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Roll out the welcome mat for guest workers

The feedback to last week's submission was so powerful that I've thought to do a part two on the economy. More on this after the top 20.

Up to #1 is Chris Brown's hit,

She Ain't You. Tumbling to #2 is

Rolling In The Deep by Adele. Improving to #3 is

Put Your Hands Up (If You…) by Kylie Minogue. Falling to #4

I'm Into You by Jennifer Lopez featuring L'il Wayne.

On the dancehall tip, way up to #5 is

Fly Away by Mavado. Improving to #6 is another hit by Mavado, but this one is entitled

Pepper.

Now more dance music. Slipping to #7 is a former essential new tune,

I Wanna Go from Britney Spears. Down to #8 is

Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO featuring Lauren Bennett & GoonRock.

Motivation, by Kelly Rowland featuring L'il Wayne, holds at #9 this week. At #10 is

Last Friday (TGIF) by Katy Perry.

Improving to # 11 is

She Will by Lil Wayne featuring Drake. Climbing to #12 is

Party by Beyonce featuring Andre 3000. Tumbling into the #13 slot is

Give Me Everything by Pitbull, Neo, AfroJack & Nayer. Falling to #14 is Enrique Iglesias' current hit

Tonight I'm Loving You, a dance anthem that works well with the previous track by Pitbull.

Falling to #15 is

Wotless by Kes The Band and slipping to #16 is

Bend Over by Machel Montano. Slipping to #17 is the Latin/soca anthem

Danza Kuduro, by Don Omar, Pit Bull, Lucenzo, DJ Laz and Qwote.

Improving to #18 is last week's essential new tune,

Moves like Jagger by Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera, which is catchy and has a banging beat.

New at #19 is this week's essential new tune,

Mr Saxobeat by Alexandra Stan. This is a monster dance anthem which features a bouncy beat under a saxophone solo and sweet female lyrics. Very clever and it kicks.

In at #20 is

Sexy And I Know It by LMFAO. This is yet another hit from the former kings of skateboarding who have translated their infectious personalities and zest for life into an album of dance hits. Now everybody wants to collaborate with them. Amazing!

Now back to this week's topic, the economy. Sources tell me that the average man on the street still doesn't understand that this is not a Bermudian versus Guest Worker matter. It is a matter of arithmetic. Basic Elliott Primary School or Central School Standard One maths! It's also a successful economy versus a failing economy matter.

We need 40,000 people working in Bermuda in all the jobs in order to create the kind of economy we had five years ago. That was an economy where we had more international businesses here.

That was an economy where Bermudians could charge $2,000 for a studio apartment; where Bermudians could have two or three jobs; where a Bermudian or even a guest worker who had been here for two or more years could leave their job today and have another one by next week

That was an economy where there was full employment for all professions; there were many commercial and residential construction projects; the cost of construction went over $300 per square foot.

Masons who wanted to work could work. Labourers could leave one construction site and probably get a job on another within seven days! That isn't the case today.

Five years ago the private schools were full with waiting lists and parents were begging them to take their little Johnnies and Jennies who were registered from birth!

Remember those days Bermuda? They seem like a lifetime ago to most of us.

Our birth rate is declining and we can today only muster some 27,000 Bermudians to fill the 40,000 jobs that need to be filled to make the successful formula for our economy to thrive. So since we only have 27,000 Bermudians eligible to work, we need 13,000 guest workers.

By sending home so many guest workers over the past few years, and by others leaving for a variety of reasons, we now have less than 40,000 workers. I think the latest statistic is that the workforce is down to some 37,000 workers.

The impact of losing 3,000 people in such a small economy is being felt big time, with so many vacant dwellings and commercial properties, so many rents dropped, unemployment at unprecedented levels, and fear and despair in the land.

Massive change has occurred. So many guest workers have left, so many companies have shut down or relocated elsewhere and the effect of all of this is the complete reversal of the glory days through 2009 when we began to notice that things were changing.

It was a slow, insidious decline, not obvious to the casual observer. Somehow we sent a message to international business that they were unwelcome in Bermuda.

Everything they wanted to do was not just made difficult and problematic, but we were arrogant about it!

If the current trend continues, with the declining number of guest workers, we will see the workforce fall to 35,000, then 33,000, then 31,000, and lower still. That decline has to be arrested. If you think things are bad now, with a 37,000 national workforce, let more guest workers leave and let us get down to 30,000 and see how bad things get!

Bermudians, we don't want this to happen. To the contrary, we need to accept that our old views of the impact of guest workers are merely myths and fables, with no factual or statistical basis.

We need guest workers because there are simply not enough of us to do all the jobs needed for our economy to be what it was three to five years ago.

If you send the guest workers home, we will have the kind of economy we have today. If we open our doors, hearts and minds, we just might be able to recover, grow the economy and have a standard of living and quality of life similar to what we had right up until 2009 take your pick.

I choose to have more guest workers here because this will allow our Country to thrive and have the standard of living we prefer. I hope others see the necessity of adopting this mindset.

So just as our Country needs to become more politically mature and stop voting along racial lines, Bermuda also needs to become less xenophobic, more accepting of others, more welcoming to guest workers, more welcoming and more attractive to foreign investment.

It also needs to become a place whose policies, systems, laws, rules and practices make people want to come, stay here and spend all of their money versus being the place we are today, which is largely a place that is sending people away, discouraging them from staying and discouraging them from spending their money.

Gil Tucker used an analogy that I simply love.

He said that our dilemma is like Cleveland County wanting to win the Eastern County Cup and having to decide whether we want to take guest players, to give ourselves the best chance of winning the cup, or whether we want to make sure that our neighbours and cousins from 'down de road' get to play on the team.

This is our challenge. I say let's take the guest players and win the Cup.

Over time we will all get a chance to play. Winning the Cup is the most important thing and the main objective. Losing the Cup year after year, but having our ace boys play, is not going to help us to win.

And this is not all on the Government.

The Government has a role to play, but every Bermudian has a duty to understand how the economy works and to do their part to encourage the job creators to come to Bermuda, to make those who do come feel welcome and wanted, and to work to move Bermuda into a space where we all can live in harmony with one another no matter where we are from, no matter our station in life.

We need a Country where we live with mutual respect, trust, fairness and where everybody lives by the Golden Rule, 'doing unto others, as we would have them do unto us'. It's really that simple.

Do this and our economy will thrive. We fail to do this to our peril. Peace. DJLT

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Published November 04, 2011 at 2:00 am (Updated November 04, 2011 at 8:58 am)

Roll out the welcome mat for guest workers

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