Just desserts

Do Jamaicans get what they deserve from national policy makers? I tend to think they do.

My educational and family background encouraged me to always be questioning. When I started work, my first manager told me that I’d been hired, not because I had the answers, but because I was expected to ask the right questions. As I continued my career, the same principle applied. I was often in situations where I had to prise answers out of officials or executives who were reluctant to be honest and fullsome.

I’ve not come across many Jamaicans who like to pursue questions. What do I means by pursue? People tend to take answers, which make some sense, but have flaws. Sometimes, it’s just not good logic in the answers, but the words are strung together nicely, so often get swallowed.

Sometimes, the desire for a certain answer leads to acceptance of an answer that fits. That is understandable when you realize the comfort the answer gives.

I had an interesting discussion yesterday about whether Jamaica’s latest drought was over. We’ve had a lot of rain during recent weeks, after months with little or no rain when we usually expect heavy rain.

Our meteorological service declared the drought was over, but then qualified that. Water stocks in dams are low: one major dam is full, but another is only half full. In addition, the spokesman said the drought would be over if the October rains come as expected. That is a big if. We are still in September. The poor mathematician that I am reasoned that stock lower than usual plus hoped for inflow did not add up to return to normality. After all, expected spring rain didn’t come. The man said conditions are not back to normal, just one month after the drought had been raised from ‘critical’ to ‘severe’. What a turn around! But, we are so sick of dry weather.

Part of the problem is that our media don’t press–pun intended. We consume official statements a bit too readily.

That’s not always true, though, as we’ve seen with a growing debacle over the scale of chikungunya infection. After many missteps, the health minister has had verbal pressure piled on him over his down playing of the outbreak and holding on to figures that many did not believe.

Why do we react differently? Some of it is politics. Partisanship can create questions, though not necessarily deep ones. But, if that’s what it takes, we’re not going to get far.

Author: Dennis G Jones (aka 'The Grasshopper')

Retired International Monetary Fund economist. My blog is for organizing my ideas and thoughts about a range of topics. I was born in Jamaica, but spent 30 years being educated, living, and working in the UK. I lived in the USA for two decades, and worked and travelled abroad, extensively, throughout my careers and for pleasure. My views have a wide international perspective. Father of 3 girls. Also, married to an economist. :)