I know...must I too add to the thousands of words/electrons/hot air expended on this topic? Yeah...because it reaches right back into the key theme of this blog...namely the madness of life around me.
I was really stunned at the collective willing suspension of disbelief in which thousands of Jamaicans engaged during this whole foray into la-la land with the pony-tailed Carlos Hill and his merry band of crooks. I first heard about Cash Plus sometime in 2005 when I noticed a sign in Red Hills, near the square, advertising a Cash Plus Distribution Centre. I was headed to the country, I think, and avoiding the Gorge by going via Sligoville, a wonderful road for would-be rally drivers like myself. I had a moment of curiosity about it, and then pushed it out of my mind, focusing instead on the driving at hand.
Some weeks later, a (then)recently-widowed old family friend whose sole asset was the cash from the proceeds of sale of the family home that her husband had left her asked me whether she should invest the lot in Cash Plus, and gave me details on the scheme. Apparently another biddy friend of hers had invested her retirement savings in the scheme and was smugly reaping rich rewards. I told her I knew nothing of it, and could not tell her what to do about it. I did ask her if she knew more than what her fellow biddy had told her, which she didn't but I got the sense she was pretty much determined to press on and invest the lot...some $13M at the time. I do not have the heart to ask her now the inevitable question: whither the money? I don't want to know.
My barber once asked me about it, as he cuts the hair of a member of the Cash Plus management team who was singing its praises. This was now some time late last year. This time, I was unequivocal in telling him "not a backside". He rang me last week to remind me of the conversation, even as Senor Carlos was being led off to jail.
I have friends...educated, smart folks...professionals, lawyers even, who were invested in it. I thought that their smugness and their happiness bordering on delirium were interesting, not least because it reminded me of the experience I had when I first bought a lottery ticket in Jamaica. It was a large jackpot, and a man who was a few places ahead of me in the line bought his ticket, and I could not help but notice his face as he left the shop...he was beaming with pleasure, as he no doubt - in his mind - held the only winning ticket, which he had clearly just managed to wrest from the gods. Poor fool, I thought...which is the same thing I thought about my friends who chortled about their regular cheques received with the promptness of Swiss trains.
Even more interesting was their aggression whenever hard questions were posed, like...oh, I don't know...what does Cash Plus do to make money??? They would first trot out what would become the stock responses...."Oh, they own the Hilton, Drax Hall' etc etc. I would then mention that the Hilton does not appear to be a net generator of cash since it has changed hands so frequently in frequent years you would be forgiven for thinking that it resembled, at least in that regard, the 'ladies' who frequent its pool bar. Then I would mention that Drax Hall managed to help drag down at least one other company before (Dyoll Life) and as it was vacant land, it was unlikely to generate cash this year or the next. That's when things would get ugly and they would pull the trump card...namely, "Mi nuh business wid wah yuh waan seh, but mi get mi cheque dem every month!!!", to which I did not usually respond, because I realised they had been drinking, nay, swimming in the Kool-Aid and there was little point in introducing an unpleasant thing like logic into the equation.
Of course, I have to tip my hat to a friend of mine who said he was not interested in Cash PLus because he had two simple rules which Cash Plus offended....
Rule 1 - Do not place your money with a man named Carlos.
Rule 2 - Do not place your money with a man named Carlos who also has a pony-tail and bad teeth.
I think we should commend those rules to the FSC.
Fun and joke aside though, what the backside were these people thinking???? I just hope that this episode will give people some pause to think about what they do with their money, and realise that they should simply give it to me, for investment in my OWN scheme, which will be much more simple...I will accumulate assets for my own use and enjoyment, and then run off to Brazil with the cash when I find I cannot beat off the investors with a stick any more.