Fri | Dec 9, 2016

Clouds in my eyes?

Published:Tuesday | August 26, 2014 | 12:00 AM
A woman protests the hike in JUTC bus fares in Half-Way Tree on Monday. - Jermaine Barnaby/Photographer

By Gordon Robinson

I
enjoy Daniel Thwaites' columns. His style is his own; he's entertaining; and comfortable with the language. I've even forgiven him for his apparent fawning loyalty to PNP for the simple reason that I believe it's not his fault. He mightn't have had much opportunity to explore alternatives. He does try to appear non-partisan, although I remain unimpressed with the result of those efforts. He's like a husband whose wife is always nearby. He better toe the line.

I keep a close watch on this heart of mine.

I keep my eyes wide open all the time.

I keep the ends out for the tie that binds.

Because you're mine, I walk the line."

However, in his article on Sunday, August 24 ('Politically driven bus fears'), he stepped far over the line. What appeared to be feeble attempts at veiling slavish support of Government's appalling contempt for the elderly with cuteness fell flat. From the outset, he's on the wrong foot:

"For those who flat-out can't afford it, ... it's straightforward why they dislike the bus-fare increase."

This seems another case of OHS (Orville Higgins Syndrome). It's not a question of dislike, Orville (oops, sorry, Daniel). Persons are opposed to the increases on public policy grounds; compassionate grounds; and grounds of righteousness. Nobody 'dislikes' anybody/ anything. In particular, none opposing iniquitous bus fare increases dislikes the PNP.

I find it very, very easy to be true.

I find myself alone when each day is through.

Yes, I'll admit that I'm a fool for you.

Because you're mine, I walk the line."

Then, disguised as holding a "policy discussion" in "a rational way", he essays his most unfunny, cartoon-esque attack on seniors:

"The idea of ... discounting all fares for all old people seems to me completely wrongheaded. Why should old people get a discount just for being old? I know we talk about ageing like it's an achievement, but this is taking it too far. To get old, you just had to get born, then avoid heart disease, stroke, respiratory infections, chronic obstructive lung disease, HIV, lung cancer, diabetes, chikungunya, typhoid, diphtheria, gunshot and knife wounds, politics, electrocution, liver failure, getting run over by a bus ... . If we want to have a decent public transportation system, perhaps old people who can afford it should pay a proper market rate for the ride."

Full disclosure, Daniel: As one who just qualified to pay the senior citizens' bus fare, I have an interest in keeping it as low as possible and I take offence to your broadside against me, my colleagues and my age paper. To answer your question "Why should old people get a discount ... ?" without your smarminess, I assure you it's NOT "just for being old."

"Old people" like me spent a lifetime working to build Jamaica. We've occasionally given public service and perpetually given community service. We've educated children so they can make more substantial contributions than we did. WE'VE PAID TAXES FOR DECADES. Finally, we can no longer contribute. We're begging NOTHING. We do have expectations that a grateful nation will show its gratitude by helping us with some of our living expenses.

Daniel repeats missing the point with "Which leads to the question: What's a proper market rate for a ride on the JUTC?"

You've got a way to keep me on your side.

You give me cause for love that I can't hide.

For you I know I'd even try to turn the tide.

Because you're mine, I walk the line.

No, it doesn't, Daniel. It leads to the question, "How can a grateful nation say thanks to its seniors"? By asking them to pay for its decades-long malfeasance in the transport sector? Or by giving seniors huge transportation discounts while addressing governments' mismanagement of JUTC causing unreasonably high operational costs? Which would be the righteous result?

The non-Opposition opposition to fare increases isn't "political", Daniel. It's visceral. If the JLP truly represented Jamaicans, it wouldn't be in Half-Way Tree waving idiotic placards. It'd ensure JUTC buses travelled empty for weeks by providing commuters with alternatives, including pickups from central locations in cars driven by JLP candidates. Daniel, you're not alone appearing permanently fitted with political lens and, don't worry, you'll never see the 'other side' of this story. I have clouds in my eyes, but you're getting younger every day.

Johnny Cash's 'I Walk The Line', written by Johnny with a little help from friends including Hal David and Burt Bacharach, tells the story of his lifelong love affair with second wife, June Carter.

Peace and love.

Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.