Gordon Robinson | The essence of roosters
It’s been a minute since we spent quality time in Apocrypha, our favourite fantasyland where all politicians are friends and Oma D’unn solves political problems by parable.
Apocrypha’s Finance Minister Highyell Cluck was beside himself with frustration because every time he boasted about his achievements the Opposition party Promises Not Performance (PNP) would pooh-pooh the news and suggest he was trying to fool Apocryphans. Anxious to improve his ratings in opinion polls to succeed Andrue Polemess as leader of Just Lazy People (JLP), he consulted Oma.
Oma was, like a moon, bright only in the dark (I did NOT say ‘Dunce’). But he also held a PhD in Logic so his consultancy firm ‘Oma Unsacked’ (I did NOT say ‘Unshackled’) was the go-to for politicians needing solutions. Like Rodney, Highyell complained to Oma “I get no respect.”
Oma advised Highyell to hire a lawyer. Highyell looked puzzled so Oma told him the story of a political cock-of-the-walk.
“A government minister believed he was more intelligent and competent than all others. He was absolutely confident he was the Cabinet Rooster and all other politicians of whichever party were only hens.
So he strutted about in a manner to establish he was in charge of everyone. He quickly developed an aggressive nature that wouldn’t countenance criticism of any kind. He took offence at every expressed disagreement and did so in a tone that clearly suggested critics were ignorant or stupid.
Yet he was surprised that his opinion poll rankings were persistently lower than a colleague Minister whose competence he privately scorned but whose communication skills were far better designed to attract public trust than his. So the cabinet rooster asked the Prime Minister, who was coming to the end of his fixed term tenure, how he could make himself more palatable to the electorate as a potential successor.
PM told him to ensure at least one of his opponents in the succession race was a lawyer. ‘Why?’ asked the rooster.
‘Because’ PM replied gently ‘the obvious difference will favour you’
‘What difference?’ asked the rooster.
‘The difference between a rooster and a lawyer’ PM explained ‘is that a rooster clucks defiant.’”
Highyell stared blankly at Oma then started to argue. Oma held up his hand. “See that right there?’ he asked. “You continue to cluck defiantly. You should be like a lawyer and appear empathetic. Pretend to listen and implement what voters want. Then, after the verdict is in, it’ll be time to send the Bill. In other words, then you can do as you like no matter the effect on voters.”
Back home on Jamrock, Nigel Clarke revealed excellent news regarding Jamaica’s International fiscal performance ratings. Last Wednesday, Standard and Poor’s (S&P) Global Ratings upgraded Jamaica’s Long-Term Foreign and Local Currency Issuer Default Rating from B+ to BB-, with a stable outlook. According to Nigel, it’s the best rating Jamaica has achieved since S&P started rating Jamaica’s sovereign debt in 1999.
The news was greeted with a national shrug especially from parents busy hustling to find $1,000 per day to transport children to school; teachers, nurses and junior doctors under siege from inadequate facilities, excessive working hours, stressful conditions and insufficient pay; outgunned and under-equipped police; motorists stressed out by undisciplined taxi drivers; and citizens cowering in fear from brutal organised crime while Government asks them to celebrate 100 fewer murders.
At time of writing the Opposition has been very quiet. But the business sector clearly understands the benefits so are falling over themselves to congratulate Nigel.
This superlative success didn’t come overnight. The last eleven+ years of fiscal restraint resulting in massive debt reduction is one of Jamaica’s greatest achievements since Independence. It involved a relay. The first leg was run by Peter Phillips who endured international embarrassment (to secure an IMF deal after Jamaica lost IMF confidence in the wake of 2008’s global recession) and widespread local calumny, leading to electoral defeat, when stringent measures were imposed. Man-a-yard ran the second leg before handing the baton to Nigel to run the second turn which he has done with skill and aplomb.
It’s just a pity that, like a hopeless crack addict, Jamaica had to hit fiscal rock bottom before admitting the problem and going to rehab.
Lets never go back there!
Jamaica must NEVER allow any future Government to “run wid it” again. We MUST put systems in place that prevent political handouts from masquerading as economic development. THIS is the true purpose of Constitutional Reform.
Peace and Love.
Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org