George Graham

The Way to Success is Mostly Uphill

It has taken me a long time to admit it, but my parents were right. The secret of success is hard work and self discipline. It’s helpful to have a little talent, of course, but talent alone won’t cut it. The tortoise wins; the hare loses. It’s as simple as that.

Those thoughts came to mind as I watched American President George W. Bush telling TV viewers how badly the economy is doing and reassuring them that all will soon be well again. As one remedy, he cited the “tax rebate” we’re supposed to get in May.

Now, you and I know that’s nonsense. Pouring money into the economy is no answer to the nation’s problems. It might provide a short-term boost but in the longer term, the most likely result is increased inflationary pressure.

Ask Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding for a more sensible approach, and he’s likely to mention stepped up research and development. Golding recently bemoaned the lack of applied research in the island, and The Gleaner suggested editorially that he should provide tax incentives to boost development of ideas generated through research. We hope the prime minister read the editorial. It’s very good advice.

There is only one way of increasing wealth and that is to increase productivity. Improved technology is one way of doing that. It helps us work smarter. And technological advances come from research and development.

If you don’t produce anything, you have nothing to sell. You buy and buy without getting any revenue in return. That’s a formula for disaster – for individuals and for countries.

With so many factories moving overseas, America is producing a lot less than it used to. And it is buying a lot more.

So, Mr. Bush, listen to little Jamaica. Do something dramatic to encourage research and development. Showering the voters with dollar bills won’t solve the country’s economic problems.

The way to economic success is not that easy. To achieve real stability, Americans (and Jamaicans) are going to have to produce more and consume less. That means working smarter – but that’s not all. It also requires self discipline, deferring gratification and studying subjects we might nor find enjoyable (like Math). It means hiding those credit cards in a drawer somewhere and buying only those things we can pay for. It means putting aside a few dollars every week – “one-one coco full basket.”

And it means less of the “high life,” less eating out, two beers instead of three (for us men), wearing last summer’s bathing suit (for the ladies) …

But you know what I’m talking about. Your parents told you. And they were right.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for