WEDNESDAY, JUNE 27: I’ve been publicly commenting on Bermuda’s national finances since January 27, 2010.
Since then, I — and all the rest of us — have learned much.
During this national debate, I’ve particularly learned a lot more about five things: Truth, Deception, Lying, Spinning, Concealment.
Here’s what I’ve learned. You may have learned the same.
Truth: When an individual or any corporate entity does his or its best to state facts and tell a story in a straightforward and honest manner. The aim is to deliver information that is verifiable and that all parties can see, can check, and can agree is correct. The key is that the individual or corporate entity is making a serious effort to be completely factual and honest, even if the story paints the individual or corporate entity in a bad light. [This is what good accountants and good accounts do.]
Deception: When an individual or any corporate entity purposely takes steps to ensure that others are prevented from knowing all the facts or the full truth. The aim is not to provide a full, straightforward, or comprehensive story. [You may recall a political incident in 2003 in Bermuda that involved deception... and then there’s ‘’Dubya” and the Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.]
Lying: When a person or any corporate entity makes a statement knowing it to be false, and makes that statement in the hope or with the intention that others will think that the statement is true and correct. A lie is a deliberate and positive action that is designed and intended to deceive the target audience. [Two American Presidents of recent vintage... President N? President C?]
Spinning: Not the same as lying. However the difference may be difficult to detect. Spinning happens when a person or a corporate entity emphasizes certain facts, links or ties them together, and then presents the package of information in ways that place them in the best light; while at the same time downplaying or pooh-poohing or not stating other facts that are equally applicable but that are inconvenient. [Tourism numbers are UP but nobody says that Tourism income has fallen...]
Concealment: Withholding information that might undermine or weaken a particular position. Here the individual or corporate entity simply remains silent and says nothing at all. Whether true or untrue, nothing is said. This is an ultimate response. It is for the questioner to dig for, uncover, and then verify information and facts [No comment!].
Here is a recent example of a statement made by a public person who is strongly connected to the government. “It is without question that Bermuda’s national debt has risen over the past 14 years as government invested in schools, ports, transportation and housing to benefit Bermudians.” [Walton Brown, RG, 14 June 2012].
That statement is spin. It is true that between 2004 and 2009, up to 57 per cent of early growth in national debt did go into capital spending. However, since 2009, the funds that have been borrowed and that are about to be borrowed are being used primarily to fund current expenditure.
Truth? Of the total $1,282 million borrowed or planned borrow (2004-2012), some 50.2 percent went or is planned to go into capital and 49.8 percent has gone or will go into current. Next year, in 2013, another big borrow will drive that ratio further down with about 55 percent going into current, and only 45 percent to capital.
When the Minister for Finance borrows the next $200 million — the borrowing process that she has just begun — virtually all of that $200 million has to be used to fund or support current account expenditure for this year FY 2012/13, and the leftover deficit for 2011/12.
Walton’s Brown’s intimation was that most, or almost all of the debt taken up had gone into capital projects. That is not so. As I have shown, barely half has gone into capital spending.
I began writing twenty years ago. In those twenty years, I have always sought to deliver truth. Particularly and especially since January 27, 2010, I’ve worked especially hard at achieving that and at being as precise as available information allowed.
On a matter of deep national importance, you now have a very clear difference in descriptions. You have five options as to who is doing what.
You’re the jury. You decide. For you, and for me, your decision is final.