Opinion: Lynne Woolridge On The Economy

September 24, 2014

lynne-woolridge-OBA senator[Opinion column written by OBA Senator Lynne Woolridge] I’m sure there are many people in Bermuda who, like me, learned as children to believe that hard work, thrift, honesty, and patience were the keys to a successful life.

Those ethics were at the root of the success of the newly-independent American colonies. Young Americans were taught them in schools, certainly, but especially in church, because churches played such an important role in shaping the success of the young country. Until quite recently, people were fond of quoting Benjamin Franklin, who said “Time is money” and “Never keep borrowed money an hour beyond the time you promised” and “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

These days, though, those precepts seem to have been abandoned in favour of a completely different set of ethics. These days, we respect people who pursue gain at any cost. We want what we want now, never later. We respect the man with the biggest bank account and we are prepared to do a great many things our forefathers wouldn’t, to have one like his.

Many of us heard Michael Douglas, playing a stockbroker called Gordon Gecko in the film Wall Street, deliver a line that epitomises the attitude of our generation – “Greed is good.”

As this One Bermuda Alliance Government works to fix Bermuda’s economic problem and some of the other social ills we seem to have fallen into over the past few years, we can see clearly that this country fell prey to the consequences of thinking that greed was good. We fell prey to the consequences of wanting what we wanted straight away, never on lay-away.

Frankly, we should have listened harder to Ben Franklin.

Our Government pledged that we would fix Bermuda’s economy. We pledged that we would create jobs to relieve the pain so many Bermudians have been suffering in the last few years. But we have never made any secret of the fact that we are not going to be able to do that overnight.

The job we are doing calls for those old qualities – hard work, thrift, honesty and patience – because there is no magic wand we can wave to make it all go away. We’ve danced for years to his tunes, but the piper now must be paid.

There are many voices in this community which say we should be spending money to shield Bermudians from the consequences of today’s realities. Forget about foreigners, they say. Forget about international business. Do more for our people. Give jobs to Bermudians. Increase pensions. Give students more money for college. Give seniors better healthcare. Invest, they say, in Bermudians.

We have difficulty at the moment paying the bills. We have no savings. What money would we use to make these investments?

Of course, the voices we are hearing belong to the people who got us into this mess in the first place. The want to take back the reins of power.

But where do you think they would find the money for this bonanza of presents for “our people”? Online gambling? Alternative energy investments? The blue economy? Freeing up local industry from unnecessary regulation, which is apparently stifling the creativity of our entrepreneurs? Those are the things the Shadow Finance Minister says are going to do the trick.

Sounds pretty thin, doesn’t it?

There’s really only one thing they could do – raise taxes. We suspect that the demand of the Opposition’s new partner, the People’s Movement, for a redistribution of wealth, would play a big part in PLP plans for running the country again.

But if we are having difficulty attracting overseas investment funds now, how much more difficult will it be when we explain our plans to redistribute their wealth?

That’s just crazy. What we need at this moment is a period of hard work, thrift, honesty and patience. The tried and true old values are what will get us through this uncomfortable and unfortunate period in our country’s life.

- Lynne Woolridge

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Comments (31)

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  1. Sad Story says:

    Beautifully phrased, but I’m afraid you may be preaching to the choir. Those who do not want to consider the context of our situation will simply shout “OBA promised jobs for Bermudians!” regardless of what logic you throw at them.

  2. Yea ok 2000 job promise says:

    You can’t keep using the same line every time you come on here. This act worked in 2012. It will not work next election. You should open up your own circus since like perform the same show and be a clown.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjedLeVGcfE

    • SMH says:

      If you we’re thinking for yourself rather than rehashing the lies you’ve been fed, you’d understand that there is nothing in this article that isn’t 100% true. The facts don’t change, just because you don’t like the sound of them.

      -Our debt grew to $2B (from a surplus) under the PLP, fact.
      -Our pension plans are under funded by almost $1.5B, fact.
      -We have to borrow $ to pay the interest on our debt, fact
      -We have a civil service who’s size is unsustainable in light of the above, fact.
      -Bermuda is now effectively owned by foreign banks, fact.
      -If the PLP were currently in power, the would not be able to fund all these social programs either

      Time to take a step back and ask yourself honestly, who has put us in this situation?

  3. frank says:

    the government of the day does not give a sh==t about us all they need us for is window dressing go ask the former priemier
    randy it is time for you come of that high seat and sit in the seat where you belong

    • SMH says:

      Frank, the previous government cared so much more about you that they left you and all your offspring $2B+ in debt and sold us off to foreign banks. That’s not what I call caring that’s what I call selling out all Bermudians

      • sswhite says:

        Guess what SMH your beloved England, America, France, Canada _ need I go on? are all beholden to foreign banks as well!! o you think any of these governments print their own money. don’t be a fool and look at the whole picture. Lets blame the PLP on that one too right?.

        Our problems began long before you arrived on this island and if you and your family have been here as long as ours – with the attitude you have – it is easy to ascertain your persuasion/ilk…

        • serengeti says:

          All those countries were out of recession after 12-15 months. None of them had 6 years of economic decline due to a mythical ‘worldwide recession’. Our decline, lasting the best part of a decade, was our own making.

        • serengeti says:

          By the way,: “with the attitude you have – it is easy to ascertain your persuasion/ilk…”

          What is the response supposed to be to that? How exactly does a person respond to a racist Nazi?

        • SMH says:

          Thanks for the nasty comment about my “persuasion” racist remarks are not the answer here. Let me try another “ilk” as you say and share some simple, unracist/xenophobic facts:

          You can’t compare Bermuda’s financial situation to the US,Canada! They all have larger population, natural resources, they can print their own money without devaluing it because their currency can be traded outside their country…

          We have $2B+ debt in a country that has about 65K people. Of those people let’s assume 8K are expats, 8% are retired or sick, 5% are under the age of 18 and 2% are unemployable (drugs, jail etc.). Who’s going to pay the taxes to a) support the current civil service? b) support retirees pensions and health plans? c) support schools health plans for our children? d) repay the debt?

          I could go on for days but won’t because I know facts will only fall on deaf ears.

        • Bernuda says:

          Judas sheep?

          it is easy to ascertain your persuasion/ilk…?

          Let me guess you are the type of person who freaks out if someone you don’t agree with says ‘you people’ right?

          You are a nasty nasty individual. If you think your comments aren’t hate speech then you don’t know the definition of freedom of speech.

          But I enjoy reading such comments because of them I laugh when the PLP and their supporters (such as yourself) cry racism and complain about why white people don’t vote for us. Hopefully Maynard Dill will come out and issue a release condmening your racist and hate filled posts and rhetoric. But I won’t hold my breath as anyone knows that your line of thinking is rife throughout the Party. You are part of the problem whether your ignorant self wants to admit it or not.

  4. sswhite says:

    “These days, though, those precepts seem to have been abandoned in favour of a completely different set of ethics. These days, we respect people who pursue gain at any cost. We want what we want now, never later. We respect the man with the biggest bank account and we are prepared to do a great many things our forefathers wouldn’t, to have one like his.”

    So why are you in government – both parties are chock full of people of this ilk…

    Secondly our forefathers were either slaves or slavemasters and through all of the disadvantages hoisted an a certain segment of the population they continue to be a thorn in your parties side don’t they you Judas Sheep.

    • serengeti says:

      “our forefathers were either slaves or slavemasters”

      Completely false. Utter complete nonsense. But I understand why you say it. Nazis spread hate by perpetuating lies.

  5. more than enough says:

    It would seem that the hard work, thrift, honesty and patience part applies only to us blue collar workers.
    While those in position to effect a change continue to spend wildy.
    Don’t believe me? This opinion piece from l woolridge could not have been more timely.
    Is this what is now considered hard work?
    A trip to new york with all your partners in crime?
    Or thrifty?
    I am sure all these clowns were not required to produce the same result.
    Are you enjoying yourselves? Spending money we don’t have?
    Taking these type of trips on layaway,right away, leaving the payments squarely effectively on future generations of bermudians.
    Thank you for your fiscal prudence.
    As for honesty, the oba’s actions speak for themselves.
    And under these deplorable conditions our patience grows thin.
    This to me is just “business as usual”
    Disgusting!

    • SMH says:

      more than enough. Do you know for a 100% fact that:

      a) the trip wasn’t paid for by the sponsors of the event?
      b) they weren’t already in NY on other business and decided to pop in?
      c) they weren’t in NY on vacation or personal time and decided to pop in to support a Bermudian cause during their time off?

  6. sswhite says:

    And speaking of Ben Franklin – which you presumably agree with in most of his thoughts – Judas Sheep – er…Lynne how about this quote: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”

    Maybe if your handlers and their ancestors”involved” certain segments of this society rather than shuffling them aside for hundreds of years (literally in the basements of their homes at times you’d have more harmony and accord – a more equal wealth distribution? Just a thought Judas…And you’d have your readers believe that the playing fields are and have always been level right – Judas…

    “Well done is better than well said.” says Ben…

    “The tried and true old values are what will get us through this uncomfortable and unfortunate period in our country’s life.” PLEASE DO EXPLAIN what these tried and true methods of old are JudasSheep…the same economic/social aparthied that led us to this fragmented (and full of hatred) society that we live in today?

    As screwed up as the PLP were / are they are merely the icing on a long rotten cake. Your party (the OBA/UBP) got us into this mess originally by authoring the demise of tourism in favour of int.business, by restructuring the education system to further disadvantage “Bermudians” (as you put it – we know what you mean Judas)thus leading to the influx of foreign skilled labor and not so skilled…yeah keep blaming the one Party…that is the attitude that is pis**ng people off right now.Look at the people you handle you and see what they have done for you…is this really how you are earning your 30 pieces Lynne?

    • ….Surely you jest. says:

      SSwhite,
      September 24, 2014 at 11:00 am

      Your contribution is EXCELLENT! Clear & Concise, well timed and and well aimed. Couldn’t have said any more or any less any better.

      Kind regards,
      syj

      • Bernuda says:

        That’s only because you are an intolerant and hateful person just like sswhite. Anyone that agrees with his words are just ignorant beings.

        Disgusting the both of you.

    • WOW says:

      sswhite, You are very angry, perhaps you should take some time to sit back and collect your thoughts. Yes, things are ruff for many people and trust me who feels it knows it, but my question is – why are you attacking Woolridge? You may not agree with her but what is it your business where she is earning her 30 pieces? She is serving her country in the capacity that she believes suits her and the country best. You may not agree, but that is what she chooses. At least she is trying to better her country. She is not trying to bring her country down but yet you are trying to bring your neighbor down with your remarks. So if she was affiliated with your party she would be good in your books. To each their own but that does not make one a judas sheep. What about standing up for what you believe in no matter what the other may feel. you sound like you have some other underlying issues sswhite and I due hope that they do not stem from jealousy and or hatred. The venom you are spitting is not healthy. The country needs prosperity not contempt. Ease off of the names and think positive and show love.

  7. LiarLiar says:

    Global recession, blah blah blah.

    Can one of you please provide a rational answer as to why none of our major trading partners and/or similar sized/structured economies didn’t experience 5 years of consecutive negative GDP growth as Bermuda did?

    “Global recessions” didn’t cause the previous Government to increase the deficit by 1,421% between 2004 and 2008 (year end March 31st) which was caused by growing expenses by 43% while simultaneously only increasing revenue 19% over the same time period. Just to clarify this financial mismanagement occurred before what some commentators continually refer to as the “great recession.”

    Between 2005 and 2012 the previous Government increased expenditure 57% while revenues grew by 17% which in turn increased the budget deficit by 1,912%! As a result of this blatant financial “mismanagement” the BDA’s net debt exploded from a 2005 level of $128 million to $2.42 billion in 2012 which is a 1,787% increase!

    “Global recessions” don’t cause Governments to continually (as was the case over the time period in question) overspend by 30%, 50% and even more on capital projects resulting in hundreds of millions of wasted tax payer monies.

    “Global recessions” don’t cause Government to receive 4 consecutive qualified audits on their financials as was the case under the financial stewardship of the previous Government.

    “Global recessions” also don’t cause Governments to cease performing financial audits on the $1.5 billion underfunded pension plans run by Government for almost 5 years (see SAGE report) or ensure that all quangos are being audited in a timely and effective manner (re: BDA College).

    “Global recessions” don’t cause the bloating of the civil service and the aforementioned debt which in turn now consumes nearly TWO THIRDS of annual Government revenue which leaves little to nothing in terms of investments in upgrading BDA’s infrastructure and social programs.

    “Global recessions” don’t cause Governments to raise payroll tax in the middle of our deepest recession which deepened our recession even further and coupled with anti-business policies pushed these locally domiciled companies off of our shores into more expensive jurisdictions to do business (i.e. Zurich, Ireland, etc.). One would think that any Government and especially the Minister of Finance would have taken a basic Economics 101 course which states save during the good times, spend during the bad and don’t raise taxes when in a recessionary environment.

    None of the financial mismanagement noted is a direct cause of the ‘global recession’ myth that some wish to deflect to when this topic arises. There has been a slowdown in growth, but that doesn’t equate to a deep recession as BDA has felt over the last 5 years. Eventually some will have come to the realization that the previous administration left BDA in such financial bad shape that they prolonged the recession in this island while all others started their recovery many moons ago.

    And the scary thing is that there are people in this island advocating for the return of the PLP as they beleive that somehow they will resucitate the

    • LiarLiar says:

      “resucitate the economy and Government finances they destroyed…”

  8. Noface says:

    “We respect the man with the biggest bank account and we are prepared to do a great many things our forefathers wouldn’t, to have one like his.”

    You mean things like assault, theft, larceny, slavery, rape, murder and genocide? Because as I recall the forefathers of the US (and Bermuda and many other countries worldwide) were using exactly those tactics to get what they wanted. I’d argue that rather than replay the same divisive and violent policies that got us into the mess we are in, we try to find solutions that are geared towards including all people willing to work for a positive change.

  9. more than enough says:

    Like I said
    “Business as usual”

  10. Positive Thoughts says:

    The column speaks of hard work, honesty etc. These are some good values to live by. This is an opinion column and everyone is entitled to their opinion. I also believe that the column is also sharing some facts, whether anyone wants to agree with them or not. It is a fact the the economy is in bad shape and it will take some hard work, thrift and honesty to get us out of it. What I can appreciate about Ms. Lynne Woolridge is that she does not focus so much on negativity but more on what is needed to get the country going and the good ethics that are needed in order to pursue this. People need to stop being so hateful and watch their negative thoughts because it manifests in their daily lives and only causes further turmoil to themselves and the society in which they live. Yes, there have been wrongs over the years to people, slavery etc., yes people have been left out, had nothing, poverty, the list goes on, but it comes a point in our lives when we have to use these things to help give us the drive to overcome and do better without constantly blaming and going nowhere.

    Use the past to motivate you to have a better future. We all need to come together regardless of what color we are, what party we affiliate with, how much money we have because at the end of the day we are all people and we all should want good for all of our people.

    I will always respect and admire Ms. Woolridge because to me she stands for what she believes in and seems to truly have the best interest of her country at heart. Yes Ms. Woolridge, I did learn those important values that you speak of as a child and I am an example of no matter how much times one may fall down, hard work does truly pay off at some point.

    Ms. Woolridge continue to be strong and determined to help our country get back on track and know that there are people out there who understand where you are coming from and are willing to do the right things in order to get the country back going and moving in the direction that it should. Do not be discouraged by negative talk and continue to be a good example for me and the people who need your guidance.

    Peace everyone…

  11. Dreadlocks says:

    The PLP had no way of making Bermuda prosperous. The actions of the previous govt led Bermuda to what it is today. If the PLP were ever to gain the govt again unfortunately it will get worse. There would be capital flight leading to an even worse society. The political elite would rule and get theirs,the middle class will be wiped out and crime will flourish.In a nutshell,Bermuda will become a dump!

  12. Double Standards says:

    Sswhite,

    To label someone a judas sheep working for their 30 pieces because she isn’t part of the same Party you support is just downright nasty and disrespectful. Surprised that was even allowed to be posted. Hope the PLP will condemn such hatefulness from their side. You seem to be a very nasty person full of hate. Hope your life gets better as time goes on.

  13. Bermuda123 says:

    Actually “dreadlocks”, anyone who could afford to and had another passport would leave permanently. There would be no “political elite” or “middle class” to help any recovery.

  14. Linda says:

    Very well said Lynne Woolridge,I was brought up by at a young age by my parents,hard work never killed anyone,if your going to do it,do it right,and its not how much money you make ,is what you save.Its not always about recession.

  15. Dennis Williams says:

    We need to really hash out the cause of our economic situation if we are ever going to be able to recover. All this opinion stated as fact will not help. I’m looking for debate not silly party politics okay so here goes….The global economic down turn affected Bermuda more than most because of the nature of our economy which mainly consist of Insurance/Reinsurance, Banking and Tourism. The first two of which were severely hit by the fallout of what happened on Wall Street. As a result of the down turn businesses decided to consolidate hence the need to relocate Bermudian jobs to other jurisdictions that paid less for the same service or the function could be performed by other parts of the organization who were already doing those tasks. The PLP thought that we (Bermuda) would just ride out the down turn so they did nothing to plan for the shortfall of revenue except for the doomed payroll tax increase. I say doomed because businesses here did not care that Bermuda was heading into recession and they just wanted to satisfy their bottom line only. They did not care that the Government had to borrow money to keep Bermuda running. They did not care about the Government and the people of Bermuda although they benefitted greatly from being in our low tax jurisdiction. With a large civil service, increasing needs of Seniors, an already overburdened pension fund which will continue to become saturated as more and more baby boomers reach 65 and more and more people needing social assistance, borrowing was the PLP’s only alternative to keep the country running while they still were hoping for a turn around……As it became apparent that some jobs were gone for good a growing unemployment problem began to brew…..The PLP did not think is wise to start dumping more people out of work by decreasing the size of the civil service so more and more debt was being accumulated. So they were voted out. In comes the OBA. They made promises they had no idea how they would keep. When asked how they would keep these promises in the lead up to the election they often gave no response. Never the less they were given the mandate anyway. They came in saying we need to look under the hood first then we will tell you how we’ll fix Bermuda. So after the Sage commission and other studies were made they must have realized that Bermuda was in a precarious position regardless of who is in power. SO one of the first things they did was borrow $750 Million more dollars to lump into the debt. This figure would carry them to the next election without having to borrow again or so they hope. So their solution to the economic shortfall is the same as the PLP’s…borrow. All the other things(Bermuda Tourism Authority, 2000 jobs, SAGE, Business immigration, concessions for job makers, etc.) turn out to be just fluff and electioneering as the economy still hasn’t made any progress. So what next? Where is the diversification of the economy that the ratings agencies keep telling us we need? Where is the plan that leads us out of this situation? Regardless of who is partying OBA/ PLP we will still need to solve these issues. Now lets have a debate…OH and as a side…to Dreadlocks (not a Rasta) your comments shows the insipidness that is plaguing our political discourse. Stir up us verses you while no solutions and negativity abound…..And Bermuda will never be a dump because when the lights are turned off we still have the natural surrounding beauty this Island has to offer and we can always fish, farm and make and build things to meet our basic needs. You don’t need rich people around to do that. But I know so many of us have to have that fancy house, car, clothing and take that trip away to shop in a mall to feel good about ourselves.

    • more than enough says:

      Yes I

    • Mahurim says:

      Has the greed of the Few spoiled the paradise that we live upon in the Americas(America)? Isn’t usurious banking really the culprit of the present financial predicament? We have been discussing symptoms but not the real cause. Changing this paradigm will be difficult if not dangerous just as the one in which people are considered crayons. Living more simply would benefit us greatly.

  16. MAKE MY DAY says:

    Bermuda’s BIGGEST mistake was placing a PLP Gov’t in supposed control of the Island’s destiny for 14 yrs – especially when E. Brown was in charge of 3 separate departments (2006 – 2010) including being the so-called premier!!!

    He was in effect a self-imposed *Dictator* under those disastrous times – especially where the Bermudian Tax Payers $$$ was concerned!! There are still MANY unanswered questions today – as to how the Island incurred a debt of over $2 BILLION!!

    IT IS NOT “ROCKET SCIENCE”!!