Bermuda’s quest for mega cruise ships is reminiscent of the United States’ quest for corn ethanol. On the surface corn ethanol seemed like a great idea, a means to support domestic farmers, combat global warming while also providing for energy independence. Below the surface corn ethanol proved a horrendous boondoggle as the true impacts were not considered. What would happen when you take a staple food and apply much greater demand? How much energy truly goes in vs. comes out? What of the costs of infrastructure upgrades to support this new technology? In the end it wasn’t feasible. Similarly we may well look back on the introduction of mega cruise ships as a boondoggle as the actual impacts on Bermudian vs. expat job creation, investment vs. returns in local spending and the strains placed on our infrastructure are all considerations that were widely overlooked as we rushed to welcome mega ships with open arms.
One of the most telltale signs that the plans for mega cruise ships were rushed beyond what was necessary is to take a look at Cabo San Lucas. As noted in the photo above you’ll actually see a cruise ship anchored in the middle of a harbour. What was interesting about Cabo San Lucas was that there were no special docks made for cruise ships, they simply threw down anchor and ran ferries to and from shore.
Sadly the rush to create docks through special development orders, lack of planning permission and lack of environmental studies smacks of desperation. A desperation to boost the most touted yet most useless tourism metric going, visitor numbers. What Bermudians should really care about aren’t the total number of people we can flood on our roads and pack our beaches but dollars spent, for when it really comes down to it that is all that matters.
Mega cruise ships bring in those visitor numbers in large volumes. Volume visitors means we need to compete on volume, which means discount. It means cheap restaurants, cheap activities and cheap trinkets. All of which end up meaning we need to bring in workers who can be paid cheaply because Bermudians cannot afford to live on $8 an hour. Volume means pushing more business through the door for smaller profits. It means Bermudians suffer more to earn less.
This as opposed to what Bermuda could be targeting: exclusivity. Only small high end luxury cruise ships. No discounts, only high end tourists. We could increase the number of guest houses to not only give a higher quality product but also put more money in the hands of Bermudians rather than funnelling most of our tourism dollars to large multinational hotel conglomerates. Funny how we’ve done the opposite, guest houses have disappeared while we’ve rushed to build bigger and bigger hotels. Hotels which pay less, hire more foreigners and funnel profits overseas.
We could be turning Bermuda back into the quaint quiet safe destination it was. Yes it’s hellishly boring for Bermudians but we need to think big picture to see the greater returns to be had beyond our own entertainment. If we targeted high end with exclusivity we could charge high end. That means higher profits which means higher ability to pay. Higher pay means jobs Bermudians can actually appreciate without being disgusted at the low pay that ensures living like sardines packed in a can. Foreigners can do it because of the returns they’ll get when they go back home. Bermudians’ problem? This is our home.
It is time we took a serious look at is what in our best interests. Less is more as they say. Less visitors for more profits. Less people to serve for greater pay. Less foreigners taking up our homes, filling our streets and contributing to our social ills and more Bermudians with well paying jobs. It is time that we question the deeper implications of mega cruise ships and similar tourism ventures. Time that we question the actual impacts on Bermudian vs. expat job creation. Time that we ask what kinds of ridiculous sums we are investing and realistically, what is the timeline for a return on our investment? Time we considered the strains we’re placing on our infrastructure and truly stop to ask ourselves what is in our best interests? It is time we opened our eyes to the real implications of our actions and start demanding what is best for us.
The Computer Society of Bermuda must have gone mad with their recent report recommending installation of fibre to the home at at an approximate cost of $9,000 per home.
"Local on-island facilities need to be upgraded to fibre-to-the-home to exceed the 24 Mbps technical maximum we have now," the report stated.
"This may require investment above $9,000 per home and have to cover over 75 percent of homes to be worthwhile."
There are many fans of rolling out higher speed lower cost internet in Bermuda but $9,000 a home? At 30,000 dewellings that amounts to nearly $200 million invested to reach their coverage levels. Sorry, but we can do better.
Bermuda has a significant advantage over mainland nations because we have a largely unused wireless spectrum, one which opens opportunities for greater connectivity. Take the example of CSIRO and their proposed 100mbit over frequencies presently used by UHF tv when tv switches to digital. Bermuda has 3 stations so most of our UHF band is already unused, perhaps we should be pursuing companies like CSIRO to trial their services here?
The Bermuda Industrial Union may not realize it yet but this deal to wipe their performance bond requirement may end up being a worse decision than the one that originally got them into this mess. By effectively cheating non-BIU workers the BIU has taken what was already a thin line of tolerance for their antics and stretched it much further. The result may well be that people are now left with little to no tolerance for BIU actions. A result which gives the government near absolute power over the BIU as the public may well very quickly turn against the BIU regardless of the situation.
While union members may be rejoicing over the recent bailout by government of the BIU’s performance bond they should note that government isn’t who should be thanked, instead it is non-BIU workers because they’re truly the ones footing the bill.
The BIU’s bailout of a requirement to pay their performance bond on the failed Berkeley project isn’t free money, it comes from government coffers, coffers ultimately filled by taxes. Broken down in its simplest form government taxes are collected from workers. Workers are either part of the BIU or not with those in the latter category comprising blue and white collar as well as expatriate workers. It is these workers the BIU has to thank for helping foot the bill for their mistakes.
The ruling political party may be quick to claim the credit for ‘saving the BIU’ and use this as an opportunity to buy votes but ultimately this action is little more than shifting a debt from one group of workers to all workers. This action is grossly unfair for those workers who had no say in the BIU taking on this risk but have been looped in when it comes to paying the consequences. The BIU have surely bought themselves a one way ticket to zero non-union support in future disputes.
Your cousin is charged of a crime and is put in jail. You know he’s the type that will run if guilty once bailed out so you refuse to put up the bond to free him. Your soft hearted brother however decides to take the risk and puts up the money. Surprise of all surprises your cousin bolts. The collection agency comes to collect the bond fee from your brother only to realize it will bankrupt him and put his longstanding community business out of work. Thus, government steps in and decides that you’re going to pay part of the bond so your brother doesn’t lose his business. Even worse, your brother publically thanks government for their help and acts like you had nothing to do with it. Sounds fair right?
Near the end of his talk, Obama turned serious and spoke of the financially struggling media industry, praising journalists for holding government officials accountable. "A government without newspapers, a government without a tough and vibrant media of all sorts is not an option for the United States of America," he said.
the Premier will be urged to get out among the people as he did last night, and as he did on Saturday, although even then, his team couldn’t get it right, as his driver once again illegally parked on Reid Street.
Oh wait, now I remember, I happened to take a photo of it. Here’s a shot from Saturday afternoon where you can clearly see GP1, with flag, stopped illegally holding up traffic on Reid street making people go around in the other lane. How do we know Premier Brown was responsible this time? GP1 passed me at the Bus Depot with Premier Brown riding in the back.
In a rather shocking public announcement the UBP has come forth to admit guilt in past immoral conduct. In a public statement made earlier today to members of the press Opposition Leader Kim Swan admitted “It was with tremendously poor moral character that we, the United Bermuda Party, were the true masterminds behind the original coup to remove former Premier Jennifer Smith.” In this shocking revelation Mr. Swan continued by suggesting to the 3 strong UBP membership base “we had to mislead you. It was a necessary action to continue filling the pocket books of rich white people, namely our friends in the construction industry”. In this startling admission of guilt Mr. Swan suggested that despite this unethical but not illegal behavior there was no need to remove Premier today as he has succeeded in fulfilling the UBP’s vision for the future.
In other news a prominent staunch PLP supporter previously heard screaming on the talk shows suggesting “It was wrong then and it’s wrong now! Two wrongs don’t make a right! Two wrongs don’t make a right! We should have learned our lesson!” was last seen headed towards the cabinet building, pitchfork and loudspeaker in hand chanting “The UBP is the culprit, they did it! Get the Premier!”