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 Bermudasucks.com 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.
Kurron
Stem Cell Clinic
Cedar Beams
SDO’s
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.

Blame Canada!

December 10th, 2007 by De Onion

How difficult are the following things?

* Future Care – Upgraded Hospital Insurance Plan (HIP) to cover major medical expenses for seniors
* Child Care – Free Day Care services for Bermudian Families
* Public Transport – Free Bus and Ferry Services
* Education – Free Bermuda College for all Bermudians
* Housing – 500 Interest free down payments for first time Bermudian home owners
* Environment – Green Paper on Energy to reduce Bermuda’s reliance of Fossil fuels.

So why haven’t they been done yet?
Oh, and I see there will be a nice report done on fossil fuel reliance. Very good. I look forward to grading it before it gets shoved back in a drawer… unless of course it needs to be rewritten so as not to embarrass the government.

For seniors?

June 7th, 2007 by De Onion

The elimination of car registration fees for senior citizens, as with many policies is one that on the surface may appear to be all roses and cupcakes, but when considered fully for its implications is perhaps not really what it seems.

Q: Who can afford cars?
A: Seniors who are not completely broke.

Q: Who can drive a car?
A: Seniors who are healthy.

The intent may have been good the execution just means that we’ve given a $1000 a year tax break to people who are rich enough to afford a car, old enough to qualify, and healthy enough to drive… which is probably the per capita wealthiest group in Bermuda. So in reality these changes will not have a bottom-up effect on really improving the lives of the people who actually need it – which is the fraction of the population who are living really crappy lives because they weren’t able to make it into the future with sufficient savings to sustain a comfortable lifestyle and/or are not healthy and are financially struggling because of healthcare. Essentially therefore we have tax cut for the richest people in Bermuda, and increased taxes for everyone else who is young or old, rich or poor, because the lost revenue is made up somewhere.

The lesson here is that in a competent well intentioned government, when looking at making a change in tax law it’s necessary to look at who pays the taxes and their ability to pay. In this case the majority of the people paying these taxes are people who can afford to pay them, while the people who are really struggling at the very bottom of society who need real help (because they have insufficient savings/assets to have a good retirement) are not getting anything because they can’t afford cars in the first place. Eliminating car license fees does nothing for Mr. Brangman who lives in the Salvation Army Shelter and buys food with his Social Insurance pension, but it does give Louise Jackson a discount on her class E station wagon.

Links for the day:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_tax
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regressive_tax
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opportunity_cost

Population options…aging…

April 2nd, 2007 by De Onion

…more comment response to Wensleydale – he took me to task for posting on too many topics in a single post, although in my mind they tend to be related.

He said in his comment:

Are you suggesting that Bermuda should try to reduce the population and then try to cope with all those problems of a declining population i.e. increased average age, decreased working population?

I’m saying that perhaps Bermuda should look at our options, for example, if we were to eliminate net population growth it would instantly “solve” our housing crisis, because that would eliminate the need to build more housing and with it a decent section of the construction industry and several hundred blue collar jobs. Since we export our unemployment by shipping out expats when there is an unemployed Bermudian then combined with the elimination of much of the really wasteful government spending and the corresponding thousand or so people employed we end up with 2,000 extra jobs available in a population of 65,000 (3%) who could be used to generate foreign exchange and increase wealth… among other things. This is just one option, but my point is not that I support any one, but rather that I think it would be worthwhile to really look at options and make a decision that is as much of a win-win as possible and actually balance various needs and avoids killing the goose that lays the golden egg.

On that same vein, in terms of things like a declining population and increased average age we are in a unique situation because we are a small, wealthy economy. With our private pensions system funneling retirement assets outside Bermuda, the aging of Bermuda’s economy won’t have too much of an effect because instead of having an internally funded pay as you go system American style (be it their stock market or social security, the mechanism is essentially identical in the end as younger workers try and produce value to support the older ones), we in Bermuda have a private system that forces assets into other countries through mutual funds and bond portfolios which then earn a return and come back post-compounding. Our real risk with an aging population is that there are a lot of people who are not saving enough for retirement because they live in the black or gray market economy and don’t pay their payroll tax, social insurance, or private pension. The other people who are going to be in trouble are the ones who chose to earn a low return on their private pension – I see this especially with blue collar workers who don’t trust financial institutions and put their money in money market funds and earn a zero or negative long-term return. I think it’s probably not a bad idea to raise the minimum level of savings and risk taking because there’s good evidence and discussion in behavioral finance that many people people don’t save enough and are too risk averse.