Fri | Jan 17, 2020

The Ja I knew is disappearing

Published:Wednesday | August 7, 2013 | 12:00 AM

Hilary Robertson- Hickling, GUEST COLUMNIST

AS I COMPLETE a form and look at my payslip, I realise that more than half of my salary is going into taxes and I am thinking carefully about what I am getting for my taxes.

The road on which I live, Jacks Hill, was repaired by the residents at a considerable cost to themselves, on what is described as a private road. After that, the National Water Commission (NWC) fixed a broken main and left the road filled with dirt and after two recent heavy showers of rain, in a state of near collapse. We the citizens of this area have no recourse and I am very angry as the efforts to contact NWC and National Works Agency are taking us nowhere.

It may well be that the Jamaica that I am from is disappearing, as those of us who pay our taxes, pay our utility bills, and try to be honest citizens are becoming extinct, while the growing numbers of big and small men thrive on illegality.

The Jamaica I am from was built on values of self-reliance, community, decency, and a kind of behaviour which is disappearing in the face of the crass, hypersexual and the mendicant.

JSPCA crisis

I noted with interest that a representative of the Jamaica Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (JSPCA) was identifying the growing numbers of animals now being abandoned by their owners who did not realise that the animals require expensive food and care. This is a country in which I can own a smartphone and constantly request credit and send please-call messages.

I can have my children and expect the State or some kind soul to be responsible for them. More than 10,500 Jamaicans handed their children over to the State for care. The fact is that the country is unsustainable and is dependent on the taxes paid by citizens in foreign countries. It is also dependent on remittances and pensions of those who have faced the snow, the racism and other indignities.

Our priorities must be set straight. We have too much of a feel-good mentality. People are borrowing money to enjoy the Dream Weekend while failing to pay their children's school fees and for books. As the headmaster of Jamaica College noted, the entry into high school after passing the GSAT requires continued effort to maintain high standards, and parents must do their part.

Black Entrepreneurship

My participation in a recent conference in Trinidad about black entrepreneurship worldwide underscored the necessity for the majority of Jamaicans to organise their economic destiny by legal means. I made a presentation of the success and sacrifice of the Hawthorne family from Border, St Andrew, who have created Golden Krust Bakery and Grill, the largest ethnic-minority franchise in America.

No country can be independent without the citizens taking greater responsibility for their actions.While there are many barriers to this independence, the discourse and the action must be about solving the problems. There is nobody in the world coming to our rescue. We have to save ourselves. We must secure food, clothing, shelter and demonstrate that we can compete at the highest levels in the world.

Hilary Robertson-Hickling is a lecturer at UWI, Mona. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and hilary.hickling@gmail.com.