Wed | Dec 7, 2016

Ronald Mason: The country bleeds

Published:Sunday | March 8, 2015 | 12:00 AM

Last week saw the brutal murder of a 14-year-old schoolgirl from St Thomas. All the anecdotal reports suggest that she had the desired motivation and desire to attain success. One can only conclude that she is dead because we, as a society, do not value life much anymore.

The other 14-year-old schoolgirl who was reportedly pregnant for the businessman ended up dead. A major inconvenience for the so-called admirable businessman in the community. Embarrassment, resistance, failure to play to the script you did not write, are all grounds that could lead to your death.

The society has been paying lip service to capital punishment for so long that it may be safe to conclude that there will never be another hanging in Jamaica's future. Among the arguments advanced against hanging is that it is not a deterrent. It is cruel and inhumane, they say, and only the poor will be executed. This may be so. The jury is still out on this.

But one thing is certain: If you have ever been in a prison and heard the strangest sounds coming from those who have been set a date to meet their Maker, you will come away with the knowledge that the prospect of state execution is not a welcome thought.

Let us, as a country, provide all the due-process safeguards. Let us guarantee competent legal assistance. But in the rare case where one is actually charged with a capital offence and then convicted for same, let us carry out the terms of the sentence.

Remember, as it now stands in Jamaica, only five per cent of those who are alleged to be perpetrators of a capital offence are even caught, much less face trial. Once again we have to introduce the element of fear of possible outcomes. Now, that is lacking. The European Union should be ignored. Its members do not live here among the bloodthirsty vicious persons who debase our standard of living.

The country bleeds more than usual. The depravity of the mind is to be recognised in the gruesome acts committed almost daily. The police plead for assistance, but are largely ineffective in solving crimes. They spend more energy asking the terrified citizen not to carry out vigilante justice.

The persons who get cowered by the bleeding hearts who make reference to hard upbringing, absent parental guidance, are generally not exposed to these predators daily.

The factors and influences in society that are relied on to act as restraints are weak or missing. When the poverty level of the country rises to 20 per cent, ready-made excuses for criminal behaviour are abundant. When the family, never nuclear in Jamaica's history, is even more splintered that one country's immigration laws makes reference to Jamaica's family structure with the term that 'biology does not a father make', we need new radical approaches. The Church is irrelevant. Moral suasion is in short supply.

NEEDS VS WANTS

We talk about balancing the books while balancing people's lives. The harsh extractive medium of balancing the books is imposed daily. PATH feeds the children for three days. That implies it is acceptable for the hunger to last four days. All this takes place in the same country that speaks with pride of being the country with the highest per capita purchases of top-end luxury automobiles. What is the common purpose which defines our national interest? Is it material things or human needs?

The state of the country, as paraded during the March 4 and 5 House of the Representatives sitting as a committee budget deliberation, was troubling. Crime is up in 2015. Water consumption not being paid for. Raw sewage flows in the capital city.

The health services have continued to creak towards an inevitable shutdown; however, we pass the quarterly IMF tests. We quibble over the application of the standard economic rule that two consecutive quarters of GDP decline means we are in recession. We made promises to start dredging the Hermitage dam a year ago. Not yet.

We cannot put in place the process to spend US$130 million-plus on improvement to the water system financed by the approved loan in November 2011. My neighbourhood has not seen potable water in the pipes for more than a decade. The meter is appealing for a designation as an antique. Vendors continue to create havoc in Kingston. The members of parliament grandstand. Is this the way to run a country?

Parents continue to pimp their children. Young girls perform sexual favours for older men for economic pittance and the boys who display athletic prowess pimped to a school for a car, refrigerator or other trinkets. Wake up, Jamaica.

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