The Wisdom of Crowd-a-people

So I have been reading these books this year about a technological revolution taking place in the world.

The Wisdom of Crowds, and The Starfish and the Spider.

Plus I have just identified two more to read soon (hopefully this year): Wikinomics and Crowdsourcing.

So I have a question for you — since this is a space for truth. Let’s begin with a fantastic supposition. Suppose you were granted a supermajority in Gordon House right now; if you were Prime Minister on Monday morning how would you stop crime in Jamaica?

There are two recent crimes that have had an outsized effect on me –  a really personal effect that serves to anger me to no end. The first is the murder of Dougie Chambers. and the second the rash of horrific violence against children personified by the victimization of Ananda Dean. And it is with them in mind that I ask this question.

What needs to be done to prevent the murders, the rapes, the extortion, the petty corruption, the flagrant flouting of the law– what doable and preferably economical solutions are there. I will salt the jar with the first comment on this one.I realize that Jamaicans have been pontificating about these issues for at least 10 years with no improvement in the situation, yet I’m asking you to humor me.

Please contribute: Who specifically (an individual or a type/constituency of people) are the ones causing crime in Jamaica? What are they doing that is making the crime wave worse? How should they be counteracted by the majority of citizens?

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8 thoughts on “The Wisdom of Crowd-a-people

  1. So if I were Prime Minister of Jamaica on Monday with a super-majority in parliament — I would institute “integrity tests” or “sting operations” for cops. I think that the inability to trust law enforcement has an exacerbating/snowballing effect on corruption in our little tropical paradise. So I would start simple. I’d send out under-covers posing as taxi drivers who speed — and then arrest cops who took or requested bribes. I send out people to turn in “lost” wallets with IDs and cash to police-officers and see if those officers check those items in at the station house.

    I’d have other people pose as informal-commercial-importers (“ICIs”) and have them expose customs officials who engage in corruption. Ditto for people at any government agency involved in corruption – whether it’s the NHT, or the Registrar General. Have people queue and pose as customers then offer a bribe to NHT/Registrar General employees — if that bribe is accepted, arrest the employee at work in a public fashion. Make sure the media is there with cameras rolling for the perp walk. Then I’d use parliamentary privilege to read a blotter/crime report with the names of those so charged in parliament to send a message to the country. Always emphasizing that they were innocent till proven guilty — but the nature of the evidence against them would be hidden-camera-video and hidden-mic-audio.

    Finally I’d make it a law so that JPS and NWC must offer a pool of prize money every year (two months free light/free year of light?) to any Jamaican employee who gave information to indicate their employer was stealing electricity from JPS/other consumers.

    Same thing at customs — offer any ICIs willing to rat out a valuations officer or other corrupt customs official a prize (duty-free importation of next $70,000,000 of imports?)

    So join me in this fantasy. What would you do?

  2. wow you’ve really thought about this haven’t you? those sound like excellent tactics…i wonder if the police are using undercover female cops to decoy the rapists who seem to be preying on women and children near the HWT transpo ctr. and i WOULD not put up another such monstrosity downtown which seems to be the plan right now but i confess i haven’t given it enough thought to make such excellent suggestions.

    basically you get the feeling that the crime is linked to the fact that virtually the entire polity has been perverted to suit the needs and demands of a few who have wealth and power. this seriously undercuts opportunities for legitimate transactions and boosts incentives for criminal or just plain unethical activity, much of it white collar. underprivileged men and women at the bottom of society whose lives we place little or no value on have nothing much to lose and a lot to gain by turning to crime…

    so systemic change is necessary. i’m hopeful that the apparent crumbling of the financial architecture undergirding the unsustainable capitalist model we have all been stuck in may lead to the kind of social change necessary to reduce the recourse to violence and criminality…

  3. The two books cited are good reads, I was already familiar with The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki, but thanks for introducing me to The Starfish and the Spider. A cursory review of Starfish and Spider suggests that it should/must be read in greater detail.Interestingly, one is also wondering how applicable these theories are to the Jamaican political, social, economic, historical and cultural context.

  4. Hey Esteban:
    I think that they’re perfectly applicable — especially ideas from The Starfish and the Spider. Take many black empowerment organizations: Garvey especially is an example of a leader whose organization’s effectiveness depended heavily on the personality and popularity of its leader. Hence his enemies could harass him to hamper or destroy the organization. A few more Starfish qualities and the UNIA would have thrived even in Garvey’s absence after his deportation.

  5. Yes, indeed, the Garvey/UNIA example is an appropriate one, with respect to Starfish qualities.Hey Diatribalist, check out today’s BBC, a very interesting piece written by Nick Davis on the ganja for guns trade between Jamaica and Haiti!!Bwoy, the BBC really a expose Jamdown every week.Nuff respect!!

  6. @ Esteban:
    I read the BBC article as you recommended. It was very well written — I’m hoping though that the BBC will use their clout and reach to delve into a news story in Jamaica that makes for true block-buster journalism. Let’s see them break the embargo one of the really shocking secrets with which our nation is rife.

    I nominate the Ambassador porn video story. Hear that BBC! Break that to a global audience!

  7. I am totally onboard with your ideas.

    In addition, I would immediately:

    – repeal the libel, abortion and sodomy laws

    – require all college students to do national service by teaching younger kids and adults how to read

    – make rape and incest punishable by a public flogging, a public apology, and 10 years of community service

    – assign a team of people to invent or use real cases to which several decoys would be assigned within the police force at various levels to sus out the leaks.

    – push through a law that requires the MPs and members of all boards of public entities to disclose all their business relationships, sources of income and bank accounts everywhere. If they don’t do this, they can’t hold office. Tax returns don’t quite do the job. Then I would give the information to someone who knows how to analyze social networks to figure out where the potential areas of conflict might be.

    – set up an investigative unit composed of researchers and the best minds who know how organized crime works to figure out and document how monies move from one locale to another.

    – order a longterm public education campaign that would:

    1. involve publishing bulletins containing names of pimps, dealers, rapists etc.
    2. inform people about the various bills and discussions in parliament and how people can give input
    3. use specific information from everyday life to highlight what ethical vs. unethical behavior looks like in practice, and promote the idea of ethical living as a Jamaican quality.

    4. require politicians to meet regularly with their constituents and to provide direct access to their constituents

    4. Fund social action initiatives that
    a. encourage artists to work together with communities on various projects that will enhance the capacity of the community to advocate for themselves.

    b. emphasize the importance of direct democracy

    I could go on and on. Basically, I would run the country like an authoritarian socialist.

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