Letters to the Editor

Michael Manley's policies were ruinous

Friday, August 24, 2012    

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Dear Editor,

I find that too many Michael Manley loyalists struggle to articulate a convincing argument that - as Miss Tone Middleton said in her letter to the editor laced with invective - is the "most transformational and visionary leader Jamaica and the Caribbean have produced" and that "every major achievement by Jamaica since the 1970s can be directly or indirectly traced back to him."

How much more empty and pathetic can the rhetoric get? Michael Manley no doubt had a remarkable public personality, strong oratory skills and led a number of effective social reforms while raising consciousness, yet there is nothing else of substance worth mentioning. Former prime minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, a world-renowned example of a truly transformational and visionary leader, in his seminal book From Third World to First, in recalling a personal experience at a 1975 Commonwealth Summit in Kingston, stated, "(Michael Manley) presided with panache and spoke with great eloquence. But (I) found his views quixotic (impractical) ...; the policies of (his) government were ruinous." Now that's a quote for the ages.

Miss Middleton went on to state that I trotted out a "pile of meaningless statistics". Meaningless, Miss Middleton? Under Michael Manley's leadership between 1972 and 1980, the economy lost 17.5 per cent of its GDP; the national debt increased tenfold from $300 million to $3,000 million; inflation ballooned by 250 per cent; revenues remained constant while expenditure galloped by 66 per cent; the budget deficit sprinted from 3.9 per cent to 17.5 per cent of GDP, probably the highest for any country not at war; investment buckled by 40 per cent of GDP; foreign exchange reserves were eviscerated, collapsing from US$239 million to negative US$549 million; and unemployment increased by more than 43 per cent, moving from 182,000 to 271,000! The then World Bank president pointed out that Jamaica was the second worst economy in the world.

The fact is, Mr Manley oversaw the most comprehensive destruction of Jamaica's economy since Independence, damaging the future of my generation and the one before. Only PJ Patterson's economic management comes close.

Now, for Miss Middleton to credit the achievements of our sportsmen and sportswomen to Mr Manley is so silly, it deserves no further comment.

Former prime ministers, Bruce Golding, Edward Seaga, Hugh Shearer, Donald Sangster and Sir Alexander Bustamante deserve far more credit than the failed populist orator that Michael Manley was. Learn to argue with facts, Miss Middleton.

Delano Seiveright






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