In a democracy, all ideas should count. But, how much time and energy should we spend, however, on proposals presented by a political party, especially one with no track record?
The Jamaica Progressive Party’s (JPP) was officially registered as Jamaica’s fourth political party, effective July 15. The Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) said the party satisfied all the requirements of the Representation of the People (Amendment) Act 2014. According to a statement from the ECJ, the JPP is based in Kingston and is led by Gilbert Alexander Edwards. It’s said to be backed by many religious pastors.
Just listening to their brief attempt to explain how its ‘economics’ would work (consumer-driven economic expansion–on goods and services that are somehow going to materialize domestically or need to be paid for out of foreign exchange that is somehow going to be flowing in) was enough to tell me that they are in dreamland. By the way, they could even get the simple arithmetic of their income tax plan right. But, we’ll look at the guts in a few ticks.
Their stated aim to take Jamaica out of poverty, but the thinking is the blueprint of a poverty trap for generations.
The JPP issued a 12 page manifesto this week that is manifestly impractical on many levels but should it be ignored? No.
However, it should be assessed, even briefly to demonstrate for all who cannot see it how impractical and inherently destructive the ideas are.
Paying off our debt (about US$15 billion) in 90 days, which is about 100% of our national income, seems absurd, especially if it’s financed directly from the pockets of a man whose claim to wealth is unverified. Rumours are it’s all in Bitcoin. Fact is, his ‘billions’ don’t feature in Forbes list of billionaires, or more importantly, even if they did, they’re nowhere near those whose wealth is stated as US$20 billion or more.
Ideas that seem fantastical, in their manifesto, such as a referendum to create a ‘Kingdom of Jamaica’ sound like the stuff of mythology. If it will be a kingdom, who will be its king? ‘Alexander the Great’?
It proposed military spending, eg buying 100 attack helicopters, 150 fighter jets, an air missile defense system, 50 battle ships and 10 submarines, all of which come with no costing. But, let’s just look at some of the ‘defence’ spending envisaged:
- 150 fighter jets: cost ~US$90 million each = US$13.5 billion
- 50 battleships cost ~US$15 billion each = US$750 billion!!!! Out of one man’s pocket? Tek peeple fi eedyiat?
Let’s not drink any more of that Kool-Aid flavour.
In addition, they’re pledging to nationalize Jamaica Public Service (JPS), the cement factory, all bauxite companies, the coffee and sugar industries, the air and sea ports, and all toll roads. Any idea what compensation would be under consideration and whether Jamaica will be spending a generation in international courts arguing about expropriation of foreign assets?
They want to forgive all student and NHT loans.
They want to bring back Air Jamaica, under whose debt burden we are already crippled–oh, that’s going to be paid off.
All of those ideas mean more spending or foregoing revenue. But, they’re not done.
They plan to build 1 million free homes for the poor, and another million for professional returning residents and young, married couples. 40 new schools, 60 new hospitals, and significantly reduced light bills and gas prices are also on their manifesto.
All funded with with few taxes:
- Income Tax will be abolished.
- GCT slashed to 10%.
- Corporate Tax down to 18%, but only for companies that keep most of their earnings in Jamaica. Not sure why more than 50% income retention matters.
Frankly, this is the ‘economics’ of the insane and the numerically incapable.
I’ve no idea what miracle supports this.
Bottom line is, that without further explanation, existing debt will be paid off and a new debt burden created immediately, probably even bigger (spending minus hardly any income = fiscal deficits, leading to new debt creation).
So far, the ideas have been ridiculed. But, Jamaica’s media needs to dispatch these ideas for the craziness they appear to be or call the JPP’s leader to full account for this fantastical proposal and rewrite ‘new economics policy’.
If not done, then dispatch immediately to File 13!
Need I go any further? I can’t even begin to fathom how this free-spending economy with limited taxes will function. It’s like socialism on steroids mixed with crack cocaine, washed down with a hefty swig of Wild Turkey. The nearest example that come to mind are Venezuela under presidents Chavez and Maduro and we know that party isn’t going too well. FYI Venezuela is now in a humanitarian crisis.
This is beyond a joke and runs the risk of being a dangerous game in the midst of serious politics.