Two things I think
I think we are witnessing a blue eyes, brown eyes experiment that no one could have predicted.
The Oprah Show was not one of my favourites, but there were two episodes that are etched in my memory. The “you get a car” happy episode when she gave away cars to her entire audience, and the more serious “blue eyes brown eyes experiment” show that was life-changing for many.
To briefly recap, the blue eyes, brown eyes experiment was an episode on racism. Created and conducted by Jane Elliott, she showed how easy it was to learn prejudice by dividing the Oprah audience by their eye colour.
The brown-eyed people were treated good, the blue-eyed bad, and the behaviour of both groups was observed. The episode is on YouTube if you have not seen it.
Who would have thought we would be seeing this type of experiment being played out today? Not on one’s race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion, but on modern medicine.
The decision to take the Covid-19 vaccine has divided the vaccinated (brown eyes) and the unvaccinated (blue eyes).
The vaccinated feel empowered, some are proudly updating their social-media profiles with the exciting news. T-shirts displaying “I’ve had my Covid shots” are available to buy, and there are businesses awarding freebies to those who have had the jab.
The unvaccinated are feeling hard done by and being prejudiced against. Some have participated in car rally protests, and there is a legal challenge against quarantine plans.
The priority of saving lives has unintentionally created “vaxism”. To be clear, I am not equating it to racism, which was the intent of Elliott’s experiment, and this is not about why one should take the vaccine or not.
This is about the human behaviour between a majority and a minority.
It does not depend on one’s race, sex or political ideology. There are even differences of opinions within families.
I applaud the Bermuda Government with its SafeKey product. It prioritises safety and, thus far, it accommodates everyone, whether you are vaccinated or not.
However, if it becomes scientifically proven that those who are vaccinated spread the virus far less, this may become a game changer. Especially if there is another wave during the next flu season.
The good news: the medical community will defeat Covid, and vaxism will be a thing of the past.
The bad news: racism, sexism and homophobia will remain. There is no medication such as a vaccine to cure these ills; only human behaviour can.
I think the most fiscally prudent and forward-thinking country in the world must be Norway.
With a population of only 5.3 million people, it has (quietly) amassed the biggest sovereign wealth fund in the world. The fund owns 1.5 per cent of all the shares in the world’s listed companies and has holdings in more than 9,000 businesses.
Norway’s fund today is worth a staggering $1.3 trillion. That works out to be about $245,000 for every citizen. The fund is separate from its pension plans.
To put it in perspective, a fund worth $245,000 per citizen for Bermuda would be valued at $16 billion — 16 times our annual revenues.
Norway struck it rich when oil was discovered in its sector of the North Sea in 1969. Two decades later, the Government passed legislation stipulating tax revenues from its oil should be invested in a fund to be used responsibly in the long term. It acknowledged oil is a finite resource and one day it will run out.
What would other countries have done if they were in Norway’s position? I know what Britain would do — it would spend it.
Britain also owns oil rights in the North Sea. In the 1980s, oil revenues contributed 10 per cent of its annual income. Thanks to Thatcherism, with short-term policies such as subsidised housing and tax relief, the money was squandered.
In short, Britain spent for today while Norway is saving for a rainy day.
What would we do? If our government suggested it should be the one to manage the oil, like Norway has done, and not private companies, what would be the response?
What would we say to some bright-spark politician who would have the audacity to suggest we should save the money for the next 30 to 40 years? They would be banished to the back bench.
No matter which political party was at the helm, could you imagine the “fighting” in deciding our next steps.
The more impressive thing to me about Norway’s sovereign fund is not the amount of money it has accumulated; it is the reason why they saved it in the first place. That is, to safeguard its economy for the future.
Norway has a history of egalitarianism; its people believe in a more equal distribution of wealth. I have no doubt its decision was moulded by its economic and social balance.
What does Bermuda believe in? We are smart enough to know the negatives of capitalism are short-term thinking and inequality. Yet we suffer from these effects. It does not help we are influenced by a country to our west where capitalism runs supreme.
Like a healthy body that needs fibre in its diet, a healthy society needs balance in its way of life.
• Malcolm Raynor has worked in the telecommunications industry in Bermuda for more than 30 years. Benefiting from Cable & Wireless’ internal training and education programmes held in Bermuda, Barbados, St Lucia (The University of the West Indies), and the UK, he rose to the level as senior vice-president. An independent thinker possessing a moderate ideology, his opinions are influenced by principle, data and trends