Up to the late 1960s, the Jamaican dollar was worth more than the US dollar. Our once proud Jamaican currency has been so bruised and battered that some of our coins are regarded as a nuisance and thrown into the garbage. Blame it partly on Michael Manley.
Manley promoted democratic socialism which has nothing to do with democracy, but with the promotion of handouts and poverty. What happened then would amount to no less than a spin to what has become Portia Simpson Miller’s highly promoted mantra: “I love the poor”.
Despite the political democracy promulgated by Manley, his approach to the business class would have been autocratic. His principles would have wrecked business owners while encouraging central government to become a sort of monopoly, controlling virtually all aspects of the economy. Under Manley’s socialist model, big corporations, factories and any other private entities would be non-existent.
Manley’s version of democratic socialism disillusioned him and appeared even weaker, when juxtaposed with its opposite: capitalism. It’s ironic that Manley considered capitalism to be an insult, although capitalism builds a middle class, creates new investments that can be taxed to foster a more all-around distribution of wealth. Such distribution eliminates poverty and lessens the public’s need for state welfare.
Let us not forget that it was Manley's democratic socialism rhetoric that caused widespread uncertainty in the economy, essentially resulting in business decline. Much of the middle class fled the country, unemployment rose to 30 per cent, and violence broke out in the run-up to the 1980 general election, eventually leading to Manley’s defeat. To date, the economy continues to feel the after-shocks of their horrendous episode.
Manley's first two terms as prime minister created great controversy and projected the country into unpleasant international headlines. In an effort to implement his brand of democratic socialism, he sought to restructure the politics and economy of Jamaica. His political and economic problems created such hardship in Jamaica that he had to turn to the International Monetary Fund for loans that still hamper our economic development.
It is clear that the PNP style of governing represents a level of injustice to this country. Education has shown most Jamaicans what democratic socialism would have been like — refusing to come out of slavery, denying that the holocaust happened, or telling God, “Don’t send Jesus.” When democratic socialism didn’t work the PNP introduced people power, which simply means poverty.