With the roll-out of "Goodwill Plus" we're seeing a page taken out of a very American political tactic of naming policies in ways that evoke strong emotive responses while actually achieving the opposite.
The New Onion touched on this a few days ago:
For the record - Goodwill Plus - is in the American style of naming something positive (Patriot Act, No Child Left Behind, etc.) that is in fact a terrible idea.
Controlling the language - nicely Orwellian.
I would imagine that the Premier is using some American advisors and/or has read noted US Political consultant Frank Luntz, who specialises in testing words to help sell a product.
Luntz recently published a book entitled "Words That Work: It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear".
Salon.com interviewed Luntz in January of 2007 in a great article entitled "How to speak Republican".
So, for example:
- laws to relax air pollution standards in the US were called the Clear Skies Initiative.
- laws to expand logging were coined as the Healthy Forests Initiative.
- the estate tax was rebranded the Death Tax
- tax cuts were called tax relief
In our case here, we're seeing this as well under our American President impersonator.
The response to this is of course to counter the spin by not adopting the Orwellian terminology and using more appropriate terms.
Language is powerful, and most people are cursory observers of politics and news, and don't dig deep to see how shallow and sincere the politicking is and how counterproductive these 'policies' are.
So "Goodwill Plus" is more accurately called "Opportunities Lost", Government TV is "Propaganda TV" and "term limits" are "Losing competitiveness" for example off the top of my head.
Or of course we could call this what it really is, a pre-election campaign to push some buttons. None of this is intended to communicate anything; it's all geared around playing on people's fears, prejudices and insecurities.
Like most good lies, it's all built on a bit of truth, but twisted to further a narrow short term political (and financial) agenda.
We shouldn't forget that term limits were trotted out right before the last election, and then quietly shelved until recently when it was needed again to score a few cheap votes.
At some point however, the international businesses will tire of being used as whipping posts. Is it going to take someone to leave to prove the point?
Bermudian jobs are already being lost, with positions moved overseas at many companies, as a commenter at 21 Square has demonstrated.
And now, at the Monte Carlo Rendezvous (which is an informal gathering of top level (re)insurance execs from around the world), Bermuda and political corruption was a topic of discussion as an element of our declining appeal and viability as a home base.
The PLP under Dr. Brown are, to use an American term he may be familiar with, a clear and present danger to all Bermudians' aspirations for a prosperous future, both economically and socially.
Bermuda may be a small place, but it's bigger than Dr. Brown's personal ambition (although probably not his ego).