Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Ronald Thwaites | Really ... ? Yes, really ... !

Published:Monday | March 27, 2017 | 3:00 AM

The ordinariness of Gordon House is palling. Who designed the place, after all? The atmosphere of the place is both a source and part consequence of the meanspiritedness so often evident in the discourse within the chamber.

One can sense and hear the distrust between members, the arrogance, surly silence and self-promotion of those of us elected precisely to rise above these negative character traits.

Peter Phillips had correctly described the lurch towards greater tax burdens on the majority of the population as being a transfer of resources from the poor to the rich. "Really, really ... ?" asked Audley Shaw in high dudgeon last Wednesday. Could these hard-working people earning up to $1.5 million be considered rich?

Yes, really Audley, when compared to the 600,000 certified poor and the million or so working poor who will have to bear the brunt of the cost of affording more of the mythical $18,000 which all of the above were led to believe they would get. That is plain unfair. Really!

 

INCREASING COSTS

 

Gas prices, transport costs and food prices are already starting to increase in central Kingston, where the vast majority have been excluded from any give-back but included in the paying-in.

And really, yes, give thanks for the little increase for those relatively few who are on PATH. Where is Andrew's basket to carry the less than a meal a day which the revised grant can buy, especially with the current price increases?

Now in overdrive, the minister of finance goes on to accurately ascribe to me the description of the high interest rate policies during PNP time (and he forgets, during JLP time too) as the most massive transfer of the wealth of the poor to the rich since slavery.

Really ... ? Yes, it was true then, even as it is true now. Is so it set, Big Man.

The meta-narrative of political economy has not changed sufficiently to give real opportunity to the majority of our people. That is the constant of our history and our present.

Living beyond our means by renting other people's resources at high rates, rather than maximising local productivity, has indeed cramped to the point of crippling the progress of the Jamaican people.

Sucking out more and more resources from the already poor while offering them the sop of welfare is no way to advance inclusive prosperity, no matter how much we twist up our mouths about the virtues of indirect taxation to justify.

And yes, really, such policies have the same effect no matter which administration carries them out.

Beyond the elevated voices, overlong verbiage, tortured reasoning and frenzied desk-thumping of the now-concluded Budget Debate, is our unwillingness to acknowledge mistakes and walk back from them, so restoring credibility to the political process.

Really yes! Since in conscience I could not vote for a Budget which offers more and unnecessary hardship for the people who sent me to the drab Gordon House to represent their interests, while also understanding the crisis which would overtake those same people if the Budget was defeated, leaving the Chamber was not 'walking out on Jamaica' but registering a necessary protest.

As Andrew said on Tuesday about securing Jamaica, ours was an "integrous" action! Really.

- Ronald Thwaites is member of parliament for Central Kingston and opposition spokesperson on education and training. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.