Tue | Dec 6, 2016

Hypocrisy to the hilt

Published:Sunday | November 23, 2014 | 12:00 AM

The definition of 'poor people's money' will vary in direct relation to who is the beneficiary. The tragedy in the use of poor people's money is that some not-so-poor people get bailed out by poor people's money.

The fact that former Prime Minister Bruce Golding would use poor people's money, then in the custody of the Urban Development Corporation (UDC), to bail out a Jamaica Labour Party senator, Hyacinth Bennett's, interest in property at Ferry, St Catherine, will somehow be deemed acceptable. In that matter, the need was couched in the language that implied a worthy educational purpose.

The UDC is not viewed in the public domain as being a 'trust', but the National Housing Trust is such an establishment. The perception does not match the reality. The NHT is not a trust in the strict legal definition. There are no trustees. It may be a constructive trust.

The use of the funds was to provide benefits that were not mutual exclusive. It is within the competence to run commercial enterprises and do social good at the same time. Provide a place of repose for the citizens who seek an idyllic spot for quiet reflection. Provide a place with scenic beauty for citizens to have their family functions at a very low cost in a 300-year-old great house with a pool. Provide a place for the children to play. No 'backra massa' to be afraid of. Jamaicans now own this property.

SITUATIONREEKS

This can also facilitate the attraction being available for a fee to those who wish to experience the depiction of our history. It reeks that those now voicing the most vigorous opposition are leaving the inference that poor people, usually black, should not have access to the finer things in life. It is, however, acceptable for the wealthy with contacts to seek government property for their private interests. To verify same, take a look at the log of presentation to the board of the Development Bank of Jamaica and note its request to have conveyed direct benefits of government property to them.

The former minister of finance was also reported as being the beneficiary of benefits from FINSAC. It must be recalled that FINSAC's cost became the high debt of the Government of Jamaica and the poor people of Jamaica. Poor people are not generally aware of the antecedents and linkages of those who are set up as the 'voice of reason' in the inquiries into their affairs.

We are such hypocrites. There is much insistence that when you do it, it must be bad, underhanded or worse; but when I do it, the cause is always equitable and just. Hypocrisy.

The need for a non-violent social revolution is now urgent. The social order must be clearly enunciated. The persons at the top of the order must include the people who are benefiting the least. This is not new.

Former Prime Minister Edward Seaga, many decades ago, addressed the society on the haves and the have-nots. Not much has changed. The social conscience has not been sufficiently pricked to divest some of the largesse from the haves to the have-nots.

Secondary schools that are comparatively well endowed get more, while poor inner-city schools are told to grow. Apart from the 'H' in Hillel and the 'H' in Holy Trinity, there is almost no material benefit to being a student at Holy Trinity. Yes, I am aware that Hillel is a private institution, but it has developed and applied the formula to provide the best opportunity for its students. This has not been replicated at Holy Trinity. Why not? Hypocrisy in the society.

Look at the results of the football competitions where there is some semblance of operating on a level playing field. The results surprise. How about levelling the playing fields in the other significant areas? We need a social revolution.

PLATITUDES, CRUMBS NOT ENOUGH

It is not enough to offer platitudes and crumbs to help the less fortunate. As a country, we need all citizens to have a sense of belonging and worth. We need their contribution and not dispense the feeling that the aspirations are only for fodder at the bleating of the politicians and some privileged groups.

Look at the reaction of the member of parliament for Western Portland during the reparation debate. Could it have been anymore contemptuous of the masses of the people? Hypocrisy, most virulent. When we got Independence from the British, there was across this island a sense that there was a reservoir of goodwill for the interests of all the people. This has been woefully lacking.

Most things are now seen through the prism of 'them' and 'us'. The few who dictate make it clear that those to whom they dictate should be grateful that they take time out to even recognise their existence.

Recall the matter of inappropriate material presented to the wards and residents of the children's homes. Recall the dictates of those who would target Professor Bain for a difference of opinion. Recall the social pages of the daily papers. The divisions in the society are now more than mere cracks. The people are the sad fodder in all of this. Stop misleading the people.

How long do we perpetuate the 'us' versus 'them'? How long?

n Ronald Mason is an immigration attorney and Supreme Court mediator. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and nationsagenda@gmail.com.