Development Stymied By Failure To Confront Crime Head-on…

Jamaicans are quite capa­ble of rid­ing and whistling at the same time, or as the Americans say, “walk and chew gum at the same time”.
We are not by any stretch a mono­lith. we are a diverse com­mu­ni­ty of peo­ple of African, Chinese, Caucasian, Indian, Arab, Lebanese, Jewish and a slew of oth­er peo­ple. Yet we are a peo­ple vehe­ment­ly Jamaican to our core, all of us.
It is for that rea­son that we can take pride in the strides our coun­try have made since 1962 when our coun­try was grant­ed Independence and giv­en auton­o­my over our own lives.
Our progress in areas of edu­ca­tion, cul­ture, sports, med­i­cine, research, agri­cul­ture, tourism, is remark­able.
As a small nation, we have every right to hold our head high. Even among our least edu­cat­ed peo­ple, street smarts are a valu­able and val­ued cur­ren­cy that makes every Jamaican, not just wit­ty, but decep­tive­ly intrigu­ing.
We are sec­ond to no one in mak­ing some­thing from very lit­tle.

Understanding those attrib­ut­es makes it a head-scratch­er that we are not con­nect­ing the dots on the trau­ma vio­lent crime is wreak­ing on the coun­try.
There are many Jamaicans, far too many if you ask me, who would rather that we focus sole­ly on the pos­i­tives. We should­n’t wash our dirty laun­dry in pub­lic they say.
Of course, those peo­ple for­got one lit­tle secret, there is some­thing called the inter­net, there are no secrets any­more.
Others say we should sim­ply focus on the good things. As if the bad things will just get frus­trat­ed and dis­ap­pear on their own.
Bad things hap­pen on their own, peo­ple have to work their buns off to make good things hap­pen, both indi­vid­u­al­ly and col­lec­tive­ly.
We must cham­pi­on the good and seek to improve on them but we must focus like a laser on the bad, oth­er­wise bad becomes worse and the worse will inex­orably make us the worst.

We have to find ways to agree that the things that are good are com­mend­able and that the things which are not so good are .……well they are not good, and we must find ways to fix them col­lec­tive­ly.
The year 2019 end­ed with over 1300 mur­ders, which rep­re­sent­ed an increase over the year 2018 which had reg­is­tered a decrease com­pared to the year 2017.
Essentially, even when there is a slight decrease in vio­lent deaths and assaults, because of an absence of work­able and sus­tain­able strate­gies crime lev­els become sole­ly a func­tion of the whims and fan­cy of the vio­lence pro­duc­ers.

The World Bank laid out how crime affects nations as fol­lows.

A high rate of vio­lent crime can have many adverse reper­cus­sions:
1 It has a neg­a­tive impact on the invest­ment cli­mate and can deter or delay both domes­tic and for­eign invest­ment, and hence growth.
2 It leads to a high­er cost of doing busi­ness, because of the need to employ dif­fer­ent forms of secu­ri­ty, and diverts invest­ment away from busi­ness expan­sion and pro­duc­tiv­i­ty improve­ment, and may lead to a less than opti­mal oper­at­ing strat­e­gy.

  1. 2 It leads to busi­ness loss­es, aris­ing from loot­ing, arson, theft, extor­tion, and fraud.
  2. 3 It leads to loss of out­put because of reduced hours of oper­a­tion (includ­ing avoid­ing night shifts) or loss of work­days aris­ing from out­breaks of vio­lence, and avoid­ance of some types of eco­nom­ic activ­i­ty.
  3. 4 It also reduces out­put because of the tem­po­rary (from injury) or per­ma­nent (from mur­der) exit of indi­vid­u­als from the labor force. In the lat­ter case, the loss is not just the cur­rent out­put, but the out­put in the remain­ing years of the individual’s work­ing life.
  4. 5 It can also cause a per­ma­nent shut-down of firms or relo­ca­tion to less crime-prone coun­tries.
    It erodes the devel­op­ment of human cap­i­tal as well as social cap­i­tal and thus con­strains the poten­tial for growth. The crime sit­u­a­tion in Jamaica seems to be an impor­tant rea­son for migra­tion, since the fear of crime sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduces the qual­i­ty of life. Crime and vio­lence have also been blamed for slow­ing down the rate of return of migrants back to Jamaica. Also, crime forces oth­er­wise pro­duc­tive indi­vid­u­als to occa­sion­al­ly exit the labor force because of vio­lent injury to them­selves or close asso­ciates, or because of social unrest in the com­mu­ni­ty. Violence in some com­mu­ni­ties also caus­es schools to close peri­od­i­cal­ly. Moreover, home and com­mu­ni­ty insta­bil­i­ty is not con­ducive to learn­ing and edu­ca­tion­al objec­tives.

It diverts pub­lic resources exces­sive­ly away from pro­duc­tive uses that have a poten­tial­ly much high­er impact on social devel­op­ment and growth, to areas such as police, jus­tice, the med­ical sys­tem (for treat­ment of vio­lence-relat­ed injuries and trau­ma). For exam­ple, between 198889 and 200102, Jamaica’s bud­getary expen­di­ture for health, in nom­i­nal terms, grew 23 per­cent annu­al­ly, where­as the bud­get for nation­al secu­ri­ty and jus­tice grew by 62 per­cent. Since 1999, the bud­get for Justice and Correctional Services plus the Police has exceed­ed the bud­get allo­ca­tion for health (PIOJ, var­i­ous issues). For pri­vate cit­i­zens, it also diverts resources away from poten­tial­ly use­ful expen­di­tures like edu­ca­tion, to spend­ing on treat­ing injury and on pri­vate secu­ri­ty.

Unless we devel­op tes­tic­u­lar for­ti­tude and stop pre­tend­ing that we can deal with this issue by the book, this prob­lem is sim­ply going to get worse.
This is not a prob­lem for America to solve, America can­not solve its own prob­lems.
It is not up to the British or Canadians to fix our crime prob­lem. We have this unique Jamaican propen­si­ty of ignor­ing dan­ger­ous crim­i­nals.
In fact, we not only ignore their crimes, but we also idol­ize and lion­ize the crim­i­nals until they become too large and pow­er­ful to be con­trolled local­ly.
Then we look for the Americans to come to bail us out, as if Jamaica is the fifty-first state of the United States.
In the mean­time, the harm they do to the coun­try is incal­cu­la­ble, not just in blood and trea­sure but to our pop­u­lar cul­ture.
An inter­state high­way with­out guardrails is real­ly not a prop­er­ly con­struct­ed high­way. A coun­try that refus­es to guard its estab­lished demo­c­ra­t­ic prin­ci­ples is a coun­try des­tined for fail­ure.

Former Contractor General and now direc­tor of the Turks and Caicos Islands Integrity Commission Greg Christie, speak­ing at the Annual Archbishop Samuel Carter Lecture held Wednesday evening at Campion College, high­light­ed that Jamaica is now the num­ber two mur­der cap­i­tal of the world.
Let that sink in because some­one is going to argue that things are not so bad, even though the cumu­la­tive cost is out­lined above.
“Speaking of Jamaica, Christie said, “It’s now num­ber six in orga­nized crime out of 141 coun­tries, that’s not some­thing to be hap­py about”. “We can’t put that under the cov­ers”. It tells us some­thing about our soci­ety – a very mur­der­ous soci­ety.”
There are two laws in our soci­ety. “One for the well-to-do – the rich, the con­nect­ed – and there is anoth­er law. The first one is sel­dom applied while the oth­er one is applied to every­body,” Christie said.

We are run­ning a fool’s errand when we pre­tend that our coun­try is on the path to some kind of eco­nom­ic mir­a­cle, despite this unchecked law­less­ness.
Yet one writer char­ac­ter­ized Greg Christie this way. “Christie’s, acid tongue and volu­mi­nous reports chafed the nerves of pub­lic offi­cials dur­ing his tenure in Jamaica”.
Speaking out is char­ac­ter­ized as acid-tongued.
The longer the author­i­ties wait to clamp down on this mon­ster the more entrenched it becomes, the more entrenched it becomes is the hard­er it is to erad­i­cate.

Mike Beckles is a for­mer Jamaican police Detective cor­po­ral, busi­ness­man, researcher, and blog­ger. 
He is a black achiev­er hon­oree, and pub­lish­er of the blog chatt​-​a​-box​.com. 
He’s also a con­trib­u­tor to sev­er­al web­sites.
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