Speaking in the House of Assembly on 6th December 2013, Mr Walton Brown, BA (Hons), MA, JP, MP., despite his impeccable credentials showed, again, his lack of understanding of a critically important matter. 

MP Brown said: “…the Minister said that we lost 2,500 Bermudian workers since 2008. … So let us get those 2,500 people back working. And as the economy grows, then of course we will need to bring in people because as our economy grows we have never had sufficient Bermudians in the workforce to fill all the jobs that are created. But to predicate an argument on the basis of saying we need to bring in people to sustain the economy, does not make sense. They will come when the economy grows.” 

In saying: “…we have never had sufficient Bermudians in the workforce to fill all the jobs that are created…”, MP Brown is correct. But MP Brown is wrong when he says: “They will come when the economy grows.”  

In 1981, there were 25,164 Bermudian workers and 5,878 non-Bermudian workers. In 1993, 26,486 Bermudians, 6,941 non-Bermudians. In 2000, 28,881 Bermudians, 9,136 non-Bermudians. In 2008, 27,180 Bermudians, 13,033 non-Bermudians. In 2012, 25,132 Bermudians, 10,311 non-Bermudians. Thirty years of data proves that MP Brown is absolutely correct in saying: “… we have never had sufficient Bermudians...”

Until 1993, non-Bermudians were supplemental workers. They came to Bermuda to help Bermudians maintain Tourist Bermuda. However, in 1994, there was a tectonic shift in the pattern of employment and the impact and relevance of non-Bermudian workers. 

From 1994 on, incoming non-Bermudian workers contained a growing nucleus of intellectual capital workers who came to Bermuda and who created and expanded International Business and its supporting infrastructure. This new generation of non-Bermudian workers were the primary driver for Bermuda’s 1994 switchover from Tourist Bermuda to Business Park Bermuda with a simultaneous and further rapid expansion of Bermuda’s changed, but always oversized, economy.

Data shows that between 1994 and 2008, while Tourism was shrinking, Bermuda’s overall economy expanded because of an influx of ‘Business Residents’ and their infrastructure support workers.

MP Brown’s statement: “They will come when the economy grows” is completely wrong. It is the absolute opposite of Bermuda’s post-1994 economic reality. What MP Brown should have known and should have said is: “The economy will grow when they come.”

Dr Brimmer

The late Dr Andrew F. Brimmer, PhD, (Harvard) had impeccable credentials and deep, as well as high-level business experience in the USA and on the African continent. Dr Brimmer was the Bermuda Government’s chief economic adviser from January 1999 until his death-in-office in October 2012. Between 1999 and 2012, Dr Brimmer advised through three distinct phases. 

Dr Brimmer advised in phase one, when Debt was shrinking by 5 per cent a year, being paid down from $150.4m to $119.5m, while GDP was growing an average 4 per cent a year [1999 – 2004]. Dr Brimmer then advised in phase two, when Debt was growing an average 38 per cent a year with GDP still growing an average 4 per cent a year [2004 – 2008]. Dr Brimmer was still advising in phase three when GDP commenced shrinking an average -3 per cent a year [2009 – 2012] while Debt kept growing at its average 38 per cent a year. In phases two and three, with Dr Brimmer advising, Debt grew 1,200 per cent from $119.5m in 2004 to $1,469m in October 2012.

So what difference did Dr Brimmer and his credentials make? What difference did the credentials of Dick Fuld, one-time CEO of now-bankrupt Lehman Brothers, make? Generally, what difference do any person’s credentials make? 

Ultimately, the quality and value of any person’s decision-making is determined by their outcomes and relevance to reality, verifiable fact, or real needs. Succinctly, the fact that someone has “good” credentials does not guarantee success of their decision outcomes.

For all Bermudians, the critical thing to remember is that we should listen to everyone. However, us lot should listen even more critically to people who, because of their credentials, claim higher abilities.

We should listen. But we should test. We should test opinions or positions against verifiable facts. If that person’s opinion or position passes the test, then we should accept it as valid. But if they fail the test, we should, but just that once, ignore their opinion. 

However, if a person — or any private or public entity, institution, or party — consistently fails the test, we should ignore that person — or entity — altogether.