Tue | May 23, 2017

J’Aritotle’s Jottings | Common sense not so common

Published:Thursday | April 20, 2017 | 4:00 AM

Why write about common sense? Well, there have been so many instances of official decisions and initiatives which have fallen flat, giving rise to the question: do the people in charge know what they are doing?

Just think back, for instance, to the recent fire in the Half-Way Tree clock tower, reportedly started by a man of unsound mind. Prior to the incident, there was no door on the tower and there was evidence that the place was being used by vagrants. There was even soot inside suggesting that fires were a common occurrence. But let me ask you this: if there was no door and no effort to secure and maintain the facility, then would you expect anything different to occur? Who is of unsound mind here, the madman or the authorities? Common sense not so common, people.

 

The roads

 

It takes a special breed of drivers to remain sane while navigating our roads. Between having to deal with taxi and bus drivers, in particular, and road hogs in general, there are the potholes as well as the frustrations of ill-timed road works.

The police seem to think it is only a certain set of people that drive like hogs, so they are usually clustered in places like Half-Way Tree with ticket books in hand. Yow, just go up to the intersection in front of King's House each morning and watch the uptowners in their high-end vehicles displaying some creative driving; starting new turning lanes and blocking up the grid. An absolute free-for-all. Traffic ticket would run wild. But it seems the police lack the common sense to vary their modus operandi.

But here is the mother of all stupidity. At one o'clock in the afternoon, in the sun hot on a busy weekday, Hagley Park Road is severely congested because some genius decides that that is the best time to fix the potholes, blocking an entire lane for at least a hundred metres. Now think: there are only two lanes - so you picture the situation. My dear people, such works are to be done at nights as in some countries in Europe, when traffic is at a minimum and the working conditions are more humane. Technical expertise, but no common sense.

Let us not lose sight of the taxi versus JUTC bus situation. How can any government own a public transport bus company, which has to abide by standards such as formally trained drivers, scheduled routes and defined stops and then give privately operated taxis licences to compete against the buses without having the same operating standards? Taxis can pick up passengers anywhere, get to their destinations faster and provide unlimited sounds for your listening pleasure (or annoyance), some using drivers whose constant travelling companion is invariably a spliff. And then we wonder why the JUTC finds it difficult to make a profit. That is like me competing against Usain Bolt in the 100 metres, and giving him a jump-start on top of it all. Somebody missed out on business basics class; others were not around when common sense was being handed out.

 

Taxes

 

Well, if taxis don't cause enough headaches, taxes certainly will, especially if you are unfortunate enough to fall under the PAYE system. But penetrate this. I recently went to a doctor for a check-up. The nurse very pleasantly advises me that the cost for the visit is $6,000, payable before I see the doctor. I take out my card; however, nurse's countenance changes with the words, 'Oh no, doctor doesn't take cards, cash only'. So I fork out the cash and in return get a plain receipt stating 'Received the sum of $6,000 for services rendered'. No name of the doctor or clinic, no reference to the type of service rendered. Now, do you think that $6,000, or such sums paid by other patients, is necessarily being declared or taxes being paid? I am not the first to speak of this widespread practice, so there should be no excuse for the tax authorities not to go undercover and target such rascals whether doctor, lawyer or obeah man. It is just common sense.

Adios.