Letters to the Editor, 22 March 2011 – The Royal Gazette | Bermuda News, Business, Sports, Events, & Community

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Letters to the Editor, 22 March 2011

No Vote = No Voice

March 8, 2011

Dear Sir,

I am a young Bermudian male, 21 to be exact, and I am writing in reference to the fact that all young Bermudians need to get involved with our Island's affairs, more so our political endeavours. I myself am very interested in politics and have been for some time, having been a member of Youth Parliament for two years under the leadership of Mrs Lister. For as long as I have been keeping up with the dealings of our Island, I always found that I was one of the few in the bunch, if not the only one, that would be concerned and voiced my opinion to my peers.

The reason I am now taking action and speaking out is because I want the young people on the Island to understand that this is also their country, the decisions that get made will affect us all, and it's going to come a point in time where their fellow peers are going to have to step up to the plate and help run this Island for the betterment of its people. I find that a great percentage of young Bermudians do not go to meetings held in their constituencies, they do not question political leaders, they do not read the newspaper nor watch the news, so it is safe to say they are completely unaware to the transactions that are being dealt with here on the island.

What is funny to me is when they do become aware of the situations after the fact, they have a voice, whether it be complimentary or critical. What I am trying to get into the heads of the young people is “No Vote = No Voice”. If you're not involved with the Island's affairs before or during its happening, your voice and your ideas after its done do not count. We as young people in Bermuda need to take a stand and get involved because this is our Island and we have an equal say just like everyone else. So young Bermudians I ask you, instead of complaining about the next story you hear of the Bermuda Government, pick up a newspaper, become aware and get involved in what's going on while it's going on. So let's educate ourselves on the affairs and concerns of our Island home and together we can offer some solutions that can work in the best interest of every Bermudian!

ZICO MELLO

Bermuda College Student

St David's

Take care at crossings

March 8, 2011

Dear Sir,

I have been walking my young children to school for several months and after an experience yesterday I feel compelled to write to remind drivers to slow down and stop at pedestrian crossings. All drivers are familiar with their routes driving into town, all drivers know where the crossings are. There is no excuse for driving so quickly that you can't come to a stop for children attempting to cross the road. There is no excuse for riders of bikes to come racing down the “third lane” and overtake traffic which has stopped at a pedestrian crossing. This kind of driving is ignorant and dangerous.

What is the solution? Perhaps traffic monitoring cameras should be positioned at all pedestrian crossings near schools, so that perpetrators of poor driving can be identified and properly prosecuted? Perhaps a mandatory 15 mph speed limit should be enforced in a zone around all schools? Perhaps placing a child's life at risk by speeding across a pedestrian crossing should result in an immediate disqualification of your licence? Until legislation, adequate policing, and effective traffic penalties exist, however, I am forced to appeal to drivers to think. I will also continue to keep a strong grip on the arms of my children at crossings, and to continue to teach them to be vigilant because “you can't trust the drivers to stop”. I thank those drivers who are cautious and considerate, your care in the approach to crossings is truly appreciated.

DR KATHERINE MICHELMORE

Paget

Why we're in a mess

March 8, 2011

Dear Sir,

My father was in the hospitality business in Bermuda for many years and he used to say to me: In Bermuda, we have nothing to offer but the sun in the sky and the smile on our faces! Not only was he right back then, but he's right today... we don't “produce” anything in Bermuda. For years we asked and invited tourists to come here; expats to live here; and international business was welcomed with open arms and encouraged to set up shop with their staff. What we were doing is saying: Come to Bermuda, spend your dollars and we will then use some of those dollars to meet expenses and what's left over will be the profits for all us Bermudians. And that is where the money comes from! It's pretty simple.

Nowadays, we don't attract tourists; cruise ships are stuck in Dockyard; there's no tourism advertising overseas to speak of; our hotels are dated; we make expats feel like they are causing us no end of headaches; we tell international business that the staff (whom they've trained and planned on) have to leave after six years (and if we are going to waive this all the time, what's the point of the rule?); that they have to pay payroll taxes, which make it more attractive to be somewhere else; and we don't do anything to keep up with legislation that would attract business here. And to top it all off we now tell tourists who want to stay here a little longer and spend money here that they have to pay a fee to the Government for doing this! And we wonder why we don't have any money in the bank!

JOHN FAIELLA

Southampton

Turn for the worse

March 6, 2011

Dear Sir,

In reply to Kathleen Bell's letter published on March 4 in

The Royal Gazette, I would like to say that no one in their right mind would say the UBP had an unblemished record. In fact, I don't see any one or any political party walking around with halos hovering over their heads and as far as the UBP being formed as a knee jerk reaction to the PLP being formed, I would say that was an expected human reaction to an action which was self defence, a natural inborn instinct. As far as Sir Henry Tucker is concerned, I take my hat off to him because he had the vision to see that as long as Bermuda was segregated and situations remained the same for the large black population, Bermuda would have gone up in smoke and it is a shame that some of the old bigoted colleagues of Sir Henry's couldn't see what he saw or had the intelligence to see what he saw.

With some people I am sure you realise that old habits die hard, especially the bad ones. Change can be very painful for some people and change can be very slow but, regardless of the wrongs the UBP might have committed in the past, they did know how to run this little piece of a rock and made it the envy of many. Unfortunately, we can't say the same today for the PLP's management of this Island as they have screwed up royally and anyone with an ounce of common sense can see that. When the PLP took over the Government, the UBP had left a debt of $160 million, and in just 12 short years, the PLP Government went from that to over $1 billion and even though in the “old” days we lived in a segregated society, we were still better off than we are under the PLP administration. This Government, especially under the leadership of Dr Ewart Brown and his presidential style of thinking outside of the box, has squandered, or done whatever with millions and millions of taxpayer dollars, so Ms Bell I ask you, where's the beef where's the money and where was the Finance Minister at that time?

We cannot go back and change what has passed. In Bermuda, it seems many people are driving through life with their GPS focused on the rear view mirror which means that if you are not paying attention to what is ahead of you, you are going to crash. Take all of the PLP's election ploys for instance they were all based on race and what happened in the past. Yes, we remember and we should never forget, but my goodness, this is 2011 and this race thing is still used as an instrument to get people emotionally riled up to get their votes. If what I hear on some of the talk shows is correct, the PLP have lost many of its followers, and they can only thank Ewart Brown and his defenders for that. Thank goodness people are finally opening their eyes and seeing things for what they really are.

I do not see the sense in Ms Bell inferring that had the UBP done this or that starting back in 1968, we would have been in a better position today. Since the UBP didn't do this or that as she claims, and the PLP have been in power since 1998 when people voted for a change including myself, pray tell me, since Ms Bell states the UBP did not make Bermuda a fair and equitable place for everyone, what has the PLP done to make Bermuda fair and equitable? From where I sit, I see a select few getting all the shiny toys while the others stand by feeling like step children.

So where do we go from here? We have a Premier that is still the Finance Minister who claims that she was only a “cog in the wheel” wherein it was her poor managing of the public purse that has helped to put us in the ridiculous mess that we are in today and yet Ms Bell is still talking about days gone by! Maybe Ms Bell should concentrate on what is happening today and what has happened in the past four years under Brown and Cox that has put Bermuda on the shame list. The UBP didn't do it the PLP did! And don't forget that when the PLP took over the reins, they were supposed to right the wrongs of the past instead, they added to the wrongs by firstly, thinking they knew it all, and secondly by their poor management of this Island and its economy by wasting millions upon millions of taxpayer dollars. In 1998 we were looking for a change and by George we got it big time.

PAT FERGUSON

Warwick

Redistributing wealth

March 6, 2011

Dear Sir,

There have been calls from the community (although recently less virulent) for the PLP Government to redistribute wealth in Bermuda. Depending on who is teaching economic history, it may be a surprise to some to learn that the American James Madison in his Federalist Papers, when dealing with insurrection and partisan political parties, stated that the most long term driving force of factions and political trouble was “the various and unequal distribution of property. (issues) ... those who hold (property) and those who are without property ... they have ever formed distinct interests in society.”

Just as in Madison's time, the modern Bermuda Parliament (take Tucker's Point as an example), acts from the different class interests and sentiments. It finds itself regulating these various wealth interests to come up with appropriate legislation. Madison's view was that members of the legislature should not be judging (ruling) in their own cause, because their personal or group's interests will be biased and corrupt, damaging the integrity of the legislative process and the people.

Any attempt of the Government to presently legislate the redistribution of wealth in Bermuda faces a risk that the legislative act, which can allow the majority party, as Madison says, to “trample on the rules of justice” will lead on a road of self serving their own groups. It is my opinion that by moving just towards redistribution of wealth in these difficult times will create the climate for new Bermudian political factions. These new groups can become angry and lose their tempers when corrupt special interests manipulate local prejudices and agendas, which can then end up betraying the greater interest of the people.

The past cabal and oligarchy of the few, redistributing wealth to themselves and foreigners, does not sit well with Bermudians or represent the majority democracy. The other component of any redistribution of wealth in the form of reparations by the white community, without an equal say of the white community in redistribution policy, will not address the underlying ethical and moral issues of unequal wealth. Mr Editor, for justice to be served, there must be equal racial participation in the policy formation.

Mr Editor, even as we speak, forms of wealth redistribution are taking place behind the scenes. I am not a doom and gloom person but an optimist; an optimist who believes that the Bermudian people have a rich, hidden pool of intellectual and social capital wealth that far surpasses some redistribution of money.

MICHAEL A MARKHAM

Smith's

Understanding 1981 ‘strike'

February 25, 2011

Dear Sir,

If any of our current leaders are taking a look at the recent protests in Tahrir Square in Egypt and other Arab countries, they are probably thinking that the same thing could never happen in Bermuda. Bermuda appears to be a very conservative, stable and passive society. We also enjoy a variety of democratic freedoms that are missing in the dictatorships that are now under siege from their own people. So this is a useful moment to remember that “anything kept down against its will can rise effortlessly in the fullness of time”. I heard one of the media commentators say about Tahrir Square that “history doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes”.

From this perspective, it is truly poetic to see how our leaders have yet to learn the lessons of 1981. Many like to think of it as a “general strike” when in reality it was much more than that. Like today, 1981 was a popular movement for broad systemic change not the piecemeal approach that is typically preferred by the status quo. I was the head of the hospitals division for the BIU at the time. So I saw first-hand how the union, the politicians and the merchants were overtaken by a convergence of radically disruptive events.

The common denominator was not rocket science it was simply about people skills. But that didn't make it any easier to deal with. In some respects it would be great to be able to resolve social conflicts with the same detachment as a scientist or a dictator. But the populist legacy of 1981 (and now the 2011 uprisings) shows that an entrenched leadership can be totally blindsided by easily predictable but unforeseen human dynamics. In the wake of 1981, Bermuda's leaders made a calculated decision to bury the truth about the movement behind the general strike under the banner of “official secrecy”. The logic for this decision has always been circumspect. But I don't need a crystal ball to figure out why the guardians of the “status quo” would fail to engage a bona fide movement towards systemic change. Instead, they sought to entrench their vested interests.

Nevertheless, now that Bermuda is once again in the midst of a broader range of disruptive forces, we can use the experience of 1981 to determine whether the maintenance of the “status quo” is a truly viable option this time around. Firstly, the “vested interests” of 1981 the unions, employers and politicians are no longer the dominant forces in the human process. We are now saturated in an information age that allows new actors to easily influence the public interest.

Secondly, 1981 occurred in the midst of an economic boom. So there was breathing room for the “status quo” to recover, retool and reinvent itself. Now that we are in the midst of a severe recession, it appears that all sides have run out of options. Finally, the character of Bermuda's young people has changed profoundly. They are better educated and more internationally exposed than any previous generation. So their attitude to the “status quo” is far more flexible and inventive than the system can anticipate. To me, it looks like the seeds of the 1981 movement for systemic change have finally taken root. And they are being reinforced by a global shift in consciousness that is palpably supportive.

So we should not be afraid to ask the question, why are we not ready to recognise that there is already a “Liberation Island” in our midst beyond the “Liberation Square”; an Island where freedom, justice and equality are the moral foundation for an effective democracy. This universal reality will only be denied for so long. Some say it precipitated the end of the hospitality industry. Others say it opened the way for a new pattern of economic exploitation. I take the view that “half the story has never been told”. As we approach the 30th anniversary of the 1981 movement this May, I would like to invite all our leaders to play their part in ensuring that the root cause of the “general strike” has been properly understood by all concerned. This would be a good way to ensure that the mistakes of that era will not be repeated tin the future. “What goes around, comes around...”

Unity in the community, World Vibe.

Fighting with peace, not for it.

GLADWYN S. SIMMONS

Sandys

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Published March 22, 2011 at 2:00 am (Updated March 22, 2011 at 9:58 am)

Letters to the Editor, 22 March 2011

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