A hole in the bottom of our boat
Scientist Sir Isaac Newton’s first law of motion, which dates all the way back to the 17th century, states that “a body will remain in a state of rest or uniform motion (velocity) until acted upon by a net force (greater force)”.
That principle is not a static academic formula meant just for physics textbooks and the classroom; it is a principle of life active in every situation. It’s also common sense: you cannot put out a house on fire with a bucket of water or a garden hose.
We see it every day and we hear it in our lexicon — “you can’t send a boy to do a man’s work”. In every situation, whether business or sport, the same discernment is required, the same deductive reasoning, no matter how big or small. If you want to succeed with anything, you must have the necessary energy to overcome whatever the challenges will be.
We do it every day when we entertain normal situations. Take, for instance, your neighbour’s dog, which is a little Shih Tzu, goes up against a massive pitbull. Right away you know it’s a mismatch and, sadly, the Shih Tzu is likely to be killed if no one quickly intervenes.
It is almost instinctual and leaders in every field that are good, get that status because they have good instincts. There is also science and the scientific approach, where activity and outcome can be calculated. In either case, outcome is not a random or arbitrary affair; fate is a rational process.
Time often provides an illusion, which too often obfuscates the inevitable. In that regard we often hear the cliché “youth is a gift”. We say this because we know that too often it is abused and taken for granted that it will never end and the youthful abuses will be tolerated by the body.
I am going to sound the alarm that our country with this present Covid-19 crisis, is like a tour busload heading off a cliff while sightseeing. I don’t wish to make light of the situation, but can we for a moment imagine being on such a bus and being shown lovely scenes and historical sites and then the next moment we are going off a cliff unable to help ourselves to avoid a devastating conclusion?
We have a two-prong disease attacking our society: one is health, the other the economy.
We are doing as much as we can with limited resource to mitigate a swelling health epidemic but, without testing, don’t know for sure where we actually stand, or will end up in the grand scheme of time.
The true nature of our economy is about to be truly revealed when normal business does not return to normal, and large numbers particularly in hospitality and goods services, which employ a large percentage of the work population. The disparity will be seen between major utilities, international business, civil servants and government workers, and the rest of the population.
The Minister of Finance has already predicted a 7 per cent drop in gross domestic product, which is somewhere in the region of a $300 million drop per year. How do we fill that gap? The weight of government services will drive the country into huge deficit spending. This is bigger than a recession and we are at the precipice of a depression as big as the Second World War.
I am not an alarmist. I am a realist and someone needs to tell truth of where we are. No need to panic or cause undue concern, but I can’t play music like the crew on the Titanic while the ship has a hole in the bottom.
If you don’t see or hear of a rescue ship near by, then the best thing is to strap on life jackets and stand near the lifeboats. International business isn’t going anywhere — well, not soon — but it will alter if the society crumbles.
The only thing that keeps society together is jobs and opportunity. For Bermuda to survive this warlike environment, it needs a militaristic approach like the Marshall Plan that followed the Second World War.
Those days, we were under the rule of Britain, but we were vital to both the American and British war efforts. They ensured our survival because it was mutual. Today we are left to our own devices; in other words, we are independent.
There is no military general or war chest; we have a budget and a parliament in charge of the budget and this war effort. In short, we have politics or, in common terms, business as usual at a time when we need a scientific, militaristic approach to not just mitigate but solve the problem.
Nothing wrong with business as usual, except this is not usual times. If we allow political attitudes to guide us during these times, it will only widen the hole in the bottom of the boat.
This is not a Progressive Labour Party or One Bermuda Alliance problem; it’s a Bermuda problem under attack by an invisible enemy. The question is whether there is an answer?
My only response is, an answer is the promise of the omnipotent in life. There is always an answer provided by the beneficent. The bigger question is, can we embrace an answer or will we drown in politics?
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