Saturday, January 30, 2010

How Do You Run A Country When You Can't Balance A Budget?

With Paula Cox touted as the most likely successor to Premier Ewart Brown come October it is not without good reason that I am worried that she seems either unable to control the spending of the Bermuda Government, which is exactly what Bermuda needs.

Under her watch we have seen:
  • Heavy spending in the good times leading to the accumulation of massive debt in the bad
  • Multiple projects running over budget
  • Qualified Audits 2 years in a row
  • $800 million going missing from the Consolidated fund

We have seen a finance minister who again and again has shown she has the backbone of a jellyfish. Unable (or Unwilling) to stand up to Dr. Brown and her cabinet colleagues she has appeared, and even claimed to be, politically neutered. Is that what we want in a future premier?

We have seen a Finance Minister who's best response to 20% yearly budget overspending is to pass the blame and play the part of the politically (or perhaps financially) neutered victim:

"I can indicate support or objection. However the sponsoring Minister(s) knows that I cannot overrule their request unless I have others who join with me to support and uphold my position."

We have seen a Finance Minister who has attempted to mislead the public using Bermuda's strangely large GDP (thanks to International Business) to mask the fact that our debt really is going through the roof (around 50% per year increase over the past 3 years).

We have seen a Finance Minister who can't even release the budget on time. Sure, according to law it's within their right but, one does not break with parliamentary tradition unless something is wrong. Maneuverability is a pathetic excuse.

Is it wrong of me to expect better from our probable future Premier? I guess in today's Bermuda it is.

The public's silence is deafening.

Expecting better would simply be...

Wishful Thinking

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Here's Johnny!

Sorry about the recent lack of posts (to anyone who may read this) but, life got in the way for a while and life > politics/current affairs.

Just to ease myself back into it I'd like to make a few comments on an article that I was unfortunately not surprised to find myself reading. One regarding Dale Butler's hope of becoming Premier when Dr. Brown steps down in October.

An article that actually used the words "gay rights agenda" as if it were a subversive organization set out to destroy our country and repeatedly focused on the fact that any attempt to bring equality to our country will go against all that the PLP's religious supporters stand for and (here's the big argument) lose them votes.

That's right I'm talking about the article reporting Rolfe Commissiong's comments on the subject of Dale Butler and after a little reading around I'm happy to have found that Rolfe's views don't appear to be the actual party line but all the same the sheer ignorance of his comments left my head spinning. In the last century the very comments he is making would have been used to justify the inequality of blacks compared to whites and to justify the prevention of female suffrage and to even go into explaining why in so many ways his comments are unworthy of a first world multicultural country like Bermuda would be to simply waste my time because its common sense. It all boils down to equality.

He also seems to forget (as a very good LttE pointed out) that the current Premier and other PLP big names have previously voted for this "gay rights agenda" in passing the Stubbs Bill. Didn't seem to affect their popularity much did it?

Perhaps if PLP (And UBP and BDA) members were to simply vote conscious and forget about politics for just one second they would see just how important amending the HRA is. It's a matter of principle, of equality and of rights. Not Politrics.

And to all who may be reading I encourage you to go out and see what you can do for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. I can't stress enough how important even a few dollars can be but, I'm not going to go on and on about it. It's all been said already but, the people of Haiti need our help.

Wishful Thinking

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Happy New Year To All

Well the new year has begun and I'm sure we've all just about settled back into the daily grunge of regular life after a season of festivities but, there are storm clouds on the horizon. Violence is becoming worryingly common in Bermuda. Not even just gun violence but, violence in general. Without this culture of violence and disrespect that is now rearing its ugly head we would not now be dealing with what is just another extension of a long existing problem. Crime in Bermuda has become almost a joke, a dark, dark joke at that. Whether it be a comedy of errors in the courts, a lack of manpower on the streets or the inability to solve the crimes there always seems to be something. But, perhaps this is changing. Things are happening now, cooperation throughout the community and and between Government and Governor have always been key and now we really seem to be moving in the right direction. Unfortunately it took the shock of such unnecessary loss of life to get us to this point and we still have a long way to go. I'm hopeful but, part of me believes its going to get worse before it gets better and I don't know if Bermuda can handle that. We depend too much on image for both IB and tourism. Both of which have already taken major blows.

If I didn't listen to the talk in town I might have been able to fool myself and say that we're experiencing the platinum period of tourism that we've been told about all last year but, the numbers don't lie and spending is down. Its part of a trend that I can only assume won't reverse itself unless something is done and given the Government's record on tourism over these past few years I can't deny that I'm worried.

Bermuda has a lot to deal with in the coming year(s) but, I think we'll be able to handle them. Bermuda used to be another world but, we can't claim that any longer. We face the same troubles as all the rest of the world. At this point we can do two things: Pretend the ships not sinking Or get out there and start bailing. There's no reason we can't return to some semblance of the country we used to be. All it's going to take is a lot of work and this is the crucial year. As we weather out the aftereffects of the recession, deal with crime we will also experience a change in leadership. Dr. Brown has always been a controversial leader but, undoubtedly he's made his mark. In the past he's been a close candidate to take my title as the King of Wishful Thinking but, he has the power to do a lot of good this year and turn the country around.

We can only hope.

Wishful Thinking