Thursday, 30 July 2015

Press Fails to Demystify Economic Issues

With the issues of Jamaica's economy and fiscal management - or lack of - dependent on your political view, reaching a new level of discourse as the political factions and schools of economics whip out technical jargon and flash their superior number crunching abilities concerning all things budget, debt, revenue, exchange rate, GDP(gross domestic product), capital market, multinationals and overall policy. There is a forgotten majority that continues to  be removed from the discussion either from ignorance or apathy in a process that doesn't appreciate their layman opinions.

With an election imminent there is renewed energy and competition in the politics as parties and candidates try to one-up the other on economic issues that remain high on the Jamaican agenda, many not 'qualified' to lead the conversation but while in campaign mode they won't necessarily stick to facts further misleading those removed from the discourse. 

And to straighten out the facts and give solid opinions we turn to the academics and practitioners who are given open mics in the press and mainstream news media. But too often the facts are numbers, that become complicated calculations, that get tossed around loosely as simple mathematics in nation that is trying to curb a cultural 'hard hardheadedness' to math. The academic circle also sees its fair share of politics as different schools of economic thought collide for supremacy and personalities aim top their counterparts.

Who is actually aiming to demystify the issues?

Connect The Dollars

For the layperson, the economy is what he or she experiences including (un)employment, income, food prices, gas prices, utility bills, mortgage/rent  and all the other direct factors that will affect a person's quality of life. 

With politicians too busy trying to tilt the situation either way and the academics unable to convey simpler messages. We are then expecting our middle men in public discourse - the free press- that connects us the citizenry to the issues and vice versa to breakdown the arguments, facts and implications and deliver a material that allows everyone who wants to understand to connect the dollars back to their own lives and pockets.

If the news outlets and talk shows continue to regurgitate the discussions being had at the highest levels of leadership in the same language and understanding, a large percentage of Jamaicans will never become interested or if they are interested will never comprehend the true dollars and sense of the economy.

We don't just need a new politics but a new voter who understands the issues or a voter who craves understanding as to make the best decision at the ballots.