One cannot serve two masters
“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
— Matthew 6:24
Lately, the One Bermuda Alliance has taken a new tact in their public relations narrative. No doubt, based on polling, it has now begun to pretend to be a friend of the middle and working classes of Bermuda.
It has taken up the catchphrases of speaking to the various “costs of living”.
Whether it be on television or via columns, it has a somewhat co-ordinated chorus line.
However, those words ring hollow, as once one looks at the OBA’s economic and social leanings, it is unable to be taken as politically honest.
For clarity, let’s have a look at some prime examples of this doublespeak.
One of the key drivers of the cost of living is healthcare cost.
During its tenure in government between December 2012 and July 2017, not once did the OBA attempt to do anything to address the costs of health insurance.
Apart from attempting to prevent women from having yearly mammograms, they did zero.
Let’s take a look at one of the key persons involved in their party — MP Scott Pearman, a major shareholder of not one, but two insurance companies.
Does it serve his economic interests to see insurance premiums fall or rise?
That answer is obvious.
Hence, why as now the Opposition party, the OBA has gone on the attack against healthcare reform.
Yes, healthcare reform proposals that will mitigate the cost of living for Bermudians.
Simply put, one cannot serve two masters.
Last Friday, legislation was tabled that would allow the Government to not just gather the costs of individual grocery items, but, as importantly, to publicise these prices to the consuming public.
Surprise, surprise, no fewer than three OBA MPs, including party leader Craig Cannonier, rose to their feet to voice objection to this legislation.
Ask yourselves: why would they, who claim to be concerned about the cost of living, be against proposed legislation that would help the consumer to make better choices in containing their cost of living?
Could it be that one of their sitting MPs is a major importer of grocery items? If one is benefiting financially from rising prices in foods, they very well may not want anything to cut into those profits.
Let us consider this interesting fact: sugary soft drinks have a duty of 75 per cent and diet drinks a duty of 0 per cent.
So would it be possible for Michael Dunkley to let us know why the diet soft drinks that he imports cost almost the same as regular soft drinks?
Again, one cannot serve two masters.
The OBA, rightfully so, goes to great lengths to speak on the challenges faced by local retailers.
Specifically, that many Bermudians, as with most persons worldwide, now do a large proportion of their shopping online.
Yet, one of their former MPs and founding members, owns one of the largest courier companies that brings in thousands of packages of online purchases weekly.
Are they speaking out against those who order online?
I read a recent column by the senator Dwayne Robinson, in which he offered the following statement:
“Of course, online shopping is a factor.”
So, if online shopping, in which one of the OBA’s former MPs has a growing business, is a factor, then why is the Opposition pretending as if falling local retail sales are not a global issue?
“There have been almost 10,000 retail job losses in the UK so far in 2020 according to retail sector analysts with more failures forecast.”
In more than seven years, the OBA has not given any real opinion, direction or legislation on how to lower the costs of living for Bermudians.
Think about it. Why has it never truly addressed ways to cut cost of living? Why has it not had serious conversations with grocers about lowering costs on items such as fruits and vegetables?
After all, duty was lowered or eliminated on many of those items.
Does it sound as if it is really interested in bringing down the financial burdens of Bermudians? Or is it more interested in protecting its own business interests and those of some of its business and political allies? Actions speak louder than words.
In closing, it is fairly simple for Bermudians to see that this latest narrative by the OBA is simply a PR gimmick to try to remain politically relevant.
One cannot serve two masters.
• Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him at WhatsApp on 599-0901 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org