In late 2007 the PLP were elected on a much heralded, much hyped word: Free. The problem? Nothing in life is free. They came out guns blazing announcing Free Transportation, Free Daycare, Free Education and nearly free Healthcare. Unfortunately, as usually happens in politics, Bermudians were so enamoured by the magical promise of 'free' that few took the time to question the reality of such promises. Worse, many rose to condemn such questions turning a blind eye as if our leadership could do no wrong. Sadly we can now look back in hindsight and wonder if our leadership had misaligned good intentions or put winning above the betterment of all Bermudians. Either way, one could not be condemned for wondering if we've been played the fool.
The word free was the PLP's magical word to victory. Quaintly listed on the their 2008 platform were such wonderful initatives as
- Free daycare for Bermudian families.
- Interest-free down payments to five hundred first time home owners.
- Free bus and ferry transportation.
- Free Bermuda College tuition to make education accessible to all students.
Interestingly, “Free daycare” quickly became means tested daycare assistance. The follow through on the promise of interest-free down payments has yet to surface and “Free bus and ferry transportation” became free transportation for students, not everyone. To their credit, at least we have seen free tuition come to fruition, though at much debated impact on enrollment levels and results.
We can subsequently examine the promises of affordable healthcare as mentioned in said platform:
A key policy priority is to provide affordable health care for our senior citizens. The PLP Government believes that a fair society is one that takes care of the needs of all. A key policy of the PLP Government is “PLP Future care”.
Unfortunately now we question whether the introduction of FutureCare has been fair or rather far from it. The discovery of its rather sly introduction under the guise of requiring registration in HIP while coincidentally closing registration raises more questions than it answers. Is this the case of a leadership being ignorant to the costs and now forced to rapidly backpeddle to conceal mismanagment? Worse, could this be evidence of a willingness to decieve in an attempt to do anything it takes to win? If mismangement, how long should we leave them unaccountable and unchecked? If deception, should we be concerned at the emerging pattern of winning first, Bermudians second?
When the PLP announced these programs, far too many Bermudians would hear nothing of the questions of their practicality. We far too easily rose to condemn any who question the will of government simply on the basis of a precident set by previous administrations, one which holds the bar much lower than it should be. As such we have given rise to an anything goes mentality with our leadership and are sadly beginning to reap the rewards of our own ignorance. Regardless of whether it is our leadership's inability to foresee the consiquences of their actions or a deliberate intent to 'mislead' us, one underlying question lies at the root of all of this. How long are you willing to leave our leadership unquestioned, unaccountable and without remorse as you continue to be played the fool?