Butler service an essential skill set for the modern politician
A friend asked me in a discussion over coffee: “Khalid, what is the workforce going to look like 30 years from now?” He asked this question after experiencing some service from waitresses who seemed disconnected from us as customers. We were comparing attitudes of generations gone with modern-day attitudes about service. Where I had to describe my father, who always put “Butler” in his passport for his profession. Back in the 1940s, there was no maître d’; there were butlers who ran the guesthouses’ service, and they gave “service”.
I said to my friend, 30 years from now Bermuda will be completely cosmopolitan, and as an example said, with no disrespect intended, most of the bus drivers will be from the Philippines, the mechanics from Canada, accountants from Sri Lanka and India.
I then jokingly said the new term for the politicians in the House will be “Butler”, the rationale for that being that the 40 Thieves were no longer around and the Government would then be controlled by the new crowd of international and corporate groups and syndicates that purchased Bermuda and used the Government like a butler service.
There was a time not too long ago when foreign investors looked at Bermuda like an impenetrable warship. I recall hearing some of them, who may have been considered as elephants in the financial world, complaining because the Bermudians were too strong, they controlled everything and they could not get in.
OK, the world has changed and we must embrace it, but in the process of change, are we at the centre helping to direct or are we caught in the spin? Remembering the words of 17th-century Captain John Smith, the Pocahontas man, who said Bermuda is “an excellent bit to rule a great horse". For several hundred years, that's exactly what Bermuda did; it was like the eye of the storm.
Pocahontas was able to save Captain John Smith back then. I don't know who is around now, who like her can save the country from being lost to the whims of forces unknown. Like a hurricane that looses its eye and weakens, the direction becomes subject to the strongest elements. For Bermuda, the strongest elements will not be the politics; it will be money, who has it and where it is going.
The new buzzword "from 30,000 feet in the air" Bermuda will be stratified perhaps even greater than we are today, with a new service community of mostly imported labour who work on demand and are exported when the demand reduces. There will be more wealthy foreigners with residency who will be the mainstay of the economy.
Oh, but what about us Bermudians? Most will be part of that workforce, some new entrepreneurs, the most successful being those attached to the strongest foreign partners.
Of course, the crystal ball was hazy this afternoon because there is a choice element that could alter the future outlook. It was hazy because it looks like the window for that choice is closing.