One of the most important requirement for a country, or business, to move forward is that those who govern must organize a structure that engenders trust and provides a framework for development. That framework must be predictable and allow citizens, or workers, to plan their own progress within the country or organization. If this framework is absent then more than likely you will be left with participants who not only thrive on chaos, but also assist in creating it.
So in a country, if indiscipline, and lack of the rule of law, is perpetuated by the state then the “structured” citizen will soon either migrate or fade into the background and allow the unethical and criminal elements to come to the fore. In the case of an organization, the worker who is good at sabotage or victimization will soon become management, as they feed off the example of the CEO.
The result will be lower levels of productivity and eventual demise of the company, or social and economic challenges in a country. Whenever you see a company, or country, with financial and social challenges it is usually because they have failed to organize themselves in a structured way to thrive. Even when a properly organized company has to close down there is usually some order to it.
Our beautiful island, Jamaica, is no different. It is this organized chaos by the state that in my view is primarily responsible for the economic and social challenges we have continued to face over the years. The state has continued to perpetrate oppressive and unfair treatment on its citizens, which if it were done by a private citizen, or company, they would at the very least face civil action. Well if done in a civilized and structured society that is. In our case one of the organized state led chaos is the lack of structure in the justice system that usually ensures justice is so significantly delayed that it results in the victim’s long suffering.
The following are examples.
The failure of the financial system in the mid 1990s was caused primarily from the policies pursued by the government, and then the improper distribution of the assets, by the government agency FINSAC, exacerbated the problem. This in no way excuses the poor management of banks and businesses, as playing a significant part in the collapse, but even so it was poor management of the regulatory system by government authorities that allowed banks and businesses to flout with what was to become death for many. This is similar to the 2008 crisis in the US.
[And let me make a very controversial statement and not comment any further in this post. Even though I disagree with the policy at the time I believe that today Omar Davies would make a good finance minister. This explanation is for another time.]
In the last administration it was the state that was responsible for the disruption and fear that arose out of the Tivoli “invasion” and all the matters surrounding it. It was the way it was handled that caused so much lost productivity and loss of lives, in my view. Not to mention the reputation crisis Jamaica faced at the time.
It was also because of how governments have managed the economy over the years that has resulted in our flirtatious relationship with the IMF, and also resulted in exchange rate depreciation, relatively high interest rates, and the need to restructure the debt. These have resulted in many lost investments and losses to current investments, and to the decimation of the manufacturing sector that was so vibrant in the 60s to 80s.
It is the lack of inaction, and bureaucratic process, of the state that has resulted in us having such a high energy cost to grapple with and the the relatively high levels of poverty that we see in the country.
It is because of our politics why we have seen the existence of garrisons, which have resulted in the victimization of many, the abuse of children, and the decay of many of our communities and real estate resources, which result in higher costs of living for areas that have not been yet affected by “ghettoization” but which Jamaica, as a whole is in danger of becoming. We only have to look at the way that the state has allowed chaos to rule in communities through allowing noise (Noise Abatement Act in my view promotes noise) and commercialization in residential communities. So once thriving residential communities have descended into a pit of confusion.
[Let me once again pause to say that I welcome to moves on zoning announced recently but hope it is not just an announcement. It is long overdue and could significantly improve investment values']
It is the state that has supported over the years the wanton abuse of citizens by the police. Again though there are moves by the commissioner and the setup of INDECOM by the last administration to address these issues and they have been working. Also the DPP has in my view acted professionally in aiding the process. But we must ensure that these arms of the law are not inhibited and given the needed resources. The emergency powers that the police had for many years, since the 70s, and the crime bills that were introduced a few years ago, however, were in my view further oppression on the people. I am therefore happy to see the work of the various law agencies today, as I believe that there is a greater sensitization about the rights of the people.
The final one I want to look at is the embarrassing way in which the Traffic Ticket Amnesty was handled. Only in Jamaica, and some other backward country, could the state perpetrate such an oppressive situation on the citizens. The burden of proof was shifted from the accuser to the accused and this was done with a system that even the accuser admitted was not in good condition (the database). And after inconveniencing the citizens for weeks, and losing productive hours way in excess of the $340 million collected, then seek to remedy the situation. I agree 100 percent that those with outstanding tickets must face the full force of the law but the state has a responsibility to ensure that the system of proof, or evidence, is first flawless. It sounds like when the police round up a whole community of men and arrest them to find one person. In fact I am appalled that one man could accumulate over 1,000 tickets and still be allowed to even sit in a motor vehicle. Again it was the organized, or disorganized, state system that has allowed this to happen.
And more disappointing to me is that they got my favourite, and one of the most hard working policemen, caught up in this. SSP Lewis.
This as far as I am concerned is nothing but organized chaos, and a primary reason for our economic and social challenges. It is only when we change from state organized chaos to proper structures based on equity and fairness will we start to see a shift in economic and social behaviour for the better.