Is 'the plan' working?

Friday, June 08, 2018

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Dear Editor,

Against my counsel, last week Police Commissioner Antony Anderson may have taken comfort from the just-recorded dip in murders and the decline overall in major crimes. And, of course, it's right for him to do so. The dip could be an early sign, however modest, of a positive trend that would also commend his Administration.

What is interesting, however, about this 'comfort-taking' is what it reveals about Government's thinking — the central plank of its plan. Yes, the plan that Prime Minister Andrew Holness has over and over said they have. It's simple, my dear Watson, a famous fictitious detective would to say, as he pointed out an obvious fact staring his assistant in the face — and ours.

As a colleague described it to me recently, it's a “numbers game”. The plan is community by community, one police division at a time, parish by parish. That's what Holness identified as the plan. That's how the murder numbers will come down from four a day to three to two, to even one a day, from 60 per 100,000 of population to 50 or even 20. That it will take 10 years or more is inconsequential.

From the Government's viewpoint the important thing is that Jamaican people will accept it. And, indeed, they will, as long as other good things keep happening — road repair and building, new markets, more tourists, big festivals, and conventions. Acceptance more crucially rests on the psychological impact of rolling out zones of special operations and states of emergency, one at a time.

This answers popular demand for tough action, even military coup, because our two political parties have themselves created this situation by their unconscionable, decades-long not caring enough to decisively tackle the terrible killing of so many, especially of the young.

No matter, then, people's suffering — no matter major loss to the economy, less to spend on the poor, and bad national reputation. What really matters is the next election. As the politically nurtured cycle of hurt, festering from delayed remedy and feeding desire for harsh action wheels around again to more hurt, delayed medicine, and dismay with democracy, this Government will ride a sullen wave of support for the gradualist approach. Sullen because people just see no alternative.

So forget the talk about 'national priority'; societal consensus; mobilisation of State, private sector and civil society resources; and an assault on community deprivation. Too risky, quite unnecessary, compared with the plan playing out now. A continued and forever renewed hold on political power is always what really matters. That's the indisputable pathetic history of our two political parties.

Horace Levy




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