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Pure economics not the issue


A local cleric and clinical psychologist has given his say on the current upsurge in the number of layoffs in the public sector, with some private sector entities also reporting retracting numbers.

Reverend Dr Marcus Lashley told Barbados TODAY that the response to this latest stage of the recession would require more than economic modelling.

Concerned at the effect the current economic recession is having on Barbadians, Lashley said: “Many of our young people are socially and politically disconnected. They are disconnected from family, disconnected from our primary institutions and they are disconnected from each other in terms of family relations. It is on that basis we also need to spend significant emotional capital. Response to the economic recession should never rest exclusively on economic models.

Stressing that the economic crisis did not have its origins exclusively in the failure of economic models, the leading cleric said: “The economic crisis started, not because of the failure of economic models exclusively, but at the base of that was a moral issue, which is greed. We have not taken enough time to address the issues that caused us to be in this position today worldwide.

“We have been looking at how the models have failed us and we have gone back to pure economics. Pure economics has never been the issue. The way out of it as well will require us not to look exclusively at a fiscal exit strategy. Money alone or the return to growth in the economy will not address all of our issues. When we are looking at the way forward it cannot be exclusively about how to grow the economy. It also has to be about how to develop better relationships in our family, address the pressures that people are feeling at familial and interpersonal levels. It has to do with how we assist citizens to become more connected to this country,” Lashley added.

Against the background of a recent study in the Britain which showed that as many as three quarters of a million young people in that country feel that “they have nothing to live for” because they were not gainfully employed, the clinical psychologist disclosed that over the past two-and-a-half years during the recession he has seen an increase in the number of persons who were trying to access his services.

“More people are seeking assistance than I can see, so I have had to refer a number of persons to other professionals in the field. I certainly cannot see any more. You have got households where unfortunately you may have a number of persons resident, but only one person working. It is not usually a case where other persons in the household cannot work because of a physical disability, but because they have chosen not to work. In such cases a lot of pressure is placed on a single breadwinner. If that lone breadwinner is terminated it creates significant pressure on the home because the other members of the household have opted not to work.

“Sometimes you may have the difficulty of two breadwinners in a household being employed at the same company. In such circumstances the stress of trying to find out who will be terminated places pressure on the family. However, when one gets terminated and the fact that the company is unstable, places pressure on that one person who is still employed,” Lashley added.

Offering suggestions to the local policymakers, the cleric pointed out that Barbados has some brilliant minds at home and in the diaspora in metropolitan countries.

Lashley said: “In terms of the way forward we need to have everybody on board. We do not have a mechanism for both parties to contribute their best at this moment to the development of the country. We have the Democratic Labour Party and the Barbados Labour Party and the difficulty is there is no mechanism where more bipartisan action can be taken especially in relation to the economy.”

The British survey found that one in three (32 per cent) of unemployed youth had contemplated suicide, while one in four (24 per cent) had self-harmed.

Addressing the issue of suicide in Barbados, Lashley lamented the fact that clinical psychologists and psychiatrists “do not have any concrete idea from a statistical perspective of what exactly the situation is”. 

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