Once again corruption is in the headlines. Well, to be exact, Jamaica’s high level of corruption. Contractor General Greg Christie has made yet another call for Jamaicans to demand decisive and urgent action in the fight against corruption; the US government says corruption continues to undermine efforts against drug and other major crimes; and all the while the white noise continues from the verandahs of upper St. Andrew as the occupants bemoan the corrupt state of affairs in Jamaica.
Which brings us to the “Man in the mirror” analogy. Yes, that used and abused Michael Jackson song that has been referenced to death but only because it is so fitting for so many situations. There is no question about the corruption in high place and among public officials. After all, 188 police personnel were dismissed for corruption last year.
And that’s just the police. But there are many corrupt private citizens also. The problem is, it is only considered corruption when someone else is doing it. We “grease palms” to cut through red tape but “they” are just corrupt.
If we are really honest, however, we will admit that it is just semantics. You know how it is; royalty have “indiscretions” but commoners have “affairs”, uptowners commit “white collar” crimes but if you live downtown you’re just plain “tief”. Well, it’s the same thing with corruption.
We get irritated when a policeman shakes us down for a bribe but fail to understand we are just as corrupt when we give it. We seem unaware that buying a driver’s license or motor vehicle fitness certificate is an act of corruption. Employers will call employees to task for using company property (telephones, stationery, etc) for personal use but will “forget” to pay over workers’ statutory deductions. Is there really any difference between the shoplifter and the shop owner who encourages customers to pay cash to forego paying GCT? The list is endless!
While we must get rid of corrupt public servants let us also consider carefully Michael Jackson’s word:
"I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make a change."