Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Pie-in-the-sky economics

Published:Sunday | February 14, 2016 | 2:00 AM

The election date is February 25. All who would seek to become members of parliament have been nominated and the people know who their choices are.

There is no discernible ideological difference between the candidates, so they are, generally, interchangeable. The choice is to elect Tweedledee or Tweedledum. No broad vision, expansive yet inclusive, to make this a nation striving for excellence. A nation doing other things to fulfil the promise inherent in the phrase 'likkle, but tallawah'.

The politicians say whatever they feel like, irrespective of its relationship to truth and proximity to sensible analysis. If you are magnanimous, you can refer to this election as an exercise in participatory democracy. If you are a realist, it is the silly season. Endure it, we will.

One could very easily question the commitment to giving the electorate choices that will truly be representative of their best interests. The function of a government is a most significant undertaking, just as how one who seeks to access a loan must have displayed character, competence of stewardship and the ability to repay, we have representatives being offered to us that do not reflect the society as its positive best.

 

BACK BENCHES

 

What do we have on offer? We have the PNP offering a slate that no longer includes a former strong contributor from the back benches. He displayed thoughtfulness, diligence and the ability to tap into national consciousness. He delivered his contributions with skill, yet I fear he will be remembered for having been embroiled in a debate about aquatic creatures.

His voice is gone and the elders wonder why the young are turned off, as he is replaced by a senior citizen whose distinction for contribution to national life has yet to be made public. We have also sidelined a junior minister who was an advocate for connection with the youth of Jamaica, but who displayed indiscretions and could not secure forgiveness for youthful indiscretions.

Yet the personality who was a beneficiary of the past and given free rein because of his youthful indiscretion continues to have multiple opportunities for numerous indiscretions, yet he is a candidate again, after having already served more than 20 years in parliament. How ironic!

The JLP offers us the convenience of every ready candidate for rent. Can't make it in an urban area? Fill in the rural area. Take your beauty and attractiveness with you to counteract the two on the other side. You cannot make it against a big name, then you go run against a first-term parliamentarian.

What is the difference between the parties in what they have to offer in terms of candidates? Move people around, find a place for them because they might come with a name, a family history and the expectation of resources. These persons, Saphire Longmore-Dropinski, Christopher Tufton, Marlene Malahoo Forte, Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn, Juliet Holness, Kerensia Morrison, Evon Redman, and Imani Duncan-Pryce are all going to appear on a ballot presented to citizens on February 25. May the wisdom of the people find its resonance on that day. No wonder a large portion of the electorate is saying they will abstain.

We continue to stress this classical educational system, just delighted that Latin is no longer required. This has resulted in the vast majority of our labour force lacking the skills to grow the economy, yet we hear politicians promising 100,000 new jobs, or the more ridiculous claim of 250,000 new jobs. Doing what?

When do we make schools designated institutions of excellence? When do we enforce compulsory attendance? When do we have a complete, comprehensive nutritional feeding programme for schools? When do we demand measurable performance from our teachers? When do we sever the political link between the JTA and the political parties, primarily the PNP.

When do we have a discussion on constitutional reform? Republic versus monarchy, first in the world job description for elected members of parliament? When do we have a discussion on party position papers as set forth in manifestos resolving the inherent conflict between civil rights and suppression of crime?

 

POLICY POSITION

 

When are we going to get policy position papers on the pros and cons of fixing the dollar exchange rate versus allowing the exchange rate to float? These are issues worthy of serious discussion. They should be part of the genesis of parliamentary agenda in the new upcoming term. I am afraid it is not likely to happen. Talk about a step into the unknown.

So far, we have had discussions founded on hurt feelings based on the use of and applicability of word 'con'. Tell me how that advances the country at this time. We have no fulsome discussion on the benefit derived for the country on our relationship with the IMF. We know that the macroeconomic are trending in the right direction. We also know that the people at the lower rungs of the economic ladder are struggling to make ends meet, so the JLP comes with this pie-in-the-sky economic offering of large exemptions from personal income tax, free education, free health care and free everything else.

What will replace what is given up? What will happen when this external has expired? Going from this, we will be forever cast into the pit.

- Ronald Mason is an attorney-at-law and Supreme Court mediator. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and nationsagenda@gmail.com.