2019 kicks off with the usual vagaries as any other year, and until the 2019/20 Budget is tabled and discussed, all is mere conjecture. So let us look at the current political situations making the rounds and distracting us.
The first is the Mexican wall and the shutdown of the Government of the United States. The bullying with regard to the wall is merely symbolic, for given the much vaunted military advances of the USA they do not seem willing to use heat imaging from aircraft or satellites. Yet the much publicized capture/killing of Osama Bin Laden was almost a live TV event.
Following on the shutdown is the reality that the average American is really living on credit, hand to mouth. By comparison with employed Jamaicans the foreclosure on homes, late rent, food stamps, would not take such a toll and even in many circumstances family support would be offered. Yes, we would suffer somewhat and not be able to go to malls, but we would not be starving or evicted in one month. That is a lesson for good old Jamaican savings (thank God for Granny). But even in schools Americans don’t thank God.
Brexit absorbs us but the talk on finding new European markets is not part of the rhetoric. We view Brexit as a political intrigue and not as an economic threat to us in Jamaica. We have no strategies that will allow us to avoid the fallout, or better yet, to profit from it (crisis=opportunity).
We know more about Donald Trump and Theresa May than we know about our own political parties; H-Oil; Trafigura; Petrojam; PCJ; FINSAC; and so many other “scandals” of our own. Who the hell out there is trying to help Jamaica?
Then we are embroiled with the question — “Venezuela, friend or foe, or both”. I recommended over three years ago that we pay off our PetroCaribe debt with goods, and salve our consciences that people were extremely low on food and personal items. But no! That would have been a win-win-win outcome that could have stopped this nonsense debate and the throwing of words.
Then we hear talk of legislation to force a sale of Venezuela’s shares in Petrojam, and a separate offer from an unfit buyer.
We Jamaicans have to spend hours at Duke Street every few years to prove that we are “fit and proper”. Perhaps we should require the same for persons offering themselves for election. Fair is fair, horse is horse, grass is grass, and “donkey no run in a derby”.
Finally I come to the situation with dengue fever and an argument about what is an outbreak or not. Then we hear wise words from everyone. Let me suggest first that dengue is endemic in Jamaica (that simply means that it deh ya and nah guh nowhere). Doctors have a legal duty to report suspected cases to the MOH, but they have admitted to not doing so.
Second, the mosquito that bears the virus is also a domestic citizen of Jamaica. It breeds in stagnant or still waters around our homes, offices, bushlands, gullies, canals, and under wet garbage. This simply means that we have a role to play in cleaning up our own waste, and the government has a duty to collect and properly dispose of that waste in an acceptable manner.
Third, unless we create a super ministry, then the government has to hold different ministries accountable: Health for inspecting, reporting and diagnosing; Water for avoiding spills in communities that are not repaired; NWA for repairing potholes and breakaways that create opportunities for breeding; NSWMA for removing and disposing; and Security for not arresting persons for breaching the law.
But we really don’t want to call out people in these areas who must bear a part of the burden, and we leave the scapegoat in health to bear the sole burden. So the Minister of Health is left to face the public furore and the others keep quiet hoping that his willingness to speak with the media will cover all their ineptitudes.
But it is not acceptable for the government to sit back and hope that Tufton is Teflon, and all will be well. So to the others I ask “will you be mice or men?” Squeak up.