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We are paying for past greed

Development projects like the new Berkeley Institute should have been the springboard young Bermudians working in the trades (File photo)

This article was initially intended as an e-mail to an individual, but on consideration, may be of interest to a wider audience:

Sir, the economy is the laboratory where society is built. Any failure in the economy as an instrument for the training and evolution of its participants will result in societal chaos.

It is true that Bermuda was run by an oligarchy that, when viewed from 30,000 feet, looked like a prosperous functioning operation. It is also true that at ground level there was inequality and elitism that prevented too many others, Blacks in particular, from reaching their fullest potential.

When the Progressive Labour Party was founded in the 1960s, it had two missions. One was to confront the oligarchical rule and the other was to foster the idea of equality.

However, in the midst of that was the economy and more particularly its role in shaping individuals to develop the skills to advance their lives and sustain the economy.

The economy is the engine for creating cultures of survival. This is true of all societies, not just Bermuda. Whether it was the pyramids of Egypt or the cathedrals of Europe, these buildings as projects gave their society an educational experience that moved them forward.

As the Oligarchs’ rule was threatened, cracks appeared in what had become the system. We all remember the closing of the Bermuda Technical Institute and subsequently, apprenticeships schemes all over the island ended soon after. Belco is perhaps the last vestige of what formerly was universal in almost every field.

With the thrust of political determinism and power up against the mechanism for sustaining society, the symbiotic relationship between the economy and education was destroyed.

Having leadership that understood the balance was not forthcoming. Between holding onto power and trying to gain it, the maintenance of the instrument of evolving the people to take a fit and proper place was sidelined.

1998 marked the end of the old rule and the beginning of the political power of the Progressive Labour Party.

Part of the PLP's long rise to power was predicated on distancing itself from the older black merchant class, which was seen as a political rival. However for a period of time International business provided such a surplus that the vulnerabilities in the society were disguised.

The country's infrastructure needed repairs, and there would be many capital projects needed in any event.

Some, like the “new” Berkeley Institute and the Dame Lois Browne Evans building, were done. This was the greatest failure and evidence of a misguided political philosophy.

What should have been training grounds for budding tradesmen and young entrepreneurs became instead a feeding ground for unsavoury business enthusiasts, many of whom with no construction experience at all, but were well equipped to write an invoice.

These projects were not completed by the original contractors, and a tremendous opportunity to grow the community was completely lost.

Traditional Black businessmen were deliberately avoided for political reasons but these projects would have revolutionised the construction industry and spawned many new entrepreneurs in so many fields, had they not been avoided.

Projects are generational and as a result, a whole generation of young people’s inherent potential was snatched away by greed. We are paying for that now.

The next cycle is youth violence, a predictable outcome whenever there is a migration of talent either because traditional businessmen are pushed out of the system, or leave the country, taking their voices and experience with them, and leadership without a firm grasp of the ecosystem that supports society and growth abandons the role of cultivating its future through the only tool that civilisations have known, the economy.

The economy used properly can be self-sustaining when the vast majority are happily engaged with open opportunities.

The job of the PLP in 1998 was to re-engineer an economy that was more inclusive than the previous one. But that was an idea, and only a statesman or humanitarian leader would see the higher purpose of raising humanity and improving the character of society as the goal.

Revenge and payback are symptoms of a power game. In the process of this type of power game, the valuable transmission of culture, trades-manship, and generational knowledge is lost and in fact destroyed.

The PLP has had five leaders over its 20-year stretch, none of whom can truly be described as an exemplar.

Is the PLP still waiting for a leader that fits the ticket as a humanitarian and avatar? Is there even a desire for such, or must we wait through a cold winter of thought and suffer every ignominy until it finally dawns that the role of leadership in a diverse and plural society is not to eliminate the other, but to embrace difference and nurture it.

Naturally, developing a humanistic world would need to be the philosophical ideal of the party. What is the ideal currently? Protest is not a philosophy, have you not noticed there is actually no ideal?

I watched a deputy leader in a speech struggle to formulate words for an ideal for the party, and all he could offer was a detail or chronicle of the party's success at the polls, but no ideals.

We hear a few calls by one or two members to look to the Caribbean, but there too, there are no such ideals. Mother England's standard was formed and modelled around the Monarchy, its culture, law, and education were embedded throughout the British Empire.

Through the universities, the best of the minds conformed to its methodology and society was codified. The Caribbean is no exception, and it took the American Revolution to break the format of Colonial rule.

At one time, much earlier in my life, I thought Bermuda could be a model for smaller island nations through the creation of a more egalitarian style of governance.

When I woke up, unfortunately, I saw that the only drive by this government was a drive to rule, and having achieved the rule, the only road upward was to increase and perfect that rule, to the point of absolutism.

Is there no embarrassment about being neocolonialist? These folks are wearing their colonialism with pomp and pride and have turned purgatory into their heaven. Even mediocrity is a high bar to reach now and there is no guarantee it can be achieved.

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Published April 30, 2022 at 7:53 am (Updated April 30, 2022 at 7:50 am)

We are paying for past greed

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