Sun | Dec 5, 2021

Let's go to jail

Published:Monday | July 7, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Garth A. Rattray

By Garth A. Rattray

A very close family friend of mine worked extremely hard all her life in order to relax and enjoy her retirement. Unfortunately, several unforeseen economic bumps left her devoid of any viable financial buffer, any long-term means of passive income, living hand to mouth, and in real danger of losing her only home.

Faced with this threatening disaster and finding herself having to explore ways to earn her subsistence at the golden age of 73, she meanders between despair and resilience. She is not the type to roll over and die quietly, but the daunting and insurmountable circumstances she faces are formidable and frightening.

She came up with an interesting solution to her financial woes and inability to fend for herself within our harsh economic environment. She proposed that everyone who is faced with imminent ruin get themselves arrested and sent to jail to be fed, housed, clothed and secured for free. She is well aware of the problems within our custodial institutions, so she also plans to immediately begin reforming the system from within.

Many people (young and old) are just barely hanging on economically, but governments only show interest in people who have committed crimes. If you work very hard and are honest, you are targeted for oppressive taxes and targeted by criminals, but if you fall on hard times, you are all on your own. However, if you are lazy and dishonest, you could earn free room and board at one of Her Majesty's custodial institutions.

As our dollar plummets and inflation skyrockets, everything becomes exorbitant. People's quality of life, and security, are seriously eroded.

DepRECiating dollar

Our weak dollar is being pressured by frightened and/or opportunistic citizens purchasing the United States dollar (USD) and saving it (even in low-interest-bearing accounts). Unintentionally but ironically, those people who are buying up USD because they fear financial ruin end up directly contributing to everyone's demise.

Our very limited USD reserves also come under severe pressure from the numerous foreign-controlled companies doing business here. Many were sold our large, locally owned businesses. They provide jobs and tax dollars but they also convert their Jamaican-dollar profits into USD and export many millions to their investors/shareholders overseas.

It has always been my opinion that those who siphon off our USD to purchase large quantities of retail goods must also be required to own or invest in at least one company that earns foreign exchange for Jamaica. That way, they will earn the USD that they use for their own businesses.

I also think that the Government must be brave enough to make tough decisions and ban exorbitant items that wealthy individuals can afford but our poor country cannot. The good of the many must supersede the excesses of the few.

Foreign exchange

We must earn massive amounts of foreign exchange in order to survive. We need a bipartisan and multidisciplinary committee (think tank), composed of politicians, business people, academics, economists and concerned citizens with the sole mandate of seeking out ways of earning badly needed foreign exchange.

We must aggressively approach those overseas concerns that we spend hundreds of thousands or millions of USD with, to get them to invest in Jamaica and establish production or assembly plants right here on our centrally located island.

And, the Government must stop this selective oppression and overburdening of the registered and/or highly visible taxpayer. The tax net must be widened and not just fortified. Those burdened with supporting the entire country and themselves have been bending under the pressure for years. Soon they will break and the entire country will suffer.

If all else fails, let's go to jail and be taken care of.

Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and garthrattray@gmail.com.