Rudderless economy

first_imgThe recent IMF report on the Guyanese economy is an object lesson on why the expression “lies, damned lies and statistics” is used so ruefully but with increasing frequency in economics. Economics has, for the longest while, marketed itself as the “queen of the social sciences” because of its use of statistical data that was supposed to undergird its “scientific” approach. But, as has been exposed in so many instances, the manner in which the data is presented can lead to assertions that are far removed from the lives of people. What does it mean, for instance, to tell Guyanese that the economy is “growing”?But, rather inadvertently, even statistics can reveal the underlying reality that their presentations sometimes seek to mask — as was the case with the IMF report, which echoed the claims that the PNC-led APNU/AFC coalition government had been trumpeting. An interesting picture is formed if one places the performance of gold — which is doing so spectacularly on the backs of two foreign producers — in the centre of a graph that has the performances of the other contributors to the economy (say, President Granger’s ‘six sisters’) on either side of it. The gold statistic looks like the centre-post of a carnival tent that has collapsed around it. The question that is graphically posed is whether a tent is a tent when only the centre-post is left standing.And this is the question the Government is dodging as it insists on contradicting the Guyanese people in general and the business community in particular – those who are experiencing the effects of the collapsed “economic tent”. By the Government’s insistent refusal to accept the collapse of the economy, there is exposed its cluelessness on policies it should actually be proposing and implementing to secure a more balanced and robust performance in sectors other than gold.But what makes the Government’s lassitude and inertia in the economic field even more bewildering is that officials in change of this area are closing their eyes to the efforts other countries have made to confront analogous collapses in what, after all, has been a global problem since 2008. What they would discover is that the tenets of the neoliberal order that we bought hook, line and sinker in 1989 are, at the barest minimum, being questioned and, in many instances, being replaced. The assumption, of course, is that if one keeps repeating the actions that brought about the collapse, one is simply guaranteeing the continuation of that collapse.What were those tenets that must be questioned and possibly jettisoned? The first one, of course, was “market fundamentalism”: that the market should be allowed to make decisions on the allocation and distribution of resources in a country. The corollary was the demand that the state become a “night watchman” who simply sits around to ostensibly “protect” the economy. If the state were to intervene in any way — through production of goods or regulation of the private sector in any way — it would introduce “distortions” in the smooth running of the economy.Another tenet was that individuals and firms operated on the basis of what was called “rational expectations”. These tendencies are particularly noticeable in finance.It was not that the neoliberals did not think crises, which appeared to be inherent in the economy, would disappear, but they assumed that the market and rational expectations’ approach would successfully deal with them. In the decade since the 2008 crash, they have not, in most of the developed economies that were hardest hit. But yet, Guyana was able to buck the trend until this PNC-led APNU/AFC coalition government took office. What happened?If we examine the programmes of the PPP governments — especially those under Bharrat Jagdeo — we would see that the state played a much more interventionist role, just as even the US did when it pumped billions into private enterprise firms such as General Motors. Whether those roles were “Neo-Keynesian” or pragmatic can be interrogated, but it does not excuse the “don’t intervene” attitude of the Guyana Government.last_img read more

More police on the road

first_imgWHITTIER – The city has received a $364,000 state grant to provide more traffic enforcement police say will help reduce the number of collisions. The money will allow the hiring of another traffic officer during the next two years. It will pay for a new motorcycle as well as an officer’s salary and benefits during the first year and half. The grant will also allow for overtime pay. “It’s great,” Councilman Joe Vinatieri said. “It’s clear that stepped-up enforcement is one way of dealing with the safety issue.” Police are concerned because the annual total of DUI-related collisions has increased by 29 percent, or from 60 collisions in 1998 to 84 in 2006. At the same time, the number of DUI arrests has decreased by 31 percent, or from 323 arrests in 1998 to 220 in 2006. In 2004, driving under the influence was the primary collision factor in 5.6 percent of traffic crashes. “One of the reasons is that we have more drivers on the road, but the average number of officers per 1,000 people hasn’t risen,” said Whittier police Sgt. Dan Lowe. Whittier now has a traffic bureau with a sergeant, four officers – two of whom are on motorcycles – four part-time parking enforcement officers, and a traffic analyst. Although it may take a while to fill the new traffic officer position – the department is still trying to get its patrol division fully staffed – the money also can be used for overtime, Lowe said. “We’re going to go out and saturate an area,” he said. “Instead of one officer out there, you will see three of us,” he said. “It will start sending a message to the public that we’re out in force and to slow down.” In addition, there will be additional red-light and street-racing enforcement as well as DUI checkpoints. If the city doesn’t do more, problems will get worse, Lowe said. “The volume of cars on roads will increase and people will look for roads less populated as far as shorter routes or cut-throughs,” he said. “That’s where we get a lot of complaints about speed.” mike.sprague@sgvn.com (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3022 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more