Political Will but Won’t

June 1, 2008

So, everybody now a cuss JLP how dem mek promise fi get inna office an’ now dem n’ah do nutt’n bout crime an’ what not. The most incisive critique has come from none other than Commissioner himself – I have to say I was surprised by this – who says quite clearly that there is no political will to bring criminality under control; as such not much will be accomplished any time soon, no matter how many times we have a changing of the guard.  So yuh done know seh, if him can so bareface and nuh go roun come roun’, den di emperor definitely stark modda’ naked to back foot!

Don’t blame me, people. I did not vote for Golding. Y’all wanted “a change,” but you didn’t say if it was to be more than a change of clothes. And this is what we get.

So, hear our esteemed party Chairman Baugh nuh on the question of political will:

[A]ccording to Baugh: “The political will has been there from the beginning. What is happening is that people don’t understand the anatomy of crime.” […] “The only thing that is going to solve the problem is good, hard policing, community police work, community activities on the part of politicians and officers of the Government, and the creating of opportunities,” argues Baugh.

Ok. So dis man tink say de ‘hwo’la we a one set o’ heediyat, nuh true?! So what exactly Baugh just say that has not been said ad infinitum by everybody an dem modda’ even if dem nuh know wha’ di rass dem a chat bout?? So whi’che part di political will deh? A river bottom? Inna yuh jaw corner? Whe it deh, Missa Baugh?  Show we it nuh?  Pyere bag’ o’ mouth, cause him not even know wha’ political will mean.  Im mussi tink it mean seh dem write inna will seh im and Golding go inna politics fi di res’ a im life. Because that interpretation is surely true.

Maybe we should ask the other question: what exactly are indicators that this political will does indeed exist? In other words, what would we look for as evidence that there was indeed interest and commitment on the part of our national government to addressing the many levels at which criminality occurs, manifests and is made possible and normalized within Jamaican society?

One place to begin is to look at the very definition of ‘political will’ ie. demonstration of credible intent or unwavering determination to attack root causes of a problem at the systemic level.

Evidence of Golding’s “credible intent” musse unda him an Lorna mattrass cause me nuh se’et yet. Or it nuh spring yet.

Baugh is right on another count though; noone understands the anatomy of crime in Jamaica, not even him. And that is the problem right deh so.

Yuh tink a tidda’ day dem yah sittin’ a gwa’an? Yuh tink a ongle Jumayka one have dis ya problem?  Yet, ebery minute dem politician jump pon plane gone a dis ya conference an dat deh summit, but dem neva ah go whe’ di information an’ expertise deh.  Either dat or dem nuh know seh a dat dem fi go look, instead a criss watch and pretty shoes.  None o’ dem nuh know whe’ fi tun’ nor whe’ fi start wid dis ya crime problem becaau’ di ‘hole o’ dem so blasted hig’narant; dem nuh have no respek fi knowledge.   Dem mek task force an dem commission report after report after report, but yuh tink seh dem cya’n read di report dem, much less unda’stan whe’ it seh?  Dem have long list of “recommendations” but dem nuh know head, miggle or backside o wha dem a seh.  Wha’ mek? Ca’au seh if a politician write it yuh know seh it n’ah mek not a dyam sense to nobody, not even dem.

Look again at who designed, wrote and contributed to the report “Road Map to a Safe and Secure Jamaica” commissioned by Golding.  It’s a document authored by politicians and other folks who are sympathetic to the JLP.  It’s a political manifesto with some policy language sprinkled in; it is not some carefully crafted meta-analysis of crime and violence in contemporary Jamaica as they would have us believe.   God forbid they would have taken that route that required time and creative use of resources.  There is no verifiable evidence in the document that speaks to the claims that are being made, nor the policies that are being called for.  Indeed, the majority of the document is based on anecdotal information, documents that are not in public circulation, unverifiable data, and is mostly self-referential.  They could have at least pretended to have done their research for God’s sake!

What is even more astounding: the authors recognize the absence of accurate data and well-designed research as a shortcoming of their report (yes, this really is a document based on what a bunch of people think, based on their individual experiences and not on what is mostly true or accurate) but this issue of the availability of data is NEVER addressed in their policy recommendations. Go figure.  This kind of makes Jamaican sense though; not having good data on which to build sound public policy should not deter us in the least from creating solutions for problems that we don’t really understand. Yes, indeed.

And yes, outta Baugh owna mout:

“Politicians, like everybody else, are not any special kind of people. They are people coming out of our society like the police officers. The critical mass of people who get involved in politics are there to assist with solutions.

At least the police can blame their failures on low pay and poor training. What excuse do these politrickians offer for their ineptitude?

A couple days ago, I was reading some reportage on political leadership during disasters; one scholar who studies such political responses noted that the formula for success is pretty simple: people were most likely to trust their political leaders, to give them the benefit of the doubt and to make great personal sacrifices towards rebuilding the nation when their leaders adapted the adage “tell the truth, tell it first, tell it often.” Can you imagine? Being candid, honest, calling people to come together, leading by example, and showing personal accountability as important traits of good leadership, especially when under fire? What a ting!

It is also clear that Baugh, like his compadres on both sides of the aisle, don’t really understand what the term “political will” means. Even more sadly, it takes an editorial from the Gleaner to tell him Golding what he should already know. S’ee’t deh now? Sen’ im go a Hinglan’ go expose himself fi di status climber that he really is. News flash! Him nuh bizness bout we. All he has ever wanted to do was to become PM. And now that him reach, him nuh know wha’ fi do wid himself or di country. Mi nuh sorry fi him. Ah we mi sorry fa’!

[PS I just found this report on corruption and the various ways that political will can be created and mobilized to address corruption. Check out the chart on page 7 (96) that describes – in a simplified way – several levels of corruption.  At least I now have some way to think of the tiefin’ people out a NMIA who sell me di form so me can clear me goods…]

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