FRIDAY, JUNE 1: Dear Sir,
In a three-part article printed in this paper, Bob Stewart, author of ‘A Guide to the Economy of Bermuda’ extolled the virtues of the free enterprise system and it’s history of economic development.
The final part was titled ‘Move over Gov’t — and let entrepreneurs weave their magic to restore our economy’. Free enterprise and open market gurus like Mr Stewart were strangely silent at the onset of this economic crisis when in America, Lehman Brothers and property developers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, authors of the infamous sub-prime collapse — along with the machinations of Wall Street — nearly brought about the collapse of America’s economic system.
And what about the bail outs of banks and American car manufactures and ‘too big to fail’ economic concerns like AIG by the American government, using taxpayers’ money? Even the champions of fiscal and economic austerity, the current Conservative government in Britain, did not hesitate to use British taxpayers’ money to bailout the Royal Bank of Scotland, while at the same time brutally cutting social programmes and educational subsidies and laying off thousands of workers.
So much for the magic of entrepreneurs who don’t mind governments getting out of the way and let them do their thing — except when governments have to bail them out.
Mr Stewart has constantly showed his distain for so-called Third World countries and their economic status; but look at the rise of China, which underwrites much of America’s debt and has huge investments within America itself and is destined to be the world’s leading economy. India produces more scientists than America and Brazil, like many developing countries, is rapidly developing its own industrial and manufacturing bases, challenging the once dominant Western economies.
The wealth and economic lead that the West has had up to now is not a natural state of affairs or the result of a more superior economic vision. Through much of mankind’s societal and economic development has a western face, it was built on colonialism, slavery and military power, which allowed Europe and Britain to seize lands and exploit the natural resources and manpower to their benefit.
Where would Europe and Britain be without the control of their former Empires or the displacement of indigenous populations with European settlers? Without that movement, there would be no America; Canada; Australia or New Zealand.
As for Bermuda — it too was built on exploitation of labour which has been overturned as a result of political and trade union struggle. It was won on the picket lines and on long and tortuous negotiations at the bargaining table; and the process continues even today.
There was no benevolent economic or political class that willingly shared the wealth of this country; nor was there a democratic society — it had to be forged by political and civil rights struggles. Real wealth, which possibly exists under the waters that surround this island in the form of natural resources that could be sold on the world market, is yet to be envisioned or discovered.
This is the other side of Bob Stewart’s economic vision of the world and Bermuda.