United we stand, divided we fall. Jamaica is divided, so how can it prosper?

Imagine a group of people each given a rope connected to a horse that is stuck in a ditch. The idea is for all of them to pull at the same time, in the same direction to make getting the horse out more easily. If any one of the people pulls in a direction other than the rest, then the horse may still come out, but it wont happen as easily as if all pull in the same direction and at the same time. Depending on who pulls in a contrary fashion, in which direction, and for how long, we could get a situation where the horse stays stuck rather than moving out of the ditch. 

This image strikes me as fitting what I think is going on in Jamaica, at present, and has probably been going on for some time. The horse is Jamaica (in its many guises, as economy and society). The people are all of us citizens (and for the sake of simplicity, I will call ‘citizen’ anyone interested in the future of the country). Note, that I did not say the future well-being of the country, and I will make clear why, shortly. The ropes are anything that can literally take the country from where it is now to another state, and a better one than currently exists

As a country, it’s clear that we have several competing groups who want to tug the country in different directions. I’m not going to try to identify all of these groups–which is probably an impossible task because the groups could be as small as one person wanting to do his or her own thing. Think (with no slight intended) of a typical Jamaican country person wanting to live in the bush or the hills, far away from anyone else and content to farm his/her own piece of land, and feeling or actually being self-sufficient. In that sense, such people are not pulling against the rest of the country, but are not necessarily concerned to join in any ‘national’ efforts. 

The obvious competing forces that I can identify are:

  • Political factions. We can accept the division between the main political parties as sufficiently contentious in almost everything that each says and does. There is little meeting half way for partisans. The idea of consensus has not been accepted by any significant number of supporters on each side. So, for simplicity, we can say that each party wants to the take the country in a different direction–not necessarily opposite, but certainly not getting to any destination by essentially the same routes. Jamaica isnt unique in such divisions, and it’s ironic perhaps that the former colonial masters, the British, had a country long accustomed to such divisiveness, and it manifested itself in economic policies termed ‘stop-go’: whenever, national political control changed the direction of policies was almost reversed, looking to undo what the previous administration had done. Britain’s economy stalled badly as a result of such tensions.
  • Law-abiding vs law-breaking groups. I’ve written a few times, recently, about the fact that Jamaica is in a form of civil war in its struggle against some criminals. Some do not find this notion comfortable, but I think that it’s undeniable. Last week Prof. Herbert Gayle hit the civil war nail on the head, citing numbers, in his piece ‘Light On Violence | ‘We Are Killing Ourselves In Undeclared Civil War‘. Whether one accepts the civil war point or not, it’s clear that those who want to break laws are against those who want to follow the laws of the land. So, the issue is much broader than those surrounding the terrible levels of violent crimes in Jamaica, but extends to all the petty forms of rules violation that are a common part of Jamaican life. That is not to equate the gangland killer with the vendor who operates illegally, but there is an equvalence in the way that our society has been ready to turn a blind eye to many things that people will accept as wrong, yet continue to do

Those two groups alone cover a lot of what happens in Jamaica. They are very clearly part of many daily struggles, whether you are the gainer or loser in a bid for a government contract, or you are someone who has to choose between riding in a registered taxi or taking a ‘robot’ to school, work or play.

    The problem with this divisiveness is clear from the image I first painted. We have a Jamaica tussling with itself on a daily basis. We cannot fix most of our problems because we have a bigger mass of people willing to pull against their solution. If one assesses comments about things that need to change in Jamaica, many go to how the ‘little man’ needs to be protected. That ‘little man’ is often doing something illegal, whether it’s stealing electricity, living on land illegally, operating a business that is unregistered and not willing to come into the formal economic structure, or a range of other things that are common in this little island. 

    We have a deep-seated culture of silence, so few are prepared to ‘call out’ those who are wrong doers, yet are ready to suggest that they don’t approve of wrongdoing. We are also a society that has many layers of close connections, so ‘calling out’ someone often means choosing to support a wider social need over a personal bond. We see that played out often, including recently in the case of a pastor accused of sexual abuse/rape of a minor, and how the principal of a girl’s school could publicly come to his aid and the support of her dear “friend”, his wife, yet not see how she compromised her position as the head of that girl’s school. We have not heard the end of that aspect of the story, but we have seen that duplicity is apparent in many elements of what took place and what people say took place. 

    What has been dubbed the ‘fight against crime’ is hampered by this culture of silence–on both sides of the fight. We can understand the fear that exists in those living in areas controlled by criminals, who are known to be violent. We can understand, too, the sense of ‘brotherhood’ that may govern the illegal activities of police officers seeking to ‘solve’ crime problems with a little bit of ‘jungle justice’. 

    Economic progress is hampered, too, by this tussle. The struggle between building an economy that is more highly formalized instead of one that has a large informal element is real. So many Jamaicans thrive on the informal–the fruit seller at the traffic lights who provides the daily healthy snacks; the crab sellers at Heroes Circle; the seller of fruit and vegetables from the back of a vehicle; the ‘friend’ who eases the way through a problem (bureaucratic or technical). Many would not use the word ‘corrpution’, but most of us have hands supporting corrupt practices. Our major problem is that these practices keep the cost of living lower than it would otherwise be, so to overturn it means a heavier burden across many lives, and a burden that many may not be able to support. That’s a tough Gordian knot. There’s no easy solution. One of the things I have pointed to is how we can seem to make progress by increasing inefficiency: filling holes in road, which quickly reopen and get refilled, shows up as ‘growth'(equivalent to ‘better life’ and ‘richness’), while our lives have been made poorer by the persistence of fundamentally poor road conditions. Real corrpution may be behind the contracting of such work, but it’s also corrupt thinking that this style of working should continue. 

    I know how some of these problems can be solved, and I know that many others in decision-making positions also know how to address the problems. But, I am not surprised that the necessary actions dont get taken. Again, connectedness explains much inaction. But, we have to either accept that we may inch ahead instead of moving in leaps and bound, or agree that leaping head may involve some serious national ‘pain’, if we are to make the necessary changes. I am not bold enough to say glibly ‘Take the pain!’

    What I know from experience with countries that make dramatic shifts is that it doesn’t happen without that ‘national consensus’, which we do not have. 

    Jamaica wages its ‘battle’ of the ‘Boyne’

    Ian Boyne is articulate. He is also, by his own admission, well-read. Those two things together tend to give opinions a certain power, whether or not that is merited. I say that simply because I am driven by the power of strong argument, not the power to make me think the argument is strong. The art of the con man is to make the story sound convincing. But, don’t get me wrong: I am not arguing that Ian is a con man. I just want to make sure that I think about the substance not the superficial.

    A few days ago, Mr. Boyne put forward some ideas for dealing with crime in Jamaica, under the title ‘Is Holness tough enough?‘.

    Now, the first part of the superficial is the positing that it’s a problem of one person (as the title suggests) rather than the problem of a government and all its part. In other words, we are asked to believe that it’s all about whether the leader has the right mettle, rather than whether the Cabinet is made of the right stuff. At it’s extreme, it could be that, in the face of a split Cabinet, the PM will have the casting vote. That would not be about his toughness, but about his deciding where the balance of power really sits more comfortably. But, let me not dwell on that.

    But, let’s dig deeper into the commentary.

    ‘…our elite dominates traditional media discourse on the issue, and our politicians are in terror of them the way ordinary citizens are in terror of gunmen.’ I noted immediately that Mr. Boyne is himself part of ‘our elite’, so I was stumped when I tried to think of who he meant. I’m still stumped by the implicit idea of ‘except me’. I was also struck by the mention of ‘traditional media’, noting that Mr. Boyne, as far as one can tell from checking does not step into the arena of ‘non traditional’ media, by which I mean social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. I then have to wonder whether the balance of opinion in traditional media is what matters, as opposed to balance of opinion is a much wider setting. I got confused by this argument, though, when Mr. Boyne acknowledges ‘We have a prime minister who is social media savvy and who is directly in touch with multiple tens of thousands of people through those platforms. His thinking is not just influenced by what traditional media discourse is.’ I now have no idea why the first postulation is relevant. (That last point about being ‘in touch’ also begs questions about whether the nature of social media interaction is well-understood.) 

    More important, is discourse in the media what really matters on weighty issues? It gives the media a superiority over opinions that makes me feel uneasy. But, think about it. That’s more powerful than, say, discourse in parliament? 

    ‘The politicians don’t have the guts and courage of leadership to take the tough decisions which they need to make to send a signal to criminals because talk-show hosts, articulate, well-spoken defense attorneys and other human rights fundamentalists will clobber them if they dare to act decisively and tough.’ Not having the guts because is odd. It suggests that the politicians have guts in other instances, but wilt in this area. I find that laughable. Jamaican politicians do not display guts in many areas, so the ‘fear’ of being bashed cannot be what is holding them back. I think if one looks across the realm of political decisions over decades one can find easily many instances where weak decisions are the preferred way of doing things for Jamaican politicians. You can take that from the decision to not deal with squatting and land capture, through the facilitation of stealing of water and electricity, through the building of garrison constituencies (to make it easier to win votes by the rule of fear, rather than the power of argument), through the general aversion to political and financial transparency, through the unwillingness to address clear economic problems UNTIL it is a necessity to get any more financial support from the international community (let’s call that being ‘beaten by the IMF to do it’) and much more. So, Jamaican politicians are better described as gutless. PERIOD.

    ‘our journalists, columnists and civil society activists have the gall to be making calls for the Government to ‘do something now’ and to ‘act decisively’ to deal with crime…Not one would have any effect on murder today or next week.’ This seems like a self-serving accusation, not least by scooping all things together and listing noting in particular. One of the problems with Jamaican politicial decision-making has been its willingness to put things off. So, we are forever pushing past the point when decisions should have been made to get maximum effect, and so it is actually harder to find a solution that can deal with almost any of our problems in an instant, because we have allowed them to become deeply ingrained. It does not only relate to crime, but to almost any aspect of our social and economic life. Look at the creaking infrastructure. Look at the simple matter of road signage, that was pointed to yesterday. Look at the systemic weaknesses in so many aspects of public service provision. Look at the feather-bedding in public employment. Look at our serial inability to hold anyone to account. We have wasted time (and money), so will always have to do more now to correct that weakness. 

    Whether Mr. Boyne can find one journalist who can say what can be done to affect crime now is not the point; it has been said, by others, at least. I and others, including academics, for police officers, lawyers, the US State Department and more have written and spoken often about how the risk:reward relationship of crime in Jamaica is badly and wrongly skewed. Getting away with crimes is far too easy in almost all spheres.

    One simple thing to do now is for the police to do a better job first of policing, including catching criminals, and for the justice system to do a better job of trying and convicting them. Without fighting over the meaning of ‘clear up’ rate, we know that a low percentage of alleged murderers get caught and under 10 percent of them get convicted. That is either because the wrong people are caught, the defence lawyers are better than the prosecution, the juries are more complicit, or judges are more lenient, or some combination of those factors. That can change with the very next trial (call that ‘today’) and go back to the process of police investigation to be able to mount strong cases in court, so help raise the success rate in the future.

    Now, the meat of the matter. Mr. Boyne is happy:

    I was happy to hear the prime minister announce that “we will be creating the legislative environment to support the establishment of the rule of law in communities where it is absent and to separate criminals from communities they have captured.” He went on to say: “We will be creating under this framework, zones where the security forces and other Government agencies will be able to conduct special long-term operations in high crime areas, including extensive searches for guns and contraband.” Excellent!

    ‘People in inner-city communities know that there are certain criminals who are well-known but whom nobody can testify against in a court of law. These guys can hire the best attorneys to defend them or to get them on bail where they can kill more people.’

    ‘But I am calling for locking down certain communities, locking away certain known crime perpetrators; going into homes without search warrants and stopping vehicles on the road. Curtail some of my civil liberties in the interest of all. You can’t have human rights if there is not a viable state. We cannot allow Jamaica to become a failed state and to let our prospects for economic growth evaporate before our eyes because our politicians and chattering classes are cowards.’

    Yet, this happiness is based on a disturbing proposition. The crime monster that he perceives is an inner city monster. It supposedly lives and breathes nowhere else, or if it does, it is not thriving there. I stopped my breath immediately with a sudden recollection of testimony during the West Kingston Commission of Inquiry, about how the security forces went looking for Michael ‘Dudus’ Coke. The man resided in Red Hills (amongst other places), not known to be part of any ‘inner city’; and one of the signal failures of the operation in 2010 was to not find Dudus in the inner city places. So, if that were a precursor for what the likelihood of success is for such an idea, I’d say, please do not waste our time and money. 

    Going into homes in selected areas sounds fine, so long as it’s not YOUR area, and as it’s the inner city that seems targeted then ‘our elite’ can sleep a little more soundly. But, maybe, it’s not so limited and the prospect of being stopped on ‘the road’ is wide and worrying. 

    I have an aunt who lives in Montego Bay. She does not live in the inner city. But, she can tell me of the lotto scammers who live in the neighbourhood, who she can overhear from her balcony, and ply their trade from the well-appointed homes on the hills. 

    Let me finish with a few other thoughts.

    Mr. Boyne’s monster is not the monster of crime, but of particular crimes. I have written already about whether culling murders will change the crime landscape in Jamaica, if we are still plagued with tens of thousands of abused children. It is not the crime of the pastor raping an underage teenager. It is not the crime of the schoolboy being stabbed on the bus for his phone. It is not the crime of the corrupt, who remain faceless in their corrosive walk through the coffers of the country. It is not the crime of the person who stole phones from President Obama’s entourage at the hotel. It is not the crime of the judge who was more lenient in that case than over the man who stole mangoes. Those are not crimes that will be touched by curtailed civil liberties. It is not the crime of the corrupt police officer (and you can choose which of the recent cases you think fits the bill regarding what misdeeds go on under the cover of uniform or without it).

    Bashing the media and those advocating civil liberties is easy. But, why not bash those charged with upholding the law? Who controls the police who will not pursue criminals? Who controls the judiciary that will not bring harsh sentences? Who admonishes judges who seem to imply that children under the age of consent can consent to sexual activity? Who controls the parents who ‘shop’ their children to make money to live another day? Who controls the teachers who cannot understand that they are protectors of children, not predators of them? Who controls the society that condones the petty crimes that lay the ground for the acceptance of many crimes? Who controls the politicians who knowingly and repeatedly transgress the laws of the land which they frame? Cherry picking is a great exercise, but it’s not real gardening. 

    Please speak clearly to me about crime reduction plans

    Those who know me know that I prefer to have ‘clean’ discussions. By that, I mean making sure that the topic is well understood, and that we try to not mix things up in getting to a understanding of the problem. It takes time, but it’s worth it, so that solutons, if any, can be seen to be aimed at tackling the right things. I am not keen on doing things for the sake of doing. So, on crime, I have made a plea and happily repeat it, while the sounds levels rise and the hints of hysteria increase.

    Jamaica does not have A CRIME problem. Jamaica has MANY CRIMES problems. Why do I make that distinction?

    It’s important when people talk about removing civil liberties to address crime to realize what they may have in mind as their target criminals, and if they succeed what criminals and crimes will be left in our midst. My impression is that people’s major focus is on murders, because of continued recent increase in that crime. But, as I have also said, the JCF told us consistently that other crimes were trending down. So, without murders, the narrative was that Jamaica as being DECRIMINALIZED. 

    Now, let’s not get out of whack. Jamaica still has high crime levels, if that narrative is true. But, I want to make sure I am content for the right reasons.

    The JCF will soon offer us the results of their analysis of 2016 crime data. But, let’s look at what we know about 2015 and crime in general in Jamaica. The US State Department Diplomatic Service prepared a 2016 report on ‘crime and secrity’ in Jamaica, which looked back at 2015, from which I will borrow:

    It’s general view was ‘Organized crime elements are prevalent and extremely active. Most criminal activity is gang-related’.

    • Arrests made in 45 percent of homicides (murders).
    • SEVEN percent of those accused were convicted and sentenced. ‘This leads both the public and police to doubt the effectiveness of the criminal justice system, leading to vigilantism, which exacerbates the cycle of violence.’…’most civilians fear that the authorities cannot protect them from organized criminal elements and could be colluding with criminals, leading citizens to avoid giving evidence or witness testimony.’

    So, for homicides to be tackled effectively, justice needs to be seen to be done. For crime fighting to work, confidence in the honesty and integrity of the police must rise. 

    So, we must ask ourselves whether the curtailment of civil liberties will address those basic systemic failings. If it will not, then please think about what it will be doing.

      The US report goes on to discuss other major areas of crime, in part because of their particular impact on US citizens but also to cover the land properly: mainly, sexual assaults, burglaries, scamming and cyber crimes.

      If you follow local news, you will read many reports of sexual assaults, and we have another case with a twist running now (a pastor accused of raping a minor). We should know that the Office of the Children’s Registry report each year over 10,000 cases of abuse of children (not just sexual). So, my natural question is ‘Will the curtailment of civil liberties address child abusers?’ If I could answer my own question, I think hardly likely. However, if locking down communities, stop and search, searches without warrants are going to sharply reduce this set of crimes, then I can see that we may have some happier homes and safer children. 

      I’m not ignoring the other heinous domestic abuse cases, especially against women. Will we have safer spaces for women?

      Anecdotally, we know that many crimes like burglaries go unreported and the cycle of mistrust of the police and the ineffectiveness of their efforts to catch criminals mean that most people don’t feel reporting such crimes will address the problem. Instead, they rely on other measures, including deterrents as well as increased personal security measures (guards, alarms, weapons). But, again, my question is what will curtailment of civil liberties mean for the rate at which such crimes are committed?

      I ask these questions not to reduce the importance of the scary prospect of being killed, but as a reminder of what will be left behind IF WE WERE TO REMOVE ALL THE KILLERS. 

      I would like someone to perhaps estimate how much card skimming will be reduced (both at ATMs and points of sale).

      Is there a projected reduction in the amount of lotto scamming that will occur? (To the extent that some significant part of homicides are the result of activities in the lotto scamming area, removing those killers may reduce such scamming, but the link is not clear.)

      I dont want people to think that the world of curtailed civil liberties is a world that will ‘all of a sudden’ be a safer one. 

      Now, if those who want to make such proposals want to paint me a clear picture of how the world will look AFTER the sweeps have been done, and tell me that the changes are going to be permanent, I will think hard about whether I want to be a possible victim of the curtailed liberties.

      As an aside, I have to recall what it was like in a time and place where such curtailed liberties existed, though it was not a general state, just a law that affected certain people more, and what it was like to be a target. 

      When the UK had the ‘Sus’ (suspicion) laws, when police could stop and search on the basis of suspicion, being a young black man was rough. I recall the night I was stopped and questioned, on my way home from university, after a night training with the football team, because I ‘fit the description’ (of a tall, fair skinned man…I’m 5 feet 9, and black). Dark and alone, I should have been scared, not least because of the reputation of the police in such situations. I did not resist,e except to question the obvious flaw in what was the motive for stopping me. I was armed with a quick brain and a little knowledge of the law. My bag was searched and my reeking football kit was given an airing. This was in the days before cell phones, so I could not call anyone as I as cornered in a shop doorway by two white policemen. I took their badge numbers and told them that I would report them for harassment as soon as they let me go. They radioed and had a conversation, then ‘let me go’. I went to the police station that was about half a mile away and reported the incident straight away. I asked to call my parents, to tell them what had happened, and that I would get home as soon as I could. They did not need to get me. 

      I have an idea of whose doors and whose communities may be affected by the nice sounding suggestions of curtailed liberties. I have lived in uptown Jamaica and I am pretty sure that it is not there. But, if I am wrong, I stand to wait and see how the areas of Norbrook and Cherry Gardens, etc will react. 

      Some would say that the places to lock down first may be the many churches in this country. Contentious? Have it your way!

      Jamaica and its ‘fight’ with crime: haphazard approaches may work, but they cannot have certainty.

      Economics is one of several disciplines (and they are in both the arts and sciences) that force you to think about many problems from first principles, elaborate on those initial conditions, apply various assumptions to that, and then move to conclusions. These conclusions can then be tested in theory (with mathematical modeling, for instance) and practice, by trying to look at real world evidence and seeing if that comes close to what one would expect. However, much of life is an ongoing experiment, and we do not have the luxury much of the time to hold things static or to know whether some or many of our assumptions held true before events, through events, and hold true still after events. Humans are responsive, so modify actions based on past experience. All of that simple summary is to say what?

      I have some clear views in my mind about what kinds of things work with humans and which dont. Those views are borne less out of economics and more out of living. However, I hold onto one strand of economics all the time: people always respond to incentives. Once you understand the structure of those incentives, then changing those is what will change behaviour. 

      Now, we could argue to the end of the world whether or not some incentives are stronger than others, or if each incentive works the same for each person. That’s where life gets really complicated. Example: Many people use pain to get others to respond. That works better for people who have low pain thresholds. If you have a high pain threshold, someone may have to go to the ultimate point of taking your life (and maybe not even then) to get a response. 

      Money is similar, in that we each respond differently, depending on our starting level of assets, and our prospects for those assets to increase or decrease. We have different tolerance for risk and different responses to rewards. Some cousins asked me to play poker for a pot of US$20, and I said I’d be interested if it were US$2000; they were not. They played and got really jacked up at the end to collect the US$20. I watched the NFL game. 🙂

      So, what about crime? In particular, what about crime in Jamaica?

      I fail to see how one can make a case for doing ‘something’ to ‘deal with crime’ (whatever that something is, and irrespective of the element of crime that is to be addressed) without some basic tenets and questions concerning:

      • What you see as the problem? 
      • What you tried?
      • What worked?
      • What failed?
      • How you responded to failure and success?
      • Who are the actors?
      • What are the intereconnections?
      • What are the rewards from crime and what are the risks that are being taken and overcome?

      Those are just some simple questions whose answers would then lead most people to say an understanding of the problem has been shown, and we know what weaknesses and strengths we are dealing with on the many sides of law and order and law breaking. 

      To my mind, none of that has anything to do with things like politics or culture or gender or a host of features and attributes that make for some interesting colour, but do not go to the fundamentals (economists love those).

      So, I am about as interested in labelling someone and their opinions as I am in knowing what colour underwear they have on today. 

      What I have seen repeatedly in Jamaica on the matter of crime is simple. Its main actors in leadership positions, who are in the business of law-keeping, have not been able to tell a story that makes sense from start to finish. When that is the case, the one clear conclusion is that there is much misunderstanding, much confusion, and little real idea of how to solve the problem. (What economics tells me, and it’s shown to be true in life, is that in such circumstances the responses that come forward MUST BE REACTIVE, NOT PROACTIVE–because, you’ve no real idea how to deal with the root causes, so treat symptoms.)

      Before someone jumps up and shouts how unfair that is, I will ask one simple question. If successive Ministers of National Security have called on prayer and God as their answers to the problem, what are they doing taking tax payer money to perform a job that they say is not theirs?

      If someone wishes to paint me a different picture, I remain as patient as ever. 

      I suspect that the excitement about August Town going murder-free is founded on a series of results that came from many of the questions I posed above being asked and answered. 

      Crime ‘fighting’ must be like the way that healing works in the body: it starts from the inside, not the outside.

      Twelve Jamaican days of Christmas: Twelve

      On the twelfth day of Christmas, my Jamaican love sent to me twelve Rasta drummers…eleven pineapples standing…ten ‘lawd have mercy’…nine Nine night dancers…eight mateys tempting 🤔 …seven shameplants swaying..six geezers playing…five goat kids…four coffee buds…three men cutting ten…two fried dumplings​…and a chicken patty with curry gravy.

      Understanding numbers: How Jamaica being baffled by crime is hard to understand

      I won’t make this long. Jamaicans are often accused of being numerically illiterate. Unfair? Here is the latest proof. 2016 witnessed 1350 murders on the island, which over 366 days (a Leap Year, remember), means about 3.7 murders a day. So far, during the first 3 days of 2017, we have had reported 11 murders, which (surprise) is 3.7 murders times 3. JCF data show that murders are happening all over the country, though still largely an urban phenomenon (which is just sheer weight of numbers). The Parish of St. James (‘capital’ of lotto scamming) is surpassing all areas. The downtrend in murders following the Tivoli operations in 2010 stopped after a couple of years and is now clearly up again. The shake-up in the world of gangs is still on-going (why would it stop?), and it’s moved away from Kingston. 

      So, why are people surprised? What happened at the turn of the year to stop the spigot of killings? Nothing, as far as I know. If the annual feasting on food and drink did nothing to curtail the killing, then it must continue its trend thereafter. So, rickety policing and creaking justice system didn’t get a make-over, sir? Go to the naughty corner!

      Now, please don’t get me wrong and get all bent out of shape: this is nothing to do with what I think about much of the violence that I am trying to understand. It’s about how a people (Jamaicans) can watch a phenomenon, do little to affect it, and then expect things to change. 

      One answer is blind faith, as in ‘The Lord will provide’ (no offence to my fellow religious faith followers).

      Another answer is total apathy: there’s got to be someone who’s going to do something about this, right.

      Another answer is denial.

      On the one hand, Jamaica’s crime problems are simple to solve. If, like New Year resolutions, each person made and kept a pledge, our crime would disappear overnight. The pledge would be: “I will not take the life of any fellow being”. Now, for many of us, this is an old pledge, even if unstated. It’s how we live our lives. Whatever befalls us, we do not see that making the decision to end another person’s life is ours to make. However, some have made the pledge and not kept it, or not made the pledge? The questions to try to answer are ‘Why?’ and (less important, I think) maybe ‘When?’

      Jamaica’s killing spree is odd. It’s not much about serious redistribution of riches between Jamaicans who are wealthy and those who are not, as it’s much targeted on in-fighting (gang warfare, is the term used by JCF). However, let me pull back. That is about redistribution of riches, that come from controlling real/turf. Whatever is possible in terms of revenue/money gains must be so enticing that having that control is worth risking and taking lives. Countries do this all the time, so that part is not odd. But, why are killers not pointing their arms against those who are outside the turf, except it seems in a few cases? If I have that wrong, then blame JCF for not giving me enough details to come to another conclusion. But, I am getting there from my reading of reports in the media. (JCF was reported yesterday to be doing a full analysis of murders and also taking a five-year perspective.)

      The wave of domestic violence that ends in killing is not much different, it seems, as we hear of few cases where such incidents are in homes/neighbourhoods known to be better-off. So, in a class sense, it seems like ‘poor people’s’ troubles. If I’m wrong, again, please set me straight. 

      Those two categories of killing seem to cover the bulk. Now, in terms of how to address them, we can go back to the three suggested states of mind. 

      We know plenty of Jamaicans are fatalistic and see all of this as either part of a master plan to pay us back for wickedness, or just ‘His will’. Hard to analyse that. (Blind faith.)

      We know lots of people don’t care, really, so long as they do not seem to be affected. (Apathy.)

      We know lots of people are finding reasons to look away and protect or even aid those who kill. (Denial.)

      The PM says he has big plans to announce on how to address the crime ‘problem’. I will be in search of things that seem to tackle the states of mind. Am I optimistic? Not really. What I heard yesterday about harsher measures for gun-related crimes is typical Jamaica-lala. We already have life imprisonment as the maximum sentence, so are we going to extend those sentences into the after-life? I asked how many such sentences had been handed out in the past five years. Still awaiting an answer. Some also say through this fast, and asked about the mere matter of illegal possession, not getting to use. Let’s hear if silence prevails.

      A great maxim for success is always give yourself a chance to succeed, not to fail. Let’s see how ‘Team Jamaica’ take to the field today. 

      Twelve Jamaican days of Christmas: Eleven

      On th eleventh day of Christmas, my Jamaican love sent to me, eleven pineapples standing…
      …ten ‘lawd have mercy’…nine Nine night dancers…eight mateys tempting 🤔 …seven shameplants swaying..six geezers playing…five goat kids…four coffee buds…three men cutting ten…two fried dumplings​…and a chicken patty with curry gravy.

      Twelve Jamaican days of Christmas: Ten

      On the tenth day of Christmas, my Jamaican love sent to me, ten ‘lawd have mercy’…

      …nine Nine night dancers…eight mateys tempting 🤔 …seven shameplants swaying..six geezers playing…five goat kids…four coffee buds…three men cutting ten…two fried dumplings​…and a chicken patty with curry gravy.

      Twelve Jamaican days of Christmas: Nine

      On the ninth day of Christmas, my Jamaican love sent to me, nine Nine night dancers…

      eight mateys tempting 🤔 …seven shameplants swaying..six geezers playing…five goat kids…four coffee buds…three men cutting ten…two fried dumplings​…and a chicken patty with curry gravy.

      Twelve Jamaican days of Christmas: Eight

      On the eighth day of Christmas, my Jamaican love sent to me, eight mateys tempting 🤔 …seven shameplants swaying..six geezers playing…five goat kids…four coffee buds…three men cutting ten…two fried dumplings​

      ​…and a chicken patty with curry gravy.