The land of ‘Wait a bit’ can’t move quicker? 

Jamaica has some wonderful place names. How evocative to live in places such as Cockpit Country, Wait-a-bit, I-no-call-you-no-come, or Put together Corner? It seems to reflect our just-so side. 

The world has become accustomed to our speedy inventiveness and ability to solve problems. Just yesterday, in some sudden afternoon showers, I saw this in action when the motorbike in front of me had a rider with plastic bags on his shoes to stop his getting wet feet. We are can-do people. Sometimes.

  

For a country so wrapped up in things biblical, though, it’s often odd how we don’t apply its lessons. We’re told that God made the world in seven days. Yet, give Jamaican bureaucracy any issue and it turns into almost a parody of Parkinson’s Law–tasks expanding to fill the time available; though, we go further and stretch and stretch the time. 

If ever we needed fast solutions, the people not to seek it from are government functionaries and politicians. Just look at the last few weeks:

  • Plans for logistics hub: Wait forever for promised progress. Then, get an MOU and give the parties 30 days to fess up. Deadline reached. Get a committee formed to ponder and ponder. 
  • Impose deadline of June 1 to cable companies to unscramble their pirated content. Feathers ruffled in PM’s office. Solution? Extend deadline for 90 days.
  • West Kingston Commission of Enquiry: are we there, yet? When will it end? It seems like 15 days on, 15 days off. My mother used to do shift work as a nurse and it was odd to not see her some nights or not some days. Will they be done by December 15, as the Barbadian chairman told us, yesterday? 

It just seems that like guests at a great dinner, we can’t resist just one more bite. 

Is it the laid-back syndrome? No problem, man? Take it easy, nuh bredda! Soon come! Being late for events? Leaving important things to the last moment? It all seems to be a spoke on the same wheel. 

Is it procrastination? Is it a mere inability to think through policy issues fast with clarity? My mind wasn’t fully formed in the Caribbean, so I have some awkward British habits, like being on time. I also do things that I commit to: I don’t need to be asked if it’s done. My feet are up because my work is finished. I try not to be surprised by the obvious. 

But, Jamaica seems full of the never-ending and everlasting. In my cynical moods, tempered by what economics taught me, I know that the root is often money. You get more by stretching things out, even if it’s not written simply that costs are by the hour. But, as it’s Jamaica, one also has to see the obstructionist tendencies at work: like good parties, “It cyaa dun, yet!” 

Maybe, it’s just a bit childish: “Aw! Do I have to go to bed, now?” 

Delay, delay. We are being served injustice, as in ‘justice delayed is justice denied’. But, is it just us? 

Author: Dennis G Jones (aka 'The Grasshopper')

Retired International Monetary Fund economist. My blog is for organizing my ideas and thoughts about a range of topics. I was born in Jamaica, but spent 30 years being educated, living, and working in the UK. I lived in the USA for two decades, and worked and travelled abroad, extensively, throughout my careers and for pleasure. My views have a wide international perspective. Father of 3 girls. Also, married to an economist. :)

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