Anthony Gambrill, GUEST COLUMNIST
By now, most of us have either broken our New Year's resolutions or not even made any. The usual things - give up smoking, go to church more often, take the dog for a walk, remember your wedding anniversary - are a few of the regular resolutions that are easy to break. That's the problem with them - they are too everyday, mundane, can't engender a sustainable feel-good glow.
This year (it's never too late), take on a more substantial challenge. In fact, face it: 2013 will be a year when it will be hard to survive, let alone make money. Your belated New Year's resolution should be to find a way to succeed in what is predicted to be a difficult year, IMF agreement or no IMF agreement.
To reprise my lyrical Gleaner colleague, "let your dreams go to impossible extremes" and don't look back because "those were the days, my friends, we thought they'd never end", what follows are an assortment of potentially rewarding ways of succeeding in Jamaica in 2013.
1. Invest in gambling
No, I don't mean buy more Cash Pot, Lucky 5 and Dollaz!.
No, I don't mean home in on the national lottery scam, which is proving to be deadly, as well as increasingly unprofitable, if we are to believe what the police claim.
Instead, invest in a gaming lounge or gaming shop. Statistics from the Betting, Gaming & Lotteries Commission (BGLC) reveal that in the year ending March 2012, its commission amounted to $322 million, up 25 per cent from the previous year. If that is what the BGLC is raking in, imagine what you could make?
That's why there are now at least 25 gaming lounges in Jamaica. Up until December when Adam Epstein and Gassan Azan launched The Vault at the Wyndham hotel, only one of the major Kingston hotels had a gaming lounge, and it is reported to have earned a billion dollars profit. Of course, having a gaming room licence also allows the placing of bets on local racing and purchasing lottery tickets. You really don't want your patrons having to rub shoulders with people who only spend $40 on a Pick Nine hoping to win a mere million-plus or taking one chance in several hundred thousands of bagging an elusive $50 million lottery.
If a gaming lounge is a little too rich for your blood (20 to 150 gaming machines), open a gaming shop (19 machines or less). A worst-case scenario is to buy a small bar and install a slot machine or two either - legally or illegally - and extract some small change from time to time.
2. Don't pay your traffic tickets
Recent events have shown that you can receive multiple tickets for traffic offences over several years and not be prosecuted for failing to pay them. That is until the Ministry of Finance becomes desperate and insists on an amnesty to raise a billion or two. Instead, put your money in land, a government bond, or buy a few stocks that have consistently paid attractive dividends over the years.
Should you eventually have to ante up for your speeding fines or spend time in the already overcrowded Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre, simply cash in your investments and keep what you have earned for that next New Year's Eve ball your wife insists on attending.
3. Become the sales agent for a brand of condoms
Apparently, Jamaican teenagers are becoming watchers of the pornography channels on cable. If so, this is an excellent medium to put over the usual safe sex, abstinence-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder and not-on-the-first-date messages. But from your point of view, it's the ideal opportunity to market your own brand of condoms.
So cash in now and get your commercials on such popular, action-packed erotica as That Slut Next Door, Lesbian Sleepovers, Bad Girls Get Laid and Horny Soccer Moms. What you don't sell sell through the little lady who sells Cheese Krunchies at the school gate, you can advertise as available in a plain brown wrapper at the tuck shop.
4. Start a carrier-pigeon mail service
This idea was inspired by recent experiences with the Jamaican postal service. A letter mailed across town took eight days, two weeks across the country. Better still, a weekly magazine I subscribe to didn't appear for six weeks. On the seventh week, all six missing issues appeared.
This probably isn't the fault of the man (no women posties?) on a 1950s model red bicycle who leaves a little brown envelope with your mail three weeks before Christmas.
For quicker receipt of mail - anything up to 2.5oz - use a carrier pigeon. You will have to supply a pigeon to each customer, who will then get it acclimatised to its new home. Your customer then directs mail to your address, you round up the pigeon, attach the mail to its foot and it will (fly) 'home' to their owners. Sure, a letter may occasionally go missing (along with the pigeon), but it's no worse than you would expect from the postal service.
5. Parent a potential sportsman/woman
Did you know that the 18-year-old Liverpool football player Raheem Sterling, born in Jamaica, just had his weekly take-home pay raised from US$3,000 a week to $40,000? Do you recall that the Jamaican Government gave large lump sums to its successful Olympic athletes, even those who reputedly earn more than US$20 million a year?
This means bringing children into the world and ensuring they become champion footballers, tennis stars and world-beating athletes. I can hear you say that you can't help you succeed this way in 2013, but you have to think long-term sometimes.
Just make a note of caution - the head honcho of Captain's Bakery tried to get young Raheem to sign up to play for Jamaica rather than England (where he has lived since he was four years old). Unfortunately, Raheem had heard we lost to French Guiana and he is reported as saying, "Where is French Guiana anyway?" - which is what most Jamaicans said.
6. If you can't succeed in 2013, plan further ahead
Try for a duty waiver, although IMF isn't too much in favour of them. It will mean you have to join a political party and donate to its election fund. But waivers can put big bucks in your pocket without the threat of starting a gang war (to the best of my knowledge).
Anthony Gambrill is a playwright and author. Email feedback to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.