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Open letter to Wilberne Persaud: Debt repudiation is not futile
Published on February 9, 2013 Email To Friend    Print Version

Dear Wilberne Persuad,

Like you I was recently on a radio programme discussing Jamaica’s debt crisis and the need for debt repudiation since it cannot be repaid and to continue trying to meet the demands of creditors will only mean more pain and suffering for the working poor. There was one point I made during the programme that came back to mind when I read your article “Debt default, devaluation or haircut – all are futile!”, which is that what passes for intellectual discussion on this issue in the media and in academic circles is woefully lacking.

You had every opportunity to expound on why debt repudiation is “not available to Jamaica” but you chose instead to merely brush it aside with the comment that it would immediately generate “insurmountable problems too numerous and too well known to go into here.” What an easy copout!

Are you saying then that the problems we face on the present course are surmountable? I’m sure your readers like myself would love to hear your arguments. Is it possible to move beyond the one line dismissals by you and your fellow newspaper columnists with words such as “utopian” and “slash and burn economics” and enlighten us who are starved for enlightenment?

The real challenge I believe that you and your fellow columnists face is that debt repudiation implicitly challenges the power of the ruling class. If they are not going to get their pound of flesh then they will surely be unhappy. If massa is unhappy then the house slave is unhappy. The job of the paid ideologist of the ruling class is to convince the working poor that there is no alternative. It is akin to saying that God willed it to be so and the will of God cannot be changed. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Without the benefit of hearing your arguments about how unhappy the ruling class and the creditors would be about debt repudiation, I will make one point. Debt repudiation carried out by a working class government will by necessity be far reaching and revolutionary. Debt repudiation (or default) as carried out in the past by pro-capitalist governments out of their own necessity, in order to deal with desperate situations, are usually defeated in the long run because such governments have no intention of introducing the necessary structural changes that should accompany debt repudiation. They themselves like their ideologists and apologists are afraid of massa capitalist.

As for the current situation in Jamaica, I make two points. One is that the powers that be must by now realize that they cannot indefinitely continue to savage the working poor by increasing taxes and cutting basic social services such as health and education, which was once again cut in the latest supplementary estimates, without there being serious political consequences. We are fast reaching the tipping point.

And two: once the tipping point is reached, it should become clear that our political structure which blocks the people out of the decision-making process is untenable and has to radically change. That is what the struggle will boil down to.

Who will bell the cat?

Lloyd D’Aguilar
 
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