- The following Op-Ed was released today by One Bermuda Alliance MP Scott Pearman, the Shadow Minister of Legal Affairs…
See if you can spot the link between the following three vignettes. Ready? (Hint: It’s the economy).
FIRST THERE WAS SAGE
How did you spend your weekend? Me? I blew the dust off the SAGE Report (well only the Executive Summary, if truth be told). Remember SAGE? That was the one where the former OBA Government invited a bi-partisan group of Bermudian experts to identify ideas to enhance Bermuda.
And you know what? There’s some really good stuff in there. Real solutions if we ever find ourselves facing an economic crisis. Like now perhaps?
So then I decided to revisit the Bermuda First Report. Remember Bermuda First? That was the one where the current PLP Government invited a bi-partisan group of Bermudian experts to identify ideas to enhance Bermuda. Wait, that sounds familiar?
(Of course, we also should remember that it was the resurrection of the original Bermuda First group which was established by former Premier Ewart Brown who appointed former UBP Leader Kim Swan as the chair and which delivered its report, full of good ideas, in November 2009.)
Again, some good stuff: for example, delighted to see the new Bermuda First Report recommending we take the politics out of education with a new and independent Education Authority. This idea is close to my heart as voters in Paget East may recall. Education was a hot topic on the doorstep, together with the economy, since you asked.
So, the ideas from SAGE and Bermuda First are there, waiting on the page. It’s time for some good old fashion plagiarism. If bi-partisan experts for both OBA and PLP think something worthy, then let’s get it done – now.
WHICH STATUS QUO?
Premier David Burt is fond of attacking the “status quo” – a phrase repeatedly used over the past few years. But coded language in politics is a dangerous thing. So I ask: which status quo does the Premier mean to attack?
Bermuda’s economic status quo is International Business. Surely that is a good thing, not something to criticize?
Bermuda’s political status quo is two decades (almost) of PLP Government. The Premier is not attacking his own party’s decision-making, although others certainly would.
Is this, then, coded reference to Bermuda’s social status quo? Is the Premier occupying the same territory he did when, in another speech, he described certain people as “the enemies”?
If we agree that our Island needs to heal its divisions – and I very much do – then the solution must be to come together to solve our problems. If attacking an unspecified status quo casts us as enemies of each other, then this is no solution.
OF CLIFFS AND COFFINS
There has been much talk lately about cliffs. Economic cliffs. Cliffs we are tumbling-over. COVID cliffs we have leapt from (now falling to our doom). Even the ever-reliable Nathan Kowalski warned us last month: “The COVID cliff for our economy is fast approaching”.
Leaving aside whether the cliff-edge lies ahead of us, or behind, I am not sure the cliff is the best metaphor for Covid-19. To me, a cliff edge suggests there was level economic ground before Covid 19 hit us. But there wasn’t. Recently, I deployed the metaphor of a landslide. Bermuda’s economy was barreling down the mountain before Covid blasted us with water-cannons, adding to the speed.
But I have since heard a better metaphor for Covid 19 and our economy. Covid is the coffin, not the cause of death. I’m no doctor, but it seems as if our economic demise was underway before Covid 19.
Why, you might ask, does the metaphor matter? I assure you it does.
Economic resurrection will be difficult to achieve. But it will be impossible, if we do not correctly diagnose the true cause of the problem. If you think COVID-19 alone is the issue – that all will be well if a COVID vaccine arrives – you may wish to think again.
We desperately need a sage government that understands the true causes for our economic flat-lining.
Or that coffin may just become our future status quo.