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Friday, 21 October 2011

Your Fortunes: Government's Responsibiltiy or Yours

Isn’t it the easy way out to blame the government for the failure of the economy to grow at impressive rates?  Granted, it is the role of government to facilitate the creation of an environment conducive to healthy economic activity.  But shouldn’t that creation be driven by the demand of the citizenry?  And shouldn’t that demand be more than, “we need the government to do something about the matter?”  Government is not a handout agency that distributes the donations of those who are engaged in productive activities. Taxes are to be used for the creation and maintenance of the infrastructure that allows for sustained economic activity.
The fortunes that you would enjoy in this life do not reside in the actions of government as it does in your own actions.  It is up to you to decide if you are going to be contented to rely on a 9-5 routine to provide the wherewithal to afford the lifestyle you wish to lead.  It may be that you have to think of engaging in some other kind of productive activity – either instead of, or in addition to your current 9-5 or whatever the nature of current your employment is.  These alternate or supplementary activities could range from farming to lecturing at an institution after regular work hours.  It could be through the forging of partnerships that would not leave too much pressure on you such as would affect your performance on your regular job (if this is the option you’ve chosen).  Another option could be to seek internet-based employment that would afford you the opportunity to work from home at a time convenient to you.  The options seem endless.

In deciding the direction one will go to secure ones fortunes there must be a preliminary audit of the skillsets one possesses.  Never enter into an area where you lack a working knowledge of what obtains in a chosen field of endeavour.  This may therefore mean that one may need to seek training, whether to learn or to shore up what is already known (always a necessity in a changing world) prior to launching out.  

Training can be formally or informally procured. Formally, one can register into a reputable institution and receive formal training in a discipline – you can either do a degree programme or in some instances these institutions offer short specialized courses.  Informally, you could volunteer to work for an organization where you will acquire the skills necessary for entry into the area you are interested in.  Other informal ways are to purchase books, or CDs, or DVDs, or research the internet for information on the field of your interest.

There is always a cost attached to acquiring the requisite skillsets for entering into chosen fields.  There is also a cost for actual entry into the fields as well.  Be prepared to make the necessary sacrifices.  And if necessary, do not be afraid to seek a loan.  Here’s an alarming fact:  the number one reason why people get loans from a lending institution is to purchase a car.  Albeit that there is an obviously robust public transportation system in Jamaica, which might in part explain this trend, but which may also be at a stage of glut at this point, a car is an expense item.  The advice then is that unless a car is to be used directly in the operation of a business, delay purchasing and seek to invest instead.

When investing bear in mind that the idea of fortunes has both a quantitative and a qualitative side. Both sides should be considered.  Do not just go where the money seems to be; go where you can simultaneously impact your community in a positive way as well.  Try to create employment for others.  Try also to grow the economy.  There are some business activities that allow for growth of the economy more directly than others.  Those that supply exportable goods and services are the ones that have that ability to grow the economy in real ways.  There may be those too that may not be exported but can reduce the importation bill, and albeit indirectly, that’s growing the economy too.  An economy that is thriving and not debt ridden, needing only to maintain and do incremental upgrading of infrastructure can at length afford to have a relaxed tax system.  Your fortunes are your responsibility not the government’s.