Monthly photographic montage: #January2018 Daylight—teaser

For 2018, I decided to try to follow some daily photographic themes. For the month of January, my focus has been on daylight–not just the sun rising, but often the light of day as night passes away. This is just a foretelling of what to look for at month’s end: I will share a composite picture of the month’s images. Following months with have different daily themes, and I will aim to share each month’s composite.

Here is one of the daily images so far.

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Is Jamaica ready for the four horses of the crime apocalypse?

I don’t think I’m being a ‘Monday Morning Quarterback’, ie someone second guesses, because I have been expressing my views (often contrarian) for some time. What I’ve wondering for some time is how much of a real groundswell there is in Jamaica for the process of attacking crime differently, especially in a way that accepts that it cannot be done without a major overhaul of the police and policing. From my viewpoint, it’s patently obvious that the many vested interests in high crime levels (especially murder) have formed an unholy alliance that has put all lives on the line. If this were the USA, we would long have seen a movement named #JamaicanLivesMatter. Instead, we have to make sense of the fact that many Jamaicans detest the police (in large part because of their noted corruption and oft-reported brutality), but at the same time as many talk about fearing armed criminals, embrace them more than they embrace the police. Last week, I posted on Twitter:

But, focusing on whether or not there is some groundswell.

If my reading of the Jamaican newspapers is correct, it seems that editorial opinion is ready to take head-on the matter of murders in Jamaica and especially the role of weak and ineffective policing. For instance, today’s Gleaner editorial, In a state of anarchy | Where’s the political spine against crime?. This isn’t the first editorial on the topic, but more have appeared in a short time in 2018, not least because the rate of murders has taken another uptick, with 61 killings in 13 days (against 47 during the same period in 2017). Where the editorial struck me as different was in point the fingers not just at the police but at the up-to-now ‘spineless’ political leadership of the country:

‘Everyone agrees that the police force is notoriously resistant to change, is in need of drastic overhaul. if not a total reconstitution, including with greater civilian oversight.

Political leadership, however, has been afraid to tread too heavily on this front. For, the constabulary represents a strong political bloc that has been known to undermine governments. Changing this attitude shall require spine and will.’

First, a little difference of opinion. It’s far from proven that everyone agrees on what the police force needs, and that is clear if one reads or listens to some of the utterances of members of the public and some politicians, who prefer to court the important voting bloc, rather than stand equivocally against the police.

Second, just a brief look at what we need from society to get things really moving. We can agree on the ‘arms of government‘–the executive, legislative and judicial branches. We then need to think about and agree on how the rest of society is organized. We have long passed the days of the ‘estates’ of government involving, say, the monarchy and nobility, clergy, and the ‘working people’ in some form. Society has more elements that see themselves as capable of exercising power over decisions. For example, most would now recognize organized labour as a powerful pillar, and some would recognize a vibrant set of civil society organization as another pillar.

While, I don’t want to be prescriptive about Jamaica right now, it’s worth think about who or what are these modern pillars, because they must stand strong for any change to occur. For me, this is critical, because no matter how much intellectual force goes into an idea, if arms government are not in agreement on the need, and if many of the people are not in agreement, there will be no moment. So, while I am much in agreement with the views of commentators like Gordon Robinson or Garth Rattray, who both have columns published recently on crime-fighting, I wonder, first how much of the rest of Jamaica see the problems their way. Notably, Gordon Robinson touches what I think many will feel is a raw nerve, on the matter of whether citizens with arms make for better personal safety:

‘The call to disarm the citizenry until we have crime under control and clean systems to permit such a privilege for non-law enforcement professionals has been pooh-poohed, while we pursue the same-old, same-old in the hope of a different result. Stories of Wild West-type shootouts between miscreant(s) and licensed firearm holders that end in the eradication of an occasional miscreant used to defend citizens’ need to be armed actually prove the opposite.

Because our policemen so frequently ignore this truism, we’re tricked into believing the punishment for attempted robbery (or even attempted murder) is death, hence the unseemly public celebration whenever a would-be robber or gunman is cut down by a licensed firearm holder. This isn’t just a wrong response to attempted crime, but it further inculcates a culture of violence in our people that ensures increased, not reduced, violent crime.’

It may make little difference that I agree with him on this or that I agree with his assessment that the Zones of Special Operations are not working, in terms of dealing with crime in the nation overall. But, by their own admission, the security forces said they anticipated that criminals would escape the net of ZOSO, but by being flushed out would be more easily corralled. I found that logic bizarre when I first heard it, and I still find it bizarre as a policy now.:

‘Folks, ZOSO ain’t working. We’ve wasted another year trying quick fixes. It’s broke(n). When will we begin to begin to fix it?’

I’m one who sees Jamaica as a land of quick fixes that clearly do not work, yet persists in looking for quick fixes. I’m also one who sees Jamaica as full of people who are blocked from making certain decisions because they all compromised. The Contractor General is one important official charged with dealing with corruption who has recently come out saying similar, in his comments on the need to stop ‘hanky-panky Anancyism’, and touches on the invidious practice of political appointments to public agencies, and the matter of people’s willingness to step up and speak openly about what they complain about privately.

#WhetherJamaica and #shithole countries?

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While POTUS45 was thinking of yet another way to insult a large swathe of black people (and I’m sad that my good friends in Norway were unwittingly dragged into this swim in the swamp), I was having lunch with some francophone friends and discussing something I found intriguing with a Haitian friend. In our conversation, we talked about what it was like for her to be exiled in Jamaica from her homeland as a child and trying to find her ‘way back home’ after growing up through the nostalgia with your parents and relatives and friends. That was her situation. Mine had parallels, though I had not been exiled, as my parents migrated voluntarily. She lives in Jamaica and has since gone back to Haiti and tried to find ways to make business connections between the two countries.

The point of intrigue was about how countries had wrought their independence from colonial rulers and what had happened to them. I’m tempted to use ‘befall’, but that would suggest absolving those countries from blame for the woes they experienced.

I thought about how Haiti had wrested its independence from France through a slave rebellion starting in the late-18th century, the only state formed after rebelling against colonial masters. I thought about how Guinea had gained its independence in the late-1950s, as the first colonial African country to accept de Gaulle’s offer, with its first president saying famously:

“We prefer poverty in liberty to riches in slavery.”

I thought about Jamaica, getting its independence from Great Britain in the early-1960s.

Each had been described as ‘the pearl’ of the colonies, having been a major supplier of food stuffs and minerals, and each has sank into deep economic crisis compounded by punitive extractive policies by former colonial master, pqpoor budget management, political turmoil (though Jamaica did not have violent changes of political power, though violence associated with its political parties), and social degradation of different degrees, leaving each much poorer than its resources and location would have predicted.

There’s a lot to the history of how each went from glory to gory, but how fitting that they could be summarily described as #shithole countries by the person whom many see as leader of the ‘free world’–not a view I have, but that’s me.

Sadly, many, including current and past citizens as well as visitors would agree with that description of each country. I don’t feel that way about any of them, though, I’ve not lived in or visited Haiti, so cannot base my views on anything I know personally.

The debate about the US president’s comments will rage on. The lives of people in these countries will go on. It’ll be interesting to see where views settle on whether truth was spoken or insults made.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”–attributed to Spanish-American philosopher, George Santanya.

Those Americans who forget that many of them and/or many of their ancestors came from the world’s #shithole countries expose themselves in ways that are all too obvious.

Namaste!

#WhetherJamaica? A glimpse at our road traffic woes through an historical eye

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I have the good fortune, or misfortune, if you prefer, of having spent much of my life living outside Jamaica. So, as my friend/attorney, Clive Williams said when we first met, “I can see that you run up to the wicket differently.” I do not disagree that I approach many local issues from a different angle/viewpoint. I have also had the benefit of living in or working in lots of different places, so many things I see in Jamaica can be put into a geographical or socioeconomic context that reflects that we are more similar than different, fundamentally, but at different points in our historical progress.

Take, for example, our traffic woes with illegal taxis and the bad driving habits of public service vehicles, in general. I know and have learned (because I studied urban planning) that ‘pirate behaviour on roads is a common feature of many urban developments. In the UK, during the period from the mid-1850s to World War 2, pirate buses created various forms of mayhem on London’s road, first with fare scams, then with ‘racing’ and ‘dangerous’ driving (as many ex-soldiers sought to find work and landed as bus owners in a poorly regulated environment):

After the first world war, the situation got worse. There was a shortage of buses (many had been requisitioned during the war) and many ex-servicemen took advantage of the absence of any sensible licensing procedure to set up their own bus services.

By 1924, London’s bus operations had become completely chaotic.

Pirate buses would race their General counterparts, terrifying passengers; take shortcuts to get to the busiest areas for trade; switch between routes to find the best passenger traffic.

Fines for speeding were increasingly common; there were even some more serious incidents of sabotage.’

Does that racing, terrifying passengers, taking shortcuts, totally chaotic, etc ring a bell with what we often see on Jamaican roads, though our passengers often seem sanguine?

For those who have watched the British TV series, Peaky Blinders, you can see the world of post-First Word War Britain up-close and dangerous, as ruthless ex-servicemen turned into gangsters.

The necessary conditions may be somewhat different in Jamaica, but at their base they include similar features to the 1920s UK: a general lack of employment opportunities for able young men, but also a world where public transport is in great demand and the supply is woefully inadequate: we know that JUTC alone cannot meet the needs of the Corporate Area and rural bus services are notable by their absence. Add to that a poor system of regulation and enforcement and you have all you need for mayhem.

None of that excuses what happens in Jamaica, but it means that we wont see change until the basic conditions change, plus we have a police force that is more complicit in its inability or unwillingness to enforce and a general approach by government that it’s easier to offer amnesties, periodically, than to see fines paid regularly. I’ve written before about what those perverse incentives must lead to: Who in their right mid would pay fines when due?

So, as the saying goes: History is prologue.

The Road Traffic Act that is due to go through Parliament may offer some solutions, but I would venture to guess that on the matters of enforcement it is silent, because the powers are there already, but not used fully. We also have the well-known but also untouched problem of members of our security forces being active participants in the business of running taxis and minibuses. If ever you wanted to see an enforcement ‘conflict of interest’ you’d be hard pressed to better that. Some argue for higher fines, but that’s pointless when current/lower fines aren’t being paid on time, or ignored by owners who are themselves implicated fully in both the breaking and keeping of laws.

Queen Victoria on Parade: Weekly Photo Challenge – Weathered

https://rightstepsandpouitrees.wordpress.com/2018/01/10/queen-victoria-on-parade-weekly-photo-challenge-weathered/

My ‘soul mate’ in the area of thinking freely and sharing your unconventional views has a nice pictorial piece. But, contrarian that I am, I may take this to a new place: ‘Whethered’, where I look at the ‘What if’ of life (in Jamaica, mainly, but not solely). For instance, it may be a pictorial look at how we make ‘normal’ what many others feel is ‘abnormal’, eg our love or roadside vending. These things are often part of a transition from one socio-economic state to another, but we have little real historical perspectives that let us remember that this was say the way of life in Europe though to the early 20th century. So, we are not doomed, just in ‘our place’ in history. You’ve been warned!

Generational shifts and technological changes: some thoughts

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I think often about the various analyses that are circulating about ‘Millenials’. According to Pew Research, the group is those born between 1984-97; that makes me a part of the ‘baby boom’ (born between 1946-64; my father’s in the ‘silent generation’, born between 1928-45. Reading the Pew analysis, it’s focused on the USA, and I’ve often taken a deep breath as I think whether the strange social dynamics of that country are really the right basis for assessing groups outside that frame. But, having said that, as all of my children have spent a significant amount of their time living in the USA, some of the analysis may apply. My household has two Millenials on that basis, plus a teenager (so far as I see, yet to be defined as an analytical construct). While I personally don’t share the views of the researchers, the assessments make me think about generational shifts that do seem to have significance. While what interests me is not easily set into an analytical frame, it does focus on how technology shifts how we act and perceive our options. I’m just going to run through a few major technological changes that I recall and see where it leads.

Since, I was born in the mid-1950s, I’ve experienced the spread of several major developments in human activities, all of which have made immense changes in mobility:

  • International air travel: important, in facilitating my rapid migration from the Caribbean to Western Europe, and later facilitating the work I did travelling between England/USA and other countries. My parents, born between 1929-1931 never made any use of air travel before 1961 and only used it a few times, after, including to return the Caribbean on vacation and eventually to emigrate, but also (for my father) to make the ‘reverse triangular journey’ from the Caribbean to west Africa and back. Air travel has also become much cheaper and available to many more places and no longer limited to a wealthy few people or a few major destinations. Distance is much less of a deterrence to travel.
  • International telephone traffic: less important in those early years as a migrant for keeping in touch with those ‘back home’; letters and telegrams did that, if at all. But, such calls were costly, or difficult to make. When I worked in the former USSR, for example, I remember having to ‘book’ time to make calls overseas and then taking my turn in a booth to be connected for my designated time. Visions of operators plugging cables into slots easily came to mind. I recall my parents calling from Jamaica after they remigrated in the mid-1980s and having to dial using an International Call Authorization System (ICAS) code (a 10-digit number that restricted access for long-distance calling). I remember international calls being expensive, prohibitively so I recall when I travelled to Uganda on business in the early 1990s and found that I was facing a several hundred US dollar bill for a few minutes talking to my HQ (all because the country had to reimburse international phone companies for a series of telephone frauds). But, international calling is no longer limited to cables stretched over land or under water, and the advent of cellular technology and the Internet have made calling as easier as hailing someone in the street. Yesterday, I explained to a lady in her 90s how to use WhatsApp; she already had it installed on her mobile phone, but did not really understand how it worked and what could be done with it. Free calling via such applications and Internet/WiFi access now makes distance again a trivial inconvenience.
  • Personal computers and the Internet: access to both has spread rapidly and changed much. I remember the absence of both when I was at university, without which students had to write either by hand, or use typewriters, and print documents on paper, and copy text via carbon, or photocopying, and send them elsewhere by actual mail, or later by electronic means such as a fax. I remember a document (several hundred pages) being sent the whole night and in the morning finding the fax machine had stopped because the phone line had been interrupted). Just in my lifetime, I recall a portable computer that was more the size of airline carry-on rolling bag and having to lug in home many nights to continue working on an important project. Hours spent typing my thesis and correcting mistakes with Snopake or White Out correction fluid, and carrying bulky documents are truly things of the past. I thought I’d arrived when I bought an electric typewriter. I couldn’t conceive then of a document existing in a form that was not solid, but somehow existing ‘in the ether’. Something that could be created and moved and never appear in any form other than visually or even as sound. Yesterday, I explained to the same 90-year old lady how composing documents on the Internet works and how she can ‘carry’ her material around with her just by having access to a table she hopes to get. I showed her how to dictate a document and see her spoken words appear as text on a screen. Her eyes lit up. But, it’s the power of digitization that has made computing and the Internet powerful: information in digital form can be moved more rapidly than ever before and with little concern about its volume. My huge document sent by fax in the 1980s can now go as a digital package in seconds. Money flies around the world in nanoseconds and as mere digital and electronic entries and makes images of people transporting bundles of notes or piles of certificates seem ridiculous. These developments and once sound and images could be digitally packaged, then the world really shrunk.

These late 20th century developments have had bigger impact because of the 19th century developments caused by industrialization and its associated rapid urbanization. The world became a place of mass production and massive communities, which made personal interconnection harder because of the way life became less interpersonal. Fewer people knew how and who affected life’s changes. Digital information allowed that process to be reversed simply by making the sharing of information much simpler.

I tend to not get excited about things like use of social media, as I’ve yet to see many things that are fundamentally different to what existed before, only they tend to be more apparent than before and maybe some more amplified. Social media has created avenues of human interconnection that existed before (eg broadcast messages) but are now much easier to use and faster, which can have familiar downsides with verbal communication, such as misunderstandings because of crosses messages or misinterpretation of tone. Technology that now allies have us to send oral and visual additions to text, enhance the interactions but don’t alter then at their core. Those who prefer to be loud, remain so; those who’re quiet remain so, etc; those who wish to be silent or mere observers, can remain so.

Some platforms allow people to get more influence than they experienced before. Some give the illusion of empowerment.

Some of the concerns about social media reflect that we are presented visibly or audibly with more of our social ills (call that nastiness). I’ve yet to see worse bullying than I knew as a boy when children teased each other, or adults taunted each other and worse. I’ve yet to hear of anything worse than having one’s head put down a toilet and having it flush while struggling and hearing the perpetrators giggle. The public verbal nastiness of the 45th president is perhaps the most widely displayed set of bullying many people see, and it’s interesting not least for the ways that supporters do what enablers do so well–explaining it away, with actions that often amount to ‘victim blaming’ personified. Bullying does not have to go beyond the psychological, but I have yet to see the equivalent on social media of anyone clubbed over the head with a crowbar. What I do see is lots of people who are perhaps naive about what goes on everyday in the world being surprised that these things are now appearing right in front of their eyes our under their noses. That’s not to excuse any actions, merely to give a different context. While I grew up in working class areas of London, I’ve spent my life mixing with middle- and upper-class people. Bullying (including its niche areas, such as racism and sexism) knows no class boundaries.

Jamaican police pay: some odd economic issues

I’m going to make a few observations based on some sort of first principles without reading around the topic; I’ll try to do that later.

Normally, pay can be related to performance so that at any level the employer can measure output and productivity and decide whether the cost of the labour input makes sense in terms of how for much the service or good produced by that labour can be sold. With public sector jobs, we do not have that cost and price relationship, usually only the cost side. Moreover, with some public sector activities, of which policing is one, it’s not easy to assess what is the output and what represents good productivity.

But, let’s take the mission of Jamaica’s police as to serve and protect. What can we use as measures of the service and the protection?

We can look at the general state of law and order and decide how much of this is maintained by the police force. We may conclude it’s low and that the police are failing in this area.

We could look at crime figures, arguing that if these are low and/or falling that the police are doing a good job. But, the police are only a part of the resulting crime figures. They must first know of crimes, then find and apprehend criminals, then they have to be tried and the judicial system stipulate what penalties the crimes attract. (Of course, there are some crimes, mostly minor, where the police can decide for themselves who are the criminals and levy the penalties, eg with traffic offences for which there are fines.)

So, on that basis, society could say ‘no pay rise without evidence that performance will improve’. Now, the police could argue that they are underpaid and thus demotivated in their tasks, so this requirement is unfair. Some would argue that this demotivation also comes with other problems in that the existing police officers seek to top-up their pay by doing activities that bring in more revenue, including corrupt acts.

Now, the whole matter of pay and motivation is complicated and it’s hard to know in general how true it is, and also what change in needed to raise motivation enough to get the police to do the job for which they are employed.

Society may feel this is an impossible problem to solve and throw up its hands and let politicians decide to do what they want based on other criteria, namely the simple budget arithmetic. That may work against the police, badly, though. We understand the police force is now about 11,000 officers. Applying the wage rate to that level gives the figure that is currently supported in the national budget for police pay. If it is to increase, it must come from savings elsewhere. Ideally, those savings can come from within police operations alone. But, that’s unlikely. But, if savings are sought within police operations, that must include the cost of paying officers. Now, it may be that the best thing to do is say cut the force by 10 percent, to 9,900, then raise pay for the remainder so that the wage bill remains unchanged. That’s a great solution if we could identify 1,100 officers whom we knew to be ‘useless’ or ‘rank under-performers’, so we would be left with the more efficient from the existing compliment. That would also have the advantage of attracting new and (hopefully) better officers, attracted by higher pay and the prospect of working in a force that is both better-motivated and more-efficient.

All of that abstracts from the social costs that come from job losses. But, we could take the view that it’s up to those who lose their jobs to do the best they can to find suitable work. The police force should not be a social service.

But, if the police force is adamant that it does not want to accept any job losses, even through say natural attrition, we may never find a solution.

But, fundamentally the issue of police pay must rest on whether the extra money is going to buy society better security. If that’s not assured, then one has to ask what buy this pig in a poke?

However, once we’ve gone through whatever exercise we do to determine police pay, other workers will try or want to redress the status quo. After all, other workers may need to see their pay relationship to police pay maintained. Costs may then rise over the whole economy. This may turn into a very familiar wage-price spiral. As a country just now enjoying a period of relative price stability, this is not a scenario that policy makers will relish.

Things better left unsaid by Jamaican politicians?

During 2017, I tried to keep track of comments by Jamaican politicians that, on reflection, they might have wished were left unsaid. You don’t have to share my views, in which case make your own list 🙄

I’m not being exhaustive or explaining my motivations. For me, I couldn’t choose, so will just list in no order my favourite two.

Things went downhill fast for the doctor, who to declare:

Comrade leader, today (Wednesday) I completed my application for citizenship and I expect to be a Jamaican citizen in short order.

Do we know how that ‘short order’ thing went? 🤔🙄

Apart from the patent absurdity that the Opposition found themselves defending, my other favourite was to wonder what utterance would come from the minister of national security. In the end, nothing else matched up to ‘My uncle is a Obeah man’… Enjoy the video!

The setting for that remark in January was even more portentous given that by December one of the other presenters, ‘Ninja Man’, had been sentenced to 25 years in jail for murder. Talk about ‘the company you keep’!

Happy 2018!

Choices: food for the brain into 2018

We reach the end of another calendar year and for many it’s that time to reassess life–as it was lived and how it may change. I took a decision a while back to do that on my birthday, given that date had much more personal meaning. So, I’ll just take a stroll through some of what that sentiment represents.

From the time that we are born our lives have been about one thing, beyond staying alive–choice. However, we try to dress up what we do, it comes down to that process. Give it fancy names like ‘prioritization’ or ‘rationalization’, it’s the same: deciding what to do and in what order.

Some of us have tried to convince ourselves and others that it’s possible to fudge this through so-called multitasking. Whatever, we think we are doing, our brains and bodies and things with which we interact will tell us that nothing is happening simultaneously, even if the difference is in nanoseconds. So, it’s often better to make the separation clear, even if that means give less time, energy, other resources to processes than we think is ideal. Like eating a meal; chew each mouthful carefully, swallow, start again; take a mouthful of fluid, swallow, start again. The eating analogy is helpful to show the problems of trying to do even two simple tasks at the same time.

But, choices are what make life so unbearable for many, in that they are the victims of others’ choices, and their own get subordinated. I can’t solve that, other than to fall back on my father’s advice of worry about what you can control.

As I age, inevitably, one of the things I cherish most that I feel I can control is my own thinking. If you know me at all well, you know that I am fiercely independent in my thinking 🙂 I am amenable to having my mind changed, but be prepared for a real battle, because I’m convinced I think clearly, and if I suspect fuzzy thinking, my hackles rise further and faster.

Many pieces of research now tell us that, as we age, we need to keep living a healthy life to help keep the brain working at a high rate. People who want to scoff at those who spend time doing crosswords, or numbers or words games, or something that challenges thought processes, haven’t yet hit a wall where thinking gets fuzzy. Just letting the imagination run wild can go a long way in the process. So, for older people, being with younger people, especially very young children can offer some of the best brain exercise. Try reasoning with children!

So, in advance of my birthday next month, I’m setting in train another year of choosing to think independently, along with taking more walks to help the process.

Roll on 2018.

What matters more, what we do or what we don’t do? Crime-fighting in Jamaica

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As there is more than one side to a story, so there is more than one reason for a problem, and more than one solution. So, no answers provided, today. How much of Jamaica’s problems rest with the absence of things against the presence of things? Having asked that, as many people who read this may have viewpoints, and therein lies many a problem with fixing what we perceive is wrong with society: any and everyone could be right, and each of us does not have to agree with the analyses of others or their proposals. When things change in society it’s because of a critical mass that agree on where to go and how to get there. So, in that sense, the persistence of problems signals the absence of agreement on how to address them.

Today’s Gleaner has a editorial about ways to address Jamaica’s seemingly untouchable violent crime problems, and points to the remarkable turnaround in New York City (NYC), where the level of murders has returned to the level of the 1950s, with about 3 murders per 100,000 people (from around 30 in the 1990s) against Jamaica’s startling 59. The editorial touches a few raw nerves concerning Jamaica’s police force, compared to that of NYC (my emphases):

They targeted hotspots where murders, robberies and burglaries most often took place and went after the known and suspected criminals, who were sometimes picked up initially for small crimes. The police was substantially expanded, giving it the flexibility to do its tasks, without affecting its general policing functions.

Jamaica’s police force will probably insist that its approach is consistent with the New York City model – and may well be. It is not our sense, however, that it is done with the same energy and consistency that delivered success in New York City. And important for Jamaica, neither is the JCF open to the level of transparency and accountability that elicits the kind of society trust that would contribute to its effectiveness.

But, transforming Jamaica’s police force from an organisation with a reputation for corruption and ineptitude to an organisation that is professional, efficient, and accountable, demands new approaches to leadership. This must start with the top political leader, who apprehends that crime poses an existential threat to democracy, a civilised way of life, and the anarchy now imposed by criminals.’

If this assessment is correct, it begs many questions, such as why the police force would be anything but energetic or consistent in its task? But, why has the force been allowed to continue with such a damaging lack of transparency and accountability?

Trash on a bench in Nassau

Not reducing or resolving crimes is not that different from problems with garbage. Those who commit the acts know they can get away easily. Those assigned to deal with it, don’t, for reasons acceptable or not. The persistent presence tells us that no one wants to address the problems.

As with things seen from an economics approach, the questions can be boiled down to who gains and loses from these failings? How much of the transfer of gains and losses are needed to make matters better? That’s the essence of the presence-absence dilemma.

To fix an imbalance does not require that parity be achieved or that one side has to win everything; it means the sides have to be satisfied with the prospective outcomes.

I’ve resolved in my mind why politicians may not want to see a reduction in crime, and it’s based on a cynical assessment of the political structure in place in Jamaica, and its system of rewards and spoils. But, I have not found a good argument for why the police force would want to preside over such a situation. Any ideas?