Sun | May 19, 2024

Kay M. Osborne | It is the government that should fear the people

Published:Wednesday | June 7, 2023 | 12:43 AM
We demand that Andrew Holness, Nigel Clarke, and other decision-makers roll back the unearned salary increases
We demand that Andrew Holness, Nigel Clarke, and other decision-makers roll back the unearned salary increases
Kay Osborne
Kay Osborne
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In a country bedevilled by cynicism and pummeled by the persistent devastating news of criminality and with an undercurrent of government tyranny, to act with courage against government overreach and spark it in others is a countercultural act of resistance.

However, to resist government overreach does not equate to denying reality – it is to act on a parallel reality in which citizens are obliged to help create an equitable and just society.

Hence, an essential duty of an engaged citizenry is to resist the government’s unjust decision to enrich themselves at the people’s expense and widen the equity gap between themselves and most citizens. By so doing, we, the people, can begin to transform our unjust society into becoming more equitable and just.

Citizens live in a state of tyranny when a majority fear their government asserting its power arbitrarily, and the government’s arbitrary decisions reinforce the fear.

This intense fear of the Andrew Holness-led government is precisely the people’s lived reality: The government’s unbridled greed, its decisions that deepen inequities, its poor performance, and its lack of accountability undermine public trust and spark outrage in many and instill fear in others.

Unfortunately, it is easier to cower in fear and try to duck beneath the radar than to confront unjust decisions by powerful people. Yet, this banal acceptance of what exists helps create the terrifying social and cultural environment people fear most. Indeed, it is the government that should fear the people and not the other way around.

Citizens everywhere agree that the government has yet to earn massive salary increases; therefore, the rollback is essential. The government must improve the performance of its primary obligations to citizens. The most crucial is to create a law-and-order environment and protect citizens from violence.

The government must primarily safeguard vulnerable populations and protect those with little means to defend themselves, including women and children living in unsecured homes and environments.

GOVERNMENT’S INEFFECTIVENESS

The horrors and chaos resulting from the government’s ineffectiveness in managing crime are displayed daily, with hundreds of innocent people needlessly maimed and killed because of government impotence.

Also, the government’s inability to tame and control criminal activities, especially gun violence, has resulted in citizens spending countless amounts on personal, home, and business security, gutting what is available for essentials, including food, health, transportation, education, and investments.

Also, the government must invest sufficient resources in the people’s abilities to provide for themselves and support their families. Unfortunately, the government has failed to train enough citizens to earn living wages in high-growth areas. As a result, it cannot attract companies and investors that could provide such opportunities to Jamaicans.

Also, it needs to raise the minimum wage more.

Further, the government has enshrined an apartheid education system in which most children who are the descendants of enslaved people cannot access schools that provide a chance to learn and grow into self-sufficient adults. Instead, forced to attend grossly underperforming schools, they lack adequate education, which dooms them as adults to accept menial, low-paying jobs that entrap them in generational poverty.

Or they remain unemployable and dependent on handouts, many eventually resorting to criminal activities to survive, which is the inevitable fate of numerous students that remain unaccounted for following the extended COVID lockdown period.

DEMAND A ROLLBACK

Indeed, the government should prioritise investments in inadequately educated children and underperforming schools over massive salary increases for underperforming politicians.

Further, a broader view of the government’s role is that it should cushion citizens’ inability to provide for themselves in the vulnerable conditions of youth, sickness, disability, and unemployment, not to mention old age, resulting from societal forces they do not control. In this, too, the Andrew Holness-led government has failed.

Unattached youth languish in despairing conditions, hospitals lack essential support staff and supplies, and the high rate of inflation gut the value of pensions, so old-age pensioners who have contributed to nation-building live in shaming poverty.

As a senior citizen, my life experience has taught me that, in the end, it is essential to try and ease the suffering of others, especially fellow Jamaicans who are trapped in unnecessary poverty and suffering. This drive underpins why I and others vigorously resist the government’s unjust decision to award itself massive salary increases when far too many citizens languish in unrelenting poverty.

We demand that Andrew Holness, Nigel Clarke, and other decision-makers roll back the unearned salary increases. Instead, in partnership with the opposition, they should appoint an unbiased committee to determine equitable salary increases linked to performance in my outlined areas and other crucial ways.

Kay M. Osborne is a media strategist and human rights activist. Send feedback to kmosborne1990@gmail.com and editorial@gleanerjm.com