians fiddle. Survival trumps sanity. I sat under an almond tree as the dread beat the drum in desecrated, potholed Papine park. The spliffhead wanted "a bills". The smell of weed sweet like rain on dry ground. Screwface, who says you can't see pain? Dry bones between exalted academies. Parliament toasts, the land languishes. We aspire to "Jamaica, the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business" and my addition is "to grow old gracefully and die with respect in your own bed". Old people do not wish their head severed like a chicken by some screwed-up, drug-crazed criminal - it happens, so our diaspora honour us with their money, not their presence.

Edward Philip George was canonised by his own kind and bile was spewed over them. They lapped it up. His "roasting" - a feast of words enjoyed by those who produce them. The dogs on my street howl for hours. I assume they enjoy it; no one else does - black dog, white dog, Jamaica brown dog, the pooled DNA of a thousand sires. The last 50 years is a frightful legacy. I am aghast that the first government of this second half-century thinks a reprise of a leader of the failed half-century can motivate us. This first Parliament might have pondered the past 50 years, visioned the ensuing 50 and made a call to grow food, ramp up exports; make the state efficient, empower the 2,600 "bastard pickney" basic schools; put fear to flight. Instead, they deliver hot air. Marked for failure. Very sad!

What a waste of parliamentary time! When Kiwanis or Rotary wants to "roast" their own they go to the Pegasus, pay $5k a plate and toast all night - never while on the job. Last week, our rulers put politics above people. We may canonise a politician who makes us prosper, even rename our island for him, but we are now in the negotiations for our life with the IMF. What do you celebrate? Fifty years on the public payroll? For God's sake, take it to the Pegasus after work! Pay $1m a plate, spend all night navel-gazing. Not in my name! PM Seaga tried his best and did not make us prosper - he knows, we know, his parliamentary cronies know. So why rub our children's faces in mud at the start of their half-century? Old MPs leave the youth terrible debts. Damion does not know what oldsters did with the trillions, neither Andrew nor Mikael, but they will repay it. This is a sick joke. Eddie is not to blame. Parliament gave him leave to imprint our youth one last time. The virus is out.

Helloooo, we are in economic crisis. Does Parliament live here? Their junket of words to their kind is obscene. Our nation is in intensive care, many children are dead, in jail, on the "most wanted" list and crippled by illiteracy. Despite economic geniuses, our economy is worse than 50 years ago. The resentment and pressure is endemic. You think dengue is bad, try depression. A third of our people are supported by non-state institutions. If Food for the Poor was a country, we would be its colony. We receive as much charity to feed, house and clothe our people as we produce. Parliament has little to do with the state of equanimity in our nation. If it were not for the church and private entrepreneurs, 90 per cent of our infants would get no schooling until age six. We have rights laws and are signatory to rights of the child treaties, so Parliament must now ante up the money for infant education. MPs have lost the plot. Maybe Eddie would be happy if you took him to Lime Cay for roast fish to "ole-talk" with some Appleton on your own time. Someone blundered. Let's contain the virus, get MPs to work, settle the IMF terms and do the work of this half-century. Stay conscious, my friend!

Dr Franklin Johnston is a strategist, project manager and advises the minister of education.

franklinjohnstontoo@gmail.com

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