Jn. Marie’s Take On Sandals Tax Issue Is Indicative Of The Mindset That Has Seen St. Lucia Fall To Billions Of Dollars In Debt


Historical Dialectic, is a philosophical view of society, popularized by Hegel, which espouses the belief that all of societal history is actually the struggle between the oppressed and the oppressor. Every aspect of history can be explained via this philosophical bent. Of course, Hegel was an atheist and his views were influenced by his hatred of God. Thus his philosophical view, is one steeped in getting two groups of people within society, to hate each other. The dialectic accomplishes this by perpetuating the false narrative that every societal problem is perpetrated by the “oppressor”; while the victims of these problems are the “oppressed”.

Thus Karl Marx, perhaps the most influential dialectic in history, divided society into two: the Bourgeois/Capitalist (oppressor) and the Proletariat (the oppressed). Feminists divide society into two diametrically opposed groups as well: men (the oppressor) and women (the oppressed). Every social justice activist, sees the world from the dialectic philosophical viewpoint, and their activism tends to garner a large following, because they convince the majority of people, that they are suffering under one form of oppression or another, at the hands of a “privileged few”. Promises of not only a better life but a perfect one ensue: “When the oppressor is overcome, all of your problems will go away.” This Utopian dream, is the dialectic replacement of the Catholic Heaven, which will only materialize, after the destruction of “the oppressor”.

This philosophy unfortunately, is very popular worldwide, including right here in St. Lucia. Our politics is heavily influenced by it, and it is also very influential among a good portion of our populace. Is it any wonder then, that Mr. Evaristus Jn. Marie, heavily influenced by the dialectic worldview, saw the Sandals tax issue, as nothing more than the Government “showing preference for the strong (the oppressor) over the weak? ( the oppressed)

The owner of Jn. Marie & Sons, stated that the Government’s decision in the Sandals tax issue, is a moral wrong and will have dire social consequences for our country.

Per the HTS News report, Mr. Jn. Marie, when speaking about the reported tax waiver, stated; “This is indefensible. To me, it’s morally reprehensible.” All of which is true. If the Sandals’ owed taxes were waived by this Government, it is morally reprehensible. But why? It is the reasoning behind Mr. Jn. Marie’s criticism, which gives a clear incite into the dialectic way many in our country think about societal issues.

Firstly, he stated that, “There are too many social challenges that needs (sic) to be addressed in this country; that cannot be adequately addressed on account of funding.” But how is this a social issue? Isn’t it clearly an economic one?

Not according to Mr. Jn. Marie. He went on to say, “For you to take monies that rightfully belong to the people of St. Lucia, to give to an entity, which is far more able to look after itself, at the expense of vulnerable people–because these are the people who hurt most in those circumstances–it is morally wrong to do so.”

Mr. Jn. Marie is setting this up as a case of the struggle between the strong and the vulnerable, applying the ‘historical dialectic’ to the government’s decision. He is essentially asking “How can you take from the poor and give to the rich?” He of course does not address the far more critical issue of Government taxes on St. Lucians in general and how that affects the country’s economic well being. Instead he boils this issue down to a social injustice.

“The government in so doing,” he continued “has undermined its moral authority, to ask agents–which are employers in this country–who are agents who collect taxes on behalf of the government to pay them over. Because if you are going to be doing this for one, how do you justify not being able to accommodate others?”

Economics Mr. Jn. Marie. That’s how they’d justify it. This is what happens when you don’t criticize or even question the Government’s ability to levy such unjust taxes on its own people in the first place.

Mr. Jn. Marie also revealed the roll employers play in assisting the Government in collecting these taxes; a role, being an owner, he shares. He has no problem helping the Government collect exorbitant amounts of taxes from hard working St. Lucian citizens–taking their hard earned money, and giving it to those who don’t work for the most part–as long as the Government takes that money from those who can “look after themselves” and gives it to “the vulnerable.”

However, when the Government gives a tax break to a large company like Sandals, then the dialectic Mr. Jn. Marie, has a problem. He fails to realize exactly why the Government would provide such a tax break to large, foreign companies like Sandals, because he is too busy making this a ‘rich against poor’ issue.

Sandals is a company that provides many jobs to locals in our country; jobs which reduce the unemployment rate, which the Government in turn, can brag about as their accomplishment, when the next General Elections role around. It makes sense that the Government would do anything in its power; (including waiving withheld tax payments) to get any major foreign company, to stay and continue providing jobs. It provides a short term economic benefit to the electorate, winning a few more political brownie points for the Government in the process.

This is basically what the Irish Government was taken to task for, in the Apple Tax case. The Irish Government made a deal with Apple’s Irish Affiliates, where they would pay less than 1% in taxes. A tax rate which is far lower than what local companies pay; 12.5% in taxes. It is of course a morally reprehensible act. However, it is not a social issue but an economic one.

The actions of these Governments (elected by the people remember), demonstrate the type of economic policies democratically elected governments typically go for. These policies usually consolidate their economic power and control, while they use that control to give the electorate quick fixes, amassing huge, un-payable amounts of debt in the process, which the local populace for the most part, (the tax payer) has to pay back in taxes; leading to very unstable economies, like St. Lucia’s for example.

Mr. Jn. Marie then concluded his Dialectic musings by saying, “So the whole social fabric is being threatened by setting such a dangerous precedent…because really it is undermining the social fabric and stability of the country, when you are showing clear preference for the strong against the weak.”

How exactly is the “social fabric” of our country threatened by this decision? Mr. Jn. Marie claims it’s because this policy is “showing a clear preference for the strong over the weak.” Would it be better then if the government taxed the strong and gave it to the weak; having a preference for the weak over the strong? That would solve all of our economic problems wouldn’t it? Nobody would be hungry anymore. Nobody would be homeless. St. Lucia would be a perfect Utopian island; material proof that all we need to do to eradicate poverty, is to take from the rich and give to the poor. Why doesn’t our government simply do that then?

Well, actually, it has been doing that throughout the country’s short existence. Over and over again. It does so with the income tax, from which the poor are exempt. The money is used to fund public facilities such as schools, roads and other similar infrastructure, which the poor all benefit from. Taxes are taken from the rich (those deemed by the Government able to afford them) and the money given to the poor. That is the current reality in almost every country, including St. Lucia.

Yet despite all of these benefits, the poor still become poorer. Even though they are exempt from the income tax, they suffer from our government’s imposition of VAT; in part because the government has taken all of the money it recouped from the rich through the income tax, and provided facilities they make available to the poor; facilities such as schools and General Hospitals, which need to be staffed and paid for by the Government; that is, the tax payer. Even though the income tax affects only those of a certain pay grade in this country, the Government, still has to find ways to tax the poor as well, just to stay financially afloat; proving that its preferential policies for the poor, only serve to impoverish every one in the country, especially the poor.

And Mr. Jn. Marie was being a bit disingenuous when he said that by doing this the Government is setting “such a dangerous precedence”. It is dangerous but it is not unprecedented. Such things probably happen more often than not. As previously explained, it makes political sense for these administrations, and it makes short term economic sense. (in regards to the unemployment numbers)

The Government’s decision does not threaten our social fabric. It threatens the economic fabric of this country, which already is nothing to write home about. The problem as previously stated with this reported decision, is an economic one. The long term effects, simply pile on the ones already put there by similar decisions made by previous administrations. They continuously promote foreign investments from foreign companies, which come to countries most willing to give them a break; tax breaks to be precise.

Understand this, these companies are worth a lot of money; companies like Google for example are worth more than St. Lucia’s GDP. But they’re businesses and not charities. They won’t come unless the tax levels of countries like ours, are significantly less, than those of their respective home countries, or better yet, non existent. If we don’t acquiesce, they simply take their companies, and the jobs that come with them, and they go to another country, more than willing to match their demands.

Unfortunately, this administration (and their predecessors to be fair), is simply not willing to lose that kind of quick cash, which it can use to do little projects that will help convince the electorate to give it another five years; while the country remains burdened with massive amounts of debt. It is a vicious cycle that I think can only be solved by an administration, courageous enough to take a gamble on local businesses and the local market in general.

I have no problem if the Government decides to give tax breaks and other like incentives that it usually gives to foreign companies, to local businesses instead; encouraging hiring and increasing profits: profits that will remain in St. Lucia.

If you want to pressure the Government Mr. Jn. Marie, pressure it to unite behind its own country…its own people; not to divide its loyalties between the rich and the poor. Pressure the Government to put St. Lucians first. We’re not as rich as mega corporations and massive hotel chains like Sandals. We cannot provide a quick financial fix to the Government’s economic woes, but we are St. Lucians, who are heavily invested in our country’s success; because when St. Lucia succeeds, we do as well.


Dean Nestor

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