EDITOR: Poor leadership in our economic affairs has endangered the economic development of our country.
The main problems are the lack of financial advice on an individual and personal basis, lack of accountability, and the culture of poverty and dependence.
An economy is built from the bottom up and the attitudes of individuals must be molded at the foundation levels of the family and school. Learning to be responsible and accountable must be done in the family.
Farming and the family farm create the context for learning how to be productive. Saying that “Agriculture was a thing of the past,” was a grave mistake. The food bill is the biggest bill in the family.
Traditionally, subsistent farming covered most of the cost. Milk and meat from cows and goats, meat from sheep, pigs, poultry, fish, and rabbits, and eggs from poultry may have all contributed. However most of our food came from the garden. Ground provisions, and breadfruit provided starches, vegetables and fruits provided minerals vitamins and roughage, nuts provided protein and fats, while legumes provided proteins.
This diet is far superior and healthier than the chicken and chips and rice we have today.
The typical family must pay mortgage or rent, gas for cooking, electricity, water, garbage collection, telephone, internet, and cable for entertainment. In recent times, payment for all these have proved challenging. It was irresponsible for an official to encourage persons not to pay their electricity bills because now that the bill has gotten out of hand, the electricity company has disconnected the service.
Instead, people should have been advised to either increase their income or reduce their spending to bring their budget into line. The family budget must be balanced just like the country’s budget. If it is necessary to cut the cable service, it can easily be substituted by reading books, newspapers, playing board games such as dominoes and scrabble, and perhaps, sports. Real face to face conversations can replace some telephone interactions and foster better relations with family and friends close by. The refrigerator or freezer can be turned off at nights to save electricity. It may be necessary to discontinue the use of the refrigerator altogether. The one hundred dollars saved would more than compensate for the loss and inconvenience. Ironing can be reduced by hanging clothes on the lines wet and placing them directly on racks when they are picked up. It would be a great saving not to iron at all. Better use can be made of the daylight hours to reduce the cost of electricity. Rainwater can be harvested to reduce the water bill. If the rent or mortgage is too high, it may be necessary to move to a smaller, more affordable house.
Despite the challenging times, jobs are available. Many people are looking for skilled, reliable, full time and part time workers. Based on your talents and skills you can be self-employed if you match your production with what people need.
Limited financial resources call for thrift in spending. Determine to make the money last until the next payment date, and squeeze in a little savings. Baking soda can double up as tooth paste, deodorant, disinfectant, and perhaps detergent. Sufficient lentils and rice to last for the month might be helpful.
Some fruits may be gathered from neighborhood trees to supplement the diet. Just as one sardine can be shared by a family of four, a quarter pound of fish or chicken can be shared in a similar fashion.
Excessive protein diet may be implicated in the rise of kidney disease. Attending the neighborhood churches and schools would reduce the cost of transportation. A wood stove, coal pot, or simply a fireside may be helpful also.
We must act to bring our finances in line and should not depend on donations to cover recurring costs. The whole economy depends on everyone paying their bills, being productive, responsible, and accountable. From the highest office to the lowest citizen, we can all benefit from adequate financial advice and this field needs to develop as we grow our economy.
Anthony Stewart, PhD