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January 18, 2011


Rick Lowe

Good stuff.
I found Dr. Saunders offered no ideas on how we might achieve her goals. Seemed more like political rhetoric than an economic analysis.
The room was filled with Bahamian professionals that morning, which seemed to be facts that Dr. Saunders was ignoring.
Ironically, Mr. Vanderpool Wallace seemed to present better economic prospects than Dr. Saunders' symbolism.
Too bad. Dr. Saunders is a very accomplished educator, but I'm afraid she's conveying the wrong approach to our college kids.

Scott Hepburn

I agree with Mr. Lowe's sentiments. People make alot of intellectual arguments about the perils of tourism but never offer a viable alternative other than idealized concepts. While we need the academic visions to move us forward, pragmatic realism is what we need to survive...

Jackson Burnside

Perhaps my ignorance of economics is showing, but based on the report of Bahama Pundit, Saunders and Vanderpool Wallace do not clash, in fact are not far apart. Seperate Dr. Saunders message from the messenger's provocative "apartheid" imagery, and develop the Bahamian potential for all Bahamians of all backgrounds. Vanderpool-Wallaces brilliant recipe for future change does not deny this "Saunders model" for change.
For me, this is not a case of either Saunders/or Vanderpool-Wallace, but a solution, in principle, of both/and. All Bahamians, regardless of their race, creed, colour, or when their ancestors arrived here, are crying out for a fair share of the opportunities, for their children, that Vanderpool-Wallace envisions. We need more of this conversation to move from talk to action together, in my humble opinion.

larry smith

It depends what policies we apply to reach nirvana.

Vanderpool-Wallace offered a brilliant recipe, as you say, based on our current, tourism-based economic model. It is not clear what Saunders is recommending, but it doesn't seem to incorporate any aspect of that model.

Perhaps by reading between the lines we can discern the blurred shape of the model that seems to be preferred by Saunders:

1. High taxation to support expanded government services.
2. Nationalisation of the tourism and financial services sectors.
3. Massive public investment in agriculture and manufacturing.
4. Ending of all tourism investment and incentives.
5. A ban on foreign ownership and restrictions on foreign investment.

A critique is one thing. A prescription is another.

In my view, our problems boil down to one main thing - a failed education system. And responsibility for this over the past 40 years has little to do with Stafford Sands.

Sam Duncombe

why can't we do both?
Larry - you speak from a position of privilege that thousands of Bahamians have never and possibly will never have.

I don't read it as getting rid of all foreign development or nationalizing the tourism product but rather leveling the playing field and having more ownership of the tourism product for Bahamians.

If we don't invest in agriculture and manufacturing we are continuing to condemn future Bahamians to a life of servitude and dependence in a very undependable world-

As far as development goes we have a huge gap between what is sustainable and that which is not, and lets face it 99% of it is not sustainable. We have no food security period. Our education system does suck - but is that not following the model of producing a barely literate society which can continue to provide bottom of the ladder jobs?

@Rick -I have not see Dr Saunders entire speech so whether she gave solutions I don't know but it does not negate the fact that very few Bahamians own any part of the Bahamian economy and that needs to change.

larry smith

I don't understand your first comment. But apparently, there is no point in my engaging in this discussion.

Jackson Burnside

I cannot comment one way or another about your "reading between the lines" of the Saunders presentation. What I can say is it might help for us to dispassionately separate Sands the man from Sands the symbol of his time. In 1956 my father Dr. Jackson Burnside was the PLP candidate who ran against Sir Stafford for the seat in the City of Nassau. While Jackson Burnside, lost the election he did not loose his deposit, which was a surprise to most Bahamians.
Many Bahamians, Black and White, at that time accused Sir Stafford of being "racist" because "he did not like Black people". Our father did not hold this against Sir Stafford, a product and symbol of his time, because as he always told us, "many Black people particularly in the city did not like Black people" and did not vote "Burnside" for that reason.
I think that the disconnect for many with the Saunders thesis comes from the “two Bahamas realities” that we remember and experience. I, too, see economic apartheid, but I see the denial of entitlement often also applying to White, Greek, Syrian, Spanish etc. as well as Black, Jamaican, Haitian, Bahamians. Ours has always been a plantation/ colonial economy and the privilege has always been secured for “the outsider, master, foreign investor” first. Just as we traditionally have seen our beach as “wasteland” we have failed to have self confidence in the presence of those who come from the “bigger countries” outside, or those whose looks, accent, or background is different. Obviously we need to change this harmful mind-set.
We need both the prognosis and the prescription, not one or the other. I maintain this conversation is essential for progress.

Rick Lowe

@ Sam: Is there a study that proves your point that "few Bahamians own any part of the Bahamians economy" or is that merely conjecture?
@ Jackson: I'm not clear on what you mean by "entitlement"?
My paternal grandfather had one pair of shoes until he left home at 15 I think it was to work on his own, yet he never conveyed we were entitled to anything without hard work.
I am often amazed at, and proud of, the breadth of wealth and accomplishment by my fellow Bahamians.
Those facts were left out of Dr. Saunders thesis.
Economic apartheid is very strong language and seems intent to incite rather than offer solutions?
Could we own more of the economy? And by we it seems to mean Black Bahamians if I read this all correctly. Possibly, but if we can't bring the capital to the table, is the government supposed to provide that too?
And we don't want to work together to save the capital or pool resources either.
Francis Fukuyama wrote a book entitled Trust, that seems to fit here.

Bay Street

What Dr. Saunders and the general Bahamian society needs to realize is that there is a world beyond our boarders that we can access. Rather than promoting Bahamian capital and resources be used for Bahamians, why not recommend ways to access the international market. When foreign investors come to our shores they don't receive loans from our local banks, but from outside the country. I was recently on a flight where I sat next to a gentleman from Salt Lake City, US. He was flying to my destination (in another country) in order to pitch his agricultural business and raise seed capital. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe majority of Bahamian business sector does this. Bahamians need to learn how to build the network and access the international capital to build the economy. That comes with higher level of education, international exchange programs, attending conferences, doing business outside of the country.

llewellen saunders

Good day Mr. Smith. After reading your article in the tribune I have to wonder if you read the entire or were using snippets provided by the tribune to "support" your case. The presentation was an opportunity to give an alternate approach to the current system. While Minister provided data given to him by his staff he in know offered any solutions to the economic model, least we are adamant that tourism is our economy. In addition you mentioned that the educational system has failed us. How is this mindset different from "the bitter approach" you have described Olivia's speech as. Perhaps public debate was her intention but without an OPEN mind when will national development occur?

larry smith

Indeed, I attended the conference and I have the full text of both speeches. I have also heard Olivia give the same speech at other venues over the past few years.

What she says requires policies to be applied that would be drastic - like her language - but she clearly avoids talking about those policies.

Obviously, we have problems that need to be addressed - like education. I do not think a Marxist revolution is required to fix those problems. That is the implication here.

Art Sands

I enjoyed both presentations, however i feel that Vanderpool- Wallace had the right idea for a start for change.
If you look at history we see that a national transport system was the key to most nations growth. Europe, Canada and the US were all able to experience growth by having a cohesive form of reliable and fast transport, that was able to access areas that could diversify their economies and also deliver goods and services to these new areas.
If in the Bahamas we could take Vanderpool-Wallace's ideas for transport to included other infrastructure needs we would be able to open new areas for tourism, agriculture and some industry. We already have telephone and cable tv traveling underwater why not power and water? Instead of having currently 6 or 7 individual power stations we could have one large one plant and a circular grid to supply the islands. Instead of having all these desalination plants we could have water supplied from Andros, Grand Bahama and Abaco. Again by having a circular system there would safe guards of supply built in.
The expense would be great but over the long range the savings in energy alone would pay for it and the system would be expandable to target areas that would require expansion.
In regard to his ideas for agriculture this alone would be a boom to our local products. Currently it takes between 3 to 4 days to get produce from the out islands to the main markets in Nassau. By having reliable transport in place products could be on the shelves in 24 hours. A 24 hour turn around would also reduce large shipments that retailers and wholesalers have to purchase and farmers have to pick thus reducing loss damage and reduction in farm costs.
My vision is that if we as a nation have the will to mandate an extended national policy and not offering political band aids we could achieve much. I feel that if we were to start with Mr. Vanderpool- Wallace ideas we would finish with Ms. Saunders utopia.

Larry (not larry smith)

I agree with several of the sentiments already expressed here about Dr. Saunder's remarks. They seemed to be more about what was wrong, and how bad the Bahamian economy is and very little about what to do to fix it, if it is so bad. And as stated, when you use language like 'economic apartheid' you expect that to be what is picked up and emphasized by those in the press, as was the case. Also as stated, Dr. Saunders remarks seems to imply no Bahamians have been empowered, or made well- off by the present economic system we have. Yet she was delivering the speech to a room filled of Bahamian professionals both black and white, young and old, most whom I would dare say live quite comfortable lives. This is not to say, that they couldn't better off, or wealthier?? But, as stated, what is the alternative to the system we have now???
We are place where people come on vacation, and we manage other people's wealth. Outside of fisheries, there is very few natural resources in the Bahamas.
I hope that Dr. Saunders isn't offering the same pessimistic viewpoint with no real solutions to her students at COB.

Llewellen Saunders

That is the problem with your beliefs Mr. Smith, there are many natural resources in The Bahamas, namely the people, but I doubt you will EVER understand that.

larry smith

@Llewellen: I assume you were responding to the previous commentator, who was not me. In either case, I don't see any need for snarkiness. Olivia obviously wanted a debate and was deliberately provocative. At other venues she has been more provocative. It's got nothing to do with my beliefs.

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