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The Future

Robert Stewart certainly managed to raise lots of emotions at the meeting relating to his commentary. His critique of government's role in sustainable development is fundamentally flawed in that Govt. is not controlling people via the process but quite the opposite: seeking out input from 'the people' to dictate priorities.

Now, no democratic system has a good track record of actually performing the will of the people. And Bermuda has quite a few stains on record where our governments have whole heartedly gone against the declared wishes of the people. To be clear, government's role is to provide the framework while individuals, groups and corporations do the actual work. In regards to frameworks (laws, policies and legislation) governments ultimately do what is either politically expedient or else in their own personal interests (or both).

Incidentally, many view the consultation exercise with the same cynicism as they do pre-election campaigning. There is a lot of talk and wide discussion with thousands of people with competing and opposing views yet politicians try to convince them their views are the ones that count - anything to secure that vote on that day with no accountability in relation to the talk during the campainging thereafter!

We are moving down that road but we have yet to 'arrive' at a place where the control of resources by a few - govt. or private sector - reflects the will of the many - citizens or shareholders - who own them. Truth be told there has been a long history of underground movements to ensure ownership and control go hand in hand - in the face of public talk (but contrary action) of democracy (which involves control by those without ownership). These are the real stakes at hand here and the debate on sustainable development has only brought that to the forefront. If you monitor the audiences at the meetings you will note a trend of either concerned citizens and have-gots but certainly you will not see a cross section of Bermuda there. I digress...

To speak directly to a successful sustainable development project, I suggest Mr. Stewart and his supporters adopt some humility. In fact, all participants should in that examples of superior results come from lands that from the outside appear to have much less going for themselves. It is amazing to see how economic success has pumped up the egos of Bermuda but I hope we can have enough humility to see what poorer peoples of the world have to teach us. Don't forget we strongly lack social success. One example for Mr. Stewart can be found at http://www.songhai.org

I visited this wonderful site in Benin in 2000 and spent 10 days living there. There are a number of songahi centre villages but this is the original model. 30 acres of land supports over 300 people who live and work there and are completely self sufficient. Water from the showers and toilets is treated with special bacteria and funnelled into odor free pools full of hyacinth plants that extract the energy of the 'waste'. I have seen these floating plants behind TCD.

The plants have extremely efficient root systems. They grow and are cut and composted in tanks with animal waste to produce methane gas. The methane gas is used to run generators and for cooking gas. The solid waste becomes fertilizer. The water is filtered and purified for irrigation. This is a zero waste commuunity. They designed solar ovens. They have excess food to sell to the outside community. They make their own soaps, clothing etc. They network with neighbouring villages over the internet to facilitate business. This is but a few examples of what I have seen.

There are several of these centres over 1000 acres in Benin. The model is scalable to suit the size of land available. I am not suggesting we adopt all these practises outright but be humble enough to:

a. accept that it has been done successfully
b. see what can be outright applied here and
c. examine what can be adapted to increase our sustainability here.

With water shortages, high energy prices and outright dependency, we need to be humble and receptive to solutions that have been implemented on a very large scale. Visit http://www.songhai.org and see for yourself.

So Mr. Stewart, I have detailed the evidence that refutes your commentary. While there are still holes in the democratic process, Govt.'s role is to provide the policies to enable this process to work and there is no reason why their actions cannot be monitored in this case. The people, groups and corporations are the ones to make it happen with the right incentives. There is clear evidence that it can work. Our access to capital far, far exceeds those at Songhai. Will that impede our Sustainable Development, due to complacency and arrogance, or facilitate it?


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PS Mr Stewart, your assumption that Bermuda is sustainable because of all that has gone on historically and is going on today is a farce. It is akin to saying since you have enjoyed the spring and summer periods one needs not purchase warm clothes for the coming winter.

Fail to prepare and you prepare to fail.

http://www.songhai.org

Spykid

Mr. Stewart's comments are well intact and have hardly been refuted by the empty rhetoric I read above. Robert is absolutely correct in his statements concerning sustainable development. It is a socialist system perpetrated by a socialist organization on sovereign shores. The "universally" agreed upon definition of sustainable development is the re-worded version of the old Soviet Constitution of 1977 (article 18). Futher, what is Bermuda doing implemeting foreign policy on our shores, particularly at the behest of a foreign power of whom we have neither allegiance nor membership? Why are we following an organization, which legally has little or no authority over sovereign nations? Some of the comments that I have read and heard out of the mouth of this government and their panelists comes directly out of Marx's Philosophy on sustainable development! Woe unto the nation that doesn' read; the people really do perish for lack of knowledge! In this "new socialism", it is the Govt/Corporate control of all resources, and the end of private property. Government's attempt at encouraging people to use alternate forms of transportation has little or nothing to do with sustainable development more then it does with monitoring and logging exactly how many people are deceived by these useless meetings. I am willing to wager that any and all information gathered will be sent directly to the United Nations. What will be next on the agenda? Perhaps a law, which restricts the days and times people can use their private vehicles? Have I let the cat out of the bag? Bare in mind what the good Minister of Transport mentioned just a short year ago concerning the possibility of taking away the private cars of certain folk. Also bare in mind that no elected govt has the inherent authority to restrict or remove anyone's private property; but communist governments do! The Club of Rome, a United Nations think tank stated in their own documents that the best way to unite people is through problems...real or manufactured! So then, if a nation does not experience the necessary social issues to justify sustainable development...manufacture the problems you need and offer sustainable development as the only solution. I wonder just how many problems concerning energy, waste, housing, jobs, crime and economics were either made up or stretched out of proportion to justify this covertly communist system in an island as small as Bermuda? This same sustainable development in the United States, has created "buffer zones", which restrict human settlements in favor of animals,and is forcing hard working farmers and producers off of their land. Governments' around the world are privatizing government departments, placing them in the hands of corporations (the real money lords)who are then allowed to set whatever standards they wish, so long as it benefits the few and not the many. This whole thing is the biggest most daring scam ever perpetrated by any government in Bermuda, and the most ambitious worldwide attempt at socialism...ever! Those in power who are responsible for selling this island into the hands of a foreign power with no jurisdiction here shall be guilty of treason if it is brough to completion. And this is but a dot on the forehead in terms of what has yet to be told. Time and events will certainly prove if I am right or wrong, regardless of what may be written to the contrary hereafter.

The Future

It is difficult to tell is Spykid is being sarcastic or not. But a few comment just the same:
1. Mr. Stewart did not refer to 'a socialist system perpetrated by a socialist organization on sovereign shores'. As controversial as his comments were, I'm sure he would not want you misrepresenting him.
2. Your conspiracy theory is quite entertaining but you present no evidence of it being true (At least I presented evidence of successful sustainable development in place since the 80s.) Shall the island simply following your illogical theories? To where I might ask? I.e. what do you suggest be done.

The Bermudian

I think that we should bare in mind that under Section 1 part 4 'Internationl Guidelines for NSDS' point 6 states that any SD strategy must be:
• Country-led and nationally-owned rather than imposed externally.

I believe based on the sale of a section of Front Street and other realestate that this present 'Administration' has permitted 'external' influences (parties) to stimulate this present situation. To many of my colleagues we don't view this as a long thought out proscess of national preservation but rather a very public demonstration of "we did what we thought was right at the time and we made a little bit of money in the process but really have made some stupid errors at the expense of future generations of Bermudians and it may be too late to reverse but let's see what we can salvage and we'll listen to your input".
These international beasts have invested millions of dollars through the BDA Government and are here to stay and do have to nor want to listen to what Bermudians have to say. If you are ever present at a function with mostly guest workers the conversation always turns to how passive & ignorant Bermudians are and how gullible they are to give their precious land away.
We don't need a hi-tech Bermuda when the social and education system are failing. The average student would say to the Tax Exempt Company which just 'donated' 1 million dollars worth of computers to his/her school "what is the sense of having a computer to communicate when I don't even talk to my parents and I struggle with spelling and appropriate sentence structure?" or "oh cool the latest in technology can I play X-Box on this?"
The fact that 'we' have allowed a small group of investors to grow financially fat from our hard earned money for 50 years at BELCO Holdings (monopoly)without at any time investing in alternate sources of energy production is wrong. Now 'we' are rewarding them with the opportunity to make more money by giving them the 'papal blessing' to import a turbine or two which will be used subequatically to generate hydro-electricity.

I met with a Dutch Engineer who came to do some specialist work for BELCO 12 years ago and he was so surprised that we were not using windmills. His company had installed windmills on a reef platform off the coast of Japan which served to generate a significant amount of energy for that population. After spending three months in Bermuda besides the monopoly he could not see why this was not being considered by the then government as a source of low cost 'clean fuel' His estimation was 20 100ft windmills could generate sufficient power for 60, 000 homes. Besides the initial cost the long term costs are minimal.

There is little reason why government initiative could not provide more sufficient agricultural lands to sustain our small-town-sized community. We certainly don't need any more golf courses!
The wasted base lands & some of the North Shore Road Government House Land could be used efficiently as agricultural lands but this does not seem to interest the Bermuda Government. Therefore the grocery store charge extortionate prices for imported, low grade fruit and vegetables.

Sustainable Development has to be driven by the people and owned by the people but supported and empowered by the 'people appointed government'. I have traveled extensively through developing countries and know first hand that Sustainable Development could work and does work.

Therefore I believe that we the people need to come together regardless of our socio-economics and ethnicity then work this out together within our Parish Councils because each Parish has specific needs then let 'us' merge our thoughts, findings and needs, after which we the people then present our documents to the BDA Government. I do not believe that the government of our appoining should be dictating to us or even steering this 'movement'. The committees should not be government appointment but the Parish Councils working with the Constituency Minister should invite the public to apply for committee involement etc.

robert stewart

I attach my response to the 3 minutes, and 2 minutes, questions and also a longer paper on why the sustainable development is an act of monumental folly.

However, let me comment on the points made so far. On the comment about Benin, this project was a straighforward simple pastoral project which seems to work. Bermuda is an advanced economy that uses (and needs) things like cell phones, travel connections to the rest of the world, cable tv, frozen foods, advanced pharmaceuticals, modern medicine, cars and motor cycles, airconditioning and so on and so on. Unless we want to turn the clock back to the 18th century, we need to earn our way in the modern world which we do very well - hence our high incomes. The modern world is essentially the free market economy characterised by countries like US,UK, Japan, Germany, and now India and China. The free market coordinates the economic activity of millions of individuals who mesh together spontaneously by responding to the prices of goods and services they buy and sell. The enormous complexity of this market exchange is beyond the understanding of a small group of planners because the talents, skills, and knowledge of millions are used to bring us the goods I mentioned above. Where economic planning has been tried (and it has been tried in well over a 100 countries, at different times) it has been a disaster because of the bungling of the planners who can never acquire the knowledge required to make their plans work. The role of govt should not be to imposes a preconceived order on that spontaneous order. Its purpose should be to facilitate the operation of the open free market economy. That is what Bermuda has done since, at least, 1945 and that is why we are much richer and have a much more pleasant environment that 99% of human kind. To change that is to do the opposite of what India and China are now doing, and they know only too well the massive imperfections of state planning along the lines of that proposed for Bermuda. There is a further point. Even modest economic planning requires a coercive machine to compel people to to cooperate with the plan. This is a recipe for arbitrary govt such as was experienced in India and China (and still is to a certain extent) as well as other countries such as Argentina, Poland, and Russia. Govt economic planning simply does not work, never has worked, and never will work.

Please do not fall for the baloney that the plan will be owned by the people. It will be owned by the politicians and bureaucrats and the freedom of the individual will be restricted. History proves that time and time again.

2 other things. Do not fall for the bait that the sustainable development plan is about the environment. It is not; it is more about telling everyone how they should live their lives. It is a document of incredible economic illiteracy - I found 25 economic fallacies in the first 42 pages and gave up counting.

Secondly, the current economic system that we have, and is in operation in most of the free world, is a system of planning. People seem of imagine that capitalism is wild, disorderly, without reason and exploitive. Every day, there are countless businessmen who are planning to expand or contract their firms, who are planning to introduce new products or discontinue old ones, planning to open new branches or close down existing ones, planning to change their methods of production or continue with their present methods, planning to hire additional workers or let some of their present ones go. And every day, there are countless workers planning to improve their skills, change their occupations or places of work, or to continue with things as they are; and consumers, planning to buy homes, cars, stereos, steak or hamburger, and how to use the goods they already have — for example, to drive to work or to take their push-bike, instead.

Yet people deny the name planning to all this activity and reserve it for the feeble efforts of a handful of government officials, who, having prohibited the planning of everyone else, presume to substitute their knowledge and intelligence for the knowledge and intelligence of tens and hundreds of millions. Our current system has economic planning built into it,the difference being that everyone plans - not just a small group of civil servants. The govt planning team give the impression that the free market system is one of anarchy. Not true.

I hve probably said enough, but for those who are interested please read the "Road to Serfdom" by FA Hayek, or "Free to Choose" by Milton Friedman,or if you are really ambitious "Human Action" by Ludwig von Mises and you will realise that the Sustainable Development Project is designed to lead you up the garden path, and if persisted with, reduce your income by a substantial amount.


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The Case Against the Sustainable Development Project.
by
Robert Stewart

I cannot think of anyone who would be against sustainable development because it means that society should try and maximise human welfare. It also conjures up the necessity and desirability of maintaining our physical environment – open spaces, little trash, beautiful buildings, and so on. Just the sort of thing that government has trashed over the past 10 years by having bigger cars, bigger cycles, more traffic, and more parking spaces especially for those with GP cars and now, of course, the new hospital on the open space of the Botanical Gardens.

The Sustainable Development Project, alas, is not about the environment – it is all about social engineering or economic planning. The reason these titles are not used is matter of linguistic subversion or word manipulation. Catch phrases and slogans are always the hallmark of a government project because they prefer to give the public inspiring fantasies, not sobering facts.

This is why George Orwell said in the 1940s “Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. It consists largely of euphemisms, question-begging, and sheer cloudy vagueness.” He went on to say “Language once corrupted can have corrupting real world consequences. Our language becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.” Politicians prefer loaded language and soulless buzz-words to reality.

Social engineering always has a lofty purpose – that is why this project is called sustainable development. But, it means commissions, committees, officials, rules, bureaucratic direction, regulations, orders and increased numbers of civil servants and more taxation.

I was taken to task, by the then director Ross Andrews, when I said that some months ago. It has now been confirmed by the current director, that the Project is less about the environment - and more about civil servant performance, developing entrepreneurs, school curriculum, income distribution, affordable housing, economic empowerment, crime prevention – really everything under the sun.

The problem is that social engineering does not work, never has worked, and never can work for 2 main reasons:

1. The intellectual case against social engineering has been argued persuasively by F.A. Hayek, the Nobel Prize-winning economist in an article entitled “The Use of Knowledge in Society”. This was published in 1945 and was the basis of his winning the Nobel Prize in economics in 1973. He stated that no group of people, no matter how intelligent can ever master the knowledge, either current or future, needed to run society. It is simply impossible, it is a pretence of knowledge. There are few professional economists who disagree with Professor Hayek.
2. The practical case against social engineering is that it has been tried in country and after country, at different times, and with different titles but it has always failed. The biggest failure was in Russia, but other classic failures were in China, France, India, Argentina and a host of other countries. Why should Bermuda be any different?

If I am too optimistic, there is a third reason for the project to be a failure. The Bermuda Government cannot keep drugs out of Westgate, fails to educate about 40% of children at public school, even after 10 – 12 years intensive education, cannot prevent civil servants from stealing the public’s money, and there are a host of other failures too numerous to mention like cost overruns. Does that inspire confidence in its ability to manage our lives? The answer is obvious. I do not think Bermudians are fools – and neither do you.

Social engineering advocates are brimming over with all sorts of plans to make the world better, more moral, richer, safer, more rational, or whatever. They are convinced their pie-in-the-sky schemes will work, if only they are given greater authority over everyone else to make our lives better. They believe that if individuals – that is you and me – are left to their own devices we are too stupid and too ill-informed to make correct decisions. In their opinion, the major decisions about our lives should be made by those in authority e.g. those like themselves. Leaving things to be decided by ordinary people means, in their eyes, that no one is in control of events, and because they are more virtuous than all of us, that control should be exercised by them.

Social engineering and economic planning both spring from the belief that the best social order arises from the purposeful, conscious, and deliberate human design, rather than the spontaneous or unplanned development over many centuries arising from the experiences of millions of people. The planner believes he has both knowledge and power to create a better social order, and hence redesign society by using the coercive power of the state. The planner does not believe in the experience of human trial and error, but on the power of rational thinkers to direct people – if necessary by compulsion - in a way that is for their own good. This is one of the oldest ideas in political history, and one of the worst. It is what F.A. Hayek called the “fatal conceit” – the idea that planners produce better social outcomes than ordinary people getting up in the morning to go to work to produce the goods and services we all need.

Economic laws, realities and individual freedom will always prevail. To support social engineering is to wear a badge of economic ignorance on your sleeve. Too often Government thinks it can disregard the laws of economics and bring about the results it desires. That is simply not possible and ultimately they have to deceive the people. Economic principles operate regardless and independent of the good intentions of those in authority.

In conclusion, I think we can make five assertions about the Sustainable Development Project:
1. it is likely to be wrong – dead wrong – in its major assumptions;
2. its errors will do the maximum damage because they will be imposed on all of us;
3. it will be persisted in, long after its errors have been revealed because government is the slowest of all creature to admit mistakes;
4. the people will be lied to about the success of the Project – think Berkley Institute; and
5. individual freedom will diminish, and government power over our daily lives will increase.

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SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT - 3.

To say that unrestrained economic or human activity can lead to a degraded environment is, of course, a fallacy of monumental proportions. Everyone should check, or remember, what happened when there was government directed economic activity such as that which occurred in Eastern Europe and Russia during most of the 20th century. The place was a mess – an environmental disaster of major proportions. It was said that Russians were not conservationists because there was nothing worth conserving – this after 70 years of a sustainable development project, aka economic planning.

Let there be no mistake about it. There can be a balance struck between economic and social issues, and the environment - a balance that Bermuda has struck remarkably well for many many years. Bermuda does have a resource efficient economy – as evidenced by the fact of our high standard of living, which is one of the highest in the world – not to mention the high quality of our life. We use our resources efficiently that is why we are, compared to most people of the world, prosperous and wealthy.


How is it that a small population of 60,000 people can have one of the highest standards of living in the world, when we have so few natural resources – no oil, no gold, no diamonds? The reason is that we have the greatest resource of all – more important than gold, oil, or diamonds – and that resource is people, all of us, you and me, and our brains.

The ultimate resource of any community is skilled, spirited, hopeful people who will exert their wills, imagination and their intelligence. We have done that for at least 350 years and I am sure we will continue to do so.

That is what makes it possible for a balance to be struck between the economy and the environment. To believe otherwise is to think that Bermudians, human beings, you and me, are no different from ants or rats, and that we are a race of unthinking morons. It is simply not true.

I do not think Bermudians are fools – and neither do you.

The only factor that limits Bermuda is the failure of those in authority to appreciate that ordinary people going about their day to day business are infinitely more talented and knowledgeable than a group of planners who pretend that they have a hot-line to God.

From history we learn that there are no limits on human intelligence provided people are free to use their talents and their imaginations. Do not believe those who tell you that you are not sufficiently competent to make your decisions about your own life and those of your neighbour. If you do, you will probably end up like these demented souls in Eastern Europe.

We have done pretty well up to now without a sustainable development project. There is no reason to think that things will be any different if we continue to believe in ourselves, and continue to use our trained intelligence.


2 minute response.

On page 142, the difficulties of an ageing population are mentioned namely that the number of seniors will rise from 9,297 in 2000 to 20,938 in 2030. Being one myself I never thought of that as a problem. The problem is people dying too soon.
I wanted to mention the deficit on the social security fund which at 31st July, 2002 was $2.080 billion. That means that each Bermudian is indebted, although they do not know it, to the extent of around $33,500 and it is getting bigger every day. The people who will pay this debt in the future are the very young. Government has shown great talent at mugging the Sesame Street Gang.
I do not know the deficit on the civil service pension fund, or the deficit on the legislators pension fund – these facts are state secrets mainly because the gang in control do not want you, the public, to know the massive debts they are creating and for you to understand the huge bill young people will have to pay in the future.
As always, government treats the public like a bunch of fools whilst simultaneously plundering our assets – or to be precise the future assets of the 5 to 15 year-old group. This is child abuse of a particularly nasty sort and most of the people responsible for this are sitting around you in this hall. I do not wish my name to be associated with such immoral acts, yet cabinet ministers and civil servants are acting like Bonnie and Clyde and spontaneous order few of us protest about their disgraceful behaviour.
Nothing is mentioned in the sustainable development report about resolving this except having regular updates of population projections – as if that will pay the grocery bills for seniors.


With that I sign off. Sorry to be so long.

Bob Stewart.


robert stewart

Just received the following quotation from the Future of Freedom Foundation which is pertinent to what I wrote yesterday. Robert Stewart.

The impossibility of any individual or small group conceiving of all the possibilities, let alone evaluating their merits, is the great argument against central governmental planning and against arrangements such as professional monopolies that limit the possibilities of experimentation.


— Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom [1962

Spykid

To the "Future", Look a little closer. Those comments are mine, I did not misrepresent Mr. Stewart. Further, what is your definition of a "Conspiracy Theory"? Either you need to dig a little deeper, or you are doing a really lousy job at running damage control. The beautiful thing about all of this "slick" is I don't have to defend a single thing. I am wrong you say?

Just wait...

The Future

Oh I get it. This is not an argument against Sustainable Development. It is an argument against a government who is seeking to bring address the imbalances brought about by a few for their own families' benefit for the last 400 years.

And your backlash is to say "everything is just fine" - "please don't take away what we have 'earned'". You have benefitted awful tactics of those who came before you and like any pendelum, attempting to prevent it from swinging back toward the center is folly.

You do not see how holding on to the imbalance of wealth is actually causing your wealth to decline....

The Future

By the way, contrary to my advise (no surprise there) Mr. Stewart and his cohorts fail to adopt humility. The Benin example was not to "straighforward simple pastoral project". How can you equate a zero waste community developed over the last 20 years to this is beyond me. If it is so simple and straight forward, why is Bermuda sitting on several thousand tons of human waste and extracting no benefit from it?

They obtain fertilizer - we get water table contamination.

They obtain methane gas to cook and run generators - we vent gas to the atmoshphere and complain about BELCO.

They obtain water for all their irrigation needs while we dump useful water and at the same time are more than a half a billions gallons short of our needs, al while PAYING Watlington & Co. for what we could get for free.

If it is so simple, why are we not doing it?

And by the way, they have computer networks, websites and other technologies. As I previously stated, my example was to give folks proof that there are sustainable projects that have and are working (contrary to your assertion) and also so we could see how some of the innovations from this so called third world community can benefit our so called first world one. Only humility would allow one to see that.

Arrogance allows us to be rich, wade in waste and our own demise while poor people have solutions to some of our problems. We can and should humbly study them and adapt them to our situation.


http://www.songhai.org

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