Making old things new... againThursday, August 11, 2016
Jamaica House has not been a true home and we must make it one. Office space is now cheap and the fruits of poor parenting costly in terms of lives and livelihoods. We need to install our first family as the icon for all families. Experts agree poor parenting breeds crime and we must support Andrew to lead from up front.
We curse the darkness but must use all tactics to spread light. Because of our men family life "pap down" and Andrew can help; maybe not Downing Street or White House, but a prime minister of no fixed address is zero. A visitor or child asks where does the prime minister live? Who knows?
Our well-paid politicians may live in castles but democracy demands we have a Jamaica House so poor politicians are equal; no house one-upmanship. We need a family in Jamaica House and Andrew, Juliet and the kids can be transformational leaders. Family life needs a champion. Their sacrifice may return family values to politics and nation. The media may spot teachable moments to put in the public space but not violate privacy. This would be a tremendous fillip for family, against crime, "me, myself and I" mindset,and if Andrew can turn this back and help us be our better selves, Jamaica will call him blessed. Selah.
Coat of arms
The pesky attention-seeking bishop who made an issue of our coat of arms continues tradition of the upstart church taking selfies while Rome burns. The bishop won — he got column inches — but what impact on crime? We are chat and pose people.
The Taino male with bow on our coat of arms promotes violence to the same extent "Eternal Father, bless our land" blesses and prospers us. National symbols are not from God. Change is normal. The black in our flag is no longer hardship, but "the people are strong and creative" — prejudice against non-black citizens.
Ackee is from West Africa, but clammy cherry thrives from Hunt’s Bay to Ferry with sticky translucent, healing juice, and may be better. Blue Mahoe and Lignum Vitae are authentic Taino heritage. Our "out of many one people" trifles with truth just as E Pluribus Unum in the USA, but they had bloody civil war and we had meetings to adopt this nice clichÃ©.
Whimsical and wishful national symbols are waste; a new anthem may disincline us to stasis as we await the economic messiah, while horrendous debt and poverty haunts us. Why Lord? We sing "teach us true respect for all" for 54 years but disrespect is a pandemic so much so that a "respect Jamaica" campaign and "respect agenda" in schools is needed. Our reality belies our anthem. We are not prosperous, well governed or "free from evil powers" ∏— whatever that is. We think the country is kept by some "mighty hand", so we relax, are supine, cowardly and will not defend our communities, families from rape and murder. We did not wrest Emancipation from the English, or fight for Independence, so we are flaccid, entitled cowards, given to show off with a lot of decibels. Pathetic!
Our coat of arms is now an excuse for wickedness. It was designed by the archbishop of Canterbury in mid-1600s; a crab louse proper (you see it?) crocodile added in the 20th century, homage to Tainos on whose land we live yet don’t develop it. The arms did not inspire antisocial or criminal acts, but a bishop imagines it drives criminals to murder? Do we need reparation from the English College of Heraldry? Our ideal coat of arms may be a sex-linked, chicken back crest; Dudus regnant with ermine wig; assault rifle gules; corpses of mother, child dexter .
This "be our light through countless hours" is mysterious, and "to our leaders, great defender, grant true wisdom from above" is in the distaff. Every high-minded wish in our anthem is unfulfilled and the opposite grows — no peace, no prosperity or wisdom. We need an anthem to get us off our arses to work and prosper. Can we sanitise "The Trumpet has sounded, my countrymen all" for national use? It really gets action going!
Government red tape
Meanwhile, ‘PM Holness gives directive to slash bureaucratic red tape’ was a Sunday Observer headline and a directive to the Ministry of Economic Growth, and maybe one to Companies Office of Jamaica, may be sent. It has a new look, is making money, but starting an entry-level business is grief.
Business Registration Form No: BRF 1, the so-called "super form", is a super disaster. It replaces a user-friendly one-page Business Name Registration (BNR) with 13 pages of small, tightly packed print. If the typical BNR client is around ninth grade level, then design, layout, print size, vocabulary, and word density should match the profile, as 70 per cent of this group in 2013 could not enter HEART/NTA owing to illiteracy. The interlaced big company jargon is confusing — a turn-off and consumes customer service. Make it simple and use the 13-page one for companies; or reorganise BRF 1, perforate the BNR page so it can be detached and one form used two times. Every page of BRF 1 needs a signature. Why? Bring back the one signature form.
We should use it to get people into the system. The BNR is the gateway to business and should be simple, cheap, available everywhere — even supermarket — and require little input. It should be free as it serves a higher purpose in the growth and tax agenda and should take no more than 10 minutes to complete.
What’s the mischief? When you get poor people of marginal commitment in your office give them a coffee and make the process user-friendly or they will start a business anyway; you will have no record and may never see them again.
There are many such forms in the civil service that need modernisation. If the Growth Ministry is to succeed then these seeds have to be fertilised and watered, and many more incentivised to do the legally start a business. Stay conscious!
Franklin Johnston D Phil (Oxon) is a strategist and project manager. Send comments to the Observer or
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