Tue | Jan 23, 2018

Egerton Chang | Immortal Bolt; dump Trump; and tax amnesty

Published:Sunday | August 21, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Usain Bolt celebrates winning the men’s 100m final in Rio.
An employee of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation removes a statue of a naked Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump last Thursday in New York’s Union Square.

Usain Bolt, already a legend, turned immortal when he crowned himself in glory, winning the Olympics 100 metres on three occasions, consecutively.

I know this may sound controversial, but I firmly believe that his exploits place him ahead of Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan and Pele in the sports arena. Certainly, his accomplishments, plus his personality, rank him at least equal to them.

By winning the Olympics 200 metres for the third time, also consecutively, and playing the anchor role in Jamaica's triumphant 4x100 metres relay at the Rio Olympics, his immortality could be liked to that of Milo of Croton, acknowledged to be the greatest of the ancient Olympians.

Most historians agree that Milo remains, to this day, the greatest wrestler and fighter the world has ever known. Milo of Croton became an Olympic champion several times during his nearly 30-year career. His size and physique were so intimidating, and his strength and technique so perfect - such that many people accordingly believed that he was the son of Zeus (LISTVERSE).

Certainly, over time, Usain of Jamaica's exploits will become so embellished that in the year 3001, it might not be surprising to read that Usain of Jamaica was so fast as to outpace a cheetah, killed it with his bare hands, and devoured the cheetah, so fast and powerful was Usain.

His smile, grace and humility in accomplishing these feats make him not only a social-media phenom but also a modern-day hero. No wonder one hears of lifetime endorsements of US$30 million per year and such the like.

So great are the heroics of Usain St Leo Bolt that it almost pushes the great achievements of Elaine Thompson to the back pages.




Elaine (of Jamaica) completed the 100-200 sprint double, the first since Florence Griffith-Joyner in 1988. Marion Jones did it subsequently, but Marion's performance was expunged because she was a self-confessed drug cheat.

Perhaps Flo Jo's asterisked accomplishments, too, will be similarly written off because of the primitive drug-testing practices of those days (Are any of her samples still in storage for modern-day testing? I wonder.)

While this might not be the best Olympics for Jamaica in terms of medal count, it is likely to be the best in terms of quality of medals, five of the seven medals thus far are gold, including the fantastic performance of Omar McLeod.

As pointed out in a previous column, Omar was actually a bigger favourite, according to the bookmakers, to win his 110m hurdles than Bolt was to win his pet 200 metres.

Congrats to all the Olympians, including Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Shericka Jackson, who both won bronze. It was, in my opinion, Shelly-Ann who demolished and demoralised Dafne Schippers in their 100m semi-final.

This was further evidenced in Schippers' disheartened display of baton-passing that saw the disqualification of the Dutch 4x100 team.




I have a far-out theory (proposed in jest) about the US elections.

It is that Trump met with the Clintons before he got into the race (as he, in fact, did) and formulated a plan to destroy the Republican Party. (Smile.) Seriously, why else would he be doing or saying all these things?

Funny, they did not think all these innuendos and downright lies would have created such a following, actually 30-35 per cent of hard-core support.

This should have been seen as a possible outcome, as it is not rocket science, given the constituent make-up (and dumbness) of the American people.

For instance, a new HuffPost-YouGov poll finds that 53 per cent of Republicans still doubt Obama's citizenship.

Around the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attack, Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland released the results of a survey, The American Public on the 9/11 Decade: A Study of American Opinion, that sought to address Americans' attitudes regarding the domestic and foreign policies that were initiated as a result of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Thus:

- 38 per cent believe that the US has found clear evidence in Iraq that Saddam Hussein was working closely with al-Qaeda. He was not.

-31 per cent believe that Iraq gave substantial support to al-Qaeda. Iraq did not give support to al-Qaeda.

-16 per cent believe that WMDs were found in Iraq. No WMD was ever found in Iraq.

In a Newsweek poll published in July 2007, a full 20 per cent thought that most of the 9/11 hijackers came from Iraq. None, in fact, came from Iraq.

With that mindset, it isn't hard to understand the 30-35 per cent hard-core support for the half-truths, BS and downright lies that pour from Trump's lips.

FiveThirtyEight, a well-respected election forecaster, as of August 8, 2:10 p.m., gave Clinton an 88.3 per cent chance of winning the US elections, while it gave just an 11.7 per cent chance of Trump being elected.

Meanwhile, 'The Upshot' in The New York Times gave Clinton a probability of 87 per cent to win which, on the

converse, likens her chances of losing to being about the same as the probability that an NFL kicker misses a field goal from the 20-yard line.

Paddy Power, a bookmaker who offers odds on the presidential race, is now (August 18) offering odds of 2/9 for Hillary and 3/1 for Trump, making Clinton the prohibitive favourite.




Recently, I suggested that the GOJ offer a property tax amnesty at this time in a column titled 'Tax amnesty; US presidency; and Poppa's Day', published June 19, 2016.

Little did I know that the Government had written off/forfeited $3.3b of property taxes, as reported in The Gleaner of August 1, 2016.

As, under the headlines 'Jamaican Gov't forfeits $3.3b in property taxes' published August 1, 2016:

"The Jamaican Government has been forced to give up approximately $3.3 billion in property taxes that were not paid and exceeded the statutory period for collection.

The amount was disclosed in a report from the auditor general, Pamela Monroe Ellis, that was tabled in the House of Representatives last week.

The report said over the financial years 2011-12 to 2015-16, Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ) legally wrote off property tax totalling $3.26 billion, representing amounts owing from the financial years (FY) 2004-05 to 2008-09."

Couldn't the Government have devised more effective strategies of utilising this $3.3b to provide incentives to get taxpayers to pay their property tax?

My proposal to offer a limited tax amnesty, writing off penalty and interest while giving the property owner time to pay, would certainly fit the bill.

- Egerton Chang is a businessman. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and e_rider69 @ hotmail.com.