Sunday, March 10, 2013

Continuing on crime - the Peter O-Connor commentary

This—our concern about crime—is absorbing most of our columnists in most of our media, and so I return to the issue this Sunday, reflecting opinions shared with me during the week.

Read last week's commentary:

Rage driving violent crime - the Peter O'Connor commentary

There are so many facets to the tide of crime, which is threatening to overwhelm us. I had claimed that it was rage in the society that was driving violent crime. Respondents to my column did not disagree, but added several other “drivers”, and these were borne out in releases about fraudulent transactions and white collar crime generally, as being major catalysts to the violence we experience and fear.

And I chose my word “catalysts” carefully, remembering my school chemistry, that a catalyst is a product that can cause chemical changes but is not itself consumed or changed in the process. It should be clear to all of us that white collar crime, aka “Corruption” in all its manifestations, is helping to drive the street violence while the elements of corruption remain unchanged—unaffected by the violent reactions spawned by their inputs.

Of course, one may have to stretch belief to look for connections between gangland shootouts in Laventille and bribes being paid to secure contracts to build things—like airports. 

And one may wonder how the convenient “release” of persons accused of bribes, by manipulation of our Constitution, and then pretending that it was a mistake, but ooops! Look the accused are walking free, while their American co-accused are in prison over there. 

Now that airport situation may or may not have involved the laundering of drug money. But it sets the tone for how our governments—and no governing Party or Partnership needs to be named, this is how our politico-business culture, spanning years and all of our governments—treats with white collar crime. 

Our governments either ignore or support (take your choice!) white collar crime, and we all know and accept this.

One reader called for the decriminalization of drugs, especially marijuana. I have supported this position in columns before. The world wide war on drugs is not being won, on any front, and the dealers of drugs are delighted that governments, churches and much of the misguided public are keen on keeping the drugs illegal. These people are the unwitting (I hope!) allies of the illegal drug trade and its attendant murders.

But the most telling comments came from a T&T psychologist, living overseas, and still a keen follower of events here at home. In a lengthy e- mail to me he advised that we in T&T see things in isolation, instead of looking at the whole picture. 

My view was rage, another view is corruption, other opinions are confined to drugs, child abuse or lack of education family values or “Gord”. All are valid, but my friend says we are each looking at one tile in the floor, instead of stepping back and seeing the “full mosaic”. He describes a “river of crime being fed by several streams and trickles”. 

The roots of crime are manifold. We cannot cut a strangler vine from our fruit trees by trimming it at the top. We must go to the root and deal with it. We know this but we flail our cutlass at the wrong end.

My friend had much more to say, but I am out of space this week. However, his words reinforce my opinion that we need a National Consultation on Crime, where all of the streams of decency can flow into a river to change our society into one of honesty and decency in which crime does not flourish.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai