Patria-Kaye Aarons | Planning for political retirement
It's a sad state when the magnifying glass of mistrust is pointed so squarely in the direction of our leaders. Fair or otherwise, today's politicians are feared to be culpable of skulduggery and nepotism, and too often the fears are proven true.
As a result of this, anywhere dem tun, makka jook them. In Andrew's case, he was worth too much. In Mrs Simpson Miller's case, she's worth too little. Last week, the leader of the Opposition, after much delay, furnished select media houses with information that she was worth around J$15 million.
The articulate minority on Twitter didn't believe it. Nor did the streets.
Assuming it's true, here's my issue with Mrs Simpson Miller's declared net worth. If, after 40 years at the same job, big boss at that job for a decade, and all you have amassed is enough cash to build Mr Holness' retaining wall, that concerns me.
I'm the same girl who believes that politicians should be paid a modest salary; and bonuses only if and when they perform, but I know corporate persons who have served for shorter periods, ascended to lesser heights and are retiring with twice that amount.
Whether or not those desirous of dethroning Mama P succeed, the truth is, she can't continue at the helm for much longer. Come next general election, she will be brushing 75. And there will come a point where she just has to give up the ghost. I don't expect her to be like 91-year-old Mugabe - still in the political rat race.
And so, embracing the inevitable, the past PM must plan for her retirement.
The intention of retirement planning, as I understand it, is for you to afford yourself a lifestyle as close as possible to the one that you had become accustomed to.
Fifteen million dollars plus NIS cannot afford the leader of the Opposition the life to which she has become accustomed. Fine, as she likes to remind us, she has the credit cards and support of her husband, but quite frankly, what happen to your own?
I'm not being disrespectful or trying to 'faas' in the lady's business. And before you dismiss the newsworthiness of my argument, consider this:
Is it unfair to make the connection between planning for your own retirement and securing the independent future of a nation? I can't help but juxtapose the two and make inferences about your ability to scale up that planning from your personal budget to the Budget of a nation, focused on getting us out of debt.
Truth is, Jamaica has operated a little like a kept wife. We celebrate anaemic single-digit economic growth and live on the credit cards and support of our husbands, aka, IMF loans and foreign donor funds. The only difference between a kept wife and Jamaica is that Jamaica has to pay back the money.
This isn't a criticism against only Mrs Simpson Miller and her previous administration. The current Government shouldn't feel too pleased with themselves, either.
Five months before Jamaica's IMF agreement comes to an end and some Jamaicans, instead of being relieved, are worried. There's an insistence, especially from the business community, that the IMF be invited to continue a relationship with the country in a supervisory role.
Mi shame. The fact that these cries come from our own people who just don't trust our government officials to make prudent financial decisions is embarrassing. It says we can't manage ourselves. It says we still need 'backra' to keep us in line and watch over us to ensure we don't waste our own money.
Where's the independence in that?
Like Audley Shaw said, "Money people like to talk to money people." We look on at both our leaders' personal and political lives to make judgements about their abilities. We have to live with the money politicians have spent, and they have to live with the money they have saved.
All politicians, especially those who have made politics a career, should consider their lives and finances after politics. In the same breath, they should prepare the country for a better life and financial position after them. It's a delicate balance.