Tue | Sep 26, 2017

Daniel Thwaites | Hard-on for Budget cock-ups

Published:Sunday | May 22, 2016 | 5:00 AM

True story! I was speaking with my overseer at The Gleaner when he inquired what subject I might be thinking of writing on this week.

"The first Budget of 2016," said I, acknowledging that there will be supplementals when Audley comes back for more taxes soon.

"How about the 'penis replacement' story?" he volunteered.

Hmmm. So this tells me a few things. For starters, I have a reputation in need of reconstructive surgery. But it also warns me that the newsmen are aware that the public's tolerance for Budget talk is limited, and waning.

So, OK! Penis replacement it is! According to The Gleaner (http://jamaica-gleaner.com/article/world-news/20160517/cancer-patient-re...), Thomas Manning was left with a 2cm stump after cancer ate away his budgetary surplus. That's not enough to work with, and well below what the experts calculated was necessary as a foundation for growth.

Manning was complaining that he had a hard time sustaining decent relationships with female lending agencies, his preferred source of debt financing. So he was waiting for an opportunity to do something about it.

Not to be ageist, but Manning is 64 years old, which tells me that he was still finding use for this line item. So I pause on another point of policy.

I see Minister Shahine Robinson talking about extending the retirement age, and I cannot disagree. If this is what de ol' bwoy dem up to, dem mus' work and pay tax. If a man is game fit and capable of productive activity, to my way of reckoning, he must pay into the system. No wuk without work.

News that Manning had had a penis successfully implanted on him made headlines globally. It's the first one in America, and although a penis-replacement operation had previously been successfully performed in Africa, it seems few people had heard about it. Chalk it up to another suppression of Africa's contribution to mankind's advancement.

Anyhow, some further research revealed that Manning was not entirely happy with the whole operation. You see, the surgeons had promised him an extra 18cm if he underwent the surgery. He was planning, based on that, thinking to himself, "Everything criss once mi get mi 18!" It hasn't worked out that way.

He was also told that the 18 would be delivered on April 1. That, too, hasn't been so.

Then it turns out they were hiding the cost of the surgery. Manning was told that nobody needed to suffer, and there would be NO NEW TAXES, for him to get his 18. Not so. Actually, Manning's replacement was ordered up from a donor. And while there isn't much information to be had about this donor, suffice it to say that he (or she - this is the 21st century) is in a worse-off condition right now.

There was an unusually distinguished team of surgeons working on this thing. Hospital CEO Andrew Holness had the wisdom to send a fleet of others to back up nominal chief-surgeon Audley Shaw. First, there was Fayval Williams, then there was Rudyard Spencer. In short order, Aubyn Shill joined up.

 

SIGH OF RELIEF

 

When it was announced that Fayval would be in charge of the most important parts, a collective sigh of relief went up. But then, ministers are being added at a rate of about one per week. Most recently, two first-rate surgeons have joined the ranks: Michael Lee-Chin and Nigel Clarke. That's six surgeons, meaning each had responsibility for a mere 3cm of penis to reach 18.

One whole other issue is about the safety of the whole operation and its stability regardless of exogenous shocks. We're being warned, for instance, that oil prices are climbing, even though this whole thing was premised on exceedingly low oil prices.

This is worrying. If oil levels are troubled, for instance, by the right nurse entering the room in a stiffly starched uniform, the hours of surgery could have been for naught. Five per cent growth will look like nothing if it goes haywire and bursts the stitches.

By the way, what a lot of people don't realise is that Manning will have to take immuno-suppresant drugs for the rest of his life. Why is that? His body is rejecting the penis, and despite numerous lectures that his body is only being homophobic because it was raised in an old-fashioned Bible-thumping society, it continues to rebel at the presence of another penis.

Anyhow, having satisfied my editor, what he should have known is that despite Peter Phillips' energetic Budget presentation and detailed explanations of why the income and expenditure portions of the budget are dangerously out of sync, I've changed my mind.

Mi seh mi change mi mind! I'm now in unequivocal, full-throated support of Audley's Budget. Here's why: The numbers don't really matter. That's our tradition, and it's good to go back to what we know and love. What's important is how the Budget makes us FEEL.

For a little while there we could barely recognise ourselves and things were in danger of getting out of hand with all this business of budget surplus, upgrades from international rating agencies, rising confidence, declining debt to GDP, and overall fiscal rectitude. We need to get back to normal.

And we the people secretly longed for a return to the old Jamaica we know and love, where nobody believes one piece of what the Government is saying, but they ignore it, or half-heartedly go along. And you know what? I say, hooray for tradition! We needed to go back to our ways of budgeting for the past 40 years. Because there's nothing that says 'Jamaican budgeting' like unaffordable promises and unrealistic revenue targets.

I'm not even hung up on the 'likkle' $13 billion in this round. The IMF will have no complaints so long as it's revenue neutral. It's the other 18 or so billion that Audley will be scrounging around for shortly that should occupy your mind. So if you think Thomas Manning was in bad shape, wait nuh!

- Daniel Thwaites is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.