Of Rowley…and an SOS to Mitchell

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Even in my early school days I came to understand the child who was top in arithmetic was considered the bright one in the class; that it took a special kind of brain to master simple fractions, percentages, angles, etc, but he who could do it, he who got 100 in arithmetic in his term test, was often the one who came first overall in test.

Keith Mitchell of Grenada not only mastered math, not only got a doctorate in mathematics, but also taught math at the prestigious Howard University- where Dr Williams was a lecturer in history, and which was Dr Jagan’s alma mater.

In many ways, Mitchell transcended his ethnicity by excelling in a field that was not typical of his, that one felt was a field that belonged to Asian Indians and Chinese and Rudranath Capildeo of Trinidad.

By opting to further his studies in math, Mitchell proved he was not to be constrained by ethnic superficiality, but that intellectually, he was unique, somebody special.

Economics is a related field, as facts and figures, profit and loss, demand and supply, elasticity and inelasticity all boil down to the logic that 2 and 2 make 4, and not 22.

In transferring his mathematical mind to economics on taking up the Minister of Finance portfolio in his country, and being named the top minister of finance in the Caribbean by reducing his country’s debt ratio to GDP from 104 per cent to less than half that amount, to 50 per cent, Mitchell proves political leadership is not just about winning elections-which he did by winning all 15 seats on offer in Grenada-but that political entrepreneurship, politics as a business, exists as a possibility for those who see the improvement of their citizens’ lives as paramount to everything else in their job as PM.

We say, what you see is what you get, but also, what you study is what you become. You study medicine and you become a doctor; study law and you become a lawyer, etc. Keith Rowley studied geology, the science of rocks and volcanic ash, and what is his professional designation?

Rowley is the leader of the PNM and PM of T&T. Nowhere near the credentials of Mitchell in economics, Rowley has the option of hiring almost anybody who knows the basic logic of running a roadside parlour, who knows of profit and loss and saving, who knows that if you buy a soft drink for 75 cents on the wholesale market and you sell it back on the retail market for $1, you make a profit of 25 cents on the bottle; and if you had bought a case of 24 drinks, overall your profit would have been 24 by 25, which is how much, Imbert? Send for Mitchell with his math brain?

Rather than hire one of the math/economic brains running rampant across the country, Rowley hires Imbert as his Minister of Finance, who teaches him that tax is the way to raise revenue, while Mitchell gets rid of personal income tax in Grenada, creating a booming economy in the process.

‘Show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are’ is not just a literary play on words, but in examining the Rowley/Imbert combo, you see the biblical truth of the proverb.

L Siddhartha Orie