Wed | Aug 15, 2018

Insincerity of apology and the productivity issue

Published:Monday | April 23, 2018 | 12:00 AM


A Canadian parliamentarian, Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin, was reported to have called Jamaicans "lazy and underproductive because of their excessive use of ganja", (Gleaner, April 21, 2018). But she later apologised and retracted her statement, offering a rather panchreston explanation for the infelicitous statement.

This apology, however, has come only as a result of public backlash and it's only purpose is to douse the conflagration of public condemnation. I dare say she is still of the same opinion. Now, had she offered an apology after unprompted examination of her statement and come to the realisation of its inaccuracy and inappropriateness, I would be more inclined to accept it and the reconstruction of thought it suggests.

Politicians all over the world tend to suffer from haemorrhaging of the mouth, and so we should examine their statements with more criticality in order to find any grain of truth rather than dismissing them offhand or go off on a tangent picking up on every nuance of poor expression.

Though unfortunate, Mrs Smith-McCrossin's statement does contain a grain of truth. We do have a productivity issue. Dentworth Finnikin, the national TVET director, has pointed out that though the country is producing more graduates, there are still job vacancies (Gleaner, April 20, 2018). Why? "Those applicants are, unfortunately, unable to perform". In other words, they are failing the productivity test.

In an article carried by The Sunday Gleaner (April 22, 2018), 'Silly Stereotype', Dr Haughton correctly acknowledges that we do have a productivity problem, and points to the real cause - the structure of the economy and, I might add, our declining social construct. However, he makes the same mistake Smith-McCrossin has made, middling thinking by declaring that "the cannabis industry is the only way for Jamaica to become productive."

This statement is an antinomy to his previous one. On one hand, he is pointing to the structure of the economy as the causative factor of our productivity issue, while on the other, is seeking to build a mono-product economy. This is a sure recipe for economic disaster, as no economy can thrive, on a sustained basis, on a single product. For an economy to be sound, it must allow for a diversity of talents and entrepreneurial interests. This is how the productivity issue will be solved.

E. Elpedio Robinson

Red Hills, St Andrew