We’ve had the OBA Government’s official Budget for 2014/2015. 

We’ve also now had the Official Opposition’s Reply to the Budget.What we need now, more than ever, is a socialist alternative to the OBA and the PLP. The two-party system, be it PLP/UBP or PLP/OBA, has helped deform our island’s political maturity, and limited our political discourse with a limited vision of what could be. Limited vision leads to limited options and leads to limited opportunities for our people.

For a while, we had at least some variation in our politics, with the National Liberal Party giving us a third option at the polls and an alternate vision of what our politics could be. The short-lived Bermuda Democratic Alliance had a similar potential, only to sacrifice the hopes of many on the altar of cynical politics.

Vision is important — and in our situation we surely need to consider all the alternatives. After all, ‘the status quo is our enemy today’, Minister Richards correctly states.

The lack of such a vision of the future, of a radical alternative, cripples and paralyses our people into accepting a fait accompli and the lie of ‘there is no alternative’. 

There are alternatives; indeed, we have no choice now but to look for alternatives to a system which has been found comprehensively bankrupt — economically, socially and politically. 

An opposition not seeking a radical alternative is thus reduced to either mere protest or tinkering around the edges.

In that spirit I offer an alternative vision for Bermuda — a socialist reply to the OBA’s Budget.

It is not possible to include the entire socialist reply here — I encourage you to read the pdf from the Bermuda Sun’s website — instead I will try to give an outline of it here:

 

 We need to focus on qualitative rather than quantitative growth;

 Question marks about commercial immigration raised in the Budget, despite Government claims to be only ‘consulting’;

 A blanket removal of the 60/40 rule will only benefit the oligarchy while hurting small and medium business — reinforcing inequalities. Selective relaxation is possible if done with care;

 The best way to reduce the cost of healthcare is to reduce inequality;

 The National Health Plan needs implemented;

 Pharmaceuticals should be imported through the State to benefit from economies of scale and reduce mark-ups;

 Because of our dependency on IB we are vulnerable to external threats, thus the need for diversification;

 We should commission a study on the potential for income tax, or at least the taxing of income from investments;

 Corporations should be compelled to be more transparent;

 We need a minimum living wage;

 We need to focus on small and medium hotels rather than cruise ships and big hotels;

 We cannot compete for mass tourism but can compete for cultural and eco-tourism;

 Casino hotels are not proven to be successful;

 Counterproductive to cut back on education and retraining;

 Taxes can be used as a ‘carrot and stick’ to encourage and discourage behaviour;

 We need a junk food tax with a healthy food and staples subsidy;

 A carbon tax on produce with subsidies to local produce will improve our food security;

 Taxes and subsidies can help reduce our fossil-fuel dependence;

 Civil service reform reports must be made public in their entirety;

 Mutualization must be done only through a binding ballot of workers, not from above, if it is to stay true to the concept;

 Mutualization must mean the full ownership and management of the organization by the workers and consumers;

 Mutualization should be expanded to the private sector — especially the docks and Belco;

 Access to affordable energy should be a fundamental right of all Bermudians;

 Banking should become a public utility;

 An Independent Commission on Banking should investigate banking reforms including lending to small business, mortgage restructuring and green investments;

 Public-Private Partnerships are a flawed model for infrastructure development;

 A People’s Providential Fund, based on a share levy, would be a better model for infrastructure development and providing a Citizen’s Pension;

 The proposed glide path is the wrong way round and risks prolonging the economic crisis and/or leading to the wrong kind of recovery;

 Our focus must be on reducing inequality — a better Bermuda (and world) is possible!

View the full Socialist Reply to the Budget HERE.