Not impressed

December 3rd, 2010 by De Onion

For the record, this isn’t much to be proud of from such a large school.

Finally, there was Ivan Sanchez, who graduated in June and is presently pursuing an economics degree at McGill University. This young man was an Advanced Placement Scholar who achieved a score of 4 on a 5 point scale in three advanced placement subjects. In addition, he earned 9 GCSE passes.

The AP exams are pretty standard – I earned my first college credit at age 15 and by the time I graduated from high school I was a semester ahead and that was not at all exceptional. The top students in the school to be able to skip ahead an entire year of university by getting 8 or more scores of 4 or 5.

Also, anyone whose self-esteem is dependent on a Bermuda GPA of over about 3.8 is in for a rude awakening. If you’re scoring that high then the classes are too easy and there has been significant grade inflation. There’s abundant research that shows that the key to personal growth is continual challenge. My school dealt with this by having A-B-C level classes for each subject. Earning even an 3.7 in an A level class was a challenge for anyone and people earning a 3.0 often scored a 4 or 5 (out of 5) when taking Advanced Placement Exams.

The value of education is not in the numbers on a report card, they’re subject to grade inflation and school quality. The value comes in the ability to solve problems and grasp concepts – that’s what gets you ahead in life. By the age of 23 nobody cares what your university GPA was, let alone your high school GPA. People care if you can deliver quality work on-time and be trusted to get things done.

Another day, another headline.

October 5th, 2010 by De Onion

Fifteen teachers were not paid at the end of last month and another 90 were not paid for their scale post positions.

Teachers began working at the beginning of last month to prepare for the new school year which started on September 8.

But more than 100 of them have yet to see the full wages owed for their work.

Link here: Late pay for teachers branded as ‘unacceptable’ by union

With the Gazette’s rushed and brief nature it’s often hard to know exactly what is going on in situations like this. It’s either one-sided reporting of an honest mistake by the Ministry of Education or a symptom of a budget crisis. Odds are it’s the former.

Historically the non-payment of teachers has been an ultimate sticking point for bankrupt governments. There’s no doubt with Bermuda’s unbudgeted operating deficits that the government is headed toward the governmental equivalent of bankruptcy.

It will take a radical 180 degree turnaround in the management of the government to prevent a similar fate.

Quietly the government has already put an end to overtime for many civil service employees to conserve cash without cutting staff numbers. It’ll be interesting to see if delaying payments is the next step

Real accountability.

June 28th, 2008 by De Onion

Just so we’re clear. If you’re a hedge fund manager and you lie to people about the prospects of your funds then you get prosecuted. Link

Cioffi, 52, and Tannin, 46, were charged by federal prosecutors with misleading investors about two hedge funds whose collapse last year helped ignite the subprime-mortgage crisis. A companion Securities and Exchange Commission civil suit accuses Cioffi of redeeming $2 million from the funds while Tannin mocked as “silly” at least one investor who wanted to get out.

“No one should be surprised that people on Wall Street talk out of both sides of their mouths,” Peter Henning, a former U.S. Justice Department prosecutor who teaches at Wayne State University Law School in Detroit, said in an interview. “Wall Street is in sales, and no one trusts everything a salesman says.”

In the Bear Stearns case, federal prosecutors allege that Tannin, in an April 2007 e-mail to Cioffi, wrote that the “subprime market looks pretty damn ugly” and could be “toast.” The SEC said they gave monthly reports that “consistently understated” the funds’ exposure to subprime mortgages.

If the accusations are true, “it shows a callousness toward their own investors,” said Theodore Sonde, a former SEC enforcement attorney now at Patton Boggs LLP in Washington. “You have an obligation to be honest with your investors about what’s going on.”

That’s accountability.


May 19th, 2008 by De Onion

There’s a quote somewhere that management is “Doing the right things well.

We all know that governments are not good at doing the right things… but it’s always a shock to find out just how badly things can actually be done.

Staff are said to be angry with the increasingly dilapidated state of the building and no longer consider it safe.

The letter is believed to have complained that a proposed multi-million renovation of the 300-pupils school never materialised — and as a result it will shut in June.

Honestly, is this a joke? Or are we going to see a contractor suddenly step up and do the work at the last minute at great expense?

It’s so hard not to get completely cynical.

Why I support new hotels.

April 22nd, 2008 by De Onion

They may be able to employ the growing number who leave the public school system without the ability to survive in any of Bermuda’s other industries.

Of course, in a perfect world with a competent government capable of managing effective services then we would see high social mobility as students came out of public schools, into Bermuda college, and then onward and upward taking advantage of the many scholarships available… so that the proverbial son of a bricklayer could move up in the world to become a wealthy executive. Of course, since that’s not happening the way it should – and in many respects we have made substantial backward progress in the area of social mobility over the past 10 years, perhaps because the government believes in the talented tenth (and therefore the useless 90%), or is just plain corrupt and incompetent. The reasons are irrelevant. What matters is that the only answer to having failed an entire generation in public education is to create more low-paying, low-skill jobs, and hotels are the answer because we can’t put all the non-graduates to work in construction, drug distribution, and odd jobs forever as the industries are cyclical and risky – and next time there is a recession or competent management of Bermuda’s long-term growth then Bermuda will face massive structural unemployment… well, more than we already do anyway.

Remember that with on the order of 70% of males (by Larry Burchall’s reckoning) not graduating from public high school that means that there is essentially a generation of a segment of society who do not and will never have the skills necessary to make a living in any industry that requires the ability to read and do math. Even the most entry level of international business or service jobs require the ability to read, write reasonably well, and do basic maths, and most more senior positions require the ability to deal well with fractions, percentages, and use “there/their” correctly, never mind a fancy degree. Without these skills a person’s options are seriously limited and these hotels will provide jobs for those products of the failed public education system.

If we take government incompetence as a given then those of us in the reality based community have no choice but to support the building of new hotels.

Scandal list draft

December 12th, 2007 by De Onion

Recently there have been a number of people in letters to the editor and on blogs saying that the current government can “run on their record”… their web page of their accomplishments is here.

I asked the posters on the forum (yes, I deeply dislike the name and always will) for some help in creating a government scandal list for the past few years… Here’s what they came up with:

BHC – The big kahuna.
Premier sues the media to keep them quiet.
Limo Importation – Law changed to allow government insider to start a Limo business.
Hummer H3 commercial vehicle
Cedarbrige Mould
Education Statistics
Firing of Hotel Chef
Work Permit of Curtis Mcleod (construction boss v. George Scott)
Southlands Tunnel
Southlands planning approval
Hospital location
Discrimination against non-Bermudian spouses
Equality act
Col. Burch “House ****” comment
Long-line fishing
Berkley over-budget
“we had to deceive you”
Robert Jensen
RC’s profane e-mail
Mount Saint Monica (dump fire)
Calling squatters “criminals”
Faith Based Tourism
Tracking Chips for Vehicles
Emission Testing.. Buildings
Emission Testing… Contract
“settlement” with Pro-Active Construction
Club Med 1
Club Med 2
Club Med 3
Rebecca Middleton handling
Indigent Clinic and firing of Doctor for writing a letter to the press.
Stem Cell Clinic
Cedar Beams
Removal of Stuart Hayward and Bermuda’s #1 Eco Farmer from the round table.
Voting from the bathroom (applies to both parties’ MPs). (Gay Rights Issue)
Independence (most notably the BIC report)
After closing the Clinic, the Brown one, signed up as an “approved Dr” then refused to take any patients.
Forcing GPS upon the taxis
Brown’s Relationship with Tina Poitevien , Mark Lay and MDL Investments.
Free Bus & Ferry Transportation (that never was!)
The $11 million spent on cricket
The amount spent on football
The police contracts never being settled
No cruise ships for Hamilton
Building a pier over an historic wreck
The “deal” they cut with the US government re the cost of cleaning up the Baselands [$11 mill towards the bridge when the estimated cleanup costs were $65 mill]
The apparent about face re moving the Southlands project to Morgans Point (and the bill that will stick the taxpayer with)
Pay to Pray
Pay to Play
US Passport
$ 1 million per month spent on PLP travel junkets abroad.
$25,000 to $30,000 to fly entertainers to Bermuda on a private jet for Brown’s love fest
$1 million to set up Govt TV channel
Abdallah Ahad
Racist dog attack on Gibbons
non-Charity (THE)
Alex Scott’s email to Tony Brannon
$82,000 spent on security for Brown’s private residence.
$1,500,000+ for renovations at Clifton, and then overcharging for rent so it remains unoccupied.
“Political eunuch”
China tourist office
Plantation questions
Refusing to answer cost questions
Donation to a US congressman even though EB shouldn’t be an American anymore.
Gay cruise saga
Reducing funding for the Salvation Army.
Firing developers who were ready to go on Club Med.
Health Minister’s notes on need to obfuscate “embarrassing” report.
Bermuda Cement
BHC 2.0

Readers – please help me remove the inaccurate ones and add any others – I have done some of this on my own.

If I had more time I’d like to go through and add up the cost of these various mistakes to the taxpayer – it would probably run into the thousands of dollars per person in Bermuda.

What you have to believe…

December 6th, 2007 by De Onion

…to see things from the government’s point of view…

…unethical but not illegal is ok…
…the banks will call mortgages of people who speak out against the UBP… BMA be damned!
…the UBP are all white or controlled by whites…
…the BHC leakers were white UBP supporters…
…tourism is in great shape…
…government is being efficiently run…
…the BHC allegations were properly and fully investigated…
…all responsible for the 8 million write-down have been appropriately punished…
…Dame Louis Brown Evans thought Ewart Brown was a good guy…
…the Premier needs heavy personal protection (but celebrities and billionaires only need a nanny or a Labrador)…
…hiding the truth at taxpayer expense is good for the voting public…
…the best way to destroy racism is to hate white people…
…libel suits are not enough to protect the innocent…
…housing price increases are the product of good affordable housing policy…
…the best way to prevent over-development is to build more…
…helping working Bermudians means importing labour from the third world…
…Bermudians are capable of doing jobs requiring 30 years experience after only 6 years…
…that we should reserve Bermuda for Bermudians married to Bermudians, unless it’s related to a hotel development…
…it’s the tennant’s fault when they move out…

What else?

How to raise children…

November 26th, 2007 by De Onion

Quick link… because I’m super-busy.


November 24th, 2007 by De Onion

I disagree somewhat with The Limey when he says

Even when there are no immediate job losses in Bermuda as a result of these moves (as was the case with Butterfield Bank), there’s still an opportunity cost: any new positions that these companies create will be in the new location, not here. That’s no problem for Bermudians willing to relocate, but it doesn’t help those who want to stay here.

The departure has already started. That’s not scaremongering. That’s a fact. Even if the reasons are sometimes economic rather than political, the effect on Bermuda is the same.

He’s mostly right – I’m Bermudian and have been approached about working in a foreign office of a firm that is moving their operations overseas. There is some brain drain happening, but in general outsourcing to low-cost jurisdictions is not in and of itself a bad thing – indeed, London and New York seem to do quite well even though the bulk of many of their firm’s employees are in other lower-cost locations. In addition, for us in Bermuda it’s very much in the interests of the quality of life in the future to limit population growth on this island.

However, the important key are the reasons for population stability – in the end it will come down to cost. Companies will not come here when it’s more expensive to do business in Bermuda than in other places. It’s certainly in our best interests to maximise costs – indeed, at the moment Bermuda is a huge bargain compared to the United Kingdom.

What we need to do is make sure that Bermuda is expensive for the right reasons:
– People are very highly paid.
– Prime office space is very expensive. (good if it’s owned by Bermudians)
– It’s necessary to attract locals from other local companies in order to grow.
– It’s only possible to import people at very high salaries.
– There is a fantastic education & social system.

It’s vitally important that Bermuda isn’t expensive for the wrong reasons:
– Government is arbitrary.
– Government is inefficient.
– Legislation is not competitive.
– Foreign staff are not welcome.
– Compliance with quotas is burdensome.
– Immigration is slow and arbitrary.
– Top calibre people don’t want to work in Bermuda.
– Government is corrupt.

My thoughts on BET.

November 13th, 2007 by De Onion

So… Dr. Brown is friends with one of the men behind BET and has included him in his group of economic advisers.

Here’s what I think is the most appropriate response I’ve ever seen to BET culture and what it has done to traditional Bermudian values.

NOT SAFE FOR WORK!!!! (but turn your speakers up)