Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland. Michael Jackson’s Neverland. Walt Disney’s Disneyland. Worlds of unreality. Add Bermudaland?
Why did anyone start and then fight a battle over the Lamb Foggo Urgent Care Centre? The whole episode was badly conceived, lasted too long, allowed political temperatures to get too high, and then fizzled out in a floppy ending.
A battle lost in a fight that need not have started. The only winner was the abstract of the democratic process.
Now SAGE sits out there. SAGE will prove to be a war. A long war. The brigades of the BIU and BPSU and the battalions of the POA x 2, the FSA, and the BUT are already dug in, fully alert, probing patrols out and snipers ready to pick off any politician foolhardy enough to make a stupid statement or idiot decision.
The entirely unnecessary and completely avoidable brouhaha over the Lamb Foggo Centre says that these kinds of politicians do exist.
Come hell, high water, or freeze over, some of the recommendations of the SAGE Commission will have to be implemented.
Whatever is implemented will involve the people in Government as well as ordinary taxpayers suffering some pain and loss. Nationally, and across the whole spectrum of Government and the private sector, the KHNM syndrome will kick in.
What’s the KHNM syndrome? Kick Him (Her) Not Me.
This Government is hamstrung by a surfeit of bad data, and by wide gaps in the kind of data that it actually does have. But Bermuda’s national situation still has to be dealt with. Some hard and unpleasant decisions will still have to be made – and then implemented and followed through.
Starting out, a primary and foundation flaw is that the Government has to deal with a falling residential population. But the senior Civil Servants – Registrar General, Financial Secretary, and Head of the Department of Statistics – are all denying this. In fact, no one in Government is reporting a fall in Bermuda’s residential population. No one at all. Only the private sector reports this.
Crazy, upside down situation
However, even in this kind of crazy upside down make-believe Disneyland situation, the Government must still make and implement real world real time decisions.
Something else is bothering me. It’s this matter of hiding plain facts.
It’s a plain fact that National Debt stood at a gross $1,574 million before Minister Bob borrowed $750 million. So it’s a plain fact that the total National Debt rose to $2,324 million.
Why, why, why, was Debt recently reported as $1,775 million – or some such lower figure. Why, why, why were the funds that are parked in the Sinking Fund shown or described as lowering the National Debt.
Yes, technically – in the purest of picky-picky accounting minutiae – those funds might be described as offsetting Debt. However, Minister Bob did say that those funds were only parked there until such time as they were needed to cover future anticipated deficits. So it is clear, crystal clear, that those funds will NOT be used to pay down existing Debt. Those funds are NOT intended to pay down Debt.
Suggesting that those parked millions should be set off against Debt reeks of the style of Arthur Andersen accounting at ENRON; that accountant who audited Bernie Madoff’s books of account; and the big Credit Rating Agencies who gave high credit ratings to the Wall Street firm Bear Stearns just before Bear Stearns was forced to sell itself to J P Morgan Chase.
The idea of playing with numbers in the way that Bermuda’s National Debt figures are currently being played with is a strong reminder - a too strong reminder - of the kind of subterfuge, shenanigans, and chicanery of the final months of the previous administration.
I am reminded, far too strongly, of the attempt to describe borrowed dollars that went into Personnel costs described as being spent on ‘infrastructure’.
I’m not taken in by the delusions of others. But I am bothered that this far down the road, others still harbour such serious delusions about National Debt and still seem to think that Wonderland, Neverland, and Disneyland are real worlds.
I know that I’m in Bermuda. I hope I don’t wake up tomorrow and discover that I’m in ‘Bermudaland’. n