THE EDITOR, Sir:
"Hardships there are! But the land is green and the sun shineth." (Original meaning of the black in the Jamaican flag).
"From almshouse to King's House, there is racket in every bracket." (Popular Jamaican expression).
"In Jamaica, the man who plays by the rules gets shafted." (Jamaican politician).
Columbus arrived in Jamaica with three ships - the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria - and there is the legend that before his departure, he built two ships: hardship and ginnalship, which have remained with us today.
It is a feature of national life that many who cannot endure or wish to experience hardship have resorted to ginnalship. Ginnalship is the art and mastery of deception and has many adjectives, such as crafty, cunning, dodgy, foxy, guileful, sly, tricksy and wily.
Why do so many persons resort so often to ginnalship, which seems to affect every level and sphere of our everyday interactions? Is it something in the human genome which has shown a greater level of expression in our people, or is it our value system, structure of governance, or simply a means to escape from the harsh realities (hardships) of our socio-economic conditions?
The most devastating impact that the widespread practice of ginnalship has had is an erosion of trust. There is a low level of trust in Government and we simply do not trust each other.
Ginnalship in its various forms has been having a deleterious effect on the economy. This deep level of mistrust is the main reason for the oftentimes endless bureaucratic hurdles which citizens encounter in trying to transact business with the Government. These hurdles also exist in private institutions, the banks and insurance companies being good examples. A lot of productive time is lost trying to obtain or process documents and getting necessary approvals. This, no doubt, creates an unfriendly business climate, which stifles productivity and discourages entrepreneurship and foreign investments.
Checks and balances are necessary to ensure transparency, and laws need to be enforced. But many of the systems in place need to be restructured to be more business-friendly. Frustration sometimes makes many resort to dishonesty.
It's a tricky situation. Dishonesty does stimulate and encourage creativity and ingenuity. And the unfortunate reality is that the bureaucratic hurdles tend to hinder honest persons transacting businesses, but not the ginnals who usually devise creative ways to beat the system.
DAIVE R. FACEY