Reasoning ability 101, Jamaican-style-April 27, 2021

The house phone rang last Friday and my wife answered it: “Dennis? I’ll get him.” Before she even started to approach, I asked her who it was and what did they want. People don’t generally call me on the house line. She said it was Z, who helps around the house, asking about a machete; he’d gotten a message from our housekeeper, who’s gone abroad to sort out her passport. My wife relayed a message that Z had read our housekeeper couldn’t find the machete. I just jumped out of my couch. “Stop dealing with foolishness!” I yelled at my wife. She couldn’t understand why I was so frazzled, so fast. She told Z that he could speak to me when he next came to the house, in a few days.

He came to do one of his regular sessions yesterday, and I asked him about the call. He explained that ‘Miss G’, the housekeeper, had left him a message on his phone about a missing machete. I looked at him and asked how she could be concerned about such a thing, given that she’d been in the USA for about 10 days. He kept on about the machete. I said that’s not relevant, but just ask himself what sense the message could probably have. It was more likely that an old message just appeared on his radar. He blinked and saw that he was chasing a rabbit into a dark blind alley. But, he still went to check on the machete, which was where I had left it the day before, after doing some chopping. The ‘missing’ machete was a figment of imagination, but concern about it based on a message from someone in the USA showed a lack of intelligence.

If it’s still not apparent, there’s no way that our housekeeper, 3,000-plus miles away could have any issues with things going on at the house, unless she’d suddenly become Superwoman with x-ray vision or had master intercontinental travel without need for aircrafts.

I have lots of conversations with people in Jamaica where they don’t see that they have no logical basis for the points they want to discuss. But, they press on, regardless, and I keep saying the basic principle of the argument has no sense; just stop the discussion.

I fall back on the fact that I was only educated for three years of prep school in Jamaica and I know that they (rote) teaching here leads many to struggle with constructing arguments without first establishing some important assumptions about the points at hand.

I had a similar experience yesterday when discussing the exchange rate, where it seemed some people didn’t understand the basic arithmetic of exchange rate conversion, so that they did not see immediately that if someone had say US dollars, then the Jamaican dollar depreciation was a gain for the US dollar holders. They still went on about how people were suffering from the weaker Jamaican dollar exchange rate. Worse still, someone stated “only rich people gain from deprecation”. I guess all those ‘rich’ people we’ve seen lining up outside Western Union and other remittance agency offices prove the point….NOT.

Such is the lot of many issues in Jamaica. I’ve decided to really give my brain a holiday and not engage in discussions where people cannot see white and black are different, let alone that there’s a place between that’s grey.

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. :)