[OP-ED] While we have always avoided this ugly word, it is called a RECESSION.

Most call it with Tico polite, a “crisis”, but the fact remains we have a 23% drop in direct foreign investment, an immeasurable drop in domestic investments and the most recent release of data by Institute Nacional de Estadística y Censos (INEC) says that we have not an 8% unemployment rate but rather 10% and another 13.4% of people underemployed.

SquattersAnd, up to 60% of eligible workers are called “informal” those are employees or those who sell trinkets, drugs and ladies of the night on the street. Whatever it takes to eat.

The government cry is, “if only we could educate the young (18-24) we would be okay.

What nonsense!

What we need is to do is train Costa Rican youth and translate that training into money. To train them to be competent mechanics, to repair appliances, understand the mechanics of computers, teach them dental assistant techniques, how to be a competent hospital orderly, how to write letters, how to use the basic functions of the computer and what and the hell is this thing call Internet? (But to name a few.)

The government, on the other hand, needs to look closely at Japan. Their current surprise and declared recession has been directly related to (1) the increase in sales taxes, (2) lack of ingenuity and (3) increased interest rates.

Exactly the mirror image of Costa Rica.

The Japanese challenges are far too similar to ours. The country has a big, but big deficit in borrowing, the net GDP is down and there is a lost sense of fiscal responsibility.

For more than six months we, in Costa Rica have waited for some kind of signal to what is the Solís Administration’s direction and where it wants to go. But nothing except a loud call out “yahoo” that a Lutheran Bishop, Melvin Jimenez can be Chief of Staff which is like a U.S. Master Sergeant: You never go over him/her …only to the Master Sergeant who calls all the shots.

Meanwhile, despite the promises and goodwill tours, food is becoming more and more expensive to purchase while both jobs and salaries remain stagnant. Even at malls such as Multi Plaza, sales are in the dumps, Curridibat is frozen in both time and traffic and San Jose central finds illegal imports selling much better than those brought into the country legally.

Should we care?

Of course, this environment leads to strikes and in the end, violence. As Peter F. Drucker said, “There is the formal organization and the informal organization. The informal organization always holds the power.”

A lesson from Tokyo.