The Bull Case.

August 8th, 2008 by De Onion

After my recent posts of relative skepticism about the Bermuda real estate market I think it’s worth outlining the bull case for Bermuda real estate. It can be located right here: Royal Gazette Employment Classifieds.

As long as the government continues to allow population growth then Bermuda’s economy will continue to grow largely independent of the rest of the world, and despite poor government (really terrible government could still cause a local recession/depression). However this population growth fuels the decline in standards of living as more of us are packed into condos/human filing cabinets, and spend more of our lives sitting in traffic. This population growth also shields government from responsibility and side effects of having a government producing large numbers of (mostly black, mostly male) people who are only employed because we are building as fast as we can to provide housing for the growing population, so as long as the government continues to keep the demand side for housing growing by allowing net immigration, and as long as they continue to artificially constrain the supply side through incompetent management of urban planning and building control, then we should see prices remain firm.

Of course, we are building a social house of cards by leaving the lower income Bermudians chronically under-housed, and by keeping prices and rents high are transferring wealth from the young and poor to older (mostly white) home owners.

Anyone who claims the PLP is the party of “social justice” is clueless.

Music festival…

July 7th, 2008 by De Onion

Other bloggers have already sounded off with their thoughts on the Music Festival.

I think the music festival spending is pretty minor in the context of the things to actually complain about, especially if it breaks even. In my view there are a few fundamental issues:

1. How do they not know if it will make a profit or not? They know what revenues will be, and should have a good handle on expenses, so why can they not make a financial projection?

2. The festival is only the latest in a long string of public works whose returns accrue primarily to the party insiders in the form of an image boost and direct payment of taxpayer money, and is borderline vote buying.

3. How many of those “overseas” tickets are actually Bermudians with foreign friends/families fronting for them?

For the record: I have a history of assuming mere poor decision making when the actual issue is abject corruption.

So, what do we REALLY want?

May 5th, 2008 by De Onion

The focus on numbers is turning into a Vietnam War style “Body Count”

The politicians are busy focusing on the number of companies, the number of tourists, the number of dollars, and really failing to address fundamentally what we really want – those numbers exist to serve us, as do the politicians! So instead of asking “how many?” we should really ask “What island do we really want to live in?”

Call me an angry Buddha, but one of my favorite quotes from The Four Hour Work Week where the author challenges us “…to have more quality and less clutter. To have huge financial reserves but recognise that most material wants are justifications for spending time on things that don’t really matter, including buying things and preparing to buy things. You spent two weeks negotiating your new Infiniti with the dealership and got $10,000 off? That’s great. Does your life have a purpose? Are you contributing anything useful to this world, or just shuffling papers, banging on the keyboard, and coming home to a drunken existence on the weekends?”

So Bermuda? Do we have the beauty we want? Do our buses run on time? Can we get our planning application approved? Can we get our bike licensed quickly? Are our children getting the education they deserve? Can they ride their bikes to the corner store? Or are we spending our time negotiating with foreign developers to get a new hotel?

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.

How to do anything.

December 9th, 2007 by De Onion

Zen thoughts for the day… after Dennis’ excellent series on the numbers behind achievement in the workplace.

From Marty Gaal

My three steps to simplification:
* Make a list of the few things in life that are most important to you.
* Do what’s on the list.
* Do nothing else until your list is complete, or your list changes.

From Gordo Byrn

“Achievement is linked to maximizing our capacity to work, then working.”

Point your goals on the actions required to improve, not the improvement.

…and from my personal notes the Four Steps…

How to do anything:
1. Decide what you want to do.
2. Learn how to do it.
3. Form a plan.
4. Do it.

…and even a Hindu Proverb that holds special meaning in my life…

There is nothing noble about being superior to some other man. The true nobility is in being superior to your previous self.

I think that’s the one single thing a lot of people miss when they look at achievement, race, education, and Bermuda in general. Doing anything is simply a product of preparing yourself to do it and then going out and achieving. We have a huge culture of blaming instead of doing.

The overwhelmingly negative blame and innuendo laden campaign being run by the PLP is an incredible example of what people are driven to do after a decade of failure to follow the Four Steps.

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?

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)

Quality of life…

October 1st, 2007 by De Onion

What is quality of life?

One place where economics fails quite miserably is in making people happy – bringing joy to our lives. We get to see this perhaps best when we see that in economic growth terms we are hugely wealthier than our grandparents – and yet, are we happier?

So here’s a list I made by writing non-stop for 10 minutes a list of the things that are special about Bermuda that bring joy into my life.

Running on the railway trail.
Non-Mariner’s Race
Seagull racing
Black rum
Reggae music
Swimming in the morning
High finance all day
2 Hours from NYC
Dinner with friends on the water
Windsurfing after work
Drinking rum and playing guitar with friends till 2AM
Night swimming
Cherry Hedges
Walking all the way up and down South Shore
Tree frogs
Live music almost every night in the summer
Soca show
Going on vacation to St. George’s once a summer
Cup match
Good morning
Holding the door
The rude lady in the post office who has been nice to me for the past 12 years
Working with really smart people doing really cool stuff
Watching the sun rise from Heydon Chapel
May 24 – cheering or running
Palmetto silhouettes
Beach BBQs
Funny accents – from all over
Facebook groups about the waitresses at Cafe 10
Kid’s projects at the Ag Show
Planting cedars and watching them grow
Rocks – awe at the ocean at Spittal Pond

That’s 10 minutes – but I got a bit distracted and I’m sure if I did it again then I’d have a whole different set of joys. Nonetheless, I think it carries what’s really important. It’s not this legislation, it’s not winning, it’s not revenge, it’s not what a politician did today, it’s not how much money I have, how old I am, if I’m a mason or a hedge fund manager. The simple truth of it all is that what brings quality of life is to be able to do the things that bring joy – and that’s really what we should be looking at when we chose Bermuda’s direction.

What really matters to us?
What do we want to keep?
What do we want to lose?

Anonymous comments are welcome – I want to know: What brings joy to your life in Bermuda?


September 26th, 2007 by De Onion

This is probably a post I should have written after a few glasses of white wine. It always makes things flow faster.


What are we racing for ?

I was standing with another twenty-something friend on the porch at of a multi-million house the other day and he said to me “I wonder if we’re ever going to have this?”

That’s the real problem with economics, with growth. Its aims – the unrestricted pursuit of profit does not lead to the greatest quality of life. Jstarling made a comment in another post about the aims of economics. It’s a huge topic, but one that deserves a good answer, but that will have to wait till another time.

But back to Bermuda…

The problem is not the expariates – they are our lifeblood. They are doing what is rational, what is in their best interest, as they should.

The problem is not the companies – they are our lifeblood. They are doing what is rational, what is in their best interests, as they should.

The problem is the government – which sucks our lifeblood. They are doing what is rational – robbing us blind while pissing away our quality of life in the name of a headline and a photo opportunity.

So that leaves us. The people of Bermuda. We need to do what’s rational and push for a higher standard of government.

I’m angry. Why? Because the government should know this – and be competent enough to develop policies that will actually deal the people’s aims… and the problem we all know exists is simple, it’s that BERMUDA’S QUALITY OF LIFE IS DECLINING.

If the government were concerned about this problem they would:

Stop screwing around with racism.
Stop stealing.
Stop puffing themselves up.
Stop getting expensive reports produced.
Stop blaming.
Stop spending.
Stop talking about “creating jobs”.
Stop selling our limited resources for a handful of dollars we don’t need.

Start understanding the economic system.
Start understanding the consequences of actions.
Start drafting sensible legislation.
Start talking about happiness of the population.
Start setting specific realistic goals.
Start managing.
Start achieving.
Start limiting growth to the highest value added.

It’s almost enough to make me want to take my dad’s advice and say “forget this” and go spend my time with the people who matter and make as much money as possible. Probably not bad advice, because Tucker’s Town is still a nice place to live.

Cargo Cult.

August 24th, 2007 by De Onion

Further to this post and this post about appearances and wealth it seems that many in Bermuda are buying into the cargo cult of “success”… and as a corollary the cargo cult of empowerment.

Successfully executing difficult outcomes such as starting business, running a marathon, raising a child, governing a country are all the final outcomes of a process of months or years of consistent work to get one the skills and qualities necessary. They do not come overnight. Just as stuffing feathers in your ass does not make you a chicken, wearing a $1200 suit does not make you a businessman.

The real problem that I have with most of the race baiting and “empowerment” is that it forgets that overnight success is a decade long process of learning the financial and management skills necessary – in the USA it’s often possible to get by based on a smile and a handshake by selling things that have good people to back you up, or if you continually bounce from one quick buck to another. In Bermuda that’s not an option because people will know who you are and pretty quickly the only people who will work with you are other people trying to make a quick buck without the underlying competence to really produce wealth for themselves, their employees, and their stakeholders.

We are mistaking confidence for competence. There, I’ve drawn my line in the sand.