September 2010 Archives

Phil Perinchief certainly provided some sport today with his broadside against his former choice for Premier.

The verbosity and unabashed contempt on public display was certainly entertaining, and I'm sure it got tongues wagging today.

There were some great zingers in it that was for sure, and he called the outgoing Premier out in a way that will surely cut; referencing 'Black skins, White mask' for example. Ouch.

All on a day when the US Attorney General was on the island.

I suspect the letter was inspired by the weariness most Bermudians seem to have with a guy who is so self-absorbed and ego-maniacal that he just doesn't know how to have a 'speedy, silent and unceremonious departure'. A guy who is throwing himself endless and lavish send-offs during a deep and prolonged recession.

That aspect of the letter was certainly an accurate character and performance assessment of the Premier, and it was probably cathartic for Mr. Perinchief...and many others.

A lot of people who are shouting "Go Phil" today are probably missing the other underlying message of the letter. I'm not alone I suspect with fundamental disagreements around Mr. Perinchief's political philosophy, which is far to the left of pretty much every Bermudian.

Mr. Perinchief is an unabashed socialist. At the minimum. Not the "Obama is a socialist" nonsense in the US, but a bona fide socialist. Which is fine. He has beliefs and stands up for them, unlike so many in the PLP today who no longer stand for anything other than power. I respect that.

The question that arose out of this letter for me was why Mr. Perinchief is a supporter of PLP Leadership hopeful Terry Lister?

I wonder what he thinks Mr. Lister will do to 'fundamentally transform an economy set up by capitalistic and unbridled entrepreneurs', one primary criticism of Dr. Brown.

Nothing that I've heard from Terry Lister suggests he will 'fundamentally transform' Bermuda's economy. What he appears to be advocating is getting back to basics; balancing budgets, cutting spending, treating the public and the business community with respect, not contempt, unlike his predecessor.

Mr. Lister's fiscal platform is pretty much the UBP's; the one which positioned Bermuda in such a sustained and strong position until 1998 when the PLP took over.

The momentum of the UBP's economy, and balancing budgets under Finance Minister Eugene Cox carried the island through to the mid 2000's, before Paula Cox took over and the PLP went on a spending and debt frenzy, undermining the economy and putting the island 'on the brink of financial disaster' as Mr. Perinchief correctly points out.

His conclusion is correct but his diagnosis and remedy is all wrong.

It is Bermuda's free market economy and entrepreneurship that has created one of the most prosperous and robust economies in the word.

Returning to our core principles of economic conservatism and social liberalism that served Bermuda so well since the inception of party politics is the remedy for the Brown/Cox fiscal disaster of the past 4 and 5 years.

It won't be easy, and it will take time and sacrifice to retire over a billion in debt, but it's doable with pragmatism and patience.

That's what I hear Mr. Lister saying publicly, although he's stubbornly sticking to term limits; a hugely damaging policy with no upside for Bermuda or Bermudians.

Which makes me wonder how Mr. Perinchief reconciles this.

Either he's setting himself up for disappointment again with Mr. Lister, who is not advocating the dismantling of the capitalist and entrepreneurial spirit that the overwhelming majority of Bermudians support - publicly at least. Or he thinks Mr. Lister will enact policies far, far more radical than what he is campaigning on.

That's a question worth exploring.

But as I said earlier, while I don't agree with Mr. Perinchief on much politically, his letter today was an appropriate and welcome counter-balance to the self-congratulatory, never-ending victory tour and rewriting of history by the outgoing Premier.

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The spin doctors have got to the airport General Manager and "the airport does not have "the financial resources to fix them all at once" has been spun into:

"The airport will always have significant capital requirements, both airside and inside the terminal. It should be noted that the airport facility is currently in the process of replacing areas of the fencing bordering the facility, and this work was ongoing well before yesterday's incident."

Meanwhile ZBM reported this evening that the Airport requested funds to replace the fence for the past 5 years in a row and were rejected every time.

Never let the truth get in the way of a good press release.

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In the outgoing Premier's puff piece, US Congressman G.K. Butterfield (who has Bermudian ties) said that Bermuda's economy is stronger because of Dr. Brown.

Say what?

This is demonstrably untrue by any measure, public sector revenues, debt, unemployment etc., but is more of the Big Lie strategy that appears to be the foundation of Dr. Brown's legacy project.

Have a read of the Chamber of Commerce's presentation on the state of Bermuda's economy if you want to be depressed and distressed, but firmly rooted in reality.

Or ask yourself if having The Bermuda College's economist openly discussing devaluation of the Bermuda dollar as a real possibility is the sign of a strong(er) economy. (Or if the Finance Minister responsible should be seen as credible Premiership material).

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More anecdotal proof that the well has run dry.

Look at the explanation from the airport general manager in response to reporter Gary Moreno waltzing through breaks in the perimeter fence:

He admitted that the fence has been damaged during storms and that there are "susceptible areas" and the airport does not have "the financial resources to fix them all at once".

The airport can't afford to fix a fence? Seriously?

That sound you just heard was the Bermuda Airport's international accreditation evaporating.

The chickens are coming home to roost.

PS If the PLP website wants to take credit for the emergency services doing their jobs, then they can also take ownership of why the place is not secure, and why they can't scrape together a few pennies to fix a fence.

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Bernews over the weekend posted an article on their site and Facebook with the Premier's self-promotional video shown at the Gala, rather oddly entitled "Prescribing for a Nation".

The video was then promptly marked as private so that it could no longer be viewed, but this link still works - for now - if you're a sucker for punishment and celluloid narcissism.

Memorable takeaway:

Lowering your golf handicap is not generally considered to be positively correlated with job performance...unless you're a professional golfer.

Then again, this is the same guy who said with a straight face that his plans for retirement are travel and golf, which is exactly what he did while in office.

The video was probably removed because it wouldn't stand up to a Bermudian audience, it is obviously a self-directed self-promotional piece. But it is what it is, a rewriting selective view of history through the eyes of the subject, intended to frame a legacy, boost an ego, affirm the die-hards and play to a foreign audience.

I suspect variations of this will be used as Dr. Brown goes around the faux award circuit in the US and is feted for his 'service' to Bermuda. I think service is right, just it was self-service.

It's all very incestuous. You throw taxpayer funds at someone, their business or they 'foundation' and they return the favour through some grand sounding award from some unknown entity.

Bermuda was simply the vehicle for Dr. Brown to profile himself overseas and this is a continuation of that. Hence the Presidential framing of his time, including a 4 year 'term', a concept that is meaningless in the Westminster system.

His audience always was outside of Bermuda.

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In normal functioning modern democracies this article would trigger an ethics investigation at the minimum.

It is highly unethical for sitting politicians to be involved in writing regulations and legislation that will govern their business interests once they leave office, particularly a field that currently lacks regulations.

In the US politicians are now required to have a one year cooling off period after leaving office before they return as lobbyists, the revolving door has become so pervasive and corrosive.

In Bermuda this stuff is reported without a peep because we're still consumed by a decades old argument that is retarding our political evolution.

The outgoing Premier was involved both in regulating and restructuring the health care system while he maintained active involvement in private health care enterprises during his time in office, participating in the secret 'Saturday Group'.

Again, in other normal modern democracies this would be a disqualifying conflict of interest.

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Government has no choice but to find a graceful retreat on the National Heroes selection process after two high profile and highly respected historians, Meredith Ebbin and the PLP's own leadership hopeful Dale Butler, came out categorically against a purely political selection process.

Mr Butler even dared suggest a former UBP Premier Sir Henry Tucker was deserving.

What's going on here? I think we're seeing the rise of the realists; a weeding out of politicians who have principles from those who are purely political.

This is perhaps most apparent with Dale Butler and Terry Lister, two PLP MP's actively campaigning for their party leadership by running explicitly against their party's own record. It's unconventional for sure, and almost certainly dooms their chances with an internal party 'selectorate', but it suggests that both value their reputations and credibility more than ambition, unlike many of their colleagues who have taken Bermuda into parallel universe at times.

I do wonder if part of the goal of their leadership campaigns is to try and at a minimum drag their party back to reality, away from the extremism, radicalism and damn the facts modus operandi of the Brown era.

They - in particular Terry Lister - are playing to a national audience, not the PLP delegates. This implies that they are both trying to convince their party that the party's disconnect from reality is counter productive socially and economically, but also politically.

If the PLP choose to charge ahead as is their National Heroes selections will be tainted, and their current one will be diminished not elevated. If they do the right thing and de-politicise the process they will have implicitly acknowledged that the UBP had a point.

So far they have never lowered themselves to that. But most perilously, by taking on board the UBP's position, they begin to lose control of The Narrative.

It is patently absurd for the PLP to take the position that the selection of significant historical figures shouldn't be interfered with by historians or the general public, but is best handled by political partisans.

It will be interesting to see how they walk this one back. I suspect they'll include a couple of token non, or less political representatives on the committee, but retain Cabinet's ability to do what they want anyway. That saves face and The Narrative.

And then, if past PR performance guarantees future results, they'll mark down as an accomplishment a non-political National Heroes selection process.

Never underestimate the power of a lack of shame as a political weapon.

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Am now mostly Mac. Mostly.

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PLP leadership hopeful Terry Lister has come out and declared he will cut spending as Premier.

Like a lot Mr. Lister is saying lately, this position is indistinguishable from the UBP's, who made the same comment just two weeks ago and received the predictable mindless vitriol back from the PLP website.

So, I'll save the PLP website a post and put their concerns to one of their own, an aspiring PLP Premier:

Our opponents PLP Leadership candidate Terry Lister wants to slash Bermuda's budget. But, what they he won't tell you is that it has to mean cuts to programmes that matter to you. The opposition PLP Leadership candidate Terry Lister likes to use red herrings, but, the fact of the matter is the vast majority of our budget is spent educating our kids, improving our infrastructure, providing scholarship opportunities, providing daycare for our young children, providing healthcare for our seniors and much more.

So, when you hear the opposition PLP leadership candidate Terry Lister talk about budget cuts, ask them him if they he plans on cutting grandma's FutureCare? Or, if they he plans on cutting DayCare for your child? Or, if they he plans on cutting free Bermuda College tuition that is helping you advance?

The fact that the opposition PLP Leadership candidate Terry Lister is quick to ignore is that Bermuda's fiscal house is in order.

To co-op one of Stephen Colbert's most famous lines, reality has an anti-PLP bias.

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The familiar post Hurricane sensory treat: cool temps, the sweet smell of decomposing vegetation and the melodic hum of distant generators.

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A little skirmish is developing over the latest chapter of PLP Heroes Day, with the UBP lamenting the purely political composition of the selection committee and the PLP firing back that the UBP was invited to participate but declined.

There's a couple things to address here, the first I suspect is reporting related.

The headline on the RG article today implied that the UBP were miffed at not having a seat on the committee, "Group to select national heroes has no place for UBP ", and the PLP is pointing out that they were offered them but declined so they shouldn't be complaining, "We were shocked to read the headline in today's paper..."

The PLP are right: but the headline didn't reflect the story if you read closely. The headline declares that they wanted to be included, but nothing they said yesterday supports that. The UBP never said that they were denied participation. What they said was:

"We have said from the very beginning of this exercise that decisions on National Heroes ought to be made by people chosen from the community, not for their politics but for their good judgment and, perhaps, their knowledge of history.

"We believe the Government would have best served the will of the people by turning the job over to the people. Instead, we have a committee of politicians representing one political party.

"Once again, the Government is putting politics before policy, partisanship before Country. It wants to control something that could be such a pure expression of community spirit."

The UBP is saying that the non-political appointees should be there, not that they want seats. Sen. Atherdon's later quote supports this:

"The Government, with these appointments, is saying it knows better than the people. That is a sad reflection on where we find ourselves today. In order to get this Island pulling together, we need to have a Government that has more faith, more trust in the people."

It's the headline which frames the whole article, and the framing is inconsistent with what the UBP actually said.

What they said is in fact consistent with what they said back in June of this year:

"From the outset, we said the promotion of national pride and the achievements of outstanding Bermudians ought not to be part of partisan politics," she said. "We were very clear from the start of this initiative back in 2007 that it be a community-based exercise, not a politically controlled operation.

"The Minister's plan to appoint a committee of politicians to select national heroes going forward runs counter to our position. Indeed, it seems to run counter to former Culture Minister's plan, which was in line with our proposal."

.....

The Senator claimed Government's appointment of only politicians to the committee suggested a "deep-seated desire to control everything and a general lack of trust in people outside of its immediate circle of control".

In an effort to depoliticise the selection committee, the UBP has recommended the addition of two more individuals to its ranks. The party believes the Governor should appoint the additional two people and they should reflect Bermuda's diversity and historical legacy.

So the UBP have turned down two seats because they wanted additional representation from non-political appointees, which is different than complaining that they weren't included when they were offered seats. The Gazette article I think misses this point which created an opportunity for the PLP to cry hypocrisy, which seems credible in the absence of the context that the Gazette article missed.

Now, on to the thrust of the UBP's complaint, namely that the PLP have a "deep-seated desire to control everything and a general lack of trust in people outside of its immediate circle of control."

I'd concur. And what this all comes back to is what I sort of talked around a bit in yesterday's post. This is all about not losing control of The Narrative.

When the UBP says the PLP are control freaks they're correct. The PLP have spent decades carefully constructing a narrative that the credit for Bermuda's success lies with the PLP, even as Opposition, and that all that is bad lies with the UBP, even as Opposition.

This is the centre-piece of their political strategy and they can't risk losing control of it.

Hence they are in this naming mode where buildings are named after PLP supporters and politicians. We even have an airport named after an Opposition leader who never actually sat at the reins of Government. Now I never knew Freddie Wade, but he is pretty much universally regarded as a gentleman and principled politician. Even those who disagreed with his politics spoke highly of him. Harry Viera used to love to tell me stories about Freddie Wade.

But I did find it a bit odd to be naming Bermuda's sole airport after someone who never ran any Government Ministry or held the Office of Premier.

Unless you consider The Narrative. The Narrative requires Bermuda to be branded PLP, and UBP accomplishments be co-opted, erased or at least ignored. The economy that that the PLP crow about being so successful is the very same one that they complained about as Opposition for example - "Bermuda Inc.".

The Narrative says that Bermuda was built by the PLP, that the only legitimate governing party is the PLP, that identity politics is paramount, that the UBP will always be responsible for the PLP's failures no matter how long they're in power, and that the PLP will always be fighting the establishment even when they are the establishment.

They've cleverly co-opted the UBP's many successes as Government, ably assisted by a UBP who have refused to defend and own their own legacy and have allowed it to be written and rewritten by the PLP.

This is the power of The Narrative.

PLP Heroes Day supports the narrative by elevating PLP politicians and luminaries to "National Heroes", which is why they can't lose control of it either by having non-political appointments on the selection committee and/or by putting the decision outside of Cabinet control.

That's why the Minister made this pretty bizarre and condescending statement about the UBP's suggestion for non-political appointees:

Ms Butterfield argued the make-up of the committee would make it simpler to select future heroes.

She added that including lay people on the committee was also not suitable, saying: "We have looked at where they tried that in other jurisdictions, such as in the Caribbean, and it did not work."

So politicians are the only people capable of identifying National Heroes? Well, if this is a political exercise they certainly are. And that's what this is. It is much 'simpler' to select the appropriate future heroes if you have a group of ideologically driven like minded politicians.

By refusing to allow meaningful non-political involvement they're ensuring that the 'wrong kind' of National Heroes don't get nominated and pushed through, putting Cabinet in a tough position. The worst outcome for PLP Heroes Day would be honouring a UBP hero.

I'm not surprised, because the PLP are, as I've said many times, hyper-political. I don't think that the public is fooled on this one, I think most people know what the agenda is, but as with most things they're sort of resigned to the outcome.

It's just unfortunate that I think the headline of today's article has created a temporary diversion. Yes the UBP refused participation. But no they weren't complaining about not being invited if you read their actual comments.

The UBP are not participating because they don't support the make-up of the selection committee which is a principled position to take.

It does beg the question of whether anyone in the BDA was offered a spot? I'm pretty sure they'd have accepted, and then they could have had (notionally) independent Darius Tucker and a BDA and still had two 'Opposition' members.

I suspect however that the PLP don't want to elevate the BDA, so they opted to add another PLP member and someone they're pretty confident won't rock the boat.

That's speculation on my part, and I could of course be wrong. But I doubt it.

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I must say that one of things I found annoying in the run-up to Hurricane Igor, were the speeches by the politicians. Specifically this theme which the PLP hit on multiple times, firstly the outgoing Premier and then the PLP Chairperson:

Despite the issues that divide us, the ideologies that separate us and the many challenges we face, we know that when a threat arises, our people unite as one.

Regardless of our differences, each of us will face the threat of Hurricane Igor together and we will overcome this challenge together as Bermudians.

and then:

After the storm, it's time for Bermudians of all political parties to put aside our disagreements and come together to rebuild our island home.

Seriously? Do these two really think that Bermudians are as consumed by political disagreements and ideology as to not support each other after a major hurricane?

This sentiment is incredibly condescending and out of touch. Incredibly.

The central conceit is that it treats Bermudians like children who need to be told to behave after a major crisis. I mean, really?

It suggests that the general public are constantly at each others' throats. It takes the arrogance of a politician to imply that a PLP neighbour won't help their UBP neighbour, or vice versa.

The Bermudians I know don't live our daily lives like politicians, addicted to drama and political theatre with their petty games and button pushing. For the PLP to act as if Bermudians need to be instructed to behave and not engage in trivial disagreements...after a potential catastrophic event...is stunningly condescending.

It's more believable in reverse.

The politicians are the ones who need to be told to cut the crap out on a regular basis. They are the ones who are constantly fabricating controversy and trying to pit groups against each other. Most people are just getting on with life and are not wondering who they can call a 'racist dog', or threaten with violence on the floor of Parliament.

So please, in the future, spare us the sanctimonious lectures about 'unity'. It goes without saying that Bermudians work together after major crises. The problem is that the PLP's electoral math is built around division, while the UBP's is about addition and right now the BDA's is about subtraction from the UBP. The PLP are so consumed with differences and division that they think this kind of statement is profound and required.

Of course, it's also a way to reinforce the political tactic that Bermudians are by nature segmented as a community, and that we need to temporarily pretend we're not. It's the political equivalent of a backhanded compliment: "And don't forget, because a huge hurricane is coming it's ok to set aside just how terribly divided we all are. Just for a few days. So go out and help each other. We'll get back to be being divided shortly."

But setting aside the issue of whether the statement was appropriate, it also raises the question of why people should only come together and face challenges together after a traumatic event.

Why shouldn't that be the default?

And right on cue, while I was thinking about writing this post today, there was an announcement of the committee for selecting National Heroes, which notably contains no UBP or BDA MPs.

This couldn't be more illustrative of the lack of bi-partisanship in daily political life.

Why should rebuilding post-hurricane be free of political rancor, but something as important as selecting National Heroes is stacked with partisanship. The only non-PLP representative is current Independent and former UBP MP Darius Tucker - and he appears to be mostly in the PLP camp now, even playing in the outgoing Premier's Gala Golf Event.

I'll declare that I'm not a big fan of this whole National Heroes concept - beyond the cheesy name - because it's simply an extension of the move to brand all things around the island after the PLP. I don't really like naming public buildings after political figures; they are by nature partisan, and public institutions should be free of implied political affiliation.

This National Heroes Day committee is window dressing in response to the public sort of scoffing at multiple years of one National Hero, and a highly centralised political decision making framework. This committee confirms that the event is highly politicised and not geared to predetermined outcomes. It's designed to give the impression of a bottom up community driven selection process, in spite of it being a top down political exercise.

I don't think anyone who is honest about this really believes that National Heroes Day isn't a political propaganda exercise. The lack of non-PLP involvement in this committee undermines any credibility for this to be seen as a true community honouring exercise.

But if we are nominating National Heroes, I can suggest a couple off the top of my head:

Stanley Ratteray, a member of the Progressive Group who were the driving force behind the Theatre Boycott and the ending of segregation. He was also a long-time Cabinet Minister and Minister of Education, and a truly class act. Stan was one of the genuinely great people that I had the opportunity to meet late in his life.

And, a more out of the box suggestion, Bob Clements; the recently passed father of the Bermuda reinsurance industry. Every Bermudian has benefited from the industry that his vision created and he has shaped Bermuda's economic and social past, present and future.

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A several mile long sand cloud was moving west down S Shore last night. West End beaches should send a thank you card to John Smiths Bay.

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Still howling now from the west high up here. Doesn't look like any roof damage around Smiths and Dev. The eye took forever to pass over.

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If my patio doors could talk they'd be saying "Ouuuccchhhhh!". Edge of the eyewall right now.

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There goes power and here comes a dripping skylight. Thanks #Igor

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Wind speeds and direction up on Gilbert Hill http://bit.ly/97Xhs6

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Don't think I've ever been ready for a Hurricane so early. I even gave the dog a bath.

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Well, looks like Mother Nature may provide a bit of a stimulus to the (re)construction industry.

This will be interesting. Be safe.

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Anyone have an old Mini DV camcorder they're willing to lend me so I can transfer some tapes to iMovie?

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Why is my neighbour's landscaper meticuously leaf blowing the property?

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Love the way NY cabbies look puzzled when I say "Good morning" when I get in. Heading home after 18 hours in NYC.

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Boat out of the water. Over to you Igor.

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Bad form to see the driver of GP-1 (minus the Premier) driving along Marsh Folly Rd at 5:40PM today yapping away on a cell phone held up to his ear with one hand.

So much for the new no cell phone while driving law. His boss also just happens to be the Minister or Transport (or Travel for the cynics).

Tut, tut.

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What genius decided to start trenching Woodlands Rd the week schools went back in?

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Oh, I get the analogy now.

First he ploughed things up.

This weekend he applied the manure.

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Political party websites are a genre all to themselves which pretty much by definition are never going to get you too excited. While necessary, I question their utility in a small retail politics place like Bermuda, other than to communicate to journalists and members and act as a soft recruitment tool, but Bermuda's party websites suck for entirely different reasons.

The UBP's sucks mostly because it is infrequently and inconsistently updated, but also because the look and feel doesn't convey any personality nor uniqueness.

The BDA's doesn't suck, but it is a bit uninspired. It's your standard self-promotional brochure site, not particularly innovative or integrated with social networking tools which I'd have expected.

The PLP's on the other hand sucks for reasons to do with content and tone, and I must admit I read it as an act of masochism.

It's written in an overtly and extreme propagandistic manner, and seems geared at a target audience of 5 year olds. Mostly it seems overly impressed by its own perceived cleverness and ability to manipulate the readers.

Then I read this article recently about why the AFL-CIO's website is so bad, and it all made sense:

But the bad union newspapers--and there have been many--are all bad in the same way. They become house organs for their leaders, spewing out endless proclamations, reproducing Ceausescu-like pictures of forced handshakes, and rendering invisible the actual rank-and-file. They are closed systems, speaking a private language exclusively to an internal audience that is probably not paying attention anyway.

Nothing I can add.

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A big thank you to Mother Nature for the hour long liquid sunshine on my lunchtime ride round the sound. Always fun ... http://tmi.me/1d9Jq

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I was discussing today with someone how at any moment we were due the PLP's rebuttal to Bob Richards's comprehensive and impressive press conference yesterday on the economy.

And, a bit later than expected but right in line with what was expected, they come out with the usual hysteria and redirection.


So, when you hear the opposition talk about budget cuts, ask them if they plan on cutting grandma's FutureCare? Or, if they plan on cutting DayCare for your child? Or, if they plan on cutting free Bermuda College tuition that is helping you advance?

Does anyone in the PLP know that there's two sides to a balance sheet? This kind of response is so dishonest it's shocking.

One thing that I keep noticing around Bermuda is just how universally negative the psyche is about the economy (and crime) and a feeling that Bermuda has peaked and is in an irreversible decline.

That kind of thinking can be a devastating self-fulfilling prophecy as confidence declines and behaviours change, people sell assets, move money overseas and stop spending.

So it is important that politicians and opinion shapers maintain some optimism and positivity while being honest about the challenges on the horizon, which is what Bob Richards was attempting, I think - although he comes off a bit academic and pessimistic.

He even said in the press conference that he feels it is important to be honest with people and stay fact based, which in the current climate comes across as negative.

I'm convinced that a big contributing component of this national despair is the fact that the PLP refuse to engage honestly and seriously on the topic. The PLP's response was completely predictable, as most of their spin is, but is also deeply destructive because it is pathologically un-serious, insincere and blind to reality.

My other takeaway from this is something I've said before, which is that one of the problems we have politically and policy-wise is that the PLP are hyper political and the UBP are chronically not political enough.

Neither are striking the right balance, but the lesser evil is not being political enough. I'd take that any day over the alternative. I'm partial to politicians who are willing to be straight with people - even if it might cost them in the short term - because they believe that it is important to be reality based. (One of the reasons I like Obama).

So when you read the PLP's misdirections and scare-mongering about government services being cut I can't help but think that they're singing from Dick Cheney's hymn book - that "deficits don't matter".

Bob Richards isn't just talking about cutting budgets, he's talking about Bermuda living within our means, just as individuals and families need to.

Dr. Brown had no interest in fiscal responsibility. To him deficits didn't matter because he had a short term outlook and had no intention of being around to deal with the consequences. He was busy packaging and promoting himself to the US political and media elite that he surely intends to retire to, courtesy of the Bermudian taxpayer. Bermuda seemed to hold little interest to him, other than as a vehicle to play mini-President for a 4 year term.

But eventually someone will have to clean up his, Paula Cox, and their colleagues' spending orgy, which judging by their continued words they don't intend to halt.

Massive structural deficits and expensive debt severely constrain successive administrations who like it or not have to face up to the sins of their predecessors.

Ask the UK Tory-LibDem coalition, and Obama, if their predecessors deficits don't matter.

Quite simply, Bermuda can't afford the PLP in their current incarnation. While they crow about all these services that they're providing, what they're not saying is that the UBP's balanced budgets and surpluses and resilient economy are what paid for these...until now, and structural debt is what they're counting on to pay for them for the next few years.

The PLP didn't create Bermuda's economy that carried them for almost a decade, but they sure own it now.

I've always believed that the most critical piece of any social policy is sound economic policy. You can have good economic policy and bad social policy, but it's impossible to have bad economic policy and good social policy.

The PLP think they can do the latter, but it simply isn't credible.

I just wish that whomever the PLP permit to publish such nonsense on their website would for a moment at least acknowledge what anyone with a shred of intellectual honesty would: that FutureCare can't be paid for, that none of these services will be around much longer anyway at the current rate unless spending and revenues are brought back into balance.

To be taken seriously by serious people they must.

Paula Cox's debt alone is costing more to service than the tourism budget. This kind of indebtedness is hard to get out from under without extreme measures (like devaluation). Bermuda's economy is simply not diversified enough (or at all) to carry even moderate debt loads. We must balance budgets and work towards modest budget surpluses and low to no debt.

We need to balance our budgets and live within our means. And that is what the UBP did and is advocating again - to PLP ridicule. We really can't go on like this.

Another issue that I was also discussing today is an extension of this: that much of what the PLP and critics of the UBP's 30 years in government complained about was that they should have done more, faster - read provide more social services for free.

I would suggest that much of that was simply economic pragmatism - not a great white conspiracy - that the UBP were religious about the Bermuda Government living within its means and that meant prioritising and not promising more than you can deliver. Sure you can argue over priorities, but not that they could have done everything immediately.

Because the one thing that the PLP will inevitably come to acknowledge - by choice or not - if they stay in office long enough, is that there is no such thing as a free lunch...or FutureCare, or Bermuda College tuition, or Daycare.

In fact they've already acknowledged so much. FutureCare and child day care were both 'free' election promises and both ended up being not free or means tested.

Until someone in the PLP leadership and establishment, other than Terry Lister, say what everyone - everyone - knows, Bermudians will continue to collectively think that we're screwed. And barring a stroke of incredible luck, they'll be right.

How's that for optimistic?

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Hot on the heels of the outgoing Premier and Tourism Minister publicly mooting not renewing the PGA Grand Slam contract, we get a last minute glowing press release that the head of the PGA will suddenly be participating in the Premier's send off this weekend.

Yesterday in the paper the Premier says this:


"We are in talks about next year but we are going to wait and see what happens this year. If we don't get a good deal this year we will have to renegotiate."

And now that they've bought in to the Gala he's effusive about the value of the 'relationship' and doesn't even hide the direct link of this act:

I am pleased that Mr. Steranka has agreed to join us for the Farewell Gala Weekend and believes his support bodes well for the future relationship between the PGA and Bermuda.

I'm almost speechless. The Gala is is a partisan political fund-raising event, not a Bermuda Government event and this kind of influence peddling is exactly what many people feared.

It screams quid pro quo: the PGA make a ten or twenty thousand dollar donation to the PLP/Premier's event and any day now we'll probably find out that one of the Premier's last acts as Tourism Minister will be to renew the Grand Slam for a million plus. Not a bad trade if you're the head of the PGA. (I should add that the press release doesn't say that the PGA CEO is paying to attend).

I really don't know what to say. It looks so bad. it's so blatant. To make it worse, this is more foreign money polluting local politics.

There's so much wrong with this.

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The Corporation of Hamilton's warning about its 'anemic revenue stream' can be taken as a proxy of Government's overall revenue stream.

The Corporation controls the docks and receives - for now - wharfage. Government gets the import duties. What the Corporation is saying is that the volume of imports has declined in a big way, which means Government will also be taking a hit on duty. They just haven't reported yet.

And parking in Hamilton is way down because people are shopping less, and less people are working in the city, which means stores will carry less inventory and are laying off employees which reduces payroll tax revenue. All of this is more confirmation of this lack of commerce.

And with Total Home folding, on the back of HomeZone, and the construction industry in a big slow down, unemployment up to about 5%, the reality of the PLP's economy is really starting to bite.

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Finally ready to edit years of raw home video. Can't find software I like. Sony Vegas? Not too inspiring? iMovie perhaps on my mac mini?

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Census done. A bit unnecessarily pokey considering they're taking names alongside that stuff.

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