Good old-fashioned plagiarism
See if you can spot the link between the following three vignettes. Ready? (Hint: it’s the economy).
First there was Sage
How did you spend your weekend? Me? I blew the dust off the Sage Report — well, only the executive Summary, if truth be told.
Remember Sage, the Spending and Government Efficiency commission? That was the one where the former One Bermuda Alliance government invited a bipartisan group of Bermudian experts to identify ideas to enhance Bermuda.
And you know what? There’s some really good stuff in there. Real solutions if we ever find ourselves facing an economic crisis. Like now, perhaps?
So then I decided to revisit the Bermuda First Report. Remember Bermuda First? That was the one where the existing Progressive Labour Party government invited a bipartisan group of Bermudian experts to identify ideas to enhance Bermuda.
Wait, that sounds familiar? (Of course, we also should remember that it was the resurrection of the original Bermuda First group, which was established by former premier Ewart Brown, who appointed former United Bermuda Party leader Kim Swan as the chairman, and which delivered its report, full of good ideas, in November 2009.)
Again, some good stuff: for example, delighted to see the new Bermuda First Report recommending we take the politics out of education with a new and independent education authority. This idea is close to my heart, as voters in Paget East may recall. Education was a hot topic on the doorstep, together with the economy, since you asked.
So, the ideas from Sage and Bermuda First are there, waiting on the page. It’s time for some good, old-fashioned plagiarism. If bipartisan experts from both OBA and PLP think something worthy, then let’s get it done — now!
Which status quo?
David Burt is fond of attacking the “status quo” — a phrase repeatedly used over the past few years. But coded language in politics is a dangerous thing. So I ask: which status quo does the Premier mean to attack? Bermuda’s economic status quo is international business. Surely that is a good thing, not something to criticise?
Bermuda’s political status quo is two decades, almost, of PLP government. The Premier is not attacking his own party’s decision-making, although others certainly would.
Is this, then, coded reference to Bermuda’s social status quo? Is the Premier occupying the same territory he did when, in another speech, he described certain people as “the enemies”?
If we agree that our island needs to heal its divisions — and I very much do — then the solution must be to come together to solve our problems. If attacking an unspecified status quo casts us as enemies of each other, then this is no solution.
Of cliffs and coffins
There has been much talk lately about cliffs. Economic cliffs. Cliffs we are tumbling over. Covid cliffs we have leapt from — now falling to our doom. Even the ever-reliable Nathan Kowalski warned us last month: “The Covid cliff for our economy is fast approaching”.
Leaving aside whether the cliff-edge lies ahead of us, or behind, I am not sure the cliff is the best metaphor for Covid-19. To me, a cliff-edge suggests there was level economic ground before Covid-19 hit us. But there wasn’t. Recently, I deployed the metaphor of a landslide. Bermuda’s economy was barrelling down the mountain before Covid blasted us with water cannon, adding to the speed.
But I have since heard a better metaphor for Covid-19 and our economy. Covid is the coffin, not the cause of death. I’m no doctor, but it seems as if our economic demise was under way before Covid-19.
Why, you might ask, does the metaphor matter? I assure you, it does.
Economic resurrection will be difficult to achieve. But it will be impossible, if we do not correctly diagnose the true cause of the problem. If you think Covid-19 alone is the issue — that all will be well if a vaccine arrives — you may wish to think again.
We desperately need a Sage government that understands the true causes for our economic flatlining.
Or that coffin may just become our future status quo.
• Scott Pearman is the Shadow Minister of Legal Affairs and the MP for Paget East (Constituency 22)
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