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Demise of PLP illusion

December 16, 2010Dear Sir,I am in deep mourning, and have been for some time, for the demise of the illusion that the PLP is the party of the people. It has become increasingly obvious to me that the hierarchy of the party is out of touch with the realities of life for the ordinary citizens of this Island. I cite three cases in point.Former Premier Dr Brown, in an interview, once inferred that ordinary citizens could well afford excessive green fees at Ocean View Golf Course based on his having overheard two taxi drivers discussing paying expensive green fees to play at a golf club abroad. Citing no other information, he extrapolated that members of Ocean View, that traditionally black Bermudian golf course, could “easily afford” increased fees. Judging from Letters to the Editor, and conversations with golfers who used to frequent Ocean View, Dr Brown was out of touch with their financial reality.Earlier this year, Finance Minister Paula Cox claimed that senior citizens wouldn't need a raise in their pensions for the next few years because of PLP initiatives that had improved their lot. Some improvement! The average pension for those not in the Civil Service ranges from $679 to less than $1,000 per month. With Future Care costs at $600 a month, Government initiatives such as free bus and ferry transport, and free car registration seem to be a drop in the bucket when seniors still have to fund the cost of rent, food and medication (which, expensive as it is, Future Care doesn't cover!). Since Premier Cox has chosen to increase Civil Service pensions, but not those of the average worker, it would appear that she, too, is out of touch with the financial realities of the ordinary Bermudian citizen.Senator Furbert's comments in The Royal Gazette of December 9, 2010 that Bermudians are so much better off because there are no more outside toilets and people no longer sleep ten or 12 to a bed indicate she is similarly out of touch with the realities of life for some of our citizens. She appears to be unaware that there are more than 1,000 people on this little Island who not only have no toilets or beds, they have no roofs, because they are living on the street or in cars, and far too many of them are families with children. In 2004, the Bermuda Counsellors Association did a ‘walk-about' where we were shown various places around the City of Hamilton where the homeless slept. At that time, there were two ‘Car Cities' we visited where villages of derelict cars housed multiple people, including families with children. It was made clear to us that these sites were only the tip of the iceberg, that there were similar places up and down the island. To my knowledge, there has been a dearth of Government sponsored programmes over the last six years to adequately address this complex problem, outside of efforts by the Honorable Dale Butler.In fact, on the front page of a Gazette several months ago, juxtaposed against a report on the thousands spent on former Premier Brown's travel, was the information that there was once again no money to repair the homeless shelter on North Street, which has been stretched to the limit for years. Since poverty and joblessness have increased over the last six years, if one wants to extrapolate, it is much more logical to figure homelessness has increased rather than diminished. This would bear out Ms Cooper's estimates of the growing numbers of children in need of breakfast, despite Sen Furbert's attempt to suggest the contrary.Is the PLP really so out of touch with its constituents? Do they really believe Bermudians are doing well? Or is this yet another attempt to convince us that things aren't really as bad as they actually are?SYL HAYWARD-HARRISPembroke