The following Op-Ed was posted on Facebook by Bermudian Ryan Robinson Perinchief, Founder & Director of Future Leaders, on January 27, 2021…
The biggest impediment to Bermuda’s economic progress is the unequal distribution of wealth, upheld by a system where our govt is dispr’ptly (sic) funded by the labour and consumption of locals fighting to survive – all while we are criticised globally as a safe haven for the wealthy.
Immigration cannot be dealt with as a stand-alone response to our financial troubles, but must be part of a complete reimagination of both our domestic economy and our place in the world at a time when all trends point toward tackling tax havens & unsustainable rising inequality. The call for a constant flow of expats models a similar structure to Hong Kong, Singapore & other global financial centres – but to get there we must address local fragmentation and displacement internally first. We cannot skip over these steps, or run the risk of implosion.
Would those fighting heavily for immigration feel the same if it were stipulated that new permits should come from African/Caribbean countries & the global south? Or are we still fixated on the idea that rich = white; and therefore the only expats welcome as we ignore Bermuda’s historical record of population control.
Without a wider review of our economic and tax structure, immigration reform is coded language for the further displacement of Bermudians; mostly black & working class, many of whom have already fled the island, yet are still left out of the equation as we call for “more people”.
Outdated economic dinosaurs suggest “you can’t create wealth by dividing it”. In actuality, inequality suppresses growth & stifles opportunity while hoarded wealth is less likely to recirculate in the economy. We need to free up the middle and lower classes so they can contribute too.
Yes, government finance & debt are a problem for us all. But as tents pop up across the island and young Black men are seen begging in the streets of town, the wealth gap is rising. Many are doing very well as they stifle the rest of us. We can’t allow the conversation to be hijacked.
If the focus is on immigration over income tax, wealth redistribution, economic diversification + Caribbean integration and antitrust legislation to address cost of living, monopolies & inequality, then I dare say we are cherry-picking proposals which shield the elite from shared sacrifice.
We must reject policies which work to stifle the middle & lower classes from accumulating wealth, and expand the conversation into one which tackles the root of the problem in an island where the average citizen & entrepreneur are suppressed as the same few control the economy.