Mr. Manley Destroyed a Vibrant Jamaican Economy

RECENTLY Damion Crawford made a very damning statement about his own party and the way how they have mishandled the Jamaican economy by running it into the ground, when he encouraged Jamaicans to leave this Island taking their talents and all to build other countries.

While I will admit that based on the prevailing circumstances in this country, there is little in the way of alternatives. What is shocking though is that at two points in our history Jamaica was well on its way to first world status: in the 60’s and in the 80’s. During those two periods other countries like Singapore came to Jamaica, adopted what we had and it has propelled them, especially Singapore to first world status. In that time the Jamaican economy was producing goods and services that other Nations wanted and was becoming rich. People had hope for a better future and it is incontrovertible that we had less social ills to contend with. Jamaica’s youths had every chance to make something of themselves by staying right here at home. 

But it was Mr. Crawford’s party that destroyed all the hopes and dreams of a better Jamaica starting in the 70’s with the misguided Socialist madness. Manley made sure that he destroyed the middle classes by telling them “there is five flights to Miami leaving Jamaica daily” so if you don’t like it here get on one of them. What he did was to send away all those entrepreneurs that were creating wealth in this country and driving economic growth that would guarantee Jamaica acquirng first world status. How can a country develop without a sound economic base that is founded upon the timeless principles of capitalism, which encourages private individuals to open up businesses and put their creative minds to wealthy use?

Michael Manley - Image Source:
Michael Manley – Image Source:

As the Great Winston Churchill once remarked about Socialism: “Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery’s. “ and misery was what indeed the Jamaican economy and its people was subjected to. By the end of Manley’s experiment with destruction, the Jamaican economy shrunk by 25%! We are still feeling the effects of that now. So Mr. Crawford should explain to the Jamaican people that his party contributed to the present situation where he is telling us: we all should just leave. 


Mr. Manley apparently decided that a redistribution of wealth was in order to “save” Jamaicans at the bottom of the social ladder. At least that is the line of argument his supporters give. That was where he went most glaringly wrong. You do not redistribute wealth by taking it away from those that create it without substituting something of equal or greater wealth creating potential in its stead. The only way that makes sense in redistributing wealth is to continue to create wealth in greater amounts then tax that wealth in a way that generates revenue for the state and still accommodates the creators of wealth making enough for themselves so that there is an incentive to continue creating wealth. That wealth that is accumulated through taxation should then be used in ways that actually help people to make wealth for themselves, and to build schools, hospitals, or on infrastructure development.

That way persons enjoy the benefits of the state and the creators of wealth enjoy creating wealth. Isn’t that how Capitalism works? It’s remarkable that Manley could think that following the Soviet’s misguided economy principles was better than following the only true creator of wealth for any country: capitalism.In his defense many persons will give this explanation: Jamaicans were not benefiting from the growth in the economy and social upliftment was a challenge and black people didn’t have a say and weren’t better off. Now let’s understand something: Manley’s experiment with the devil, did not produce a heaven on earth of joy prosperity and perpetual bliss. What it did do however, was to make the masses worse off than they were at the time that he took over. People must understand that wealth in a Nation will not reach everybody at the same time. It reaches a lot of persons only after a long period of time-the trickle-down effect.

Why is it that everybody does not feel wealthy at once? It’s simple, it cannot happen. It’s not possible. To witness that widespread feeling, you would have to visit the mythical city of Shangri La. The way how things work practically is that government creates the enabling environment for creative ideas to flow into business ventures and those that have that business mindset take on the risks of starting up businesses. What then happens is that people that are not into business ventures themselves go into a contractual relationship with the owners of businesses and sell them their labour for a price. What then follows is that the money earned from these employers can be used to purchase goods and services and to improve the lives of the wage worker.

Some will say people were not being paid enough to survive so Manley had to do something. I assure you even if that was so, the correct way would have been to institute a minimum wage and set it at a rate that would guarantee a better life for the workers, not destroy the economic base of the country! The only worthy reflection of the re-distribution of wealth throughout an economy, is to provide jobs for the people to go to! That’s the only sustainable way to do it because persons can work for the money they need while the state is collecting taxes to make life easier for the citizenry by improving social services, allowing owners of businesses to make a profit. The Soviet Union didn’t redistribute wealth and make the poor wealthy. All it did was to create a class of wealthy people aligned to the leader at the time whilst the rest of the masses gets poorer. They never lived up to the ideals they espoused at all. They suffered the same problems that Capitalism suffers from.

Mr. Manley destroyed a healthy vibrant and productive economy, and uprooted the entrepreneurial class and the moment he did that Jamaica was doomed to fail. The goods and services were not being produced as there was nobody to produce them (the owners of Capital were all gone and government was ill prepared to step in and fill the gap left by them) and the state was in no position to sustain itself because there was just no economic base whatsoever to stand on. He eventually had to run to the IMF. What was the effect of all that on the country? A sense of hopelessness and regret as once people saw that they were not better off under him and that his ideology was not working they turned to the JLP under Mr.Seaga.

One of the world’s most dynamic and brightest leaders, former Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew in his seminal work From Third World to First in recalling an 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”. Incidentally, Lee Kuan-Yew successfully moved his country from developing to developed country status. Under Michael Manley’s leadership as Prime Minister between 1972 and 1980 the economy lost between 17.5  and 25% per cent of its GDP; the national debt increased tenfold from JA$300 million to JA$3 billion, 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 over 43 per cent moving from 182,000 to 271,000! 

But alas the destruction was not over just yet.


Patterson and Omar were yet to come. 

Mr. Seaga, undoubtedly the greatest finance minister we have ever had took over the reins of power in the 80’s and set about restructuring and rebuilding Jamaica into the economic juggernaut it was before. He succeeded tremendously.He returned growth to the Jamaican economy. As the chart taken from the website shows below, that under his leadership there were only three years that the economy suffered negative growth. He did such a good job that in 1986-87 the economy expanded by 7 and 7.7% respectively. With growth rates like that who wouldn’t want to stay here? I’m certain no government Minister in the 1980’s was telling anybody to leave this country. Businesses returned to the country, the Caribbean basin initiative (CBI) created more opportunities for Jamaican businesses to export to other Nations and as the economy transitioned from being an economy based on domestic consumption and more towards export orientation.

Things were back on track again and hope was being restored. We had a manufacturing sector that was thriving, except for the 1980 election campaign. Murders we kept under control and people felt a lot safer. Inflation came down from the dizzying heights it reached under Manley. The cumulative effect that it had on the economy of this country and its people was a positive one. There was hope. That hope was dashed when the PNP returned to power and Patterson and Davies set about destroying everything that the JLP built. Our future was ruined. So Mr. Crawford is correct when he said we all should go and then send back remittances to this country. He should be ashamed of himself. The table below shows why the PNP is an albatross around Jamaica’s neck. They only manage growth rates worthy of note in 1990 and that was a spillover from the 80’s. No wonder Mr. Crawford is telling us to runaway leave Jamaica.

Year Gross domestic product
1980 -4.041
1981 4.42
1982 3.08
1983 4.153
1984 0.95
1985 -0.9
1986 7
1987 7.7
1988 -3.993
1989 4.7
1990 4.875
1991 1.032
1992 1.743
1993 1.7
1994 0.9
1995 2.521
1996 -0.243
1997 -1.595
1998 -1.011
1999 1.048
2000 0.879

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Eran Spiro
8 years ago

A sensible analysis !

Relentlessly Ambitious Hinds

hats off!! so freaking true!!

Karl Savoury
8 years ago

This is totally capitalist propaganda…as if tiny Jamaica with limited natural resources exist in a vacuum

Darryl Edwards
8 years ago

Often times, there is no beauty in the truth, and it is often bitter. I can understand why Jamaicans tend to dismiss this article out of hand, especially about the leadership of Michael Manley, who is looked up to as one who actually tried—TRIED—to address the problems of the poor. But Manley made an assumption that is common to ALL Socialists; they assume wealth is always available, and if the Socialists can just pry that wealth loose from the rich, and spend on all these social programs, the society will improve. This is what the Socialists believe, and consistently practice… Read more »

Devon Ellis
8 years ago

Damian Crawford, going by the same propoganda, that he hears, but their is no truth to that, Manley love Jamaica with all his heart, in fact Manley did not say Socialism, the way other countries administer it, he said Socialism the Jamaican way. Damian Crawford has no knowledge of Manley, the great leader he was. Manley inspired many of my generation, he wasn’t happy that many of these professional had to leave, but many of the one’s that left, weren’t fit to be there. Discrimination was rampant, class warfare was prevalent in those period. Manley changed many of that, if… Read more »

Leighton McIntyre
8 years ago

#HurricaneMichaelManley, the worst disaster to have hit Jamaica!

Leighton McIntyre
8 years ago

# HurricaneMichaelManley, the worst disaster to have hit Jamaica!

Ann-marie Tulloch-Blake

This article makes good reading and discussion.

Everett Davey O'Sullivan

Michael Manley was a “God send” for the airline industry in the 70’s…his “5 flights a day” speach caused a huge increase in ticket sales for them, as many business people took his advice, by high tailing it out of the island…along with the acquired wealth…naturally!

Trevor Isaacs
8 years ago

I think the way u study all the wrong things mr manley did , it would b so easy for a person like to make the country right, but first talk about education

Holla Holla Kayante Rennie

At least someone has the guts to say it out loud

Peter Chin-Tai
8 years ago

Cannot take a FAILED IDEOLOGY to the BANK , this why even the MOTHERLAND OF SOCIALISM call MOTHER RUSSIA, saw the FAILED IDEOLOGY OF SOCIALISM would not make a better future, then came CHINA, saw in the 1970s , and the FAILED PNP -MANLEY IDEOLOGY ignored the truth , even awaken CUBA AND NORTH KOREA is slowly laughing at themselves, MANLEY is a joke, he was more committed to his DELUDED FAILED THINKING . he was not a Realistic man to procure VISION as JAH DICTATE IN THE BIBLE. MANLEY thought USSR would finance him like CUBA, and again, FAILED… Read more »

Shane Hayle
8 years ago

Thanks for the facts .regardless the only way I see this changing is for the people who have been there since his time, with the same mentality plus greed . Will have to go, they too have not made any change for better.

Edward Phillip Sinclair

If we had listened to Micheal Jamaica would not be in this state now.

Derrick Deslandes
8 years ago

One always need to look at context. There are a lot of truth in what u say but the analysis is also simplistic.

Derrick Deslandes
8 years ago

I guess if things were that great under Seaga why was he voted out. The analyst is biased n one sided

Colin Jarrett
8 years ago

I could just about forgive the phrase ” … make something of themselves by staying right here at home.” I had to stop reading when ‘great’ was used to describe Winston Churchill. I did’t want to vomit up my lunch. We as Jamaicans must get out of this mental constipation of PNP/JLP. If we have to waste any words on discussing this topic then the sensible thing to do is to ask why Manley was voted in, why he was voted out; why Seaga was voted in; and why he was voted out. If we can go some way towards… Read more »

Danvas Atkinson
8 years ago

do you know when black people could not work in d front of banks in jamaica

Edward Phillip Sinclair

Micheal said self reliance eat what we grow let we run our country but we say that is communism so everyone say we want American policy what did it get us IMF we lose we banana industry to chiquita and dole America own we bauxite we lose milk industry sugar and everything else now we import everything from America I everything

Edward Phillip Sinclair

Utilizing excerpts from the award-winning non-fiction text “A Small Place” by Jamaica Kincaid, Life & Debt is a woven tapestry of sequences focusing on the stories of individual Jamaicans whose strategies for survival and parameters of day-to-day existence are determined by the U.S. and other foreign economic agendas. By combining traditional documentary telling with a stylized narrative framework, the complexity of international lending, structural adjustment policies and free trade will be understood in the context of the day-to-day realities of the people whose lives they impact. The film opens with the arrival of vacationers to the island– utilizing Ms. Kincaids… Read more »

Garfield Willis
8 years ago

Yes he made some mistake. However the analysis is way too simplistic. For one the writer assumes that the PNP did not came up with the minimum wage–I don’t think that’s true. Further capitalism is not perfect either. Obama have a major trying to save the middle class and the poor in America. The trickle down economy the author described as failed. Time and time again poor And middle class Americans who have jobs cannot make ends meet. The top 10% of the wealthiest owns about 80% of the wealth. And woe to the middle person who unfortunately had a… Read more »

Fay Smith
8 years ago

Am glad some one have the guys to come out n say it

Edris Johnson
8 years ago

All i can say , poppycock.

Edward Phillip Sinclair

PAGE 2 Life & Debt includes a segment on the banana industry wherein Jamaica has been granted preferential treatment from the British through the Lome Convention, providing a tax-free import quota for 105,000 tons/fruit per year to England. Through a case the U.S. brought to the WTO, the U.S. government is demanding the Lome Convention quota removed, (although the U.S. does not grow bananas on its own soil) forcing Jamaica to compete with exporters from Central America and South America. Specifically Chiquita and Dole, which are U.S. companies who produce bananas on a large scale. Central America is characterized by… Read more »

Edward Phillip Sinclair

Everyone blaming Micheal should watch this film life and debt

Aldith Virtue-Murray
8 years ago

This story is propopanda as usual. Michael Manley’s problem was he loved and trusted the people of his country too much. Many Jamaicans especially the so called “UP A CLASS” despise Manley’s idea of trying to break down the class barriers. Many of whom were the light skin business people of Jamaica who feared that their status would be changed if Michael had his way. Many of them resisted the idea of such change them and still do now, because we strive on the SLAVE-MASTER MENTALITY. It was because of this resistance that Manley made the statement of the five… Read more »

Aldith Virtue-Murray
8 years ago

This story is propopanda as usual. Michael Manley’s problem was he loved and trusted the people of his country too much. Many Jamaicans especially the so called “UPPER CLASS” despise Manley’s idea of trying to break down the class barriers. Many of whom were the light skin business people of Jamaica who feared that their status would be changed if Michael had his way. Many of them resisted the idea of such change them and still do now, because we strive on the SLAVE-MASTER MENTALITY. It was because of this resistance that Manley made the statement of the five flights… Read more »

Devon Ellis
8 years ago

Why is it that so many of us thinks Socialism is a bad thing, let me school those of you who are not schooled properly, that has poor comprehension skills. Now I wonder why many of you parent send you to School, all that investment Manley made went to waste, because you simply hasn’t learned anything new. Now, the Road you drive on, that’s Socialism, the School your mother sent you, that’s Socialism, the Hospital that you visit, that’s Socialism, that free lunch that you get, that’s Socialism. I just don’t know what school you went, Because if you had… Read more »

Calvin Edwards
8 years ago

Many people know the truth about the 70s under Michael Manley’s leadership.The way he intended things to go were miscarried by some of his followers and the big propaganda machine ran with it to create trouble. Time will be the judge of it all.One great politician said Michael Manley was one of the tallest trees in the forest but politics separated them .One thing we can still learn to do is ‘Eat what we grow,grow what we eat”. JAMAICA LAND WE LOVE.

Glenford Gummer Walker

Well spoken bro..Basically you cannot kill the Goose that lays the golden egg and expected to still benefit from such priveledge

David A. Guilfoyle
8 years ago

I am happy that we are now talking about the disaster Michael was. This is the Truth now for Reconciliation and Rebuilding.

Michael Steadman
8 years ago

another arm chair expert with 20/20 hindsight, always knowing the problem and never presenting an alternative or solution. Give a damn solution Mr. Knowitall.

Kimour A. Bruce
8 years ago

Look the fact of the matter is, 10% of the population had all the wealth back then and the rest of the population was living on the edge. So would you support a system that only looks out for the middle and upper class? Was Michael perfect ? No he wasn’t, But he put the poor and needy first. Please find some information of this man taking any money from the country for his person use ?

Oneil Shalom Mitzvah Hall

Michael Manley was the best prime minister of Jamaica. Let us never forget that US use Seaga and the JLP to destablize Jamaica during the late 1970s couple with the oil crisis is the 70s. How can a man that built 40, 000houses in 6years is the worst PM? Thank God for Michael my family was able to own a house through him! Thank God for Michael he started the National Housing Trust? National Youth Service! Built Several schools and teachers college! Get Cuba to build GC Foster College and Jose Marte High School! If those social programmes make Manley… Read more »

Oneil Shalom Mitzvah Hall

Richard Hart “The US Government was becoming increasingly hostile to Michael Manley. They disapproved of his policy of maintain good relations with Cuba and were infuriated when he expressed support for Cuba’s action in sending volunteers to Angola to resist the invasion by South African troops intent on helping Joseph Savimbi to overthrow the MPLA Government. They disproved of the bauxite levy which adversely affected the profits of American companies and they disliked his democratic socialism rhetoric.”

Oneil Shalom Mitzvah Hall

Socialism did not frighten the entire Jamaica but a small group of people. What frightens people is that group in Jamaica that once had a great life for a very long time. They have been very privilege and they have found ways for years not to pay their taxes and make no contribution to the development of a just society and before we declare democratic socialism we began to address the problem of privilege; the gap between the rich and the poor; we introduce wealth taxes to get at people who skillfully avoided income taxes for many years and we… Read more »

Dion Williams
8 years ago

Are there anyone who’re listing to this man? Manley was the only one looking out for the poor

Oneil Shalom Mitzvah Hall

Karrit Levitt states, “The eight years … saw massive programmes of long overdue social reforms that had the support of the overwhelming the majority of the population: special employment programmes, literacy programme, school feeding, equal pay, minimum wages, land lease, food subsidies, free secondary and university education, increases in pension and poor relief, and a number of similar social measures.”

Oneil Shalom Mitzvah Hall

The 1972-1980 social reforms were drastic, sudden and created fundamental changes. Income increased by over 55 percent, employment increased by 35 000, illiteracy declined significantly, child mortality fell from 32.5 percent in 1970 to 11.3 in 1980 and from the time Manley came into power until its end secondary school enrollment increased from 55, 000 to over 270 000.

Oneil Shalom Mitzvah Hall

, “In 10 years from 1962 to 1971 the Opposition, when they were in Government managed to build 15, 868 houses. The average was 1, 587 a year. In 1973 we built 3, 016 houses and in 1974 we started, for the first time a system that I asked them to introduce.” Michael Manley built over 40 000 housing units in 10 years for Jamaicans. That was indeed a drastic change and such action warrants to be consider a Housing Revolution in Jamaica.

Oneil Shalom Mitzvah Hall

Trevor Munroe noted “the social reforms of the 1970’s has given the Jamaican people a sense of its own worth and dignity”

Marlon Miller
8 years ago

while this analysis was filled with fact it it is extremely bias. the author failed to indicate that JLP was supported by the US government while the PNP was sabotage by the US government with the help of the IMF.

Jamal Gill
8 years ago

Words for thought? Or as some have said, bare propaganda. I am not a Jamaican so I can’t comment. However, I do admit that after living in Jamaica for three years, classism and fairness of one’s skin are two serious problems in that country. I once had an experience in a NCB bank (which I would never forget). I use to go to this one teller all the time because she always dealt with me and my queries as a foreign student in a very professional and helpful manner. One day I went to another teller and she stated how… Read more »

Raymond Locksley Reynolds

So true

Rooky Squit
8 years ago

This is something I asked for thank you very much, Jamaicans can now see the party that is growth

Anthony Roy Woodburn
8 years ago

Good Article!!! However, I disagree with the GDP growth figures. Perhaps the article could have stated the prices (base year) at which GDP was calculated. Without tip toeing around politics, I would only give Lee Kuan Yew credit for bravery for implementing an economic model (that he never wrote) that was written by Sir W. Arthur Lewis, St. Lucian, Nobel Laureate in Economics and former Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies. Now, here is the surprising part: Sir W. Arthur Lewis was invited by Sir Alexander Bustamante in the late 1950’s to write the economic model for… Read more »

Stephney Baker
8 years ago

Great analysis and very factual

Marcia Bryce
8 years ago

We need to start thinking Jamaica, and not pnp.Jlp..

Linton Taylor
8 years ago


Linton Taylor
8 years ago