by Lipton Matthews
Children are often admired for their humility, but they also possess some unfortunate attributes, for example, their inability at times to take responsibility for their actions.
At first most onlookers sympathize with youngsters, but eventually maturity is thrust upon them, however some opt not to evolve, since it is easier to identify scapegoats. This mirrors Jamaica’s political system, politicians are viewed as villains, but none of them could implement unsavory policies without the assistance of a complicit electorate. The same electorate that does not “man up” to the errors of voting decisions and holding politicians accountable.
One of the bigger flaws with our political system is its emphasis on welfare and not wealth creation. Too many of us accept the view that pro-poor programmes should be a priority of a responsible government. This is why we have no problem in supporting politicians who spend billions on social programmes, even if the money spent was borrowed. Ironically, these same people then turn and accuse “the poor” of being too dependent on politicians.
Before we can discuss social safety nets for the poor, we must craft a strategy for long-term growth. It is impossible to tap into major industries like electronics without making sufficient investments in research and human capital, the fruits which countries like Taiwan are were reaping since the 1980s, was due to years of economic planning and close collaboration with the private sector.
Many politicians proudly boast about creating social programmes to assist the poor, but it would be better to finance the boosting of R&D talent. Social programmes will only ameliorate the living conditions of the less fortunate for a short period, they also subsidizes poverty and allows poverty-type behaviours to flourish, at the expense of the taxpayer. But by investing in the former, will likely result in innovations which will make our businesses and economy more competitive.
For example, in Singapore the ability to train and retain R&D talent has made it an ideal location for high-tech firms to establish new plants. Now is the time to choose what we want, do we want to develop a global business brand or is it our goal to create a class of permanent dependents?
Furthermore we have never done a cost benefit analysis to determine the success of these anti-poverty programmes so we cannot laud them; patronizing politicians may sound appealing, but more than anything else those affected by poverty need an environment to empower them, not a government handout.
Mrs. Simpson-Miller likes to brag about her dedication to the poor, but it is only her commitment to creating a dynamic free enterprise system which will boost their living standards not her social programmes.
However, Jamaica’s future is in the hands of the electorate, if we are truly serious about developing our country then we must reject populist politicians, or we can elect them and then complain like that immature child who is never the cause of his problems.