Wednesday, January 22, 2020

A Response to Dr Augier’s Economic Warning: “We are in trouble!”

Article by Alvin Ernest: Bravo Mr Augier! Finally someone with original thought on Caribbean economics, and a focus on the real “truth” of improving life for St Lucians. Such thought demands true humility, empathy and mostly honesty. The Caribbean is failing; in fact, its foundation was misplanned from conception. I believe this legacy of complacency is an embarrassment that must be remedied with a heightened sense of urgency. In preparation for this process, I would like to see the St Lucia Times serialise the work of “James Baldwin” so that St Lucians can begin to reframe their mind-set, to acknowledge that the primary purpose of economics and indeed any economy, is to improve the quality and quantity of life for its citizens. That honourable goal, demands that St Lucian’s value their own life and that of each other; it is in that regard, that I am sure that Baldwin’s philosophies and narratives will help immensely! I know only too well from experience that St Lucian’s value and trust foreigners more than they value each other… I have learnt after many years that this unconscious investment is misguided and is the root cause of continued economic impotence for local people. However, do not blame the foreign nationals; instead, think beyond the cycle of their engagement, harvest and eventual departure from the country, so as to ensure that economic benefit is retained in the country for all its citizens. I would like to see economic policymakers go back to basics to recognise that the foundation of contemporary economics has never really worked for the 2nd and 3rd world… it is nothing more than a patronising cycle of debt restructuring and state aid, institutionalised by global organisations like the IMF…

Just imagine, the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) only emerged as an economic force after “hyper-competition” in the 1st world culminated in a “globalisation” agenda, which sort to shift “production” to the lower cost economies of the BRICS states.  Importantly, that narrative was only created to increase profits for individual firms in the 1st world. The rise of the BRICS states during the last 20-30 years was not intentional; interestingly its unparalleled success has recently triggered a lame 1st world retreat from globalisation.  Furthermore, the current narratives of economics from academia and moreover, in practice were not written with 2nd or 3rd world countries in mind. Hence they have failed continually with a compound effect; it must be arrested if the 3rd world is to succeed. St Lucia must rethink its economics from the bottom up… it must become bold enough to do away with the economic dance of “imitation” and humble enough to usher in a new dance of purposeful “consideration” first.

This is not complex, in fact, it demands that one thinks in simple terms. I say to you, it is not difficult to understand that where a country has few export opportunities, that it becomes a strategic imperative that policymakers beginning with the Ministry of Culture should strive greatly, to ensure that the way people live their lives (i.e. the things they need and want, the things they buy etc.) is not dictated by international forces, but by what can be created locally. The consequence of that failure is today’s unsustainable economy that Dr Augier warns against; an economy with a trade deficit that grows exponentially (i.e. more imports than exports and less money to remain in the country). Finally, I want to share this in the language I use to my two kids all the time, I tell them that, there are only two types of people in the world, (1) buyers and (2) sellers and the money only ever moves in one direction, which is towards the seller. So be a “buyer” support your neighbour but make darn sure that you are a “seller” too… or you will rot and burn in the hell of economic damnation!


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