*Painting by Lucas Cranach the Younger
*Painting by Lucas Cranach the Younger

The Old Testament story of Samson and Delilah was one of those tales that fascinated me as I sat through long Sunday School afternoons at the Pentecostal church on Glebe Road. That’s where my parents sent me and my brothers on Sunday afternoons. I think they did it so that we got some additional ‘religion’ and they got some Sunday afternoon time-out. 

Having listened through morning Sunday School followed by a full Methodist church service, followed by a good home-cooked Sunday lunch with all six of us around the family table; we’d already had a strong injection of sound religion and good food at Grace Church and at home. So the Pentecostal stuff was like a second helping of dessert.

Considering 2013 Bermuda, I recalled the Samson and Delilah story. Collectively, I see the new government as Samson. Collectively, I see the top echelons of the Civil Service as Delilah.  

The Pentecostals didn’t dwell too much on Delilah’s biblically suggested seductiveness. That’s probably because they would have introduced the element of sex and, for good Pentecostals, that just wouldn’t do. But as I got older, and knowledge about sex and connected matters sneaked into my brain, I learned that Delilah was a sexy babe who, over time, did a number on Samson. 

Same with Government and the Civil Service. From 1968 to March 31st 2004, the Civil Service advised and participated in a governance process. During these 36 years, government spending and government revenue were kept, more or less, in balance. That was Samson pre-Delilah.

Delilah sashayed into the halls of governance. Delilah’s seductiveness saw Samson (the regimes of Brown/Cox [2006 – 2010] and then Cox/Cox [2010 – 2012]) fall under the sway of the sexy seductress. 

People like Dr Andrew Brimmer and the Financial Secretaries and other top advisers and professionals within the Ministry of Finance gave excellent professional advice for 346 years from 1998 to March 31st 2004. This advice kept Samson strong.

Dr Brimmer ‘passed on’ in early 2012. But before dying, Dr Brimmer and the other 1968 to March 31st 2004 people had secretly metamorphosed. From April 1st 2004 to December 17th 2012, they had all secretly and silently turned into Delilahs. 

How do we know that? Between April 1st 2004 and 2012, Debt to GDP ratio went from 3% to 27%. The ratio of Debt to Revenue went from 17% to 170%. Annual Debt Service Costs went from $1.60 out of every $100 of Revenue to $15.00 out of every $100 of Revenue. Net Debt went from $119.5 million to $1,469 million. Annual Debt Service Cost cash outlay went from $11.4 million a year in 2004/05 to 2012/13’s just announced $81.5 million a year - from $31,250 a day to $223,288 a day.

From April 1st 2004 to December 17th 2012, sex-oozing Delilah assured Samson that all was well. Worse, Samson — that poor misguided fool — believed her. Poor Samson. Poor fool. 

The Scribes who wrote the Old Testament’s book of Judges recorded that Samson ended up in deep doo-doo. Betrayed by Delilah, Samson’s enemies, the Philistines, captured him, beat him, and tossed him into a dungeon.  

In a modern democracy, a new Government instantly replaces an old. So on 18th December 2012, Voters threw one Samson into the dungeon but he was instantly replaced by a new Samson. However, that tantalizing temptress was still lolling and lounging about. Still willing to work her wicked ways.

The same group of people –—today’s Delilah — who advised and managed the PLP Samson are still advising today. Same Delilah. Different Samson.

Delilah’s presence and seduction shows in the mathematical fact that today’s Samson needed – and still needs — a more than 15% reduction in Government’s overall Personnel Costs. But today’s Samson has settled for sultry Delilah’s much too low 4.6% cost reduction in overall Personnel Costs.

Does today’s Samson have the common sense, the good sense, the intelligence, the wisdom, to understand that the situation that I have accurately described is the reality? 

Or has today’s Samson already cut his own hair? n