Laws must apply to all

 Trinidadians have a tendency to copy whatever is the latest American craze, beating it like a Road March until it becomes meaningless. One such example is the use of the expression “broken window principle” as a panacea for our crime problem. We totally ignore the fact that the principle was itself copied from the effort to build pride in the community. We refuse to recognise any such attempt is doomed to failure unless it is applied equitably across the board.

For example, the principle could be applied to removing unauthorised billboards—not getting approval after the billboard is discovered to be illegal. This would include advertisements for fetes, concerts, computer repairs, Christmas sales, etc.

Citizens are bombarded by posters and signs in places for which there is clearly no approval.

Further, is it necessary to have flashing amber lights at school crossings after dark or on weekends? It would be a simple task to put in timers, or maybe a centralised system to turn the lights off when they are not in use, which would avoid the possibility of human oversight.

Identifying and treating with these breaches would be easy because the offenders want to be easily found. A simple fine by the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission for posters and flyers on lampposts would serve to prevent continuing offences. The appropriate autho­rity could easily remove the billboards and levy a fine against the people responsible, even where the offender is a Government ministry.

It must be made clear the laws apply to everyone equally and cannot be flouted by officialdom or corrected retroactively.

It would also affect a number of illegal activities which have become endemic in our society, to the point where the Minister of Finance speaks to them being made legal. Among them would be the uncontrolled sale of fireworks and the exponential growth of casinos, also called “members clubs”.

These simple acts would communicate to the citizenry we are all responsible for our nation and wrongdoing by all—rich or poor—will be treated in the same manner. As it is now, the message is clear that if your have position, or are close to someone in position, the normal laws do not apply and you are free to do as much as you can get away with.

Karan Mahabirsingh


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