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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