It is no secret that big money can buy anything and the most important commodity that big money requires to perpetuate itself, is government. Political parties are, therefore, useful tools in the hands of big money, and a political party in government is obviously far more valuable than the ones not in government. But at election time, if bets are even, both political parties, here in Jamaica will likely get even, or near even, treatment by big money.
The practice of big money buying the tool called government to self-perpetuate is not unique to Jamaica and is perhaps not as glaring in Jamaica as in other countries. In the USA, for example, large companies hire lobbyists and pay them massive sums to get legislation favourable to their business interests. Some elected officials are even hired lobbyists of some of these companies. In Jamaica, the business of lobbying government works perhaps more simply. Companies which wish to get government contracts fund political parties. The winning party knows that its success at “governing” and more importantly winning re-election is heavily dependent on paying the donors through lucrative contracts.
WHAT ALL OF THIS MEANS
What the fact of special interests being able to buy governments means is that when decisions which seem nonsensical and self-evidently harmful to the interests of many are made, the mantra “follow the money” become exceedingly relevant.
Prime Minister Holness’s Disclosures
At a press conference on Wednesday September 1, 2021, Prime Minister Andrew Holness made a telling disclosure. He stated that he was under pressure from powerful interests to reopen the country and that these powerful interests which pressured him “disappeared” when things got out of hand.
It will be recalled that in late June 2021, it was discovered that the annual mochofest parties were going ahead despite the restrictions of the Disaster Risk Management Act (DRMA), and that at least one big event, which violated the Act, was held in Negril. The event was advertised on the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) website. Who could have given permission to advertise this event of the JTB’s website? The PM had ordered an investigation. To date we have not heard of the outcome of that “investigation”, but we need not hear anymore as we have heard from the PM in his own words: “powerful interests”.
With the mochafest fiasco I, like others, predicted that the country would be opened to make the mochofest thing go away. This is exactly what happened. This re-opening took place at the time of the spike, as Minister Oilvia Grange has admitted. She also admitted that Cabinet was aware (as it would surely have been) of the spike.
So, what could explain the decision to permit mochafest in violation of the DRMA? Answer: “Powerful interests”.
And what would have led to the foolish decision to re-open in the face of the spike: Answer: “Powerful interests”.
Small money does not have much power. So, when we say: “powerful interests” the synonym is “people with big money”.
It is the people with big money who held yacht parties and other up town parties throughout the pandemic; the same big money people who were on the cays in violation of the DRMA, but who faced no sanctions. When big money buys political parties, they own the government, when they own the government, they do as they like and get what they want whether it is in the national interest, or not!!
Is there an alternative future we can create?
With the “ting set up di way it set”, the question we must ask is: “is there an alternative?” or are we doomed to live under the thumb of special interests given that government is bought and is in no real position to protect us? But what is worse, not only is the government sold out to special interests, but members of a government are also personal beneficiaries of perks from these said special interests. It is for this reason we need to have the Integrity Commission Act amended so that we can know which government ministers and other parliamentarians are under investigation.
Is it true that some are under investigation for illicit enrichment? We need answers.
So, I come back to my question: Is there an alternative future we can create or are we forced to live under the thumb of big money?
What can we do to protect and promote Jamaica’s interests?
What is the duty of the State?
What is the meaning of the oath which a Prime Minister and other members of the Cabinet take?
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