Mon | Jun 18, 2018

LETTER OF THE DAY - Jamaica's crisis of confidence

Published:Tuesday | November 13, 2012 | 12:00 AM


Last week, the governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, implemented an odd-even number gas-rationing system in response to the long lines at the pump to purchase fuel because of a shortage in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

This was the first time such measures were being introduced since the energy crisis of the 1970s. During this time, the United States faced what then President Carter termed "a crisis of confidence". President Carter acknowledged that his country faced "perilous times". He advised his countrymen that this was "not the moment to apportion blame for the present predicament" and challenged the American people to remain resolute in the face of adversity.

One week later, President Carter fired his entire Cabinet, signalling a need for renewal. By apportioning blame himself, President Carter transformed the crisis of confidence into a crisis of leadership.

Ronald Reagan said during a successful candidacy to unseat Carter: "I see no national malaise that ails the American people; the only thing this nation suffers from is a death of leadership."

The dire straits facing Jamaica today are starkly similar to circumstances in 1970s US, including soaring energy prices, anaemic economic growth and high unemployment. Jamaica is experiencing a crisis of confidence.

The confidence of the people that we are capable of extricating ourselves from our current socio-economic quagmire to fulfil our potential is in crisis; the confidence of the private sector that Jamaica is open for business is in crisis; and, the confidence of investors that Jamaica represents a good return on investment is in crisis.

But once our leaders to whom we have delegated the responsibility of fixing our problems begin to apportion the blame for our predicament on others, the crisis of confidence will quickly transform into a crisis of leadership.

Ten months into a PNP administration, it is too early to state definitively that Jamaica is suffering from a dearth of leadership. What is clear, however, is that Jamaica suffers from a national malaise - the arrogance of our leaders.

Accusing the media of bias has become an essential parlour trick in the arsenal of the astute political prestidigitator. The answer to the Bard's famous question 'What's in a name?' has been answered. Borrowing the same talking points of that other Delano, Mr Franklyn has proven that a name can indeed signify a shared self-righteousness, short-sightedness of vision, intransigence, belligerence and myopia.

Let us hope, as a nation, that the similarities between the present and previous administrations end there. Otherwise, the change we voted for may prove elusive.