FORUM: VIEWPOINT ON SUGAR

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Mr. Havelock Brewster, a lecturer in economics at the University, recently published an article on the sugar industry in the course of which he presented what he said were two strategies for dealing with sugar.

“The strongest alternative, I think”, wrote Mr. Brewster, “is that the sugar industry should be abandoned at once. We should be thankful if others do it for us. The logic of this approach is to create such extreme shock conditions (the only possible effective stimulus to West Indian Governments, in this view) that of necessity we would find, rather quickly, what the alternative activities are … This approach has not gained widespread acceptance, though some writers wish to give the impression that it is the only viewpoint tolerated by modern economists in the Caribbean”.

On the second of the alternatives Mr. Brewster writes: “The less extreme strategy says that a prima facie case exists for believing that we are not getting as much as we possibly can from the present use and non-use of our resources. Let us therefore plan this matter rationally by ranging before us the set of resources available and confront it with the constellation of feasible alternative activities. Let us then select those activities which both fully employ the resources and yield the maximum national income … Having done this, would sugar occupy some 10 percent to 12 percent of the total cultivable land in this country.”

I have quoted rather fully from Mr. Brewseer’s article, because I want to illustrate a point In an article published in the Daily Gleaner of Saturday, January 13 and headed: “Kirkwood replies to Brewster, New World Revolution Based on Falsehoods and Economic Ruin” – the Chairman of the Sugar Manufacturers’ Assoc., Sir Robert Kirkwood, set out to demolish Mr. Brewster’s argument, and in the course of it referred to the passage which I quoted a moment ago. This is what Sir Robert had to say:

As Dr. Brewster comes out strongly for the first policy the reader need not bother with the second. Here is what the author would like to see … ” whereupon Sir Robert quotes Mr. Brewster’s outline of the first approach, equating this outline with Mr. Brewster’s own views despite the contra-indications in the article itself. Then he goes into a long rigmarole into which he drags the murder of Chinese shopkeepers in Indonesia, Cuba and Dr. Castro, the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia.

It might seem at first sight that this is monstrous misrepresentation-that Sir Robert has chosen, very conveniently for himself, to interpret Mr. Brewster as saying something that he finds it easy to dispose of, in order to be able to dispose of it easily. But I wish to suggest that this is a superficial and inadequate view of the matter.