I was looking around Jamaica for proxies of our economic well being.
It occurred to me that the number of donkeys seen in use could be a good proxy of the activities of the rural sector. The country is more country than town, and living off the land is still critical. More donkeys means that farmers are doing well and needing to get goods to market in a timely manner, but not resorting to costly motorized transport. A donkey eats almost anything fibrous, of which a farm working well will have plenty, so fuel is less of an issue. Let’s call this the ‘ass’ principle.
I also wanted to get some idea of how poverty was striking people. So, I thought the number of people walking without shoes would be a reasonable proxy. Now, I don’t mean barefoot of the beachy, chic style, with French-Polish, but those hardened, scaly peds, which could be mistaken for hooves. Even though bare feet in hot weather can be very cooling and is liberating, I’m taking the view that for the purposes of most modern life, so cladding would be good. Let’s call this proxy the ‘sole principle’.
Based on the number of each seen, I will construct an ass-soles index, a simple ratio of one to the other. Given that there are many more people than donkeys, I expect the ratio to be less than one. I’m not clear what a reasonable figure will be, but I will start compiling my data to see how the ass-soles compare. I think the index for Kingston will be much lower than for rural areas: fewer agricultural activities, though one sees asses all over the place; more soles, because it’s the capital and people have flocked there to save their skins, lose their souls, and ended up footloose and shoeless.
I may need public help to get national coverage, so would be glad of any offers to see how the ass-soles in Jamaica have been performing.