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Time for an agenda reversing wealth gap

Missing information: Leah Scott painted a picture of the One Bermuda Alliance’s economic achievements, with the underlying message: we need more time to continue the progress, but did not include a clear plan

They say you shouldn’t drive forward while looking in the rear-view mirror. Nor, I suppose, is it any good looking ahead but through darkly tinted glass. Yet we enter an election and would be mindful to consider what has, or has not been presented, as a clear agenda going forward.

Typically, if not real, there is at least the pretence of presenting solutions that address the leading problems and issues facing society. In our case there seems an absence of focus? What are the priorities? What consensus on issues would the public agree needs to be addressed? And are there any overarching concerns?

Fixing the economy is unquestionably and obviously an easy topic. Crime is another and education probably fills another spot, closely followed by seniors care. The big political question is whether there is an overarching issue that runs through each.

Since the 1977 Lord Pitt report, there have been several such reports, all pointing in the same direction. Racial and economic disparity is a cancer eating at the core of every aspect of the community. We do not need another report to rewrite what is blatantly obvious. Only those blinded by privilege cannot see the connection between the status in the economy and all the socially degenerate effects that it has left. All those in power, or who have been in the position of it, are in manifest contempt and, given the blatant history, collectively guilty of benign neglect.

So why aren’t the stated agendas of the political campaigns forthright in what they intend? I read the well-intended article of Leah Scott, who painted a picture of the One Bermuda Alliance’s economic achievements, with the underlying message: we need more time to continue the progress. We know the Opposition can only promise to bring opportunity and express a desire to address the wealth gap. We do not doubt the sincerity of any of the talk, but ominously missing is a plan or clear vision statement from anyone, including the Government, on how they actually intend to address the increasing wealth disparity.

OK, the supporters of the Government will say: “We need to fix the economy first.” But, truthfully, the populace is used to that talk. The OBA needs to remember that the public listened for 35 years about needing to maintain a stable and robust economy. In the meantime, the gap was widening and the leaders were singing “how sweet it is through the UBP”, but never noticed that too many never drank or even tasted from that same sweet cup.

No one will take the Progressive Labour Party seriously on economic matters, either, unless they had a plan of action that is clear and attainable. Yet it is not up to them alone. The public have a role: not only in electing their leaders, but also showing the needs and possible ways forward. This is meant to be a democracy and not a kingdom. The leadership and directions includes the people.

There can be no social progress without an economic agenda that facilitates it. The problem within primarily the black communities is the collateral result of a collapse in their merchant middle class. Every aspect of the community suffers that loss. Churches, clubs and social support groups of all kinds are at a tremendous loss without the resourceful arms of strong merchants who as individuals helped to blaze a trail and built the institutions we now have in place — a community once thriving, now totally dependent on government handouts and international business charity. We as a significant part of Bermuda society cannot live without a big stake in the economy to provide real economic determinism.

Ma and Pa shops and little self-initiatives are good, but you cannot put out a raging house fire with a garden hose. I maintain that a new industry such as the trans-shipment port could begin to reverse the tide and address the wealth gap, halting the half-century of economic degeneration that has all but erased the black merchant middle class.

I have argued publicly the OBA deliberately sabotaged $4 billion of new development opportunity “to maintain the status quo”. They claim the industry, which I proposed, is incompatible with softer international business, which they want continually to grow as our main pillar.

Still others say it is too heavy for our environment. Crime is also an environmental issue. Poverty and ineffective health and educational systems are also environmental issues. A majority population with low market ownership is a heavy environmental issue.

Many so-called environmentalists suffer the old syndrome “I am in the boat, you can pull up the ladder now” as the underlying attitude pushing their rationale, which sounds good but is only for those in the boat.

I am supporting the party who will support an economic development that can bring hundreds of millions of dollars in new money from the international markets into our economy.

I will support a party that will support a business and opportunity proposition, which brings new industry and new training skill sets to build a more diverse, better and inclusive Bermuda for everyone.

We have the beginnings of something that has the hope that needs to be nurtured. If any party, person or group has a better plan, then all they need to do is produce it. If they don’t, then, like the James Brown song, “Open up the door I’ll get it myself”.

So let me be clear: I will support the party that openly supports an economic agenda that has the hope of reversing the wealth gap and making a better Bermuda. I would hope we all agree that a mutually engaged and inclusive economic marketplace is a “Better Bermuda”; nothing less will suffice. If you don’t have a plan, remain silent. It’s more appropriate.