I heard repeated by senior government officials that the PLP government is a “Caring government.” I got to thinking about what does that means? What makes a government a caring government?
It reminded me of the biblical parable of the “good Samaritan,” that illustrated “who is your neighbour?”
Let’s use the family as an illustration for caring:
One father says to his children, I love you , I cherish you and I care about you. But each week he squanders his paycheck on the ponies, the slots and extravagant living, so much so that there is not enough left over for his children to have adequate food, proper shelter or clothing.
Another father says his children, I love you , I cherish you and I care about you. But this father is careful with his paycheque, making sure his children are provided for first, before he spends anything on himself. If there’s not enough to go around he will do without in order that his family is provided for.
Now I ask you, which father is REALLY a caring father: the first or the second. Clearly the second.
Now let’s apply that lesson to the Bermuda family. In many ways Government is a lot like the parent of the Bermuda family. The government that really cares about its people is the one that - puts its people first, the one that is careful with its paycheque
so that when the family is in need it will have the means to provide for them, to really care for them. A caring government will itself go without, so that its people can have.
That’s why at OBA our motto is, “we put Bermuda first.”
Caring is not just about saying you care, its about a pattern of behavior that enables the head of the family to deliver that care when it really matters.
Traditionally, charities have been at the vanguard of delivering caring services in Bermuda, and government has rightfully, for decades, supported them with hard cash. But in recent years irresponsible handling of the economy on the part of government has now caused it to slash its cash contributions to most charities, just at a time when the Bermuda family needs them most.
The Sunshine League is just one example of a charity in crisis. Many other charities, also in crisis, are being hit by a “double whammy” of government budget cuts combined with the flow from private sector contributions dwindling to a trickle.
Like the Sunshine League they don’t know how they are going to survive.
Mr. Speaker, this didn’t have to happen.
Mishandling of the economy has consequences - one of them being curtailment of being able to be a caring government... just like the father who blows most of his paycheque before bringing what’s left home to the family.
So the recent declarations by senior government officials that “this is a caring government” has the clang of a hollow vessel because, unlike the good Samaritan, it has failed to deliver sufficient caring services when it really counts.
A caring father wants his family to be safe from harm. A caring government wants the Bermuda family to feel safe from the menace of gang violence and the drug culture, and will do what it takes to make that happen, not cut the police budget.
A caring father wants his family to be treated fairly by others. A caring government values highly fairness and social justice for all.
A caring father wants his children’s dreams to come true. A caring government works to create an environment whereby its people can find fulfillment in life. Part of that environment is to ensure there is equal opportunity for all its people. That’s why we support economic empowerment.
A caring father wants his children to grow and prosper. A caring government wants those who are unemployed to be able to enjoy the dignity and self sufficiency of work and will do what it takes to enable that to happen.
The lesson from all this is that to be an actual caring head of the Bermuda family, the government must first be responsible, something it has failed to do over the past 5 years.
Today the debt service (sinking fund contribution + interest) = $95mn p.a. In 1998 the debt service = $13 mn p.a. (up by 630%)
That’s an $82 mn per year increase in money that has to be paid BEFORE ANYONE ELSE (Civil Servant or Vendor) CAN BE PAID, and any service can be rendered by government.
We sure could use some of that $82 mn now to help out those struggling charities that deliver caring services to members of the Bermuda family.
So the connections in the circle are complete: caring; safety; fairness; fulfillment; opportunity; and responsibility. These six principles are, coincidentally, core values of the OBA. Without a responsible head of the Bermuda family he cannot deliver on his other duties.
Mr. Speaker, as head of the Bermuda family, the OBA will bring back responsible, caring government. We will go without to ensure there is enough money to deliver caring services. We will take measures to grow the family paycheque by growing this economy. We will take measures to reduce the debt so that our other duties: caring, safety, fairness, fulfillment and opportunity, can be fulfilled.
We will do all these things because that’s what a REAL caring government does.
Everard T. (Bob) Richards, JP, MP