Lights! Action!

Maybe, the best thing to do is turn the country into a single live reality show. I mean, Jamaica, people don’t make up this stuff.

I had a week in the land of Barack, and it was enjoyable on so many levels.  

Jefferson Memorial, Washington DC
 First, it rained almost every day, in July, just after a short heat wave. But, I took those mid-70s and low-80s temperatures happily in exchange for Jamaica at high-90s and low-100s. I played golf with a friend early in the week and was shocked as my clubs kept getting caught in lush, wet grass and mud flew up. Where’s the rock-hard ground and dust getting into my lungs. I loved it so much that I walked a municipal golf course in the pouring rain and sloshed and slipped through the woodland with my older daughter. 

Rock Creek Park
 Then, the brief visit to the land where a dollar is worth a dollar,
was over and within hours I was back into the land of Hades. I looked from the plane at the new highway being built and was impressed that soon north and south can be better connected. Construction like this is not simple or seamless or universally good. The land is now scarred and from the sky it is clear how much land has been cleared.  

I got to see it, too, at ground level as new work began on the stretch near Caymanas Pony Club, going back to the new start at Ferry. Blasting has been taking its toll and parts of Caymanas Golf Club has large potholes where rocks have fallen from the sky. 

New road cutting near Caymanas
 Water woes are on the tips of tongues and the National Water Commission kept it there by announcing alternate supplies in the Corporate Area. Just one little glitch: a week has 7 days and the rotation leaves Mondays out. Will we get no water, or all get water? Easy to clarify, but in somewhat typical fashion left unclear. How fitting then that we had a sudden storm last night. Wet ground!

But, nature acts with more clarity of purpose than does the Jamaican public sector. The water woes is an annual show. Yet, water harvesting is still being talked about, as if it’s an engineering problem as hard as digging through rocks to build the highway. Last week, I pondered what would happen if we put all our public services out to contract with CHEC, who are building the highway. I didn’t see much tolerance for the inactivity we’ve suffered.

The other constant talking point has been crime, especially murders. I’ve written before about how underwhelmed I am by the poor analysis of this by the media. But, I also think the police have barely a clue what to do or are blocked from doing what’s needed. The past links between gangs and politicians were strong and I’m not convinced that they’ve just withered away. That’s one of those thoughts that helps make sense of why politicians drag their feet over corruption legislation and asset disclosure. Like with FIFA, unless you follow the money, you just get mesmerized watching the ball.

But, what possessed the relatively new police commissioner to bite the media bait and grade his 10 month performance? What possessed him to take his two ounces of a herbal substance and claim that he’s been perfect, 10 out of 10? He noted that the full effects of his (wonderful) changes have yet to be seen. In that case, how about a bit of humility and some temerity. Look, even swaggering Bolt or Shelly-Ann, or those endlessly bumptious American athletes like Gatlin, or magicians like Messi or Federer, don’t go so far after they have witnessed a sharp worsening in performance. The data through June show murders are up nearly 20 percent, or 98 more, over the same period last year. I’m no maths whiz, but unless Commish Williams is looking at the graph upside down, this must go down as one of the craziest statements by a public official. 

He iced his comments with a series of ‘new’ anti-gun initiatives that sound like old or existing ones. No one ever suffered from a good dose of duplication in Jamaican political life. Double your trouble, double your fun! Oh, he was good enough to point out that gun trafficking is not a crime in Jamaica. “Horace, make that a double rum!” 😳

By his logic, we can look forward to total anhiliation of the population and thank our lucky stars that he oversaw this quick stairway to Heaven. But, it’s the logic of a public sector that translates persistent failures in their core mandates as rousing successes. You doubt me? Just look back. 

NHT spend funds on entertainment assets that have nothing to do with housing and basically bail out a failing venture and we get waffle from their Board chairman and directors about how we have to look at how it’ll boost national development. Fast forward, and the new chairman of NHT, whose head has a brain, tells us that he would not have bought Outameni and now wants to sell or lease it

Look at the soap opera that was the NSWMA and its management of the Riverton Dump. Look at their abject failure to address basic garbage collection. The former executive director claimed her hands were bound by lack of funding. Money can’t buy happiness and it isn’t needed to fix disorganization. When my yard has more rubbish in it after the garbage is collected than before, I know the basic understanding isn’t there.

Look at the potential blockbuster medical drama that has been our dealing with potential outbreaks of viral diseases in 2014. The health minister thinks he’s done spiffing key well. After all, he used the lead time to prepare and educate the country about chikungunya, didn’t he? “Prepare? Can I call a friend? Can you use it in a sentence? Are there alternative pronunciations?” That the minister seemed to have no handle on how bad things were in his own constituency spoke volumes. Fast forward, and now another viral epidemic may be headed our way. What’s changed? The date? The minister said dont judge him by chikungunya. My the Williams logic, he’s headed for a stunning 11/10. 😱

Jamaica, the land of would and should. 

The transport ministry wants to sue motorists for damaging road furniture. I’ve just replaced my tyres for the fourth time in under two years, either because they burst after hitting potholes, or were ripped due to debris on the roads. As they say in England, “You’re pulling my plonker!” 

There was a principle called no taxation without representation, for which the American colonists went to war with Britain to gain their independence. After Greece’s referendum last Sunday about bailout options, I wonder if a Jamaican government would dare put its record on any policy to a true referendum–rigged elections with garrison seats don’t get there. 

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. :)