Over the period of our Independence – 40 years – successive governments, with the active encouragement of the media, have convinced the “man on the street” that large, especially multi-national businesses have profited excessively from their Bahamian experience, and should therefore be more heavily taxed. Concurrently, the same governments have promised their constituents more jobs, more opportunities to collect a pay-check. This seems to me to be a fundamental contradiction. Jobs are only created when the opportunity to make a profit is present. Without that prospect, those jobs would not exist. In fact, the only jobs not relying on the possibility of large profit margins are jobs in the civil service, which successive governments have bloated for that very reason.

On the other hand, the public joins in on this contradiction. They demand a cap on the profits of other businesses, but not on theirs. They demand the freedom to challenge any other business, but demand protection from anybody bigger than them. They demand that governments reduce the opportunities for profits for businesses that train and empower citizens for the purpose of greater profit while they encourage low productivity, poor discipline and bad attitudes. Worst of all, these very companies that are vilified on talk shows as greedy capitalists are the sponsors of National sporting and cultural groups, trips that are used by the same politicians to demonstrate the development of Bahamians.

Those businesses that make “outrageous profits” make their profits because they provide great service. To make their profits they train their workers and demand a high level of productivity. They demand discipline. These are all attributes that are needed in the general Bahamian business sector for the very survival of the country economically. The large resorts, the international banks, the oil companies all create jobs because they have the opportunity to make a profit, one that cannot be reasonably judged by a general public that does not know what a proper profit margin should be for the risk these businesses take. To encourage the general public to vilify these businesses or to use their success as an excuse for excessive taxation is self-defeating.

So rather than penalize businesses for “making a profit on the backs of the people”, politicians should be bragging about the profits made, encouraging more businesses to create new jobs.

If you would like to give your children an unlimited supply of apples (jobs), it just makes good sense to make sure the apple trees are healthy, not to go about stripping them every chance you get.

Pat Rahming

August 25, 2013