Part I of II

 

I think it’s most appropriate to begin this column with the point I ended the last column on: By all means don’t believe every single thing the PLP has to say, but have the wisdom to read their Budget Reply for yourself.  No matter how much you might disagree with David Burt’s views, he expressed them clearly and respectfully.  His words weren’t acrimonious or bigoted.  He presented his Reply without resorting to talk of sorcery, plantations, or nefarious plots.  For that alone, he ought to be highly commended.

As the Opposition should, Burt did his research and presented alternative points that seem to be rooted in fact. He raised multiple good points, and he was absolutely right to question, “Where was the Minister’s outrage towards the banks and BELCO when he sat on this side of the House?”

Burt may also be justifiably angry over the OBA’s claim about corporate income tax. Income tax wasn’t explicitly stated in his Reply, but Burt does need to clarify exactly what he meant by “tap into the incredible wealth surrounding us”, if he is going to propose that international business isn’t sharing enough of the sacrifice (for the record, I disagree with him here).

But like the OBA’s Budget, the PLP’s Reply is not without issues. The first such issue that comes to mind is when Burt protested that the PLP had been unfairly condemned for making statements similar to Bob Richards’ comments about BELCO and 60/40. Similar? Richards’ comments were directed at two specific companies, and he didn’t cast aspersions upon them. In contrast, the PLP frequently maligned the entire business community whenever it suited their purposes.  Here are three such examples: 

“There’s a pile of money sitting somewhere in Bermuda. I see that pile of money being spent now on a campaign by the other side.”

“I can tell you now, it’s not coming from the black surrogates. It’s coming from business and business leaders who are playing a game with our people.”  — Vince Ingham, PLP Candidate, RG December 6, 2012

“They make billions in this country and I’m very incensed about that. I’m very exercised about it. They have an obligation, not just a civic responsibility.”
Asked whether such an “obligation” might persuade international companies to leave for more attractive jurisdictions, the Minister replied: “They can leave some of their money here before they go.” — Wayne Perinichief, PLP Minister, RG December 23, 2011

“Are the players in the game, the business leaders of this country, playing along with the opposition, so they can credit the present Government with the current economic conditions by creating redundancies and keeping us in a recession?” — Maynard Dill, Elected PLP Chairman in 2013 —  Bermuda Sun August 31, 2011

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As can clearly be seen from the above, the PLP has not, “been friendly to business”, as Burt claimed. Had they actually made statements like Richards, I sincerely doubt that we would be in as big of an economic hole as we now find ourselves in.

The next major concern is that the PLP’s politically-expedient, blind solidarity with the various unions prevents them from being honest with workers. Instead of admitting that a more efficient Civil Service ultimately means a loss of Government jobs to the private sector, they’ve begun to dance around the subject of poor work ethic. One of Burt’s most revealing statements in the Reply was:

“…there are too many workers who do not give a full day’s work for a full day’s pay. Those persons do an injustice to themselves and to our country, and we must ensure that any move towards efficiency must streamline the grievance process so that managers have the tools to deal with those who would rob our citizens of our tax dollars.”

Well, well, well… isn’t this a striking example of Kettle, meet Pot? The OBA must now be asking, “Where was the Shadow Minister’s outrage towards thieving Civil Servants when he sat on that side of the House?” I also have to wonder how applicable Burt believes his words are to other sectors of the economy. 

Yes, just as Burt proclaimed about the OBA, the very foundation of the PLP/BIU/BPSU’s house was cracked and reduced to rubble in a few short sentences. For just a moment, Burt made such workers enemies of the people and progress. Nevertheless, past experience makes the PLP’s new-found calls for diligence ring very hollow. 

Next column: Breaking the Cycle? Thoughts on the PLP’s recommended alternatives. bryanttrew@mac.com