#COVID19Chronicles-79: July 2, 2020: What does it take to be disqualified if you’re a Cabinet minister?

I think what frustrates the average person is how unfair life can seem to him/her when compared with that of a politician. Few of us know people who have survived in their jobs when allegations and evidence of misdeeds swirl around; it doesn’t really matter what they are. Whether it’s the adage that there’s no smoke without fire, or whatever, that’s usually enough for the door to shown and the street to be walked. Yet, for politicians, jokes about Teflon and how dirt doesn’t stick seem to be the norm and close to reality.

Now, in keeping with the democratic tradition of people being deemed innocent until proven guilty, I will not say too much about the adverse findings regarding certain principals (including some actual principals at a high school) cited in the two reports on PetroJam issued by the Director of Investigations at the Integrity Commission on Monday. Remember, this comes on the heels of a damning report by the Auditor General. However, when a Cabinet minister with portfolio responsibilities has terms like “less than truthful”, “dishonest in his representations concerning Ms Sophia Deer and whether he sought to mislead and did mislead the director of investigation” attached to himself, one really ought to sit up and take notice. In whatever sphere one is, these are not terms to bandy about idly. [Deer is the principal of Homestead Primary School, which is located in the St Catherine South Central constituency in which Dr. Wheatley is the MP. She also sat on several boards within the Ministry of Science, Energy and Technology when Wheatley was minister. She is also the mother of his nephew.] When one also reads about the number of closely connected people who are involved in the business of PetroJam and that these close connections include with the minister. One’s sitting up needs to go on for a bit longer.

Whatever standards politicians set for themselves, it’s often the case they give the impression they will ride out any and every storm and not leave positions unless kicking and screaming.

Now, I don’t expect political leaders to have a knee-jerk reaction to allegations regarding their Cabinet appointments which shows itself as “He’s fired!” I do, however, have some serious problems with the notion that all of the transgressions are redeemable and must await some judicial review before one can say “I don’t want people with this kind of reputation working for me and representing my administration”. So, with that optic, the PM’s standard position is interesting, as again reflected in a press briefing yesterday morning.

Politics is not sport, but what is often clear is that sports teams often set some clear objectives for themselves and their players and staff and if those are meant, you’re out on your ear, whatever has been your record. So, we are not surprised that ‘big’ clubs like Manchester United can fire a manager who’s not done worse in his early time that most of his illustrious predecessors; he did not get a team to play the ManU way. Same so, we’ve seen with Barcelona. You have to feel for Antonio Conte, as reported on the Premier League site:

‘Following Italy’s UEFA Euro 2016 quarter-final defeat by Germany, Conte joined up with Chelsea for their pre-season to lead the Blues into the 2016/17 Premier League campaign. He won the title at the first attempt, while also taking the Blues to the FA Cup final, where they lost to Arsenal. Conte made amends for that defeat by winning the trophy a year later in a 1-0 victory over Manchester United. Chelsea announced that they had parted company with Conte on 13 July 2018.‘

Unblemished record by any standard, yet, arrividerci! Barclays manger of the season!F6E8309C-C50E-4CD3-8952-6B1B953E40B6

Put simply, in many jobs you cannot survive even when you have been amazingly successful, yet in politics…

Anyone who wishes to discuss why this is so please feel free to contact me. Anyone who thinks its about what happens when one has to scrape the barrel will get extra time and consideration. 

We know most politicians survive scandal and an apology is often enough to keep them from facing the music the rest of us hear blaring out at 100 decibels. So, what probably hurts us more is that we didn’t see that getting into that game, rather than building a reputation for oneself and family and being upstanding and above reproach was the way to go. Who wants to have their live over? 

As we now know, even the seemingly unthinkable is no limit to the tolerance of politicians. Unless you were too young or not yet alive, you will recall in early 2016 a male presidential candidate saying “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters,”.

Well, he’s now the president of the USA. His popularity insulated him them (60% rating he cited; he’s now closer to 40% after his handling of the COVID19 pandemic). But, it just goes to show.

The number of times I’ve seen children descend to tears after winning a swimming race by meters and being disqualified for touching the wall wrongly. You think the world is fair? 

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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