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?
Queensland Australia’s ‘best job in the world’ tourism publicity stunt has to be one of the best out there. Here’s an example of a tourism department thinking outside the box for a mass marketing solution that beautifully promotes their area, does so at low cost and capitalizes on viral marketing. Too bad we don’t have that caliber of marketing power behind our tourism department.
What is ‘The best job in the world’ you ask? It’s a well disguised gimmick to promote Queensland tourism. Very simply, Queensland tourism came up with the idea of offering a well paid 6 month job as ‘caretaker’ of a string of islands in the great barrier reef. Your duties? Stay in a plush 3 bedroom house, tour around and blog about your activities. Absolutely brilliant.
How do you get ‘The best job in the world’? You go to the website filled with beautiful pictures and information about the islands and submit a video entry to suggest why you should be the caretaker. Unsurprisingly this site has been a viral hit gaining free coverage in newspapers and magazines while also leveraging the power of people passing the link on to their friends.
Here you have a small investment of likely a few hundred thousand that by *Beyonce platinum period* marketing measures must be returning gajillions worth of advertising. Imagine, you go to the site, fall in love with the idea of being the island’s caretaker and ultimately submit an entry. You spend months dreaming about being selected and all the while get more and more used to the idea of visiting the islands. Even when you’re not selected, you’re more inclined to read the blog and watch the video updates of the person who was and are likely to dream for some time about what it would have been like if it was you. Ultimately you resolve that Queensland is a place that you want to visit. Now that is tourism marketing.
What’s our idea of innovation? Beyonce concerts, themed nights at baseball parks and wayward spending on non-mainstream publications.
Why has this not yet been solved?
Yesterday's stoppage follows two months of bus drivers and support staff being on a work-to-rule sparked by safety concerns that motorists were using Washington Street for through traffic, resulting in accidents.
Can someone please explain why we haven't combined the RFID systems with rising road blockers to restrict access to Washington Street to buses only?
As for the union, we've already discussed our feelings towards strikes
Remodeling your bathroom? Take a look at the EcoDrain which allows you to recover waste heat from the water that runs down your drain.
Essentially it is a heat exchanger that pulls heat from the water running down your shower drain and reuses it to heat up the cold water line going to your shower. This means you ultimately can use less hot water for the same hot shower cutting your energy usage by 25 to 40 percent.
EcoDrain via WorldChanging
Education Minister El James' recent comments concerning his confidence in the private school system over the public one only further highlights that the public school system is broken and should be scrapped in favour of a voucher based system. Our island will never overcome the historical effects of racism if we cannot level the playing field for opportunity. The education ministry has simply added far too much beurocracy and time and time again failed to rise up to the standard set by the private schools. so why not cut out the middle man and give everyone the means to the same level of education?
Quoted recently in The Royal Gazette, Minister James suggested
"We have an education system that we want to make the number one choice on this Island," he said. "If it's not the number one choice at the moment, everyone has the choice to put their children where they want."
Unfortunately this isn't the case. Everyone with the means to put their children in the private system can do so, but not everyone has the means, especially those Minister James' party claims to represent. Thus, the cycle perpetuates where a wealth disparity once created by racism is no longer maintained by racism but the maintenance of the status quo. Namely, those who are and have become wealthy can pass on the opportunity of a good education however those who are not and have been deprived of the opportunity have no means to provide it to their children. Sadly, the rich continue to get richer and the poor poorer.
Minister James continues
"I'm going to look at where [the private schools] are; I'm going to use their levels as my target. That's where I want to be or even better."
Why use private schools as a target when you could cut out the middle man and actually use the private schools? Simplify the system but cutting the Ministry of Education down to an oversight and standards body, sell the public schools to the private sector and give every Bermudian student a voucher they can use to attend the school of their choice.
Both a UBP government and a PLP government have proven is that education is not working in the hands of the public sector. We continue to change tack, strategize, add level upon level of beurocracy and in the end all that happens is that those without the means continue to suffer. It is a terrible shame that no Bermudian should be proud of. Can we please just cut out the middle man and pursue a voucher system so everyone can have the means to opportunity as opposed to just the rich?
Long time readers of this blog will note that the topic of a congestion tax has come up numerous times, including the suspicion that the addition of radio frequency identification tags set the stage for it. Hopefully our government will take a page from the principles of open democracy and announce that they're going to trial a congestion tax for 6 months (aka The Stockholm Trial), produce a report and then put the ultimate decision to the people by way of a plebicite (aka a public vote similar to a referendum). By doing so, they can save face by not being blamed for introducing something that turns out to be hated but can also gain the credit if it turns out well. Ie, let the people decide.
For those interested, I've rambled on about congestion in the past so no need to be a bore. Here are a few links
Also of note: