Professor Michael Howard Tried To Smoke-out A Whale (Arthur) But Caught A Shark (Mascoll) Instead~Former Student Clyde Mascoll Rejects His Professor’s Chiding

Professor Michael Howard has smoked his former student Clyde Mascoll into the open to defend his ridiculous assertion that Barbados’ growing population should not be of concern to Barbadians. He ends his note to the Nation newspaper of 29 August 2007 by writing “I believe that Barbados has not yet reach its optimum population because it has certainly not yet reached its optimum level of economic production.” It seems silly that the country should have to subject itself to Mascoll accusing Howard of defending a hypothesis “Has Barbados reached its optimum population?” when by his own admission he is operating on a belief. Mascoll where are your results from your hypothesis testing to support your claim that we need a larger population?

The last time we checked, the servants of the people (Government of Barbados) had not seen it necessary to make public any policy position regarding strategies to grow our ageing population. At this eleventh hour Barbadians are being criticized for our concerns by a politician who has not worked for any major company in Barbados or abroad one single day in his life. When we examine the architects of economic policy in many of the developed countries their bios list significant appointments in the private sector before being lured to the public sector. Forgive us Mr. Mascoll if we don’t have the confidence in your unsupported analysis that we need to grow our population through the adoption of any secret policy. We declare upfront that positive correlations should complement any increase activity and population growth. We disagree with Mascoll on the haphazard approach to our immigration policy which we have no doubt will lead to social dysfunction.

Unlike Howard and Mascoll we are not academicians but we have acquired enough knowledge over the years to understand that all of the world’s problem cannot be solved by statistics. Let us examine Mascoll’s reference to the Singapore model and the fact that it is an island of 247 square miles with a population of 4.1 million (BU research found the correct population to be 4.5 million) people and did not attract any major social issues. In his use of this tidbit to assert his position that a relatively large Singaporean population did not lead to any major social problems, Mascoll neglected to qualify his reference by factoring the following:

  • Its system of government can more accurately be described as a dictatorship. Lew Kuan Yew who is credited of being the architect of the Singapore Model is an interesting case study. The salient point to negate Mascoll’s argument is to highlight the total control which Yew had in repositioning the Singapore economy in the 60’s.

  • Singapore is a multi-religious country, due its diverse mix of peoples originating from various countries and ethnic groups. However the predominant religions are Buddhism with Taoism, Hinduism, Christianity and others making up the resident population. It is important to factor the religious profile of Singapore which complements a strong culture of intolerance to crime. Leaders of Singapore have used the culture to enforce the discipline required since the 60’s to build its successful economic model.

  • A key characteristic of the Singaporean approach has to be the addiction to its physical and infrastructural development. Schools and Industrial Estates have been built outside of urban areas and an efficient transportation system has been invested in which ensures that movement of people for work or leisure is done with ease.

Mascoll mentioned that the ageing population of Barbados was responsible for the government reforming the National Insurance Scheme (NIS). We do not disagree with Mascoll but he needed to say more. He needed to explain why the government has not expanded the scope for the NIS to invest in a significant way in markets outside of Barbados to improve the yield of the fund. It is also well documented that respective governments over the years have used the NIS funds to manipulate the market whether through inflating or deflating liquidity i.e. by giving directives to the Accountant General to buy and sell Treasury Bills and Debentures in the market or by investing in projects which the government has a vested interest (BU thank an anonymous emailer for the heads-up). In other words the important pension fund which belongs to the people of Barbados has not been expertly managed over the years. The people of Barbados now have to suffer this mismanagement by successive governments with the recent reform to the Pension Act which is soon to be proclaimed.

The final point which we wish to make is to discuss the increasing role technology is expected to play in the economy of Barbados as we navigate the future. There is no doubt that as we continue to embrace technology the country will benefit from the freeing up resources. So to counter Mascolls argument that “Barbados has not yet reach its optimum population because it has not yet reach its optimum level of economic population” needs to be “formulated as a hypothesis which becomes testable”. Yes indeed Mascoll we are just throwing your same argument right back at you!

If all of the points raised above don’t convince you that your reasons given to grow the population in the haphazard way we are currently doing is foolhardy, then consider the following:

  • Our schools are over crowded, especially at the primary level
  • Our lone Hospital is fraught with so many problems that …
  • The mismanagement of the transportation system with over 100,000 vehicles on the road has collapsed into gridlock
  • Our police force continue to lose good men to other countries which result in a reduction in the reduction of the ratio of policeman to population

Maybe Mascoll could examine the immigration policy of a country like Canada and Bermuda to understand that population growth, supplying needed skills and infrastructural framework must be implemented using a hand in glove approach.

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6 thoughts on “Professor Michael Howard Tried To Smoke-out A Whale (Arthur) But Caught A Shark (Mascoll) Instead~Former Student Clyde Mascoll Rejects His Professor’s Chiding

  1. How do we know if we have reached our optimum population when we don’t know the number of illegal immigrants or even legal ones in this country?

    If Barbados needs to increase its population then why is the Barbados Family Planning still advocating birth control?

    Who says that the migrants who come are going to stick around long enough to boost the pension funds – anyway, most of their payments are not on the books,no NIS is paid and most of the money is remitted to their country.

    Do we have enough housing to accomodate our present barbadian citizens?

  2. We need to have some more Government officials like Mascoll -argueing their positions in public.
    For example:
    What is happening at Greenland?
    What is the official Barbados position now on CSME (which was to start in 2004)?
    What is the official explanation for the $750,000.00 mis-deposit.
    What is the story with the Flyover BOLT costing THREE time the original amount?
    People who knew Mascoll from school days would not be surprised at his line of logic, but others can now be more enlightened.
    Similarly, I suspect that if more ministers and policy makers came out to defend their positions against intelligent criticism we would all see the challenge that we are facing as a country…

  3. Economics is one of those theory riddled disciplines. For Mascoll to be gloating on a soap box about his turnkey solution of using wild population growth theories shows an arrogance which we must watch carefully.

  4. Thank you BU, great piece, and there are frightening signs here if BLP is elected for another term of office! Just what sort of policies are they gonna come out with from this little lot!

    Worrying that an academic such as Clyde Mascoll should use Singapore for comparative analysis, when deciding policies for Bim. I am no brain box, but this sounds just plain daft!

    I’ve been to Singapore 3 times and it is NOTHING like here. BU gave some differences above, but there are so many more as would be impossible to list or really quantify! In fact the only things which ARE similar are the size and the fact that they are both islands (in fact Singapore is accessible by road from mainland Malaysia and there are ferries to all sorts of places, such as Sumatra etc….)

    To me CONTROLLED population growth has to be a good thing. This would entail having a list of policies which would look far into the future.

    For instance, if Bim lacks specialists any particular area, we should not only look to recruit them from abroad, but also seek to train our own.

    Care would have to be taken with the age demographic also, as bolstering the population with a sudden surge in births would put strain on the schools system and be very costly, especially in the light of the state burden (in a nice way) of a growing number of over 60’s.

    Perhaps we should adopt immigration policies like the Australians, who encourage immigrants to settle who have required or essential skills. This would help to bolster the skilled, tax paying work-force.

    There are a lot of things to think about, however INACTION IS NOT AN OPTION!

    I liken Clyde Mascoll performance to medical specialist, who after many visits ($$$$), many examinations ($$), scans ($$$), blood-tests ($) etc …comes out with a diagnosis. ” We now know what it is you are suffering from, its *&%^$£”itis. You don’t need any treatment it will just bet better on its own.” AAAAAAARRGHHH!

    Frustrating, but just maybe its true?!

  5. Maybe Mascoll can tell us how Barbados intends to deal compassionately with the issue of squatting. From where we sit squatting has sprung up because of the rising land prices and high cost of living. To increase the population in a haphazard way will see more squatting.

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