Thu | Sep 21, 2017

Gordon Robinson: Try DIY instead of IMF

Published:Tuesday | January 19, 2016 | 1:00 AMGordon Robinson

I've been spending a lot of time in doctors' waiting rooms, only to be ordered NOT to use computers for two weeks.

So, this is being rushed off while Old BC is at the dentist. If you see her, act normally. Don't say anything.

One waiting room piped a radio talk-show host asking a caller, unimpressed with Jamaica's passing 10 IMF tests, where would Jamaica be if it didn't have these tests? The host seemed to be suggesting the alternative was worse.

 

Truths:

1. The IMF hasn't contributed one dollar to Jamaica's national budget.

2. IMF 'funding' is illusory because it goes to supplement our net international reserves (NIR).

3. NIR is itself an illusion. Having it means you don't need it, and not having it produces only a psychological need for it. It isn't used for budgetary support.

4. Government only ever uses NIR to halt devaluation, yet the IMF's mantra insists the dollar is overvalued.

5. The ballyhooed IMF 'seal of approval' opens international lenders' doors, but irresponsible borrowing via those open doors landed us in this mess.

We find ourselves in this catch-22 IMF cycle because we're too corrupt and mentally lazy to spend prudently, so we repeatedly fritter away Jamaica's future. The IMF stops this by insisting we act responsibly. It sets us quarterly 'tests' as enforcement tools.

Then, when the fiscal ship of State is close to even keel, we leave the IMF and immediately recommence blissful frittering.

With apologies to Mac It's Hard to be Humble Davis (songwriter) and Elvis Presley:

"As the crow flies,

On a cold and grey Tivoli mornin'

A poor little baby child is born

In the ghetto.

And his mama cries.

'Cause if there's one thing that she don't need

It's another hungry mouth to feed

In the ghetto."

Following IMF imperatives so we can pass IMF tests, we calmly and cold-heartedly continue a system of education geared towards passing standardised exams rather than life. After passing GSAT, CSEC, CAPE and UWI, thousands have no jobs. Others get jobs but are ill-equipped to perform them.

"People, don't you understand

the child needs a helping hand

or he'll grow to be an angry young man someday.

Take a look at you and me.

Are we too blind to see?

Do we simply turn our heads

and look the other way?"

 

INADEQUATE FACILITIES

Following IMF imperatives so we can pass IMF tests, we calmly and cold-heartedly underfund health to the point where premature babies (not "babies in the real sense") are condemned to inadequate facilities, ensuring unnecessarily high mortality rates. Then we overburden our underfunded health system with victims of unnecessary violence rather than spend what's required to modernise police-detection techniques.

"Well, the world turns.

And a hungry little boy with a runny nose

plays in the street as the cold wind blows

in the ghetto"

Childcare agencies are jokes and adoptions treated like obstacle courses. We rather keep agencies underfunded and staff undertrained so we can pass another IMF test.

"And his hunger burns.

So he starts to roam the streets at night

and he learns how to steal

and he learns how to fight

in the ghetto"

We can't even keep our streets clean. We're treated like animals with sewage perpetually running through residential areas. So we behave like animals - animals capable of passing IMF tests.

"Then one night in desperation

A young man breaks away.

He buys a gun, steals a car,

tries to run, but he don't get far

And his mama cries

As a crowd gathers 'round an angry young man

face down on the street with a gun in his hand

In the ghetto ..."

Where is the guidance? Where is the leadership? I know. Dwayne Vaz: "A baby strength dem have ... . Load up di gu ... ." has full PNP support as a leadership candidate while government passes 10 IMF tests. But, we're ensuring Jamaica will have to pass these tests all over again, soon. Very soon.

"As her young man dies,

On a cold and grey Tivoli mornin',

Another little baby child is born in the ghetto ... ."

In the Ghetto, recorded in 1969, sparked Elvis' comeback after four years in the doldrums.

The IMF's sole purpose is to insist and enforce responsible spending. Jamaica, why not do it yourself (DIY)? Why not force yourself, by fundamental constitutional change, to act responsibly; close ministries you can't afford and don't need; reduce public-sector wages to nine per cent of GDP; and focus your spending on revolutionising education, health, security and infrastructure?

Peace and love.

- Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.