Things getting better despite PLP negativity
Here's one for you Mr Editor: the Government is doing a remarkable job turning around the economy!
Think about where we were a few short years ago:
• The exodus of expatriate workers — some 5,000, I'm told — with their spending that kept businesses profitable, people employed and rental units rented
• The advent of mass unemployment, a catastrophe for thousands of Bermudian families
• The first declines in our gross domestic product (GDP) since the Second World War, meaning less to go around for everyone
• Massive government spending deficits, imposing the yoke of debt on our children
• The beginning of huge debt interest payments, reducing the Government's capacity to help people in need
• And let's not forget the overwhelming sense that Bermuda had lost its way, with no clear sign the Progressive Labour Party government knew how to get out of the mess it had walked us into
The economy, in short, was in free fall.
Today, the signs that Bermuda has turned the fall into ascent are clear: GDP is growing, the retail sector is resurgent and the value of the family homes is rising, as is visitor spending and employment income. In recent weeks, the Government passed the St George's Resort Act and Morgan's Point got planning approval — two projects that will join continuing work at Pink Beach, Ariel Sands and Hamilton Princess.
All of these projects indicate investor confidence is coming back, marking a return to form for Bermuda and making possible a stunning revival of our tourism product — the one industry that offers greater opportunity to Bermudian workers than any other.
It seems to me there's every reason to see the glass as half-full; certainly not half-empty.
But pessimism and negativity across Bermuda today is so dominant and so wilful that anything positive achieved by the Government is disparaged and dismissed.
I think there are a couple of reasons for the cynicism — one legitimate, the other not:
1, Frustration among providers who've not yet got that job; who struggle each week to make ends meet
2, The PLP's relentless negativity as the Opposition, doing whatever it can to sow distrust and division, especially along racial lines
The first reason is perfectly acceptable and should drive government efforts every day.
The second reason is where things get unhinged because it injects a strong element of BS into life today.
It leads to senseless statements such as the ones expressed this week in a letter to you by “Knight”, who said One Bermuda Alliance ministers were putting in place policies to protect big business and to “make Bermudians foreign in their own country ...”
Mr Knight was picking up on a PLP theme that the OBA is in it for everyone but Bermudians.
It's crazy. Foreigners over Bermudians! How's that for a re-election slogan? It makes no sense, of course, but the Opposition is working feverishly to twist positive into negative and stall OBA progress that can lift families out of hard times. It is stoking historic mistrusts, pushing every possible button to keep them burning. It's desperate Old World politics that does nothing to move Bermuda forward. It's regressive, divisive and, most of all, cowardly.
If we followed PLP strategy to its end, we'd be demanding all OBA ministers present their long-form birth certificates.
Instead, I would recommend giving the Government the benefit of the doubt. Hold them to account for sure, but trust their motives to get Bermuda working again for Bermudians. They're not the enemy, as Mr Knight would have you believe.
Here's an example of how good deeds get twisted in today's toxic politics. The Government has enacted policies to re-establish Bermuda's identity as a good place to do business. It has taken them all of 2½ years to do it, but the effort is bearing fruit in rising economic activity and breakthroughs such as the St George's Resort Act — developments that herald job and business opportunities for Bermudians.
This reality does not factor into Mr Knight's talking points. He would have you believe that the Government is “interested only in protecting big business”.
Pessimists and distorters such as Mr Knight can stay down if they want. The positive side of life is better, and it's getting real.