Bran McCartney and the DNA Are Reckless Amateurs
Since the glitzy launch of his party, DNA Leader Branville McCartney has been relentlessly gaffe-and blunder-prone making a series of amateurish and ill-advised statements. One of the more egregious is his intention that children born of illegal immigrants be constitutionally banned from applying for citizenship.
For this he has been criticized by a chorus of voices including a senior prelate who questioned whether a politician expressing such an extreme position should ever hold the office of prime minister.
Here we go again. In at least two recent press statements the DNA has doubled-down demonstrating yet again a stunning amateurism and now, recklessness. The statements spotlight the party’s muddled thinking and the poor judgement of its leader who allowed such statements to be issued.
All of this does not bode well for how the DNA might approach policy-planning and implementation as well as governance. One excerpt from a party statement following Hurricane Irene is suggestive of the essentially sophomoric nature of the DNA and its leader: “Such serious storms [Irene] are a natural phenomenon that is part of nature, and indeed the ontology and geography of the Western Hemisphere, of which The Bahamas is a part.”
This excerpt reads like a paragraph from a poorly written paper by a college sophomore. It is not the sort of considered prose of a party serious about wanting to govern a country. The excerpt is a tautological gem, a mastery of the obvious: “serious storms are a natural phenomenon that is part of nature…”
In case anyone forgot these facts: The Bahamas is a part of the western hemisphere, such storms are a part of the geography of this hemisphere and such storms are a natural phenomenon, perhaps as opposed to man-made, and, by the way, very much in evidence outside the western hemisphere.
This excerpt is representative of a sophomoric mindset that is typical of the DNA leader’s speeches, interviews and utterances. Having completed freshman year yet with most of their college studies ahead of them, sophomores often believe they are more seasoned than is the case.
With the little learning they do have sophomores are often prone to repeating accepted wisdom as if such wisdom is their discovery and invention. There is also a tendency to talk on all manner of subjects of which they have scant or surface knowledge. Despite the overblown self-confidence in what they think they know, sophomores often exhibit great immaturity and faulty judgement.
Branville McCartney is at best barely a political sophomore. He has clearly demonstrated through his repeatedly amateurish cliché-riddled rhetoric why he is unprepared for the prime ministership, a job that requires seasoned judgement not glibness and the confusion and substitution of broad themes for policy specifics.
In a recent press statement on the credit-rating agency Moody’s downgrade of the outlook for the Bahamian economy to negative, the DNA pitched a triple play of irresponsibility. In terms of economics it is amateurish. As with many of the DNA’s rather broad statements, it is painfully weak on the details of how to achieve the stated economic goals. It is also stunningly reckless.
Imagine that after Standard & Poor’s recently downgraded U.S. Treasury debt that an American politician stated that the downgrade was justified. He or she would have been roasted for talking down the economy, ridiculed for how such reckless language might erode confidence.
Indeed, after the downgrade President Obama criticized the decision mounting a vigorous defense of America’s creditworthiness. He understood the need to demonstrate confidence.
Branville McCartney, who has cast himself as a sort of Bahamian Barack Obama has taken a different and reckless tack. The DNA advised: “Moody’s is totally justified in changing its economic outlook and indeed, the real question is why has it not already downgraded The Bahamas’ credit rating as S&P did to BBB+ in 2008.”
Shockingly, the DNA and the man who wants badly to be prime minister appear gleeful about the downgrade. Worse, they failed to defend The Bahamas. Even worse, the fledglings seem disappointed that Moody’s did not go further and downgrade the country’s credit rating as well! They could have celebrated this considerable accomplishment during these perilous economic times.
Clearly, however, this would not suit the political agenda of the DNA leader who smarmily pretends that he is above politics. So, instead of any semblance of balance or credible analysis of the economy, the DNA, out of crass political calculation issued one of the more reckless and profoundly stupid statements of its meager time on the public stage.
It seems that the DNA wisely chose the color green as representative of its sophomoric naiveté. In the extraordinarily remote possibility of his becoming prime minister, one hopes that Mr. McCartney would not appoint as minister of finance or as an economic advisor the individual or any of the individuals who penned this dribble and faulty analysis: “Heretofore, rating agencies have complemented (sic) successive Bahamian governments on their fiscal prudence and, because they have, until recently, been able to maintain the country’s debt-GDP ratio at a level lower than 40 percent. The numbers, however, would indicate that instead of demonstrating fiscal prudence, successive Bahamian governments have been guilty of deficit spending…”
There is also this dribble: “There is a belief held by the IMF and the rating agencies that the fiscal affairs of a country are in good order, as long as the debt-GDP ratio remains below 40 percent. This belief is not only unfounded, but also misleading, because at the end of the day each country’s ability to service its debt depends not on the absolute level of debt, but the government’s ability to service the debt based on its revenue generating abilities.”
The sheer sophomoric arrogance is staggering. No Bahamian government has really managed the economy well. Moody’s is wrong for not having lowered the country’s credit rating. We now learn that the International Monetary Fund doesn’t know what it’s doing. Thankfully, with flowing green cape we now have Branville McCartney and his crack economic team to the rescue. Unfortunately, there are just a few problems which need to be sorted out.
The DNA’s response to Moody’s rating revision of The Bahamas’ outlook from positive to negative shows a curious ignorance even as it struggles to appear informed. The party connects the country’s outlook downgrade to a diminishing of its progression to first world nation status. It would be revealing to see how they explain the rating downgrade of first world industrial countries including the United States.
The ignorance gets worse. The DNA describes as “unfounded” and “misleading” the standard acceptance of debt levels of around 40 percent of GDP as satisfactory because as they posit, at the end of the day the country’s ability to service its debt depends not on the absolute level of debt, but on government’s ability to service the debt based on its revenue generating ability.
It appears that economic gurus in the DNA do not understand that the country’s GDP or the size of its economy is the determinant of its ability to raise revenue. Correspondingly, the standard form of measuring a country’s debt capacity is to relate its debt to its GDP. That is precisely what is expressed in the 40 percent of GDP measure. It is anything but unfounded and misleading.
In its infinite wisdom the DNA sees as the best option to the global economic crisis “to decrease spending in a way that does not impact the economy until revenues begin to pick up.” Perhaps they may explain how this might be done. There is no spending reduction by the government that would not negatively impact the economy, further reducing the government’s revenues.
Of course, few of the hard economic facts of which The Bahamas is confronted need concern the DNA since they are not likely to become the government. Accordingly, the party has the luxury of making profoun sounding highfalutin promises of the wonders it might perform if it came to office. Missing from the statement are specifics on how they will attain their economic goals and how they will pay for them.
The rapid increase in government debt resulted from the response to the economic and social impact of the most profound global economic crisis since the Great Depression. Except for this period of crisis, the debt was primarily incurred for capital investments.
The reality check is that most governments, including that of The Bahamas, responded to the crisis with the tools at hand. Indeed, the Ingraham administration did better than many governments, including advanced economies which have also been downgraded in terms of outlook and credit rating.
The country is fortunate that Branville McCartney was not prime minister when the crisis hit. With his dearth of experience, sophomoric economic analysis, and penchant for rhetoric over policy details and specifics he would have left the country worse off.
Times of crisis are no time for amateurs engaged in reckless pandering and crass politics in the pursuit of vainglory. Many voters may be frustrated. But, the vast majority are not as naive or reckless as some may wish or believe.
Author of the Front Porch column in The Nassau Guardian
Commentator on www.bahama.pundit.com