A good friend, living in England, read my comments yesterday and declared that “You really bashing your homeland today…”, that, after I had been on holiday in various places over the past few weeks. That led me to respond “But, notice how I have sought to give the child good guidance in how to do better, rather than just taking out the belt and heaping some heavy licks on its skin. I’m progressive…”

The real agonizing aspect of living in and with Jamaica is its inability to move past its condition. That is, it is in constant recidivism, as Webster defines it, ‘a tendency to relapse into a previous condition or mode of behavior’. That is Jamaica, par excellence. Look at almost any issue that is facing the nation today and you will see the same problem, patched up like the potholes in many neighbourhoods: looking good for a day or so, but put it under anything like normal stress and strain (aka, daily life) and it crumbles, only to be repaired again, to be put under normal wear and tear, to be repaired again, to be… Einstein, this is your life. You’re credited with saying that doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different resutls is the definition of insanity. “Next patient, please. Name? Jamaica? How do you spell that?” Houdini could escape from a strait jacket, submerged in a tank of water.

Harry could escape, but not Jamaica

Harry could escape, but not Jamaica

Jamaica loves to put itself into a strait jacket, wriggle around and flail for a while (this can be from days to years) and then, exhausted, cries “No more!”

We are reaping the benefit of this strait jacketing with an absence of senisble policies and actions over 50 years to deal with [fill the gap]. I quip that Jamaica is the land of would and should. We have plenty of bright people, who can figure out what to do and then preside over years of it not being done. We do not like the word ‘accountability’. If we did, our rate of unemployment, now a high enough 14 percent, would perhaps be well over 50 percent.

Most people would have no problem citing an instance of rank incompetence in their dealings with an institution, and don’t smile smuggly that it’s all the public sector’s fault.

Our water problem is something we created. We have ample water on and around the island. It is not where it needs to be and what we send to people we do not harness in a way that ensures its continuity. Nature did not create that problem; some jackass in a shirt and pants did. We can’t have hopes until we get rid of those dopes.

I got a call from the University Hospital yesterday about bills for my father. The short story is that they feel that many items are still unpaid. I know I paid a good chuck of money on what I was then told was the final bill, nearly 9 months ago. The issue came up from the caller that some items might have been duplicated, so could I indicate when and to whom I paid. Wait a minute? You mean there is not a centralised payment account? Please, don’t tell me that? My major concern was that I could not pay easily through a bank, except by going to one in person–so 1950s… As many would cry, “You ever hear about online banking?” I will look over my records and see if I can unravel this little maze.

I exhorted the young lady to “Not be like the rest, but be the best.” She laughed, and I told her to pass this onto her supervisor, or better still, just make sure that very soon the clunky payment style is a dead and gone thing.

Jamaica is nothing if not a constant spoiler of good work.

Jamaica can do somethings well. We know that most through the way our athletes have shown the world how to run fast. I was surprised to read today about the case of a female teacher from Trinidad, who was killed a couple of years ago in Jamaica by a taximan. Her mother, a parliamentarian, flew to Jamaica for the sentencing, and said that she was impressed with Jamaica’s justice system:
“What Trinidadians are surprised about is the fast rate at which this trial took place (within two years). They really expressed pleasure that they were quite pleased that within two years they were able to get a verdict,” she said. Well, we have seen the justice system work as many think it should over the past year or so. Of course, that augurs well for life in general. Can we take politicians and administrators to court, though? Unfortunately, not. But, we should not have to do that.

We are masters of the cover up. I don’t mean the criminal kind, though that is in there, too. Just that, we are not good at facing up to our faults. Take the recent incident with a TV sports reporter who yelled “Heil Hitler!” In the name of civility, give him his pink slip and say “Aufwiedersehen,” and wish him well in his career. If you are weak and think that his services are indispensible, then you show that you are complicit and give a public warning to him, apologize to the audience, including the German Ambassador, and then keep him off the air for a short while. But, what do we see from his employer, CVM TV? He makes a feeble on-air apology, then the company says…NADA. Whatever little self respect you think an organization can muster through being credible, was pushed out of the window with that stunning silence. It’s only made more appalling by the relative silence of media brethren. Former PMs grumble about whether the US has moral authority, when we do not have the decency to acknowledge that we have overstepped a very clear border of respectability on a national TV channel, when probably most of the country was glued to the screen. Tek weh… Oh, why bother?

I don’t speak about the economy too much, because that song is so tired and well known that it’s time to just let the chords waft over my head. I pity anyone who tries to work the levers of financial policy in this country. I took my car for an ‘evaluation’ yesterday. When the technician asked me to start the engine and turn on the indicators, I knew what was supposed to happen and it did. With Jamaica’s economy, so much is wish and hope. Standard economic prescriptions come to Jamaica to die. Devalue to boost the economy? Up go costs, down go some imports, up go some exports, but the biggest impact is not the change much how the economy functions. Maybe, we’ve so much unrecorded assets and capital flows that are in foreign exchange that the devaluation is perverse as many major spenders are protected, or even stand to gain. We get a ratcheting up of costs and the exchange rate, and little shift in competitiveness.

Like a plane, I need to fly in some clear air. I will take a look at Manchester and see if Mandeville and its normally lush hills offers any sign that things are really different than what I see from the hillsides of Kingston.