Sat | Sep 22, 2018

St Elizabeth road a donkey track

Published:Saturday | September 10, 2016 | 12:35 AMClinton Chisholm

Clinton Chisholm

I readily apologise to all owners of donkeys for describing the stretch from Middle Quarters to New Market as a donkey track pretending to be a road in modern Jamaica.
Indeed, any donkey owner who saddles that beast of burden with too heavy a load along that stretch should be charged for cruelty to a dumb animal and the person who is impersonating a representative of the people in that area in Parliament charged as an accessory to that offence.
I used to travel that stretch occasionally in the 1970s from Montego Bay to Mandeville and it was just as awful!
The sad reality is that there are many such so-called roads all over Jamaica and even on main thoroughfares, too. We, as passive (non-protesting) taxpayers, are damnable fools for allowing this national disgrace to continue. (Lower your blood pressure, check the meaning of damnable in a good dictionary.)
What follows in quotation marks after this is an excerpt from the text of a radio commentary I did on March 8, 1996 and which was published in my book A Matter of Principle (1997).
“The Revenue Board this week has taken out full-page ads announcing the introduction of a new governmental scheme of collecting taxes.
“What is to be introduced is called TRN, Taxation Registration Number, and the rationale given … is ‘to improve the tax system and encourage tax compliance’.
When will registration begin … ? April 1, All Fools’ Day. Were I an adviser to the ‘powers that be’, I would suggest that All Fools’ Day be the only day for registration. Why?
“Fools we all are who silently and passively comply with the decrees of dictators who, for some 24 years now, have mastered the art of government-by-decree within a so-called democracy … .”
“Then the ad says ‘TRN will mean improved tax administration, improved service to the taxpaying public, better for you, better for me’. If you believe there will be any significant benefit to the public from this new system, then please register on April 1, thereby confirming how easily fooled you can be.
“Think about it: Through this new system, Government desires, in effect, to corner every person into its tax net and so ‘distribute the tax burden more equitably’.
“That would have been a necessary and laudable desire if there was even circumstantial evidence that Government, like a worthwhile employed manager, was handling the people’s resources honestly, prudently and to the obvious benefit of the people.
“The situation in Jamaica can be likened to a manager of a poorly run company who devises a stratagem to get all shareholders to invest more money in the company so that he would have more to mismanage, waste and convert to his own use and benefit.
“I say it again: No government within a democracy has any unchallengeable right to impose a burdensome tax regime on the people.
If a democratic government reserves the right to impose a burden of taxation plus the threat of sanctions on its people, then let the people of such a democracy remember that civil disobedience is not only its unchallengeable right but there comes a time when civil disobedience becomes a duty as well…”
When will we challenge Government to stop the immoral double taxation policy at customs? If, as I think the policy plan is, that some portion of motor vehicle licensing fees and traffic fines are to go towards road repairs, who ensures that this is done, or else, in the public’s interest?
It is not always true that silence is golden. Sometimes it is simply guilty silence and a silent invitation to more abuse of the foolish and the passive.