Mon | Oct 14, 2019

Jaristotle's | Jottings | Vulture capitalism

Published:Thursday | October 10, 2019 | 12:10 AM

The Concise Oxford Dictionary describes vultures as poorly feathered birds that are ‘reputed to gather with others in anticipation of a death’. The said dictionary also speaks to vultures as rapacious persons, extortionate and predatory in nature.

A venture capitalist is an investor that provides capital to firms exhibiting high growth potential in exchange for an equity stake. On the other hand, I submit that a vulture capitalist is an individual holding public office who withholds funding and resources needed to effect cost-saving preventive maintenance on public infrastructure in exchange for an equity stake in eye-gouging repair contracts issued in the aftermath of disasters that were exacerbated by the poorly maintained infrastructure.

Such is Jamaican politics, very extortionate and predatory in nature, overrun by self-serving politicians and their cronies collectively enjoying the mouth-watering trappings of power. Whereas the country ought to be governed according to some long-term and well-meaning plan, the real governance plan is a mere five-year one with two main objectives: retain power and snatch as much as possible while in power. Vulture capitalism in its plainest form.

Vultures or parrots?

Neither of the two major political parties intends to change this unholy modus operandi. The people of Jamaica are pretty much boxed in and ripe for exploitation ad infinitum, having to make do with vulture capitalists adorned with green or orange plumage and chatting the crowd-pleasing banter like parrots.

Take for instance the attempt to deny the public access to Cabinet-based information within the lifetime of most of us. Clearly, there are matters contained in certain requested documents that sparked enough concern within the government to want to implement a denial to such information under the guise of legislative ‘conman-ship’.

Perhaps it was done in anticipation of similar requests expected within the next decade or so, which would mean that someone from a previous administration who was integral to an issue and alive at the time of request may be found wanting and have to account, perhaps in a court of law. Such a travesty is unthinkable among vulture capitalists, exposing their poorly feathered hides beneath the plumage.

Cure pays

In societies where vulture capitalism prevails, there is no place for attitudes of prevention being better than cure. The ethos is cure pays. Just take a look at the local ‘runnings’.

We are prone to flooding in many highly populated areas, namely due to unstructured urban development and inadequate and poorly maintained drainage, driven by a cure-all rather than prevent-all approach to disaster management. One would figure that even with the limited capacity of our drainage systems, with appropriate maintenance we could prevent even moderate rains from becoming routinely catastrophic.

But hell no, because how then would the vulture capitalists survive, marshalling those gouge-out-eye contracts to fix what should have been prevented in the first place with minimal outlay, and further, to restore the affected people to some level of comfort. Cure pays is a fundamental principle of vulture capitalism!

Cure pays also facilitates the elevation of the vulture capitalists in the eyes of those they are helping in times of disaster. Unfortunately, distressed people hardly ever realise that their predicaments are largely due to the underhandedness of the vulture capitalists.

The same strategy pertains where roads are concerned, as too for public utilities, garbage collection and other public services to which taxpaying Jamaicans are entitled. When will this vulture capitalism give way to decent-mindedness and a paradigm of preventive maintenance, thus allowing public funds to be more readily available for the sustainable benefit of society rather than for repetitive and costly cures?

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