In seeking counsel from yet one more foreign expert, I reckon that us lot are showing another of our national cultural traits. With over 120 churches and a Census reported minimum of 22 main religious denominations, Bermudians are strong believers in Messiahs and Prophets. Probably stronger even than those people who moaned and complained and grumbled their way into Moses’s Canaan land.

This Bermudian cultural trait shows in the way we place so much faith in halos of credentials and cloaks of wisdoms borne of experiences in other places.

Take Dr Andrew Brimmer. First class man. Earned his doctorate from Harvard University, one of the best of America’s universities. Topped his career in finance by being the first black man to be appointed to the US Federal Reserve Board. In that appointment he was partly responsible for managing the whole of the USA’s trillion dollar economy. His credentials were long and impeccable. His experience — in the US and India — was without parallel. 

In 1998, he was brought to Bermuda by the PLP as a consultant on matters related to national finance and the national economy. Still actively consulting, he died in October 2012. Here is the factual history of this great man’s consultancy and advice to Bermuda.

From start-out in 1998 to March 2004, Bermuda’s National Debt was reducing and GDP was growing. From April 2004 to December 2008, Bermuda’s National Debt was increasing and GDP was growing. From January 2009 to October 2012, National Debt mushroomed and GDP spiralled down. By October 2012, when Dr Brimmer died, the Debt to GDP ratio had gone from the 3% of his 1999 start period to 27% when he died. Between 2004 and 2012, National Debt had gone from $119m to $1,469m.  

So what difference did Dr Brimmer and his halo of credentials and cloak of wisdom make? Did it make any difference whatsoever? Did it, in fact, contribute to the problem?

Look at these other well-credentialed and deeply experienced people from other places on earth: 

Dick Fuld, CEO of Lehman Brothers — well credentialed and deeply experienced. He was CEO in September 2008 when Lehman went under wiping out billions of dollars of value.

Jimmy Cayne, Chairman of Bear Stearns — well credentialed and deeply experienced. He was CEO in March 2008 when Bear Stearns went under.

Jeffrey Skilling, ex-CEO of Enron (remember Enron?) — excellent credentials, but Enron was found to be a huge corporate shell. Skilling was convicted of offences connected with Enron’s elimination as a corporate body and was sent to jail.

Recall Dr Henry Johnson who, in 2007, was appointed as Acting Commissioner of Education for Bermuda’s Ministry of Education. Dr Johnson came with a halo of credentials and a cloak of wisdom and experience. So did the just retired Dr Wendy McDonnell.

Now, over the western horizon, just waiting to don his cloak, mount his steed, and ride into town is yet another halo’ed one — Dr Edmond Heatley.

But Dr Heatley is different. Surely, Dr Heatley will be the ‘promised one’ because this time it’s different. This time it’s the real Education Messiah.

Were all those others false prophets and misguided messiahs?

This process of always seeking an ‘overseas messiah’ seems to be one of our strong national cultural traits.

Despite the stabbings and gunshot deaths, I reckon that all those churches and preachers and pastors and bishops have been more successful than they think. Maybe they’ve converted this nation into a nation of people who sit waiting for a Messiah — for everything. n