Where there are rules...

Letters to the Editor

Where there are rules...

Thursday, November 19, 2020

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Dear Editor,

Consider the saying, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and trust the concept that arises from it.

It is a concept we depend on, even if we don't consciously think about it.

Many simple and consequential aspects of life depend on this.

An example of this is the simple rule in Jamaica of driving on the left side of the road. Without thought, every time you confidently drive around the next blind corner; you are betting/trusting your very life that the oncoming driver is going to be obeying the same rule. Of course, we do have a small but significant number of Jamaicans who believe rules don't apply to them. These generally swiftly go to meet their maker. Unfortunately, sometimes they take us along as witnesses for the prosecution.

Simple rules are what make the world what it is. Consider traffic lights; red means stop, green means go, and unlike what some people seem to believe, yellow does not mean go faster, but rather slow down and prepare to stop.

Another simple rule that you can depend on is that the certified electrician has done his job, so that you can expect to get electrocuted if you stick a piece of wire into the narrow slot in the wall socket. Ouch!

The rules that we obey without thought arose because they are generally beneficial to society as we have advanced to where we are. Basically, I trust you to do unto me what you want me to do unto you.

This applies to good government particularly. We trust the Government to take the long view to benefit us. Short-term gain, such as allowing fishermen to catch all the fish they can catch so that they would vote for them in the nearest election, is not what the Government is doing, as this would result in overfishing and the collapse of the fishery and starvation.

Government learns slowly and must be guided by the experts. So now we have successful protected areas where fishing is not allowed, and young fish can reach adulthood, unfortunately for them, to end up escoveitched on our dinner plate.

In the past, experts have advised where mining should occur, and how it should be done. The peril is that, in a current case, that is the Puerto Bueno Mountains, they are not zoned for mining. Just because some people have broken the law previously and set up quarrying operations, the Government should not allow the company Bengal Development Limited to continue the breaking of the law and take the long view for our ultimate benefit.

The mining company should be offered an equivalent property with the same minerals, where the Mines and Geology Division has zoned for mining. Bengal would then have a greater profit margin as they would not have to conform to the many environmental requirements at the Puerto Bueno Mountains.

What's more, one wonders how Bengal came to own the property in the first place.

Howard Chin

Member, Jamaica Institution of Engineers


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