Airport White Elephant Post #1

May 31st, 2010 by De Onion

The proposed new Bermuda International Airport terminal has already elicited summary commentary from Vexed and politics.bm.

IMHO this rendering reflects everything that’s wrong with both architect’s understanding of Bermuda and the Bermuda Government’s lavish proposals.

The key things wrong with it:
– Incredibly expensive.
We’re looking at a cost of 300-400 MILLION dollars… which given the Bermuda government’s record in contracting really means 600 million dollars. Assuming they don’t manage to go over budget then it’s between a 22 million and 30 million annual payment amortised over 30 years – and I think it’s correct to look it as an amortised expense not capitalised because we’re almost certainly going to pay for it with more debt on top of the billion or so dollars already racked up.

– Terrible use of land.
In most of the island it’s worthwhile to build multi-story car parks to maximise the amount of available space. The same is true of government land, even if we pretend it’s worthless the reality is that virtually the entire buildable land of Bermuda faces economics more like the downtown of a major city – see: London City Airport. It shouldn’t be an architect’s wet dream of a sea of palm trees and grand indoor spaces. We have a land use crisis in Bermuda that stems in large part from government inappropriately using land (Morgan’s Point, Club Med, etc.)

The problem with “iconic” buildings is that they have a nasty habit of looking the same everywhere in the world and of becoming dated with time. Being an iconic builidng is a bit like being a respected politician – if you have to tell people you’re one then you’re probably not.

This is what an iconic Bermuda building really looks like:

For today make it cheap, make it work, and make it efficient – ie. maintain and renovate the existing building as necessary.

We will need to build a new airport in the next 100 years as sea level rises somewhere between a few inches and a few feet… that’s where we should be pointing this incredibly large chunk of our resources.

Gambling Math

May 13th, 2010 by De Onion

I’m disappointed with the behavior of almost everyone on the gambling debate with the exception of the UBP and the PLP back bench. On Facebook the BDA likened the harm of gambling to the harm of alcohol and said that:

The truth is however that addiction problems will develop in a small proportion of people….whatever the “substance”. We recognize that alcohol is the most common substance of abuse/dependence, yet there is no debate over making this illegal in Bermuda.

This is true, but nor do we consider legalising and taxing cocaine production for the financial and tourism benefits, despite similar levels of long-term addiction as a percentage of the population who has partaken. Indeed, legalising drug use would do WONDERs for our tourist business.

Anyway, enough hyperbole and back to the reality of gambling:

Based on the government’s own numbers of an average of over $22 million dollars will come out of local pockets and into the pockets of the casino operators.

Depending on the assumptions we make about the number of locals who gamble the per-person annual losses range from $32,745 at 1% of locals gambling to $3,275 per person for 10% of locals gambling

22,266,666/680= 1% – $32,745 per person
10% = -$3,275 per person.

Needless to say, a small fraction of all gamblers are responsible for the majority of the financial losses. In any case, let’s pretend that we’re dealing with average gamblers.

During a 20 year gambling career that’s an average transfer of wealth from each gambling local to the casinos of between $64,901 in our 10% of locals case, and $654,901 in the 1% case.

In addition, gambling problems overwhelmingly affect young men of low income… you know, the same ones who are currently hurting the most and most at risk for drug problems, arrest, jail time, etc. Normal gambling debts incurred by problem gamblers is between $50,000 and $90,000 dollars – to say nothing of the lost income, retail consumption, and family support lost… and one of the big reason that people get beaten or chopped on this island is (you guessed it) – unpaid debts.

New Blog

May 12th, 2010 by De Onion

Seems someone new is throwing his/her hat in the ring… welcome Slimey In Bermuda.