Wednesday, March 24, 2010

They Say The Cutest Things Don't They

Senator Burch has a habit of making the news for saying some pretty out there things and, for the most part, Bermuda accepts it as just being the way he is. He often says what needs to be said and often hits the nail right on the head when others would rather skirt around the issue but today I couldn't help but look at his comments regarding marrying foreigners with a rather strange mixture of amusement and worry.

He suggested that Bermudians should be only allowed to marry one foreigner and if that doesn't work out then they have to stick to Bermudians for the rest of their days. In any other western country I would laugh and forget but, the worrying comes in when I think that it might actually be possible.

First of all I find it amusing simply because of the fact that Burch is suggesting that Bermudians should stick to only marrying other Bermudians.. Potential genetic troubles aside, this should appall anyone who values their personal liberty. We all recognize (for the most part) that the world we live in involves compromise, we give up certain liberties so that the rest of them may be protected by the government however I believe that any proposal to tell people who they can or cannot marry is going too far.

Secondly although he is of course entitled to speak his mind this comment is extremely divisive bordering on xenophobic. Bermuda already has a strained attitude towards expats, this (were it to go any further) would just make it worse. Sure there may be a few who use marriage simply to get in on Bermudian status but, to paint all expats with this brush does a disservice to the many people who come to work here, bringing their money, talent and time to grow Bermuda's economy and bolster Bermuda's charities.

Normally I wouldn't feel the need to comment but, I'm in a cynical mood and unfortunately I can just imagine such a thing happening.. So much for

Wishful Thinking

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Budget Debacle

So I've had the opportunity to listen to the budget "debates" on Monday and Today and I must say that I'm ashamed of what this country has come to. Blatant filibustering, petty bickering and overall low standard of debate.

Both on Monday and today I have had the misfortune of hearing exceptionally long, irrelevant and quite frankly unnecessary speeches from ministers that stretch a simple analysis of budgetary figures into ridiculously long thank you speeches to departmental cleaners and in depth discussion of hospital cleaning utensils. Twice debate on important issues has been cut short, once most certainly deliberately, the other quite obviously deliberately but, I'm sure its possible to argue the other side if you try hard enough.

In case you're wondering the debates I'm referring to are the debates of the Cabinet Office and Future Care (part of the Ministry of Health debate) respectively.

I've had a number of things to say over on BIAW about the budget this year and if your interested I invite you to go and have a look Here and Here.

Anyway there I is one thing I think needs to be done to "fix" the issues with debate in the house. As of right now the Opposition chooses the schedule but, the Minister responsible always gets the chance to give an opening statement and breakdown of the figures. I think this needs to be changed to allow the Opposition to begin by highlighting their concerns (perhaps this could be done in advance of the actual debate) which would then be dealt with by the minister and the debate could move on from there. That would stop the complete waste of time that is so much of the budget debate these days.

Also, although not really something you can fix with rules or changes in system, MP's really need to get their act together and debate rather than just making speeches at each other. Too often there is so little "clash" as it is called in debating as a competitive activity and it doesn't allow them to get to the bottom of whatever issue is at hand. All we have currently is MP's repeating the party line with different words over and over again and no rebuttal of the opposing view. That's the only way to really flesh out an idea. As it is now that doesn't really happen.

Wishful Thinking

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Cog Is The New Black

In today's Royal Gazette Finance Minister and Deputy Premier The Hon. Paula "Cog" Cox JP MP reiterated her position that she is just "a cog in the wheel" of government.

What then does the Department of Finance actually do?

Lets begin this search for the meaning of the only department actually specifically mentioned in the Bermuda Constitution by looking at what the word Finance means.

Webster's Dictionary defines it as: "the science or study of the management of funds" and " the obtaining of funds or capital" but, in this context I think most can agree that it means simply money management.

So now that we know what the word Finance actually means let us play with the definition and imagine that the Department is instead called the Department of Money Management and not the Department of Stand By And Let Them Spend What They Want Regardless Of How Much Money We Have as one may have expected. What does the Department of Money Management therefore have responsibility for? Well.. Money Management right?. Both in the regulating the flow of money in the economy and in regulating the incomes and expenditures of government funds right? That would seem logical to me anyway.

So why does Ms. Cog seem to have a different idea? How can she or anyone justify completely ignoring the management part of her portfolio? What if we applied her team idea to her management of the economy? No one would be paying taxes! Every company would do what was profitable, not what was legal! Does that sound like a good thing?

It's about time that she stops this strange attempt to shirk all responsibility for her failures and just admit that either she is incompetent or doesn't have the testicular fortitude to stand up to Ewart Brown and the other members of the cabinet. We need expenditure cuts, reductions in government waste, better management of capital projects and economic stimulus. Not a 10% increase in spending, a 2% rise in payroll tax and a reduction in the tax rates on TVs.

So enough with this cog in the wheel nonsense. Bermuda has been mismanaged financially over the last few years Ms. Cox was the one asleep at the wheel while it happened but, if there was ever a time to turn things around it is now. So lets see some proof that she has the testicular fortitude she is so fond of talking about. For the past few years good financial management has seemed like wishful thinking but, perhaps with a bit of a backbone that can change.

Wishful Thinking