Khalid Wasi

Exodus – movement of the people

  • Double jeopardy: the OBA was hounded out of office largely on the back of unpopular policy, but what is to be said of the PLP should it be found to be proceeding with the former government’s agenda? (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

There is perhaps very little difference between a supposition and a hunch. Of the two words, I think “hunch” is the more innocent. I have been a political observer for more than 40 years and for the most part the issues were clear and the political parties stood far enough apart to be identified.

We have had some epic election results that have demonstrated the sentiments of the electorate. The latest was clear, but at the same time confusing. If indeed the One Bermuda Alliance turned the economy around — and let’s not be mistaken, a disaster was averted — why was it so brutally kicked out?

I think it had something to do with their entire reasoning: they were so adamant in reversing any perceived gains and direction of the Progressive Labour Party that they fell into what we see as the Trumpian mode of “Let’s make Bermuda great again”.

The people saw this in many of its policies and stood solidly against the OBA.

OK, so some would say we flushed that bunch out without realising that during its term that it was laying the foundation and agenda for years ahead. Well, that’s just good planning, and it is, except for the question of whose future is included. Therefore, it would be double jeopardy if the PLP carried on with its agenda also.

Many have credited the PLP for continuing what they say is the OBA economic policy. The OBA openly claims any success the PLP is riding on today. Now there are some changes that even Ray Charles could see — the PLP is revamping the tax structure to extract more to pull down the deficit, and has stepped into hitherto protected territory.

Unfortunately, there is no real growth in the economy. We are drawing on what we already have, and if we were to look at the retail index, it would give every concern that the real street economy is contracting. So what does this say about the topic of inclusion or life simply getting better?

Here is where my hunches kick in ... we have an ageing population and a young populace whose education is not at world standard. Almost 40 years ago, I told the United Bermuda Party that international business is good, but too many were unprepared to take advantage of the opportunity and the Government needed to be absolutely aggressive on the education front to reverse the inevitable catastrophe waiting ahead.

This government is perhaps doing the right thing in approaching fintech and all that it implies. Bermuda will beat the world legislatively, and that will be its advantage. Fintech will be universal and at the end of the day when the rubber meets the road, it will be those with the prerequisite to understand and use the technology. In that regard, there are other jurisdictions who have a more educated public.

Things can change but if they remain as they are, my hunch is seniors will move to jurisdictions with health and welfare, and the young medium-skilled and partially educated will find opportunity elsewhere. This is not a prediction or even a hope, but it becomes logic if we don’t fix the trend.

“Exodus” is such a hard word, but it has been going on unabated for years.

Let’s be fair, this boat is not sinking anytime soon. It’s just that there are and will continue to be lots of passengers on board that are unhappy. So the captain and crew will have to pacify the passengers with more music and booze while wearing their shiny, well-pressed uniforms.

The problem is structural when one sector of society owns, while the beleaguered other’s sole upward mobility becomes the aspiration to be a civil servant or MP, or have some nearness to power.

When government becomes the other business in town, we have a structural quagmire to untangle. The only real solution is growth, and not the isolated growth format of the former government or those with narrow self-interest.