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Are we headed towards the int'l political graveyard?

Published:Sunday | May 13, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Chester Francis-Jackson, Contributor

Dears, Can we talk? My daahlings, if ever there were any doubts about the fact that the economic way forward for economies such as that of Jamaica is the Keynesian model, then they only need to take another look at the international political graveyard!

Current world trends show that people across the globe are rising in mutiny as they discard governments who have sought to reduce the role of the state in their economies. They are cutting back on government spending as they advocate austerity in face of a worldwide recession. So graveyards are rapidly being filled by politicians whose doctrinaire approach to economic growth is that it must be private sector driven.

Dears, one would imagine that indeed it would be a matter of the elementary by now, when it comes to policy direction and/or mix, that private sector-driven capitalism is just as bankrupt as the notion of a state-run and/or controlled economy.

What several failed states have proven, is that any one prescription which does not include a mix of both private and public sector initiative in matters of growing a country's economy will not only result in a meltdown of economies - circa 1970s - more importantly, it will rob its people of the entrepreneurial will and creativity to go in search; create; and/or facilitate solutions that will aid in the restructuring of the economies of failing states.

The lesson is so basic in essence - the fact that those who would practise the art and/or lay claim to being prognosticators, and economic clairvoyants, holding key positions such as advisers to presidents and/or prime ministers, would have grasped same by now.

Sadly, in their doctrinaire approach and failure to grasp that there is no one prescriptive measure that applies to all economies, they continue to preach austerity and retrenchment in times of economic turmoil and or recession as the get-well medicine for such troubled economies and/or states.

To begin with, in most cases, the doctor prescribing the medicine is a group of bureaucrats really, drawn from a pool of failed bankers and/or finance ministers who now populate the upper echelons of organisations such as the IMF World Bank, etc., and etc.

What seems to always escape those who consistently prescribe private sector-led investment-led growth is the basic fact that in a downturn, the private sector's first and primary responsibility is to itself and its profits. In this respect, redundancies, layoffs and all other cost-saving measures become the standard operating procedure. They fail to realise that this, in turn, fuels and propels the downturn they are ostensibly trying to avoid. Indeed, social and economic dislocation are the consequences of such actions.

It is at these junctures that the role of the State is even more crucial in creating stability, whether it be with what is generally referred to here as 'crash programme' employment or other projects. Smart governments at these times step in to stem the economic haemorrhage and social dislocation by spending to rehabilitate public spaces, monuments, roadways, etc. in a bid to stimulate growth and stave off further dislocation.

Those who argue against the role of the state in this capacity, proffering platitudes of nothingness, as they seek to justify their own status by lambasting governments which 'bail out' the poor by offering them remedial employment, while embracing the bailout of large companies, banks, etc., without as much as whimper, speak to the myopic nature of the entrenched dispositions and the sense of entitlement they take to the party!

'Nanny' state

The self-serving arguments protesting the role and concept of the 'Nanny' state, in specific circumstances such as recessions, downturns and/or the importance of the state's intervention cannot be overstated, nor must it be reduced to political punchlines or overworked clich├ęs by those who can't do, but would teach!

The success of any capitalist model relies on a successful Nanny state not just in times of downturns and/or recessions, but as a partner providing such services as proper infrastructure, via roadways, telecommunications capacity, a healthy workforce, available and affordable health-care services, an educated population from which that workforce can be culled, and crucially, a stable environment, free from fear and Gestapo-like interventions in disputes involving state agencies and the state's partner - the private sector.

Against this backdrop, recent reports of the draconian actions by the TAJ and the OCG is more than cause for concern. The reports are indeed, quite alarming, as the way forward in building our country, and fighting and/or eschewing corruption cannot be by having heavily armed police invade the corporate offices of any player in the economic mix.

That the OCG seem hell-bent on usurping its own mandate to become a media hungry headline grabber speaks to the prevalence of the culture once thought to be the remit of the underclass, who could not and cannot avoid the "video-lights".

Headline grabbing raids such as was recently employed by the OCG in effecting raids on the newly installed Government and the Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme; or the TAJ raid on the corporate offices of telecommunications giant Digicel, with its history of good corporate citizenship, cannot be the way forward.

Is it too much to ask that those charged with policing us, first police themselves and, in doing so, establish guidelines as to how they should proceed as they execute their duties, and do so without the disruption and drama that achieve very little in terms of productive interplay and/or exchange, save that of the muddying of the names of individuals and or institutions, and the setback of the national agenda and aspirations of a people long grown tired of posers!

It cannot be that agencies of the state, mandated by the state to effect the smooth flow of trade and commerce and the interaction of the governed and the governors, have become agents of fear, disruption and dislocation.