Mon | Feb 19, 2018

Ronald Mason | Prosperity for whom?

Published:Sunday | May 29, 2016 | 12:00 AM

What kind of country is Jamaica? Why do the people settle for mediocrity so easily? When will the people no longer be seen as political pawns? When will the people develop enlightened self-interest?

Passing legislation for a fixed-date election now will only provide cover to facilitate the JLP administration beyond what is currently constitutional. Provisions to accommodate a fixed election date are not likely to pass the Lower House of Parliament.

We play games with crime. The word game is as follows: 'used car versus previously owned' for the police. The Jamaica Constabulary Force is generally perceived to be corrupt, and to offer the excuse that the police and criminals are from the same community is ludicrous. Why don't you raise the standards, pay attractive salaries, and recruit the best?

Cases often fail at trial because the police either don't catch the criminals or don't gather the evidence effectively and efficiently. Judges are too lax - two to three years to get written judgments. Parish judges give convicted praedial larcenists a slap on the wrist and an invitation to return.

The infrastructure demands significant maintenance and repairs, but it is only a feeding tree for family members of the Gangs of Gordon House. Politics provides employment for families and the means for Cabinet members to maintain homes overseas, yet they want the citizenry to make continued sacrifices and cooperate.


Violated the Constitution


The politician who is now the prime minister was found, by the courts, to have violated the Constitution and is now rewarded. The same prime minister volunteered financial information by March 31, 2016. Don't hold your breath. It may never be released because the citizens don't count. How long do politicians expect the people to be tolerant of the prevailing standards?

We walk as lambs to the slaughter. Crime stalks everybody, yet we were told during the past electioneering period that if you want to have crime reduced and sleep with your door open, vote in a particular manner. But the JLP had no plan that would have been able to be announced shortly thereafter, so the old, young, male, and female continue to be slaughtered. But God be thanked because five or six fewer have been killed this year than last. The trend is down, they say.

Don't worry that teachers are alleged to be molesting their students. Don't worry that the police cannot apprehend 'Duppy Flim'. Don't worry that M16s with new variations are found by the police.

We hear nothing more of the persons in the boat with the cocaine off the coast of Westmoreland. We hear nothing of the guns found in the warehouse on the wharf. Who is the commissioner of police speaking to? It is not the people, and I wonder if he is speaking to the politicians, where he might have been sworn to silence. The media go nearly silent on the anniversary of the Tivoli massacre. Does anybody really care about the people?


Paying more for '1.5'


The economy is front and centre. My guts churned as I watched the masquerade taking place in Gordon House recently. Holness' '1.5' is the new mantra of the day, but you forgo less by tax relief than you capture in new taxes. Net result: the people pay more. You have given a net of nothing.

We seek to create this blue ribbon of wise successful persons, one of whom controls a bank that has just conveniently increased its service charges. Where is the equity for the people in all of this, not to speak of the optics? When is somebody going to work for the interest of the Jamaican people?

They all sit in Gordon House and hope never to be referred to as 'Gangs of Gordon House'. It is hard, extremely hard, to believe anything said in Gordon House, by either side. Call me cynical, but I worry for the future of the Jamaican people.

If one analyses the posture that is being taken by the Government to the IMF, it is hard not to conclude that this Budget is only to maintain the status quo for the remainder of the term of this agreement. When the agreement shall have expired, are we not going to return to the borrow-and-spend model that has operated for most of the last 40 years?

Nobody with any authority has said whether he isn't interested in negotiating another facility with the IMF. We are not out of the woods. Our debt-to-GDP is still 124%. We cannot afford capital expenditure at levels capable of inducing growth, so we are going to be pursuing the role of mendicants to the world, led by the big names.

When are we going to get leadership that motivates the country to produce? When are we going to get leadership that limits the amount we spend on imports? When is the country going to get real and ban these high-end luxury vehicles that sell for much more than the price of a middle-income housing unit.

Is this country to remain organised for those who can afford $100-million houses and $20 million automobiles, no work for the months of July and August, and move out en masse to America's Thanksgiving in November and Christmas in December each year? How much more must the average Jamaican put up with from these politicians?

They want partnership for prosperity, but prosperity for whom? Surely, not the masses as they get poorer and poorer.

- Ronald Mason is an attorney-at-law and Supreme Court mediator. Email feedback to and