TJL's Suggestions for How Real People Can Survive the Recession

Jamaicans are a people accustomed to hardship. But even for us, these are unusually difficult economic times. Every day more and more people lose their jobs at a time when taxes and prices are rising higher and the chances of finding a new job are becoming dramatically lower. In these troubled times it’s not enough for well-intentioned financial experts to encourage you to be “thrifty” and to “budget wisely”. When you’ve lost your job, and the mortgage, school fees and car payments are all overdue those tips simply don’t go far enough. “Tightening one’s belt” further is pointless when your belt is already tied around your spine. In desperate situations, truly resilient people instinctively know how to “tun yuh han mek fashion” and find creative ways to get by. That in mind, has compiled a list of the ways Real People can survive the recession:

1. Become a “Distributor” of free Cuban light bulbs. However, please be very careful to make sure your business partners are not taping your conversations on their cell-phones.

2. Attempt to do a debt exchange with your credit union/bank/building society. Tell them you want to swap out your existing mortgage for one with a longer term and lower interest rate. Tell them you “can’t do any better right now” and that “it’s in the best interests of the economy”. If they resist, make vague threats about “negative consequences”. Let us know how they respond.

3. Buy fewer groceries. How then will you get the fruits and vegetables you used to buy at the supermarket? Well, I recently read in the newspaper where one of those financial experts was suggesting that people start their own vegetable gardens. What a great idea! Maybe you could plant corn, sweet pepper and cassava on the 4 acres of rich, undeveloped farmland sitting idle behind your apartment in New Kingston? It shouldn’t be too hard to run out and buy the tools, seeds and fertilizer you’ll need for your “farm” with the tens of thousands of dollars sitting idly in your bank account. It should also be really easy to irrigate your crops with the unlimited supplies of water flowing through your pipes in the middle of a drought. And we’re sure your Masters degree in English Literature will prove extremely useful in maximising the production of your small farm. However, if the backyard farm idea doesn’t work for you we’re suggesting you try praedial larceny instead.

4. Cut down on the number of baby mothers you have. Finding money for six mothers and nine children "ah week time" can be very taxing. Leave that stuff to people who are better able to afford it, like Elephant Man and Tiger Woods. Cut back and see how much you save.

5. Attach your own home-made connection to the electricity supply. Ok, maybe not. This really only works if: (a) you have a sure fire way to avoid electrocution, and (b) you’re a "Community Leader" with heavily armed "friends" to back you up when JPS arrives.

6. Eat out. By this, we don’t mean eating at restaurants and the like. We’re more thinking about "eating out" at your mother's house. The fact that you are a grown man of forty years with a family of your own will not dampen her maternal instincts and desire to nurture (feed) her offspring. You can also try showing up at friends’ houses round about dinner time. Hopefully the inconvenience of the unexpected visit will not dampen the spirit of warm island hospitality for which Jamaicans are so well known. When the meal is done, take away the leftovers in plastic containers you "just happen" to have carried with you.

7. Ladies, independence is overrated. Find a man who will "mind" you. If he's not prepared to pay your bills then he really doesn’t love you.

8. Teenagers, independence is overrated. Don’t be in any rush to move out of your parents’ house. Trust me, if two well-educated adults with good jobs can just barely afford to feed, clothe, educate and house you, then what the hell makes you think you can do it on your own?

9. Attempt to negotiate a lower water bill. We’re in the middle of a drought where some people get water once per week and yet some of us are not seeing the reduced consumption reflected in our weekly bills. It would seem logical that lower consumption should mean a lower bill? So, threaten to stop paying the bill entirely if they don’t lower it. If they threaten to turn off your service, remind them that you’re not getting any “service” anyway. Let us know how the negotiations go.

10. Make fewer trips to the Doctor. According to excellent sources (my Great Aunt Ruby) there’s nothing that can’t be cured with a little prayer, fasting, and a good “washout”. believes sharing is caring. Send us your tips for surviving the recession. (Donations of cash will not be turned away either)