Premier Brown recently had some great comments about Bermuda’s culture of entitlement and the need to get over it. His commens have helped me see the perspective he has about Bermuda becoming too dependent on government and it weakening Bermuda overall as it has in the states. Along these lines, is it not also the role of government to make opportunity most accessible to the people so they have the ability to rise above dependency?
Premier Brown described one Club Med Squatter as follows:
The Premier said: “Minister Burch told me that while we were in Trinidad I should look for a certain individual — a fellow who was living at Club Med.” The crowd began to laugh and the Premier said: “This is a true story. Minister Burch said, ‘the guy locked his door at Club Med, left a note saying when he would be back and told his mother to look out for his two sons because he was on his way to cricket’.
One might be quick to agree with Dr. Brown that it seems pretty rediculus for someone to be living off of the country then pick up and spend money on cricket when clearly he should be spending it on housing? However, what happens if you take a look from the perspective of this particular individual?
Of course one could not speak for the individual without knowing him, however, what could be deduced by what is suggested of him? Well, seeing as he left his two sons with his mother, could he be a single father? Do half of Bermudians not make less then $45,559 a year according to the 2006 Labour Market Indicators? Let’s consider for a moment the scenario of a single father and his two sons.
What kind of housing is available for a man and his two sons in today’s Bermuda? A quick look at a couple places on e-moo suggests that the cheapest 2 bedroom apartment runs for $2,200 a month, the second cheapest, $2,500 a month. For a single parent with two children on a salary of $3,797 a month, how affordable is a $2,200 a month place assuming he can beat all the competition in today’s limited rental market.
Assuming very basic numbers, food for 3 people at $75 a week works out to $900 a month. Add another $100 a month in electricity and you’re up to $1000 in added living expenses. What of clothing for his children? A bus pass, furniture, health insurance, little toys so his kids can enjoy christmas. All that out of $597 a month? What about savings to one day buy a home’? How affordable is Bermuda for the single parent who likely is one of those on the bottom half of the income range and likely is working more then one job just to reach that median mark which means less time to raise his children.
With already 583 people on the housing waiting list, how likely is it that he will be quickly chosen for affordable housing? Could he have been one of the Bermuda Homes for People lottery winners? Even a 100% mortgage on one of the $695,000 Olive Bank condos would run him a mortgage of almost $2000 more then he’s making a month at a 9% interest rate.
Bermuda simply isn’t affordable for the single parent and it is becoming less affordable for many Bermudians in general. One could certainly agree that Bermudians shouldn’t feel entitled to government giving them homes or giving them jobs, however one could also disagree that government should be doing as much as it can to help rebalance the supply and demand of our housing market and do more to make the jobs that are out there better known.
Young Bermudians shouldn’t expect government to find them a job, however for those away at school finding a job in Bermuda is not very easy. Every job posting that is taken by an ex-pat is put in the paper of which those postings are not subsequently listed online which is the most accessible means for a student abroad to find out what jobs are available. Could our government move to make this sort of information more accessible by posting jobs that are sent in to the immigration department for workpermit approval right on the immigration website so that more Bermudians have ready access to apply for the jobs they may well qualify for?
Dr. Brown is right that Bermudians should not feel entitled to be given a free ride for we all must each pull our own weight. However, I am hopeful that he will also heed my words and recognize that there is more that our government could be doing to make Bermuda more accessible for Bermudians.