David Burt’s self-fulfilling prophecy of doom
“Do not let a leader lead you on a bad path.” – Confucius
Bermuda, before we heard the terms flatten the curve, social distance, quarantine, lock down or curfew, David Burt made a speech in 2019 at the Fairmont Southampton Resort where he told Bermuda the good old days of economic prosperity are gone.
In his own words, he said: “We cannot solve today’s problems with yesterday’s thinking or by devoting all of our efforts into reincarnating the 1980s and 1990s, we need to let those decades go. Let the ’80s and ’90s go.”
As it happened, this 20-year period saw some of the greatest growth in the Bermuda economy, especially in the Black middle class.
This was the beginning of the boom years of International Business. Many Bermudians became owners of their own homes during this period. Bermudians had the opportunity to work at two or three jobs if they wanted.
This was also a period when many Bermudians were able to take advantage of university education and afford family vacations, but the Premier told us that those days were gone and to let them go. Little did we know how true his words would be.
We also recall that prior to Covid there was nothing but economic doom and gloom for average Bermudians. Businesses were closing at an alarming rate with jobs being lost. School closures were promoted, home prices were falling, foreclosures were increasing, raiding pension funds was being advocated and the Premier’s fintech pet project was an utter failure.
I have said it before that Covid-19 is one of the most disastrous things to happen to Bermuda at the same time that it is the best thing that ever happened to the PLP.
The Premier took full advantage by calling a snap election in the middle of the pandemic. That win, unfortunately for Bermuda, has created the perfect excuse for the poor leadership that is destroying our country.
According to the PLP, the pandemic is the reason why our economic and social problems are so desperate. However, the bitter truth is that David Burt and the PLP had no clue how to get the economy back on track before Covid and they are doubly clueless now.
One just needs to look at our GDP numbers and the ever-increasing debt to prove that this is a correct assessment.
Prior to the pandemic there were numerous pie-in-the-sky remedies suggested. A domestic crypto currency was announced and fintech was supposed to attract hundreds of jobs.
So far, these initiatives have proven to be a lame duck embarrassment in the wake of scandal after scandal and controversy after controversy with nothing to show for the millions invested in the scheme.
The PLP told us how they will stop the real estate decline by proposing lower interest rates and setting up a government body to stop foreclosures.
This is a particularly cruel joke on Bermudians as our most important asset is the value of our homes. In some instances, the value of our homes has decreased by up to 50 per cent from their peak value more than a decade ago.
In essence, what this means is that we are much poorer today – largely due to the PLP’s economic mismanagement with foreclosures and high interest rates continuing.
More recently, the PLP has announced they will undermine local retailers with government-facilitated online shopping.
So, instead of growing the economy to encourage business growth, in an effort to put more Bermudians to work, the PLP has a strategy to run more local business owners out of business and put those workers into the unemployment line. This is “the brilliance of Burt” on full display.
Our only consolation is that the PLP does not get anything done, so their plans are unlikely to materialise.
To say this government is all talk and no action is an understatement. They promised a casino that was initiated six years ago but so far, they have not delivered one.
They promised to reduce the cost of living by reducing food cost and reducing healthcare cost but they have broken those promises to the detriment of Bermudians.
The end result for Bermuda is a do-nothing government that over-promises and under-delivers while leading the “train-wreck-in-slow-motion” decline of the Bermuda economy and the quality of life for Bermudians as a whole.
This should be a time for fresh, bold ideas on improving our economy. There should be an emphasis on starting initiatives that provide concrete results to instil hope. What do we get from the PLP? Nothing.
The tourism sector is in a devastating and disturbing condition. This industry is a main pillar of our economy providing thousands of jobs for working class Bermudians and nothing has been put forward for its revival.
The Premier needs to fire the tourism minister for the poor performance of the industry.
We are doing about eight per cent of the business we were before the pandemic while other competing destinations are seeing pre-pandemic tourism numbers. Imagine a visitor having to stay in their room for two or three days waiting for a negative test. Yes, I am aware the tourism minister and the Premier is the same individual.
The Government’s current handling of the pandemic is an utter farce. Covid restrictions and TA cost are prohibitive to visitors. SafeKey is keeping no one safe considering we have wave after wave of positive cases. This new wave is likely to eclipse all other waves combined. Schools are in complete disarray with botched testing scheduling and a lack of resources.
The lead Covid adviser has resigned. The unashamed discrimination between the vaccinated and unvaccinated is deepening while Dr Fauci admitted six months ago that, “the level of virus in the nasal pharynx of a vaccinated person, who gets a breakthrough infection, it is exactly the same as the level of virus in an unvaccinated person”.
The Government has even stopped informing Bermudians as to which group is testing positive in their most recent reporting, with many people asking the question, why?
Thankfully, international business is performing better in spite of this government. However, there is serious cause for concern due to the unprecedented global challenge to the sector including the recently announced global minimum corporate tax.
I can hear it already, the PLP defenders will ask, where are the opposition’s ideas? This is exactly the free pass that the PLP is banking on. They push the notion that they are the best that Bermuda has.
They have a 30-6 majority but they can not collectively come up with one idea or workable plan to offer even a flicker of hope to the Bermuda economy.
By comparison, the OBA attracted about $1 billion of foreign investment into the island in four years.
Bermuda, I hate to be pessimistic but our economy has been driven into the ground to the point where being pessimistic and being realistic amounts to the same thing under PLP governance.
Vic Ball is a former Senator and House of Assembly candidate for the One Bermuda Alliance