We Are All Equally to Blame for the Banking Tax

Many of my esteemed colleagues have weighed in on the latest bank taxes imposed and their potential effects.

I respect their opinions and their intellect, but I would just like to address the elephant in the room. When all is said and done, the responsibility for this bank tax lies with us. The people. The silent majority. To be clear, I hate the idea of piecemeal tax implementation and would much rather the government implement wholesale tax reform. But, as Deika Morrison replied to me and said…it is not likely that any government will actually do this.

Now…don’t get me wrong. I actually agree with Dr. King’s assertion that given the current state of our fiscal house, the bank tax has many benefits. That is, the core problem the government currently faces is that of raising revenue. Many people avoid & evade taxes. So while they can escape the reach of the tax collection agency, they can’t escape things that they have to use on a regular basis - like banking transactions, phone credit, buying gas, etc. So it makes sense to tax those things, because in an ‘elegant’ way it broadens the tax base and costs little the gov’t. All they do is collect bigger checks from the same companies. From an economic & practical point of view…it’s perfect.

As unpleasant as this may be, because those that have been tax compliant do have to bear the burden for those that are not, we are all equally as culpable for the current state of affairs.

Not just those that pay bribes and do blatantly illicit activities, but everybody else that knows that these activities take place and say nothing. You know your neighbor is stealing light/water, yet don’t report them to JPS/NWC. You know that the ‘ridiculously cheap’ phone cases that you are buying from a “reliable” client were imported and escaped duty, yet you just look the other way. You know you shouldn’t speed or drive like a madman, but when you do you “beg a bligh” or “buy the officer a Guinness”. You knew that earning 25% interest from a government bond must have been too good to be true, but the returns were too great. You knew that those generous Air Jamaica ‘buddy passes’ were too sweet to give up, asking a “doctor friend” to write up a prescription for your friend in your name so you can use your gov’t issued health insurance to help them, and when someone was buying goods/services from your company and asked for the “No Receipt” discount in exchange for the business, were all wrong but you went ahead with them either way.

Now please don’t misunderstand me…I am not condemning/judging anyone in particular or pointing fingers. God knows there are times when I have looked the other way, knowing full well that I am benefitting from the State’s demise. But we would all do well to be conscious of the fact that as much as our policymakers have made bad decisions and been corrupt over the years, we are equally culpable because there is no way they are corrupt in 100% secrecy. Someone knows, quite often many people know. No one says anything. Very few hold anyone accountable. It is because everyone knows that they won’t be held accountable why it is perpetuated. Everyone knows, so no one knows.

It is also easy to point fingers at the “corrupt” politicians - when it is the bias inherent in our society towards corruption and “bun informer” mentality that has gotten us into this mess. If we all start rejecting those small infractions, start rebuking people when they litter, reporting known acts of rule-breaking, unethical or corrupt behavior, and generally just put pressure on everybody to behave better and start looking after our country that things will get better.

You can’t expect to be able to stay silent, not put yourself at risk, but have the State operate flawlessly and make only long-term best interest decisions on behalf of your kids.

So before you complain about the bank tax, and any other tax that will have to be imposed on us due to the endemic “revenue leakage” - please keep in mind that as innocent and angellic as you think you are, you are equally to blame for this current predicament as are the politicians.

Oh…and to those politicians, or families and friends of politicians, that claim “disbelief” that people could be so troubled over “just $1” - if it were just $1 the gov’t wouldn’t implement it. It’s not just $1, which is why they have imposed it. They have a large hole to fill and “just $1” won’t fill it. So stop being disingenuous.

For everybody else, you no longer have the luxury of feigning ignorance of your own culpability.